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 presented their findings to Google. Googler Matt Cutts, head of SEO websp... > 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 tools to help advertisers perform just these... > 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
Breaking News: Google has this week modified their ad headline format giving you yet another reason to care about Quality Score. The new ad headline may display twice as much information as before, combining both your headline and description line 1 fields, into one super-big headline (with its larger, bolder font) where it’s most likely to be noticed.
This change in ad text headline format only affects high Quality Score ads that appear above the search results on Google. Additionally, it will only super-size your ad text if each line appears to be a distinct sentence and ends in the proper punctuation. The headline and description line 1 will be separated by a hyphen. Now, some top placement ads will have even longer, more eye-catching headlines. Here's just one example of the lon... > Read more
When you have to read a help file to understand how to use a feature, doesn’t it bug you? Don’t you wish that things were a little more intuitive and easy to use? For whatever reason, the AdWords team seems to be masters at releasing very useful features (sometimes awesome features like Broad Match Modifiers) and then making them a pain to use.
You may remember my concerns about ACE for ads a few weeks back. Again, ACE for ads is great, but no fun to use. I hate to be negative about negative keywords, which I love so much (see my posts on search query mining), but AdWords made me feel stupid when I created my first "negative keyword list." I hate it when software makes me feel stupid. Creating the list was very straightforward. Simply: Navigate to the Control panel and library C... > Read more
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Build customer loyalty: Start new customers on AdWords with a risk-free trial.Get some free advertising for your business. But First, Check out Our Most Popular AdWords Articles!If you're starting an adwords account, be sure to check out some of our top free PPC training articles to ensure your google adwords promos are... > Read more
This is a guest post by Peter VanRysdam, the CMO of 352 Media Group, an award-winning Tampa Web design company, and the author of Marketing in a Web 2.0 World. Connect with him on Twitter: @Peter352. From the CEO’s desk, marketing looks like a pretty simple prospect. Slap together a funny video, post it online and wait for it to “go viral.
” If it were only that easy. In fact, the quickest way to doom a viral campaign is to try to make it go viral. Just like with search engine optimization, content is king when it comes to viral marketing. A remarkable message will be shared, while a blatant ad will be seen for what it is and join the long list of failed memes on YouTube. You don’t have to fall into that dreaded trap. I’m a firm believer in learning from mistak... > Read more
If you write blog content with any consistency, you've stared at a blank page anxiously as time winds down on a deadline. But one of the great things about being a blogger is the wealth of keyword tools available online. Rather than being left to your own brainstorming devices, you can use any of a number of tools to come up with great blog ideas.
One such tool with a lot of great features for blog ideation is Google Insights for Search. Getting Started: Using Google Insights for Search Terms & Filters We'll start at the beginning and look at some different ways to seed our search for great blog ideas. We have some great options at our disposal for filtering the types of insights we get from the tool right out of the gate. If we're running a local blog we can use time range in the... > Read more
I won't try to fill any roundup shoes this Friday as the blog's real writing talent (no offense to Chad or myself) takes a day off, but I did want to talk about the Search Saga (I use saga instead of "wars" deliberately, as it's really more of a he-said-she-said spat than a technological arms race) and the latest news surrounding Google and Blekko and content farms (oh my?).
We'll start with the Google/Bing spat. I won't give you the standard roundup as Search Engine Land has done their usual impeccable job of that (check out their latest post for, well: the latest), Larry covered it yesterday and you can no doubt find it several other places on the Web. I also won't talk about who's "right" or "wrong" because I'm already a bit weary of the subject, and if you read this blog there's a... > Read more
In a response to Google's recent sting operation on Bing, Yusuf Mehdi, senior VP for Microsoft's Online Services Division, accused Google of "feigned outrage" and wrote in a blog post that "Google's 'experiment' was rigged to manipulate Bing search results through a type of attack also known as 'click fraud.
