If you’ve been following the WordStream blog for a while, you know we’re longtime fans of Aaron Wall at SEO Book. (You should have seen the glow around Tom Demers when Aaron agreed to do an interview with him.) In addition to being a great tactical resource on both SEO and PPC, Aaron is a must-follow blogger for his regular rants and essayistic analysis on the industry at large.
He has also taken a watchdogging stance toward Google, and his thoughts about the company’s direction are always enlightening, even if you’re inclined to give GOOG the benefit of the doubt. Twice this week Aaron reminded me of the power of a single image in a blog post – not a fancy infographic or even a beautiful photograph, just a basic screenshot – and how much an image can co... > Read more
If you're a PPC agency there are some fundamentals within the campaign that you want to understand before you do anything else: Margins & Profit - Before you do anything else with PPC, you want to understand what "profitable" means. If you're working on a VC-backed company willing to take a loss on each lead this might just be a target cost per acquisition (CPA), but in most cases it means a hard cost that leads a company into the black.
This is the most critical single metric in your PPC campaign (and it has nothing to do with click-through rate, Quality Score, etc.!). Costs & Costs Per Click - Obviously you want to be cognizant of what you're spending -- not just in the context of your cost per conversion and your margins, but also in the context of the volume you can drive... > Read more
Last night I performed a Google search on my home computer, using Firefox. I only got four results back on the first page, though there were over 55,000 results total (see below). I was not signed in but Instant was on. It looks like Google is testing this style of SERP when it thinks a handful of pages are clearly the most valuable, relevant results for the query.
Presumably, some users would prefer fewer choices as long as those choices clearly addressed the query. Didn't either Sergey or Larry once say that in a perfect world, Google would return only one result? This page did not address my needs as a searcher, because I was specifically trying to determine where my own blog ranks for this query -- i.e., whether I rank on the first page. If this experiment became the norm, "the f... > Read more
Early this month I came across a blog post over at Vertical Leap about improving AdWords for the advertisers. There were lots of good suggestions in the post, and as you may know I like to make suggestions for AdWords myself. You never know when one of your suggestions will become a reality. I think it’s important to challenge AdWords and help them see things from the advertiser’s perspective.
One of the suggestions from the Vertical Leap post was to allow for the comparisons of date ranges. I thought this was a little odd since this feature is available today in the AdWords interface (very similar to the Google Analytics date range comparison). It’s very easy to overlook new features at the rate AdWords has been pumping them out lately, and I don’t remember AdWords... > Read more
BoostCTR is is a network of advertisers and expert pay-per-click ad writers. I asked BoostCTR's Jeff Sexton and Ryan Healy to share some of their knowledge about what goes into a great pay-per-click ad. Jeff is in charge of Optimization Management for Boost’s writer network, and Ryan is a lead writer and blogger for Boost.
First off, can you tell us a little bit about BoostCTR? Jeff Sexton: BoostCTR helps businesses improve their pay-per-click advertising ( PPC) by boosting the click-through rate (CTR) of their ads. We take clients’ best performing PPC ads, re-write them, and then split-test the original ad against our new challenger ad. And we repeat that process until we beat the client’s old ad by at least 5%, or we give them their money back. 5% is the guarantee, but ... > Read more
What’s the old saying? “One definition of crazy is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results”? Are you “crazy” when it comes to online marketing or do you adapt and learn from your mistakes? After 12 months, I’m adapting. Around March 1 of last year I began my Online GED Site blog.
I never expected it would make tons of money. I hoped it would teach me about blogging, WordPress, Google Analytics, keyword research, and using some of WordStream’s free tools. Here’s a graph of my visitor traffic for one year. It took 8 months to attract my first 1000 visitors. Now, during this last month, I attracted 1000 visitors in 30 days alone. What were my mistakes? A failure to build backlinks, building an email opt-in too... > Read more
Since I got all the complaining out of my system yesterday, today I'm giving you nothing but links. Here are some of the most helpful and interesting blog posts I read this week: DIYSEO offers 101 "easy, low-cost" SEO tips for time- and budget-strapped SMB marketers. This is a quick read and good overview of all the little basic things that small businesses should be doing on their websites and blogs.
Gareth Davies delivers 35 killer tips from SES London, including tips from Lee Odden on content marketing, Dave Naylor on SEO, Patrick Altolft on link building and Jim Boykin on SEO tools. On Search Engine Watch, Kristi Hines says that Google's "Panda Update" means we should kiss low-quality link building goodbye. She recommends content marketing as an alter... > Read more
One cross for each time SEO has died In his keynote address at SES this week, Danny Sullivan (as live-blogged by Lisa Barone) said we should “just ignore” the so-called pundits claiming SEO is dead: “Nothing’s going to kill SEO. Danny’s exhausted by the conversations … When ignorant people are talking about what SEO is and isn’t, why give them that time to respond? They’ve sucked up enough of our life.
