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
Newly Released Google AdWords Optimize for Conversions Ad Setting Now LIVE: What Does it Mean for Your AdWords Campaigns?
I'm always a little skeptical about new AdWords features as you never know who is being presented with a great opportunity when Google rolls out a new feature. But every so often Google rolls something out that seems to be a direct answer to advertiser demand, like: Modified Broad Match AdWords Campaign Experiments (ACE) AdWords Automated Rules AdWords Call Metrics You get the idea: not everything Google does seems to be aimed at maximizing clicks and revenues.
Today we see (what appears on the surface to be) just such a feature. Google is rolling out a new "optimize for conversions" setting for your Google ads. From the AdWords blog: Show ads that are most likely to receive conversions more often Today we're announcing the launch of a new ad rotation setting in AdWords that allows ... > Read more
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 among the main landing pages on the site can be analyzed. To get started, enter a website URL in Xenu. You might want to exclude any directories like /theme, /images and others, d... > Read more
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 substitutes that likely cost less and absolutely get you better results.
Enter the blogger outreach campaign. A few weeks back, I showed the basics to building a blogger outreach campaign for your business. If this is your first visit, you’ll want to go back and read steps 1-4: You wouldn’t be seeking inbound links if you haven’t done your keyword research first. Here, we’ll run down what you do once you’ve selected and signed on your blogs, what to expect, and how to measure if it was successful. 5. Do What You Said You Would Wh... > 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’s branding so weak? Half the stories... > 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
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 Demers wrote this article about using symbols in PPC ad text. Was this the first time I’d ever heard of using symbols? Nope. But the last time it was on my mind, I didn’t take action, so I didn’t reap th... > Read more
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 and try to quench their thirst for knowledge. What’s also different about Quora is that it is more like a social network than other Q&A sites. You are able to follow users, questio... > 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 Personal B... > 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 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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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 mistakes, and thanks to the immortality of the Web, there are literally millions to learn from. Taking a hard look at the bad can help you avoid those same gaffes in your next campaign. So without further ado, here are fo... > 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