Check Out Our Expanded Quality Score Toolkit - Free!

For a while now, we've been offering a free Quality Score Toolkit that rounds up our best resources for marketers looking to learn more about Quality Score. This toolkit includes: A white paper on improving Quality Score by increasing relevance A "Mastering Quality Score" video (a recording of one of our most popular webinars) A Quality Score Cheat Sheet, a one-pager dense with information about Quality Score And we've just added a fourth element that makes this toolkit even more useful for search marketers.

One of our resident PPC experts, Andy Stefano, has put together a Quality Score worksheet that will give you a quick overview of where your AdWords account stands from a Quality Score perspective. Just plug in some key numbers in the first page of the worksheet, and a dashb... > Read more

October 13, 2010     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 0

Announcing WordStream's New Quality Score Management Tools

Since WordStream launched, we’ve talked a lot about Quality Score and created a number of Quality Score resources: A Quality Score white paper A Quality Score toolkit including a handy Quality Score cheat-sheet, a webinar on the topic, and a meaty white paper. And an interview which we think serves as a pretty comprehensive guide to Quality Score (despite what some people may think about the veracity of some of the interview answers – hat tip to Aaron of SEO Book and PPC Blog PPC Training for the very insightful comments incidentally!) We believe campaign structure is a foundational element in building out profitable pay-per-click marketing campaigns, and we know that it’s a crucial component of Google’s ad auction.

And while many vendors focus on tool... > Read more

October 12, 2010     |   Written by: Larry Kim   |   Posted In: WordStream   |   Comments: 1

The Ontolo Boys Make Link Building EASY with V2 Link Building Toolset

The link building game changed today with the launch of Ontolo's V2 Link Building Toolset that, according to the Ontolo boys, makes link building "ridiculously easy." They dropped by our offices today (ok, via email) to answer some questions about how they're revolutionizing the link building tool space.

.. These guys are on fire lately so it's a real treat to have them "on our blog" today. BTW, we've reviewed their V1 launch and had the pleasure of interviewing Ben Wills and Garrett French before. Ken: Guys, welcome back! Talk to me about how the Ontolo tool makes link building "ridiculously easy." Ben: Thanks Ken! The Ontolo Link Building Toolset makes link building ridiculously easy in the following ways: We find and measure link prospects based on your SEO keywords as well as your targ... > Read more

October 12, 2010     |   Written by: Ken Lyons   |   Posted In:   |   Comments: 1

Google: If Not Broken Then Fix Else Ignore End If

Another week, another Friday, and Google is doing what Google does best – giving the search marketing community something to whine about. Google has taken the "new" keyword tool out of beta and retired the previous versions, the new tool now being the only tool there is. Google claims the new version offers more flexible search options and easier keyword refinement; in addition, users can now view statistics for mobile search.

If search volumes look different to you, that's because the old tool shows stats for search partners, and the new tool only shows stats for searches conducted on Google.com. However, a lot of advertisers had been ignoring the existence of the new tool, preferring to stick with the old UI. Robbed of that option, many aren't too happy about it. Patrick... > Read more

October 08, 2010     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: Online Marketing Blog Roundup   |   Comments: 4

11 Essential WordPress Plugins for New Blogs

I've created dozens of websites using WordPress, both for my own personal use and also for clients. When I create a blog in WordPress, one of the first things I do is install plugins to turn the off the shelf version into a highly-functional, feature driven machine. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of WordPress plugins, but I stick to a stable of 11 tried and true essential plugins to power my new blogs.

Here they are. WordPress Automatic Upgrade: WordPress updates pretty frequently, and older versions are vulnerable to hackers. WordPress Automatic Upgrade automatically updates you to the latest version of WordPress so you're site is secure and up-to-date. And believe me, the last thing you want is to find out your site is infected with malware. Ultimate Google Analytics:... > Read more

October 07, 2010     |   Written by: Ken Lyons   |   Posted In:   |   Comments: 8

Five More Frequently Asked Questions About AdWords Quality Score

The following questions were asked during last week's "Five Myths About Quality Score" webinar. You can read the answers to more Quality Score FAQs here. Q: Does landing page load time effect Quality Score? A: Yes, the load time of your landing pages and site in general is a factor in your AdWords Quality Score, albeit not the most important factor.

Google takes load times into account because they have a significant effect on user experience. To reduce your load times, try optimizing your images and CSS and doing away with unnecessary animation, such as moving ads. Q: You said that CPC bid does not affect Quality Score. But a higher ad may have a higher CTR, so does it indirectly affect QS? A: Google normalizes your click-through rate based on your ad position. Your expected CTR is higher... > Read more

October 06, 2010     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: SEM Questions   |   Comments: 2

Announcing SocialTech 2010 (with $100 Discount for Our Readers)

The folks over at MarketingProfs have put together a great social media B2B tech conference called SocialTech 2010. SocialTech 2010 brings together the visionaries and experts who are using the power of social media to transform the way that B2B technology companies market their products and services.