” But journalists and other media blowhards continue to blame the SEO industry as a whole (if not the very concept of SEO) rather than individual scammers and spammers. I know we’re not supposed to feed the trolls, but what if the trolls are getting air time on high-authority sites like the New York Times and Business Insider?... > Read more
There's a lot of talk in the blogosphere about the value of blogging frequently and interacting with your community. And there's a lot of great articles available on doing outreach for cornerstone content like in-depth guides, infographics, and free tools. But what there seems to be less of is specific how-to information on promoting more mundane day-to-day blog content that thought leaders are telling you to crank out.
It's not practical to do an in-depth link campaign for every quick how-to blog post you create, so what can you do to promote your content on a daily basis? Step 1: Create Syndication Channels This is a bit more "social" than the headline implies: The first step here is to build social media followings and start to participate on social news sites. You can create ... > Read more
Over the past few weeks, I’ve come across more than one comment or statement about how powerful the AdWords Automated Rules are for bidding and how this could really put pressure on the third-party software companies, be the death of bid management software, etc. I don’t agree. Over at Ad Innovations, Google gives us the example of using Automated Rules for raising your bid (by 20%) based on a keyword’s position (worse than 4).
They also say, “Modify your Max CPC bids based on CTR or conversion rates,” but offer no real direction for how to do this. Brad Libby talked about shooting your eye out with automated rules, which doesn’t sound too profitable. What I haven’t come across is any examples of how to bid intelligently with this new feature. Where are the rules for the Aut... > Read more
In most cases, leads are the premier metric for any pay-per-click (PPC) campaign. Sure, click-through rate (CTR), cost per click (CPC), bounce rate, pages per visit, and other data are important. This information is great for measuring performance and progress -- and optimizing campaigns -- but typically the end goal of a PPC campaign is generating leads and ultimately sales.
Tracking online conversions is easy with PPC and web analytics programs, such as Google AdWords and Google Analytics. These tools associate online conversions directly with a campaign, ad group, ad and keyword. Unfortunately, as soon as someone picks up a phone, this useful lead intelligence is lost. To effectively gauge PPC campaign success you need to see all pieces of the lead-conversion puzzle, whether activ... > Read more
If you manage an AdWords account, you know it’s not an 8 to 5 job. You can probably relate to the experience of checking campaign spend every five minutes to make sure you pause a campaign at just the right moment so you don’t exceed your budget. Well, Google has taken another step to solve all of life’s problems with the release of AdWords automated rules.
Automated rules have been out in limited release since December, but the feature is now available on all accounts. This new tool allows you to schedule automatic changes to your accounts. I’m going to go through the basics of using automated rules, so get ready because you are about to have a lot more free time on your hands. What You Can Automate There are currently three types of changes you can automate: Stat... > Read more
How many of you out there have always wanted to start your own SEO company, but were intimidated by all the work, experience and investment it would require? Obviously, you never bothered to Google "how to start an seo business," because if you had, you would have found this eHow article which explains just how easy it is to do! In fact, according to eHow, you can start your own SEO business in three stupidly simple steps: 1.
"Create your own website." This is crucial because if you don't even have a website, how are you going to convince people that you know anything about the Internet? Don't get too caught up in this part though – just include your email address and phone number so people can reach you. That should about do it. (Oh, also: Add a blog and blog a lot about SEO and make s... > Read more
If you're a regular reader of link building content then you're likely no stranger to great link building companies like Buzzstream and Ontolo, and you probably know about a lot of the best link building blogs, but the reality is there is a lot of great link building content "hidden" within more general SEO and online marketing blogs.
Here are five great examples: 1. Ross Hudgens Link Building Posts Ross has a lot of interesting link building tips (like building links with Google alerts) and some of the best (best here meaning "hardest hitting" and most effective at eliciting actionable advice) interviews on the subject of link building. He also writes in-depth on important and somewhat underdiscussed link building topics like evaluating directories and how to value a ... > Read more
The lead generation space is extremely competitive. Bids are high, CPA’s are low and everyone wants the highest margin possible. To combat this, many lead generation companies will utilize all internet marketing channels available – specifically SEM, SEO, email, social and affiliate marketing. For companies in this space, ROI is what matters.
