In the year plus we've been in the market, we've added a series of free utilities to WordStream.com, including: The Free Keyword Tool The Free Keyword Niche Finder The Free Keyword Grouper Several Free Search Engine Marketing White Papers Free Internet Marketing Articles The idea being that we're able to introduce prospective WordStream clients to our products and our philosophies and methodologies as a company.
Visitors to the WordStream site get something of value - a tool they can leverage to improve their search marketing results or content that offers actionable suggestions about how to get more out of search engine marketing - and in exchange we get permission to introduce them to solutions that we offer on a subscription basis. This is such a win-win for us, we thought other busi... > Read more
For the rest of the week, we'll be posting excerpts from our new free white paper, "Improving Quality Score: The Value of Being More Relevant." To download the full white paper (you'll only get about half of it here), fill out the form below. In a nutshell, Quality Score is a Google-devised system that measures advertising quality (or relevancy), which in turn helps determine if your ad is eligible to be displayed in the search results for a given query.
Beyond that, if your ad is deemed relevant, the position of your ad and the cost you pay each time it’s clicked are also partially determined by your Quality Score. The factors that determine Quality Score, as outlined by Google, include: The historical click-through rate (CTR) of your account and your specific keyword... > Read more
For the rest of the week, we'll be posting excerpts from our new free white paper, "Improving Quality Score: The Value of Being More Relevant." To download the full white paper (you'll only get about half of it here), fill out the form below.Why Should You Care About Quality Score?Should you be concerned about Quality Score? You probably should, but let’s find out for sure.
Take a look at this list and see if any of the following apply to you:a) You’re Paying Too Much – You’re annoyed at rising pay-per-click (PPC) advertising costs (or you wouldn’t mind paying less per click).b) Your Competitors Seem to Be Beating You – You wish your sponsored ads would show up higher than those of your competitors, but without having topaymore.c)... > Read more
On her blog, The Link Spiel, the always smart and interesting Debra Mastaler asks, "Can You Handle On-Page Links?" The post is a response to Nicholas Carr's post "Experiments in Delinkification" on Rough Type, as well as a post by Marshall Kirkpatrick called "The Case Against Links" (also responding to Carr).
Carr writes that he is beginning to come around to his friend Steve Gillmor's way of thinking about hyperlinks—that is, that inline links are a needless distraction and should be done away with or moved to the end of an article. His reasoning goes: The link is, in a way, a technologically advanced form of a footnote. It's also, distraction-wise, a more violent form of a footnote. Where a footnote gives your brain a gentle nudge, the link gives it a ... > Read more
Let me start off by coming clean and admitting that I’ve been dying to contribute to the WordStream blog since it debuted about a year ago. As CEO, I certainly could have posted any time I wanted (“it’s good to be the king”) … but I also have to admit to being intimidated due to the substantive nature of most of our posts and the corresponding readership.
So I couldn’t make just any post my first post—it had to be good. I figured the recent announcement of our successful capital raise provided as good an opportunity as any to make a meaningful contribution to the blog and our community of readers. Having raised more than $70 million for four start-up companies over the past 20 years, I have some clue as to what I'm talking about. (Not to mention I... > Read more
If you have a website, I'm sure you’ve put a lot of hard work and long hours into making it a valuable resource for your visitors. But if your links aren't working, it can derail all of your hard work. Broken links on your website can be harmful in two ways: They make for a bad user experience – When users click on links and reach dead-end 404 errors, they get frustrated and may never return.
They devalue your SEO efforts – Broken links restrict the flow of link equity throughout your site, which impacts rankings negatively. To avoid these potential pitfalls, you should periodically check for broken links on your entire website. If you’re wondering how to do this, you’re not alone. The good news is we’ve done this work before and we’ve documented everything in a step-by-ste... > Read more
The Quality Score of your pay-per-click ads is a key determinant in the amount you need to bid on keywords to secure a strong position in search engine results. The higher your Google Quality Score, the less you have to pay for your ad to appear in your desired position.For this reason, it's important to track your Quality Scores so you know how your ad campaigns are performing.
Low Quality Scores should prompt you to better organize your keywords, get rid of specific keywords, modify your ad text, or improve your landing pages (among other possible solutions). But first you need to find out what your Quality Scores are. Unfortunately, Bing doesn’t provide this information, but Google and Yahoo do. Here's how to find your Quality Score in Google AdWords and Yahoo Search Marketing.&n... > Read more
Last week I brought you the epic Facebook link roundup … this week, the epic Twitter roundup? Well, maybe not epic, exactly. But there’s definitely been some noise about Twitter, probably because people are sick to death of talking about Facebook. First, there’s @BPGlobalPR, which is basically the new @ShitMyDadSays.