'" Eh? What Click Fraud? Recently, Google tweaked its search engine to return illogical results for made-up search terms like "mbzrxpgjys" or "hiybbprqag". The team of 20 or so engineers then went home at night and manually searched on those made-up words and all clicked on the false results using Internet Explorer, with Suggested Sites and the Bing Toolbar enabled. The Bing toolbar collects and leverages anonymous click-stream data in their SERP ranking algorithms, and within a few wee... > Read more
Over the past few weeks, we've walked you through several scenarios demonstrating how you can use the newest evolution of WordStream to supercharge your AdWords account. Whether you're a novice or an expert, WordStream for PPC has tools that can make your job easier and your campaigns more successful.
Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. Scenario #5 “I know the best practices. I’ve been using AdWords for a long time now and have had a history of success. That being said, I’m always trying to find ways to squeeze every last drop of profit out of my account, add to my efficiency, and continue to grow PPC-related revenue for the business.” If you're an old hand at AdWords – whether you're an pay-per-click agency or an individual advertiser – and you're already ... > Read more
The newswires are today reporting that Google is accusing Bing of copying their results. In a ridiculously dorky plot, Google spent months developing a Bing sting operation. They created random words such as "mbzrxpgjys" or "hiybbprqag" that had no legitimate matches on Bing or Google searches. Google then it created its own "honeypot page" (yes, they actually called it a honey pot page! lol) with Research in Motion at the top of the page.
Within a couple of weeks Research in Motion began appearing at the top of Bing searches for mbzrxpgjys. The following screenshot illustrates the search results for mbzrxpgjys on Bing and Google: Stefan Weitz, director of the Bing search engine at Microsoft, admitted in an interview that the company studies how certain users interact with Goog... > Read more
AP officially recognized blogs as credible news sources in September 2010, but people have trusted blogs a lot longer than that. In fact, due to an over-saturated, price-driven advertising market, blogs — and the recommendations and sharing of information through social media that come from them — are quickly becoming the most trustworthy form of “advertising” (and I use that term loosely because blogs are more editorial than anything).
Adding a blogger outreach element to your marketing campaign is the best way to harness the power of your industry’s influential blogs, build brand awareness among the people who matter, and get some quality content links back to your website to drive your SEO campaign. Best of all, you have a definable way to measure your ROI. Caesars Entertainme... > Read more
DANG, y'all! You just. Can't. Get. Enough. Link building posts. Remember when I said I was running out of pictures of chainlinks? That's why you get a classic NES reference for your image today. So here you have it, our most popular blog posts from January: lots of link building love and a few AdWords and PPC posts too.
Enjoy! Quick and Dirty Link Building Tip Part 1: How to Get Lots of Link Prospect URLs FAST!: This is the first in a three-part series by SEO whiz Tom Demers, in which he lays out a process for a fast link-building campaign. Quick and Dirty Link Building Part 2: How to Prioritize Your Link Building Efforts: In Part 2 of this series, Tom explains how to sort through the link prospects you gathered in Part 1. Link Building 101: 5 Simple Ways to Build Links that ... > Read more
If you're new to AdWords, the platform can seem overwhelming, and like anything you'll likely look for help in the form of forums, tutorials and books. There are a lot of great training programs (like PPC Blog and Certified Knowledge), a number of excellent books (like Brad Geddes' Advanced Google AdWords and David Szetela's Pay Per Click Marketing an Hour a Day), and of course AdWords' own help resources.
One challenge people new to AdWords sometimes face is that the help materials can be a bit dry, and the complexity of the AdWords platform can be a bit intimidating. As a result a lot of times videos can be a good way to get going and can help you understand how your ads are served. Once you understand the basic idea behind pay-per-click marketing these videos will help you to get a more ... > Read more
Matt “Google Spam” Cutts himself pointed out “an interesting essay on search neutrality” this week. If you initially read this as “net neutrality,” so did I – in fact “search neutrality” is a pseudo-buzzword concept that is built on the principles of net neutrality, as James Grimmelmann notes in the essay, titled “Some Skepticism About Search Neutrality.
” Search neutrality targets search engines like Google rather than Internet service providers (ISPs), and its proponents argue that search engines shouldn’t be able to discriminate among websites, biasing results toward some sites rather than others. But wait, a skeptic like Grimmelmann might say – don’t search engines exist to discriminate among sites? If they didn’t, how could there be rankings at all? Grimme... > Read more
When it comes to link building, anchor text is really important. So is domain authority. Often the types of links you'll be able to build will force you to sacrifice one or the other. You can create an infographic that gets a lot of unique, authoritative domains to link at your site with suboptimal anchor text, or you might be able to use some article directory submission sites to get great anchor text from low-value link sources.