At SocialTech 2010, you will: Learn how to energize your company’s B2B marketing and sales via social media from experts. Connect with your technology marketing and sales peers to network and share social media marketing tips. See the latest innovations in social media tools and services. The event is happening in-person in San Jose, CA, as well as online from "wherever you work" on October 26, 2010, from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (PT). Check out the SocialTech event website to get th... > Read more

October 05, 2010     |   Written by: Larry Kim   |   Posted In:   |   Comments: 0

Keyword Research for Email Marketing

When we think of keyword research we usually don't think beyond search engines. However, keyword research has applications beyond SEO and PPC. Another online marketing discipline it applies to is email marketing -- albeit with a different angle. Keywords are everything to email marketers. Choosing the right words to put in an email message can make the difference between campaign success and miserable failure.

Keyword research is applicable to nearly all aspects of an email message: Sender Name It starts with the sender. You don't want your email to be seen as coming from an anonymous person or a source that isn't trusted. Putting the right sender name in your email software is a vital aspect of crafting an email marketing campaign. Most email marketers go for branded keywords here, usuall... > Read more

October 05, 2010     |   Posted In: Keyword Marketing   |   Comments: 5

Announcing: WordStream/Acquisio Partnership

  Today at SMX East (come visit us at booth 318 if you're at the show, by the way!) we announced a partnership with Acquisio, a paid search marketing and performance media platform designed for agencies. We recently announced a similar partnership with gShift Labs - both software companies will be leveraging the WordStream Keyword Tool API to offer additional functionality to their customers.

Acqusio has a nice write-up on the API integration and what it means to their customers. Not unlike the gShift announcement, the really exciting part of the partnership for us is the chance to work with really smart people and to have a cutting-edge software company leveraging our API and delivering our technology to their customers to help them succeed with paid search marketing. Intereste... > Read more

October 04, 2010     |   Written by: Tom Demers   |   Posted In: WordStream   |   Comments: 0

High-volume keywords vs. low-volume keywords

This article provides a refresher on the difference between high-volume and low-volume keywords, the pros and cons of each, and the factors that can help determine whether or not a low- or high-volume keyword phrase should be bid on in your keyword advertising campaign. High-volume keywords   These keywords are search terms that have a large search volume.

In other words, many people are querying these terms on Google, Yahoo and Bing. One example is the keyword phrase “computer repair.” AdWords shows that worldwide there are 823,000 Google searches for this phrase each month.     The pros of buying high-volume keywords include: More people will probably see your ad. More people will probably click on your ad. More people may buy your product or service. These are some... > Read more

October 04, 2010     |   Written by: Christine Laubenstein   |   Posted In: Keyword Marketing   |   Comments: 4

Everything's Coming Up … AOL?

AOL (or is it Aol now?) is back on the map lately. A couple of people I know recently started working for them in some capacity, so I figured they were making a hiring push in preparation for a comeback. That comeback plan must involve acquisitions, because this week brought news of AOL's purchasing TechCrunch.

Yes, the ultimate symbol of all that is dated and lame about the Internet has purchased the tech blog that everyone loves to hate for its sketchy ethics and what Michael Gray calls "page view journalism." This, supposedly, will further AOL's strategy of becoming "the global leader in sourcing, creating, producing and delivering high-quality, trusted, original content to consumers." Hey, you gotta have goals. This was actually just one of several acquisitions anno... > Read more

October 01, 2010     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: Online Marketing Blog Roundup   |   Comments: 4

Do Low-Volume Keywords Always Have Low Quality Scores?

Yesterday, one of our resident AdWords experts, Andy Stefano, led a webinar called "Five Myths About Quality Score." He received the following question from one of the attendees. Below you'll find Andy's answer. Is it possible that some businesses inherently get a low keyword Quality Score because they are in low-volume industries? For example, we are in the horse topical treatment industry – that will never get as much interest as, say, the golf or football industry.

– Jane Here's Andy's response:  Hi Jane,  This is a really interesting question. I think “low-volume” won’t be a determining factor, but “low-interest” might be. Let me explain. I started tackling your question by looking at the data I had access to. I had a sample... > Read more

September 30, 2010     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 0

Best of the Month: WordStream's September Highlights

We are getting heavy into fall here, folks. OK not really. The high yesterday was 80. But if you're like me, September just feels different, whatever the temperature. It's the start of a new "semester." After 25 years of nonstop schooling, I've been in the plain-old workforce for almost six years, but I'm still trying to break the habit of buying academic planners.