How many leads you generate is not the deciding factor – it is what those leads are worth and how much profit you are making. Google and Bing are great sources of quality traffic, but they are also very competitive and can get very expensive. This has made SEM managers and lead generators into extremely resourceful traffic generators. By utilizing second-tier search engines and different ad networks, SEM managers are able to generate similar qu... > Read more
A couple of weeks ago I told you that your first negative keyword lists should consist of your brand keywords. Doing so keeps your competitive (higher CPC), non-branded campaigns from poaching brand-related ad impressions. Typically we see negative keywords being used to stop ad impressions from completely irrelevant search queries (or search queries that bring no business value), but there is a case for using relevant keywords as negative keywords.
Using brand-related keywords in negative keyword lists is not the only example of using relevant keywords as negatives. Depending on your business, you may find, after analyzing your search query reports, that your campaigns are poaching ad impressions from each other. Because of this, I recommend that you create a negative keyword list for eac... > Read more
February may be a short month, but that doesn't mean we were short on kick-ass blog posts! (Ugh.) Here they are, our top 10 page-view-grabbing-est posts for the month, every bit as awesome as they were the first time (except maybe for the first one): Unsurprisingly, our most popular post this month was Larry’s AdWords promotional code share.
You cheapskates! ;) (Sadly the codes have all been used and are no longer valid.) Larry did a quick analysis of Google’s big JC Penney bust. Tom wrote up a dead simple Google AdWords certification guide covering costs, the different types of certification, study tips and more. Google accused Bing of copying its search results after cooking up an elaborate and nerdy “sting” – Larry asks the burning question, Who cares? Cha... > Read more
Andy Beal wrote a great post this week called "How to Be a Twitter Guru," which is not actually (thank god) a guide to being a "Twitter guru." Instead Andy recounts a flip-out he had on Twitter (which, sadly, I missed) (start from the bottom): Possibly without meaning to, Andy has put Twitter through the filter of signaling theory.
If you're not familiar with signaling, it refers to behavior whose primary purpose is to "signal" or convey something about ourselves to others – whether or not it's true. Generally, what we're trying to signal is status. Some people, such as economist Robin Hanson, believe signaling is responsible for a great deal, even most of what humans do. (You can hear him talk about it in this podcast.) Here are some examples of behavi... > Read more
This is a guest post by A.D. Srikanth, a Web Developer and SEO Consultant. Check out his portfolio or contact him by email at adsrikanth[at]gmail.com for more information. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to visualize link flow within a website to see how links flow from one page to another? You can, by making use of a couple of free tools, and without having to code.
Following is a brief tutorial on how to create a visualization of the link flow on a site. For this purpose, I will be using Xenu, which is a free tool to check for broken links on a site, and, Graphviz, an open source graph visualization tool. In order to demonstrate an example, I am considering a random restaurant website. Some directories within the site, like images and others, are being skipped so that link flow amo... > Read more
This is a guest post by Erin Everhart. Erin is the marketing associate for web design company 352 Media Group, a certified Microsoft Surface developer and leader in web marketing. She specializes in social media marketing, search engine optimization and content management, developing web marketing and blogger outreach campaigns.
She’s a frequent blogger across multiple sites and holds a B.S. in journalism from the University of Florida. She has an unhealthy addiction to salt, EM dashes and the Gators. Follow her on Twitter: @erinever. Traditional advertising is so 2010. It shows too: People just aren’t trusting and are learning to tune out those banner and video ads that pop up. So why spend your money on something that may or may not get you results, especially when there are ample su... > Read more
On the off chance that you’re not right sick of hearing about the JC Penney SEO scandal – or that you had better things to do this week and missed it entirely – let’s go over some of the many responses to the incident. The quick recap: The New York Times alerted Google spam man Matt Cutts to JC Penney’s highly questionable, probably full-on black-hat SEO tactics that had it ranking in the top five for many highly competitive head terms (via a slew of paid links).
The Google slap was administered, and JC Penney’s rankings have plummeted, but naturally, this raised all sorts of questions, like how did such a high-profile company get away with such a large-scale violation of Google’s guidelines? I’m also wondering: Why is JC Penney’... > Read more
Three Underused & Hard-to-Find AdWords Features - Impression Share Metrics, Display Ad Builder, Ad Extentions
Another day, another new AdWords feature: today Google introduced Automated Rules. We’ve talked about how to evaluate new AdWords features and whether they’re good for you and your campaign, and the fact that AdWords is cranking out new features at a rapid pace is no secret. Amidst all the noise of new AdWords features it’s important not to get too caught up in trying every single new feature, particularly as there are older features that many advertisers aren’t getting the most out of.