If you somehow missed it (which seems impossible, if you’re on Twitter at all; there’s a 100% chance that someone you follow retweeted @BPGlobalPR this week), some folks set up this satirical account to highlight just how much “BP cares,” sending out a stream of tweets along the lines of: As you can imagine, this has caused quite a stir – but not at BP. According to AdAge: The use of the [logo] and of the @BPGlobalPR handle isn't something BP seems particularl... > Read more
I remember back in my school days it always seemed like Christmas would never come … then it did, and then it seemed like summer would never come. Now time pretty much flies by at warp speed all year. But, paradoxically, winter in Boston always seems interminable! So right now I'm simultaneously amazed that it's almost summer, and already too hot to sleep without the AC on, and pained that it took so long to get here, and dreading its inevitable end.
So it goes. I ate lunch from this exact viewpoint last Friday. Let's revisit some of our most popular posts of the month: R.I.P: Search Engine Optimization is Dead!: Ken pulled the old bait and switch with this one. This isn't yet another post about the death of SEO. Rather, Ken provides data showing just the opposite. Poll Re... > Read more
Spying is all the rage in SEO. Search marketers love to secretly spy on their competitors to try and decode their winning tactics. The logic (and hope) is that if they can determine why a particular site is ranking so well, then they can apply the same strategy to their own websites to best the competition.
The inherent flaw in this logic is that it is impossible to duplicate a site's link profile, even with all their link data. Bottom line is there are some links you will never be able to obtain, no matter how crafty you are or how hard you beg (which speaks to the importance of building quality backlinks so your competitor's can't easily turn the tables and duplicate your link profile). But that's okay. Your goal shouldn't be to replicate a competitor's link profile, link for link. You g... > Read more
This is a guest post by Niel Robertson. Niel is the CEO of Trada, the first PPC marketplace that allows agencies and in-house advertisers to leverage the skills of hundreds of the best PPC experts in the world, who in turn earn money risk free by generating low-cost clicks and conversions for advertisers.
Trada is running a contest in May for the best online marketing blog post; the winner receives an iPad. You can read more of Niel’s thoughts on the Trada blog and follow him on Twitter at @nielr1. The performance-based advertising world is focused on CPA. For those who are not aware of the acronym, it means cost per acquisition or cost per action (both versions are used). An acquisition or action can be anything that a website’s owners want it to be: a confirmed sale or a lead ge... > Read more
Recently I had a chance to pose a series of questions to Greg Gretsch, a partner at Sigma, one of our investors' venture capital firms. We recently recieved a second round of venture funding and while I was a member of the WordStream team when Larry got our first round of funding, I've never really been actively involved in raising capital.
I had a lot of questions around how venture capitalists view marketing programs and the search space, which Greg was nice enough to answer in his post on the marketing portion of your venture pitch. Greg spent even more time answering some of my follow-up questions via Email, and gave us the green light to post the answers on the blog. Since a lot of the audience here is either working in a marketing department, trying to learn SEO/SEM and grow them as... > Read more
On Wednesday, Jill Whalen (@jillwhalen) shared a link to a "stupid" article in the New York Times by someone who "has no clue what SEO is." The NYT isn't the opposite of hard-hitting journalism with integrity (that's the Huffington Post) but it's often surprisingly crappy. So I was quick to click and see just how stupid the piece was.
The verdict? Fairly stupid. It's all about headline writing for SEO, but it's hard to tell if the author (David Carr) really doesn't understand SEO and keyword optimization or just thinks he's being funny. The headline on the article is "Taylor Momsen Did Not Write this Headline." Why this headline, on a piece that has nothing to do with Taylor Momsen? Here's why: Don’t know who Taylor Momsen is? Neither do I, beyond that she is the mean one on “Gossip G... > Read more
There's been a lot of talk recently about how "SEO is dead." The claim is based largely on the specter of mounting algorithmic complexities, rising barriers to entry, the advent of personalized search, integration of social usage data signals, global warming, the Tea Party movement, blah, blah, blah, (insert your own fatalistic theory).
There was one post in particular that I read a few months back where a blogger used a pretty compelling graph from Google Trends to make the case that SEO is on life support due to a steady decline in query popularity juxtaposed against a meteoric rise in social media query activity. Going by this graph, it appears that SEO is in fact "on the back nine." So if you make your living as an SEO, or if, like us, you just launched a line of ... > Read more
When one thinks of social networking they don't often associate it with keywords. Usually, businesses or individuals look to use social networking as a means to brand themselves, connect with friends/customers, sell a product, or share experiences with people they’ve never met IRL (in real life). But what many brands and individuals miss out on is the opportunity to integrate keywords into the public messages they post on Twitter or other social networking sites for the purposes of research as well as search engine optimization.