Ideally you would do both at the same time, and get great links from authoritative sources with exactly the anchor text you want. We'll walk through a few relatively simple ways that you can do just that. 1. Guest Posts Guest posts are probably the most powerful example of how you can get a link on an authoritative domain (and even on an authoritative page) with ... > Read more
Over the past couple of weeks, we've walked you through some examples of ways you can use the newest evolution of WordStream to supercharge your AdWords account. Whether you're a novice or an expert, WordStream for PPC has tools that can make your job easier and your campaigns more successful. Read Part 1 and Part 2.
Scenario #4 “I work at an agency. We're new to offering PPC services and need a way to quickly onboard clients and manage them going forward to produce strong results.” Many advertising and interactive agencies have only recently begun offering pay-per-click services. If you're in this situation, you likely know it's a big opportunity and are ready to jump in, but you need a little help getting up to speed. Conversely, you may work at a new pay-per-click agency tha... > Read more
One of my PPC New Year’s resolutions was to start taking advantage of geo-targeting more in AdWords. Analyzing your AdWords Geographic Report is a good place to start with developing your strategy for setting up geo-targeted campaigns. Everyone knows about the power of Excel for PPC data analysis, but not too many people are taking advantage of the power of data visualization using Tableau.
Download Tableau Public Tableau is an easy-to-use business intelligence and data visualization software. You can download a copy of Tableau Public for testing. Tableau is like a visual pivot table and really shines at displaying multi-dimensional views of data. Don’t be intimidated, Tableau has lots of training material on their website, so it won’t take you long to start slicing and dicing ... > Read more
AdWords is getting very complicated. There are new features being churned out constantly, and if you're a new advertiser or simply not a paid search expert, it's difficult to keep up with what's in the interface, let alone make use of all the tools. Obviously we can't review the utility of every single new feature for every single advertiser here on the blog, but I thought it would be useful to walk through a specific feature for a specific type of advertiser.
The aim will be to offer advice for how to evaluate new features and whether there's utility in leveraging them for your own AdWords campaigns. Evaluating a New AdWords Feature: The Ad Interactions Report AdWords announced the introduction of a new report in the dimensions tab (the reports' having moved to the dimensions tab is ... > Read more
Who here feels useful and necessary? Ah ah – not so fast there, humans! While cruising the blogosphere this week I ran across two stories that suggest we’re falling behind a bit in our ongoing race for supremacy with the machines. (I probably would have found more if my reading speed and comprehension weren’t limited by inherent human weakness.
) You’ve all heard it from copywriters and SEOs alike: Don’t write for search engines, write for people! It’s become an SEO cliché, up there with “Don’t link for the sake of linking” and “No keyword stuffing.” But A.J. Kohn of Blind Five Year Old has turned the cliché on its head. Screw that, he says: “Stop writing for people. Start writing for search engines.&rdquo... > Read more
One of the most under-utilized aspects of Google Analytics is the tool's filtering and segmentation capabilities. By using custom reports you can get at some very useful and actionable data, but a lot of people don't fully understand how custom reports and advanced segments work and how they can be leveraged to gain insights into your online marketing efforts.
In this post we'll walk through the difference between custom reports and advanced segments, and where and why you might want to use one and not the other.How is a Custom Report Different From an Advanced Segment?The main thing here is to think of custom reports as reports, and advanced segments as filters. (NOTE: Important and hopefully not too confusing distinction: There is a separate function within Google Analytics that is actual... > Read more
In any given month, AdWords experiments with numerous subtle variations of the Google search results page, testing everything from font sizes and colors to layouts and spacing, as well as dozens of other variables. Recently, they found that by standardizing the look of the URLs on the page, it had a slight improvement on ad click-through rates.