(Same goes for the annual ritual of "back to school" shopping.) In the spirit of back-to-school, why not throw on a scarf and blazer (turn up the AC is necessary) and catch up on our most popular posts this month? Link Building Magic: How to Turn Citations into Links: Did you all want to be magicians as kids or what? Ken shares one of our favorite secret link-building tricks. How to Find People on Twitter: N... > Read more

September 30, 2010     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: WordStream   |   Comments: 0

Seven Unusual, Eye-Catching Calls to Action

There are a few key basics that every PPC text ad needs in order to rank well and generate clicks: A compelling headline Relevant keywords A relevant display URL A call to action This post focuses on the last requirement. The call to action, or CTA, is the language that tells the searcher what to do – in other words, giving them a reason to click.

(Aside from increasing your traffic, a higher click-through rate will also improve your Quality Score, which in turn will lower your costs.) The default call to action is something like "Buy now!" This may be better than no CTA at all, but it's not very good. It's too familiar, too general and too pushy. So what's a better call to action? It's good to remember that your CTA doesn't have to be a direct sales push – there are many other soft ... > Read more

September 29, 2010     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: Copywriting   |   Comments: 8

Case Study: How a Change to the 'About Us' Page Raised Conversion Rates by 13%

A question for you online marketers and content managers out there: If you made a small change to a client's website (or your own), such as a content revision of those basic web pages linked to at the bottom of the homepage (FAQs, Help, Contact Us, etc.) – how would you expect it to affect your sales? Most of you would probably say, Dude, ask a real marketing question.

Typically, these teeny tiny links at the bottom of the homepage do not operate as individual tools for acquiring more or longer traffic visits, or increased conversion rates – not the way landing pages or SEO content does.   Recently, our online translation service and LSP company, Tomedes, gave one of our most basic pages a make-over. By basic, we mean that pretty much every website has one. It's a web page t... > Read more

September 28, 2010     |   Posted In: Conversion Rates   |   Comments: 1

Fun Friday: Schmidt on Colbert; #WhenFacebookWasDown

It's Friday, and it's been an unusually long week (something about the tilt of the Earth, no doubt), so let's keep this roundup fun, shall we?What did you do while Facebook was down?Wednesday, due to a vaguely defined third-party networking issue, Facebook was down for a number of users across the country, and the site has continued to experience uptime issues.

This happened at roughly the same time that our own site experienced some downtime due to a Nettica problem (Nettica is our DNS provider), so I imagine this was the root cause of Facebook's downtime as well.Since you Facebook users all seem like a bunch of slavering addicts to me, I wondered what you did to bide the downtime. You turned to Twitter, of course!(Or other social networks, as the case may be.)Mostly, you spent the time r... > Read more

September 24, 2010     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: Online Marketing Blog Roundup   |   Comments: 0

Malware Hack Attack: When Bad Things Happen to Good Sites

I wanted to share an experience I've been going through after one of my sites was infected with malware. I've been involved in search marketing for the past six years and have been lucky enough to have never had a site hacked. But, alas, all good things must come to an end. About two weeks ago, one of my sites was the target of malevolent hackers.

I became aware of the security breach when I visited the SERPs and saw that Google was displaying the toxic "This site may harm your computer" warning, which looks like this (NOTE: this is NOT my website listing...it's just an example): When users click on "This site may harm your computer" link, it leads them to a Google support page. If you miss the warning and click on the actual site listing, you're redirected to an inte... > Read more

September 23, 2010     |   Written by: Ken Lyons   |   Posted In: Search Engine Marketing   |   Comments: 10

The Sky is Falling: A New To-Do List in the Wake of Google Instant

When I was in college (not so long ago), I had quite the morning routine. Most important to the routine, I never scheduled a class before 11:15 AM. Of course, this gave me time to sleep in, eat breakfast, and do any last-minute studying. Yes, my schedule was set and my daily to-dos were outlined. Eventually though, it all has to come crashing down.

Real life came faster than expected and I had a job. Quick lesson for any of our college readers: Most jobs start at 8 or 9 AM. Thus, my morning routine was ruined. Worst of all, no more breakfast -- goodbye eggs, goodbye bacon, and goodbye pancakes. The first few weeks were a struggle, but eventually came the day when I found Instant Breakfast, a breakfast drink that provides the nutrients I need in the morning. This changed everything. Breakfa... > Read more

September 20, 2010     |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 0

Get Out Your Firebrands & Pour Yourself a Brandy: It's Brand Week!