Keyword Research and Social Media: Listen Using social networking sites to help with keyword research only seems logical. With Twitter Search, Facebook Search, Del.icio.us search, and other social networking search functionality, you're able to listen to what th... > Read more
For whatever reason, you may not have yet partaken in a pay-per-click advertising campaign. Maybe you thought print advertising was more effective, feared the potential of click fraud, or have just been too busy to learn the ins and outs of the PPC advertising model. Now you’ve decided that PPC may be worth your while.
You’re doing your best to read all you can about the advertising form, determine your keywords, and set a budget for your pay-per-click ad spend. As you venture into this new advertising territory, there are many tools that can help you effectively shape your PPC campaigns. Here are 13 PPC tools for beginners:Google AdWords Traffic Estimator: Use this tool to get the estimated average AdWords cost per click (CPC) amounts for particular keywords and keyword phrases. ... > Read more
Anna Talerico is the executive vice president at ion, where she manages sales, marketing and client services. Can you tell us a little about your role at Ion Interactive? What's your conversion rate optimization (CRO) philosophy? As the executive vice president here at ion I manage the sales, marketing and client services teams.
It's a great place to be sitting because I can make sure these three teams are working very much in unison. I think that ultimately benefits our customers a great deal. My CRO philosophy is really simple: Test. Test continuously. Test to statistical significance. Learn what you can from the results, and then move onto the next test wave. Constantly be seeking improvement in both conversion rate and conversion quality (average order value, lead score, etc). Wh... > Read more
Friends, I wasn’t planning to write about Facebook again this week, I swear. But every other post in my feed reader, every other link I saw on Twitter was about Facebook. Clearly, the world wants to talk about Facebook. You want it, you got it: I bring you the epic Facebook link roundup. The first Facebook story I read this week was a Wired piece called “Facebook’s Gone Rogue; It’s Time for an Open Alternative,” Ryan Singel argues that the company is “drunk on founder Mark Zuckerberg’s dreams of world domination.
” He lodges a series of complaints about Facebook’s steady decrease in privacy: Facebook thinks that your notions of privacy — meaning your ability to control information about yourself — are just plain ol... > Read more
We don't typically talk about specific feature updates to our own products here on the blog, but as early as tonight we're launching something to our customers and trialers that I think is really pretty interesting and novel, and actually may be interesting for people doing any kind of paid search marketing work, so I thought I'd share it here.
What is the New Feature, and Why is It Interesting? We've released internally (we're pushing it live to customers and trialers very soon) a WordStream dashboard. The reason this is interesting is because it's chock full of reports that you've almost certainly never seen before, and because it's a dashboard you can take action against. The core competencies for the WordStream product revolve around discovering profitable keywords, identifying ... > Read more
Our recommended resource this week is the adorable Virginia Nussey. Virginia, self-professed Rock Band fan and tortoise owner, is currently a media writer at Bruce Clay Inc., one of the world’s leading search marketing companies. Here are some of the many ways that Virginia gives back to the community: She’s a fellow Friday recapper! I always learn something from Virginia’s Friday recaps—and not just the same tired search marketing news either.
Last week she pointed me to the fascinating results of a color survey on XKCD, not to mention the ten tricky secrets of effective liars. Applicable in any industry! (If there was any doubt, she also covers relevant industry topics in her recaps, such as the recent Facebook exodus and site content development.) Fridays aside,... > Read more
Elisa had a great write up on the new Google design, and I was able to contribute some thoughts in a piece that ran in USA Today, but I had some additional thoughts on the new design, Bing's design, and what it all means for search marketers that I thought I'd share here. The Bing/Yahoo Merger I mention in the piece that "the whole will be greater than the sum of the parts" when Bing and Yahoo finally consumate their search merger.
What I mean by this is that advertisers will be more likely to move to the single platform with better reach (BingHoo), and that Bing's access to their once-competitor’s technology will (eventually) make their algorithm better. Beyond that, the increased market share will be self-reinforcing; it’ll allow Microsoft to invest more resources ... > Read more
Since the Microsoft Bing search engine was unveiled about a year ago, it has garnered a fair amount of media attention. Much of the attention has revolved around Bing’s potential threat to Google’s market share. It looks like Bing is indeed emerging as a danger to Google. Watch out Google! Bing PPC advertising is gaining ground.
According to Hitwise, in June about 5% of U.S. searches were conducted with Bing and 74% with Google. In April, however, about 9% of U.S. searches were conducted with Bing and 71% with Google. It remains to be seen if Bing’s momentum will continue. But it is worth asking yourself whether its growing popularity should prompt you to consider advertising on its search results pages. Before you make that decision, however, you should familiarize yo... > Read more
Confirming rumors, Google this week rolled out a fresh new design. As of late in the day Wednesday, I’m seeing The New Google in my searches across all browsers. Let’s see what people think of it, shall we? Many observers find the new design strikingly similar to the Bing search interface.