As a result, they're changing the appearance of the display URLs of all ads that appear on Google and search partner sites. This is a global launch that affects all Google domains. Following the change, the domain portion of the display URL will always be shown in lowercase letters. The following illustration shows an example of how the ads will be displayed post-change. This change affects the domain portion of the display URL, including any subdo... > Read more
Over the next few weeks, we'd like to walk you through some examples of ways you can use the newest evolution of WordStream to supercharge your AdWords account. Whether you're a novice or an expert, WordStream for PPC has tools that can make your job easier and your campaigns more successful. Read Part 1 of the series here.
Scenario #3 "I've had an AdWords account running for quite some time, but my Quality Scores remain low, even after revamping my website and landing pages." There are a number of factors that go into determining your Quality Scores, and the relevance of your landing pages, as well as factors like website load time, do have an effect. But you'll have the most impact on your Quality Scores by focusing on your ads and ad groups. Specifically, you'll need to: Ensure that yo... > Read more
If you're a paid search expert focused on managing pay-per-click campaigns, you're likely up to date with Google's constantly expanding feature set. But if you're new to AdWords or are managing paid search campaigns as one of multiple responsibilities, it's likely there are some important things going on in your account that you aren't even aware of.
In this post we'll call out five key things that many PPC advertisers don't realize about their Google AdWords accounts.1. Keywords Aren't Actually What Searchers Are TypingMining search queries is a crucial part of the paid search management process, but many advertisers aren't aware of the fact that keywords aren't search queries: the keywords you bid on frequently aren't the things people are actually searching for. Because of the way match ... > Read more
Proving that its record-breaking financing round hasn't made it too self-important – or that it's run by power-giddy, Zuckerbergesque children with no sense of when to get serious, not sure which – Groupon this week published a very cheeky press released titled "Groupon Raises, Like, A Billion Dollars.
" Pretty spot on – it raised $950 million, which might as well be a billion. The press release also contained this line: "In the last year, Groupon has been called 'the fastest growing company ever' by Forbes Magazine and 'America's best website' by one of Groupon's television commercials." I'd be totally charmed if I didn't irrationally hate Groupon. You know how you just hate certain celebrities for little to no reason? That's how I feel about Groupon.... > Read more
Quick and Dirty Link Building Part 3: How to Get Contact Information and Craft a Great Link Outreach Email
Thus far in our Quick and Dirty Link Building series we've covered two crucial stages in the link prospecting and outreach stages:Getting Lots of Link Prospect URLs FASTPrioritizing Your Link Building EffortsNow we have to actually take the URLs that we've deemed outreach-worthy and make them outreach-ready.
This means appending contact information to the URLs, and coming up with an approach for outreach. If you're a novice at link building, please head forward to our link building how to.How to Get Contact Information for Your Link ProspectsBefore you can reach out to people you need to actually have an email address and contact information to reach them at. The first step in this process is to target a specific type or types of contact information. Here we'll look to get the emails of th... > Read more
Over the next few weeks, we'd like to walk you through some examples of ways you can use the newest evolution of WordStream to supercharge your AdWords account. Whether you're a novice or an expert, WordStream for PPC has tools that can make your job easier and your campaigns more successful. Scenario #1 “I just recently set up my AdWords account.
I have a few campaigns/ad groups/keywords in there, but I didn’t really know what I was doing, so it needs to be redone. I’m essentially starting from scratch.” Sound familiar? You're not alone. Many of our clients are just getting their feet wet with PPC; they know they need to add it to their marketing channel, but they haven't had time to learn it from top to bottom, and they're nervous that the whole effort could turn ... > Read more
Which day of the week do your contextual PPC ads get the most clicks? Infolinks recently released a study showing that in-text pay-per-click advertisements get more clicks on Tuesday than any other day of the week, followed by Wednesday and then Monday. Unsurprisingly, clicks were lowest on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, with a typical Sunday accounting for 45% fewer clicks than Tuesday.
This study was based on Infolinks' database of over 40,000 websites and analyzed data spanning all of 2010. According to the study: "Advertisers and publishers can utilize this click data for smarter investments and also higher payouts. By concentrating advertising efforts on Tuesday, Wednesday and even Monday, higher engagement can be accomplished and in turn higher revenue earned." ... > Read more