In this post we’ll walk through three such features and how to leverage them in your campaigns. Impression Share Metrics Impression share metrics aren’t a secret to may veteran PPC managers, but they’re an underutilized asset to paid search advertisers. One rea... > Read more
This is a guest post by Chad Summerhill, author of the blog PPC Prospector, provider of free PPC tools and PPC tutorials, and in-house AdWords Specialist at Moving Solutions, Inc. (UPack.com and MoveBuilder.com). How many PPC blog posts do you read in a week? How many do you actually take action on? I’m guilty of reading a lot and acting too little.
Much of the information published on optimizing your PPC campaigns is very interesting and insightful, but maybe not particularly actionable (or it can be difficult to take action easily). So when you see something that's actionable and easy to try, don’t just read and tweet! Actually try it! Slow down and ask yourself how you can leverage this new knowledge in your own campaigns. That’s what I did, just a few weeks ago when Tom Deme... > Read more
This is a guest post by Daniel Cawrey, a freelance writer. In addition to discussing topics such as consumers and their credit cards, he also has a blog about Google Chrome and Chrome OS. Recently, the question and answer site Quora has been getting a lot of exposure in the technology space. If you have not heard of it yet, here's how it works: Users post questions that they cannot find answers to anywhere else on the web, and people answer them.
Unlike sites like Yahoo Answers, however, the site seems to attract those who have a lot of authority on subject matter. Recent examples of this would be Netflix’s CEO Reed Hastings using Quora as a platform to talk to customers of the company’s service. Seems like a really smart idea! Other authorities and companies use Quora to engage users... > Read more
In response to declining quality of organic (non-paid) Google search results, including a recently exposed link-farm-spam scheme by JC Penney, Google today released Google Personal Blocklist to help users keep SEO spam such as content link farms out of their search results. Chrome users can today download the Google Personal Blocklist extension that enables users to block specified domains from appearing in their search results, similar to how you can blacklist (or block) certain emails using a manual email spam filter.
Google will also track the domains that users flag "and explore using it as a potential ranking signal for our search results," wrote Matt Cutts, principal engineer at Google and a prominent anti-spam spokesman for the company, in a blog post. What is Google ... > Read more
Yesterday, the New York Times published an article exposing the black hat SEO tactics of J.C. Penney, explaining how jcpenney.com was able to obtain #1 organic search rankings (unpaid or natural search listings) for virtually everything the retailer sold including searches for "bedding" or "dresses" or "Area Rugs," and enjoyed near-the-top first page rankings for searches like "skinny jeans," "home decor," "furniture," "comforter sets" etc.
The New York Times looked into JC Penney's link profile and uncovered a massive web of thousands of pages of blog spam and paid links linking to the J.C. Penney website, rich with relevant, descriptive anchor text designed to fool Google’s ranking algorithms. The New York Times... > Read more
In many cases, expanding your paid search marketing reach can have as great of an impact on results as refining your existing campaigns. As you look to expand your paid search campaigns, you want to focus on two core means of discovery: "Wider" - Going "wider" means identifying new keyword verticals that didn't previously exist within your campaigns.
This often comes in the form of new ad groups targeting wholly new keyword ideas that you hadn't previously introduced into your campaigns. "Deeper" - Going "deeper" in this context means mining your existing campaigns for new targeting opportunities. The best way to do this is by looking at the search query data generated by your existing campaigns. WordStream's latest product release offers some tool... > Read more
“A merger of visions”? "An equation of 1+1=11"? “An unlikely pairing of two online media giants”? “A great American success story”? "The equivalent of a fourth-quarter Hail Mary pass"? "A slow-motion train wreck and will end in disaster”? These are some of the ways people have been talking about AOL’s “game-changing” acquisition of the Huffington Post for $315 million earlier this week.
The positive descriptions, it should be noted, come directly from Arianna Huffington and AOL CEO Tim Armstrong themselves. The rest of the world isn’t so sure. I had to laugh when I saw this headline in the Hollywood Reporter: “Advertising Execs Worry Huffington Post Will Taint AOL's Brand.” Because, reall... > Read more
Earlier this week in digging into some Google insights for search data we learned that an increasing number of you are looking for information about Google's AdWords Certification program: The impetus for all this new-found search interest is likely a rebranding of Google's partner program and a series of changes on Google's end to how the AdWords certification process works, including several eligibility standards.
As with the need for free AdWords videos mentioned here recently, not all of Google's help materials are immediately helpful, and the same is true for the documentation around the AdWords certification program (possibly another reason for a jump in search traffic here). In this post we'll try to represent some of the nuts and bolts information around getting google adwords cer... > Read more