According to USA Today, the makeover “signals the start of what promises to be a period of intensified competition with rival Microsoft Bing”: Google touched up its logo, adopted a new color scheme and has begun to insert images more liberally amid search results. The biggest change: a Bing-like navigable column appears down the left side of search results pages. It is designed to help readers fine tune their searches. They aren’t the only ones who notic... > Read more
You’ve probably heard numerous times that landing pages should contain your keywords, be attractively designed, and provide sufficient information for the customer to make a sales or registration decision. However, you might not have been provided with good examples of these concepts at work.
Worry no more. This article contains five examples of great PPC landing pages. While viewing these pages, however, remember that you never really know if a landing page is effective unless you test it and look at conversion data. Rosetta Stone This is the top part of Rosetta Stone’s landing page for its Spanish software offerings. I typed the keyword phrase “learning Spanish software guide” into Google, clicked on a resulting Rosetta Stone PPC ad, and this page appeared... > Read more
The UK General Election is tomorrow – May 6. Are you ready? Will Gordon Brown from the governing Labour Party secure a 4th consecutive term in office? Will the Conservative Party grab the most votes and gain a dominant position? Or will the Liberal Democrats hold the balance of power and form a hung parliament? NATIONAL POLLING RESULTS Many British research and polling consulting companies have been tracking the national polling results closely.
The two charts below are by UK Opinion Poll Tracker and Forecast UK, a private electoral prediction project. Both poll trackers predict that The Conservative Party will win by a higher share and grab governance. The momentum is really strong too. But being a search marketer, I want to see what Google says and what sentiments are present in ... > Read more
At WordStream we get asked a lot of questions about search engine marketing. These questions come from emails, blog comments and Webinar participants who want to know our take on tips and tricks for better SEO and PPC marketing. The questions range from the budding noob (just starting out) to advanced SEM practices.
Occasionally, we select one to highlight that addresses some of the more common or intriguing issues that many struggle with to give a direct response on our blog.Today's question comes from Dawn Barson at Think Creative Group. Dawn asks:"How many pages and how much content do you need on your site to have a chance at ranking highly in Google? Will a small, 5 to 10 page website, with only a few paragraphs of text have any chance of ranking highly?"So like answers to most questi... > Read more
Copywriting is one of the neglected aspects of SEO, rarely mentioned and rarely considered. As an SEO copywriter myself, I should know! I guess writing just isn't as sexy as ... um, building links? (SEOs and their weird fetishes.) So this week our recommended resource is someone who really knows her writing stuff, from web copy to white papers to newsletters and anything else wordy on the web: Angie Haggstrom, also known as Angie Nikoleychuk, of Angie's Copywriting.
Angie is a professional copywriter and online writing coach offering content consulting services. Here are some of the ways you can follow and learn from Angie: Angie is on Twitter (@angscopywriting), sharing links and chatting every day (and she always seems to be in a good mood. Note to self: Complain less). She's on over 1... > Read more
This is a guest post by Beth Hrusch. Beth is Senior Editor at Interact Media, a website content development service. Companies both large and small are jumping on the social media bandwagon. Some have large marketing budgets, and some—not so much. One of the great things about social media for marketing is that it gives everyone an equal chance to reach their target markets, regardless of the money they have to spend.
Twitter, for example, is becoming recognized as a pretty agile tool for businesses of all sizes. When you use Twitter, you’re tapping into a resource that can help you engage your audience, increase brand awareness and generate new leads. If you’re new to it, here are a few tips for using Twitter to promote your business: Find your g... > Read more
Apple and Facebook have lately been taking actions that really separate the fanboys from the haters. Earlier this week, police seized Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home computers and servers as part of an investigation into their recent reporting on a new iPhone 4G prototype, which someone "found" in a bar and then sold to Gizmodo.
It now appears that the phone was actually stolen. It is unclear what role precisely Apple plays in this criminal investigation. But according to Yahoo News: The raid that San Mateo area cops conducted last week on the house of Gizmodo editor Jason Chen came at the behest of a special multi-agency task force that was commissioned to work with the computer industry to tackle high-tech crimes. And Apple Inc. sits on the task force's steering committe... > Read more
Recommended SEM Resources is an ongoing series here at WordStream where we plug some of our favorite sources of search engine marketing wisdom. Now, many of these SEM resources aren't as widely recognized as say an Aaron Wall or a Rand Fishkin, but nonetheless we feel they are forces in the SEO or PPC marketing space and marketers you should be following.
This month's Recommended SEM Resource is Shaun Anderson. Shaun is the Director & Co-Founder of Hobo Web, an SEO Company in Glasgow, Scotland, UK. Shaun self-reportedly possesses "an obsessive passion for on-site SEO, linkbuilding and web accessibility" and is well-known in the global SEO community. Shaun is a frequent contributor to Hobo Web SEO Blog, which is one of my favorite SEO blogs and a mainstay in my Google Reader. Hobo Web's... > Read more