It's Brand Week at WordStream! OK, so I just made that up. We haven't been calling it Brand Week, but I just christened it—branded it, if you will—myself. We've been making some improvements to our office space, including the fancy new sign and display in our lobby, as you can see in the video below, with the intention of strengthening our branding for visitors to the office (board members, job candidates, consultants, paparazzi, and so on) as well as our office culture.

(By the way, if you're curious about the display in the video, it's the work of LocaModa, a location-based social media company.) Coincidentally, I've been seeing a lot of talk about branding this week. Could it be that fall is coming, and everyone wants to turn over a new leaf? (These puns don't even make ... > Read more

September 17, 2010     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: Online Marketing Blog Roundup   |   Comments: 6

SEO Specialists: Can You Help Us Test Our SEO Product?

Wordstream is looking to speak with search marketing practitioners to gather input on how we can evolve our SEO product to better meet customer needs. We’re conducting a series of 50-minute research sessions via phone on Tuesday, Sept 21, and Wednesday, Sept 22nd. These interviews can be scheduled at your convenience, and to thank you for your time, we’ll send you a $75 American Express gift card.

If you meet the following criteria and are interested, please drop a comment or send us an email: Search marketing specialist or practitioner who has responsibility for SEO for their organization Available to participate in a 50-minute session sometime between 8:30 am and 8:00 pm Eastern time, on 9/21 or 9/22 Have Internet access using a broadband, DSL, or T1 connection (no dial-up)... > Read more

September 16, 2010     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: SEO Marketing   |   Comments: 1

Influence Finder Review

Influence Finder is one of the latest link profiling tools to hit the market. I would classify the Influence Finder software as a "link target tool," giving users the ability to "spy on" the backlink profile of a competitor or multiple competitors to discover link opportunities. Influence Finder also lets you evaluate your own site's link profile as well, to perform some self-assessment and find out who's linking to you and what's driving your site's SERP performance.

Where Does Influence Finder Get Its Link Data? Influence Finder grabs all of its link data from the massive Majestic SEO API, so you know it's robust and accurate. But Influence Finder takes Majestic's link data a step further by re-crawling the Majestic link data and filtering out any dead links, so the data you're getting i... > Read more

September 16, 2010     |   Written by: Ken Lyons   |   Posted In: Link Building   |   Comments: 1

PPC Ad Testing to Maximize Conversions

The goal of PPC ad testing is to increase your click-through rate (CTR) and/or your conversion rate (CVR). Focusing on CTR should result in more traffic to your site, but it could be at the expense of your CVR. On the other hand, focusing on conversion rate should improve the quality of your traffic, but could hurt your CTR and reduce the number of potential customers visiting your site.

As advertisers we are asked to maximize both CTR and CVR, which often requires totally different approaches. If you want to maximize the total number of conversions on your site, you will need to look at a different metric which considers both the CTR and the CVR. This metric is called Impression-to-Conversion or I2C (Conversions/Impressions). I recently created a free Excel download for determining statis... > Read more

September 15, 2010     |   Written by: Chad Summerhill   |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 2

The Pros and Cons of Link Begging

One way to get links pointing back to your website is by link begging—basically, asking someone to link to your site from theirs. People beg for links by sending an email, making a phone call, or messaging someone over a social networking site like Twitter or Facebook. Recently, I wrote in a blog post about link building myths that I believe link begging is a waste of time—it's just not scalable.

  However, some search marketers swear by link begging. Is it a workable strategy, or a bad idea? To help you make an educated decision about whether to engage in link begging, let's consider the practice's pros and cons.  Here are some of the pros of link begging: Link begging can, in fact, get you links. Link begging is a way of alerting people to your content. Especially if you'r... > Read more

September 14, 2010     |   Written by: Larry Kim   |   Posted In: Link Building   |   Comments: 1

SEO Copywriting Interview: Heather Lloyd-Martin

Heather Lloyd-Martin is a 20-year marketing veteran, a recognized author and considered the pioneer of SEO copywriting. For over 12 years, Heather’s firm, SuccessWorks, has been training corporate in-house SEO copywriters and creating revenue-driving Web site content campaigns. Heather serves on the board of American Writers and Artists, Inc.

, is an advisory board member of SEMpdx and serves on the PubCon conference advisory board. In 2010, SuccessWorks launched the SEO Copywriting Certification training, the only certification program for in-house and freelance SEO copywriters.   Can you tell us a little bit about SuccessWorks and how you got into the SEO copywriting business? Sure! I started my SEO copywriting career B.G. (before Google) around 1998. Prior to that, I had worked as... > Read more

September 13, 2010     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: Copywriting   |   Comments: 4

How Google Instant Changes SEO, PPC, the Long Tail Plus Your Gas Mileage, Credit Score & Sex Appeal

This weekend at home, I was surprised to find Google was giving me way more than ten results per page—more like twenty, though I confess I didn't bother to count. (It seems Google no longer does the counting for you.) I quickly sent an email to Tom and Ken about it, but it appeared it was "just me," or rather an experiment that was only affecting some users (as reported by Andy Beard and Barry Schwartz).

I was still thinking about this experiment on Wednesday, contemplating a post called "No More 'Ten Blue Links'" when Google unveiled a much bigger change—big enough to warrant a live press conference, big enough to get everyone on Twitter talking, and not just the "tweeple" in my web marketing column. This big change is Google Instant. It sounds a little like a joke—for a while now G... > Read more

September 10, 2010     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: Google   |   Comments: 8

Link Building Magic: How to Turn Citations into Links

As any link wonk will tell you, link building is hard work. So for efficiency's sake, I’m a big fan of harvesting the low hanging fruit in link building. Why kill yourself trying to acquire links from super domains, like CNN.com or The New York Times, when you can grab some quick wins just by tending your own garden?One of the ways I snag some easy link wins is by turning citations into links.

Of all the daily link building tactics I engage in, this is probably one of the best ROI producers. You see, at WordStream, we get cited dozens of times each day across the Web. Most of these mentions (I'd say about 70%) contain links back to our site. But roughly 30% are linkless. And therein lies the opportunity to build a link.Now when it comes to local SEO, I know that citations are like links.... > Read more

September 09, 2010     |   Written by: Ken Lyons   |   Posted In: Link Building   |   Comments: 13

Google Instant: Told Via Search Story

There is already lots and lots (that one's my personal favorite) and lots of great insight and analysis surrounding Google Instant, and we'll have some of our own here on the blog in the next couple days, but for now we just have a look at how an average (i.e. non-tech savvy, doesn't know who Eric, Larry, or Sergei are) searcher might hope to gain undestanding about Google Instant:    ... > Read more

September 08, 2010     |   Written by: Tom Demers   |   Posted In: Google   |   Comments: 0

Announcing The Power User's Guide to Google Analytics Hacks, Tips and Tricks

Google Analytics (GA) is undoubtedly the most popular web analytics tool on the planet. If you're a search marketer, blogger or online business owner, you likely use Google Analytics on a daily basis to do some basic traffic and performance analysis. But like many, you're probably not harnessing the full power of Google Analytics.

So to help you get even more out of GA, we reached out to 17 Google Analytics experts to create The Power User's Guide to Google Analytics Hacks, Tips and Tricks. The guide features a variety of advanced user features from our all star lineup of Google Analytics Hacks Panelists, including Aaron Wall, Vanessa Fox, Joost de Valk, David Harry, Will Critchlow, Brian Clifton, Justin Cutroni, Bryan Eisenberg, Bas van den Beld and many more analytics experts. Hope ... > Read more

September 08, 2010     |   Written by: Ken Lyons   |   Posted In: Analytics   |   Comments: 2

Why you should monitor the top search results for your brand keywords

If you’re a serious company you should care about how you appear to potential customers or employees on the Internet. People are always online nowadays, looking up information about a company before they do business or apply for a job. If someone searches for your company in Google, Bing, or another search engine, it’s important that the first page of search results contains positive information about your company.

  Here are a few reasons why you should control the first SERP: If someone finds a negative review about your product or service, they’re less likely to purchase it (or anything at all from your company). If someone sees people complaining about working for your company, they might not apply for a job there. If someone finds negative articles about yo... > Read more

September 07, 2010     |   Written by: Christine Laubenstein   |   Posted In: SEO Marketing   |   Comments: 0

Sphinn Pulls Plug on Voting; The 'Community' Reacts

On Wednesday, the moderators of Sphinn announced that the site would lose its main social feature—voting—and move to a pure editorial format, with the editors hand-selecting the best of submitted stories to promote to the front page. If you haven't already heard about this, you either: Took a few days off Haven't been on Twitter lately Don't work in Internet marketing Have real job responsibilities and/or "a life" Just kidding about that last one.

Perhaps the death of Sphinn as we know it isn't quite as earth-shaking as Michael Jackson's passing, but it definitely caused a stir in the search marketing community. After the announcement was made on the Sphinn blog, Ruud Hein was one of the first to react. In a post called "Sphinn Is Dead: Long Live Anything Else,... > Read more

September 03, 2010     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In:   |   Comments: 1
 
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