Previous SEO techniques used to mainly involve buying links, as many as you could afford to get, as you knew that if you bought enough of them your website would rank highly. Link buying still takes place and there is still a significant link buying economy. However, because of Google’s penalties and threats thereof, link buying is in decline.
I don’t think it will ever vanish, but anyone with something significant to lose tends to think twice before they go on some link buying spree. I personally don’t have an ethical or moral issue with paid links. However, we as an SEO company have stopped doing it for our clients, as I don’t think the rewards outweigh the risks. The ROI of paid links is in decline too as Google’s algorithm gets more efficient at filtering them out, so you nee... > Read more
In an effort to make everyone's life less "complicated" (and to help us hit 6K fans on Facebook...), we've created "the easiest contest on the planet."You don't have to invent anything, solve any riddles or dress up like a goofy robot to win a cool prize in our contest.All we'd like you to do is "like" WordStream on Facebook and "like" Search Engine Journal on Facebook (yes, we really neeeed to be "liked") and you're automatically entered to win.
See...told you it was easy.So come on...our goal is 6,000 Facebook fans. Help us reach it!So It's Like This: We Hit 6K Fans, SEJ Gets More Fans, You Can Win Cool Prizes...Everybody Wins!!!Like I said, to be eligible to win some kick ass prizes, all we'd like you to do is "like" WordStream on Facebook and "like" Search Engine Journal on Facebook.So... > Read more
Since launching WordStream in late 2008, the most common question we get asked from clients is "how do I improve my Quality Score?" This really doesn't come as a surprise given that maintaining a healthy AdWords Quality Score is critical to driving down click spend and driving up ROI. To help PPC marketers better navigate the murky waters of Quality Score, we've put together The Ultimate Guide to Quality Score.
The guide features in-depth, comprehensive insights into the nuts and bolts of Google AdWords Quality Score from some of the top minds in pay-per-click advertising, including Brad Geddes, Andrew Goodman, George Michie, Dave Davis, Marty Weintraub, Larry Kim and many, many more. So for anyone who's ever wondered what you can do to improve your Quality Score in Google AdWords... ... > Read more
Below you'll find answers to some common and not-so-common questions about Quality Score, courtesy of our in-house PPC experts. Have a question that's not answered here? Leave it in the comments and we'll respond! Is there a way to check our AdWords Quality Score? Where do I find my Quality Score? Yes, you can view your Quality Score in AdWords right now.
This recent post explains how to find your Quality Score in both Google and Yahoo. Is Quality Score specific to campaign or ad group? According to Google, neither. You have Quality Scores at the account, keyword, and ad level, but not for campaigns or ad groups. How fast can we improve Quality Score? Unfortunately Quality Score isn’t something that you can necessarily right overnight if you’ve had poor account performance for a signif... > Read more
Thank god somebody is talking about "icing" from a marketing perspective, because I really wanted to write about this and just wasn't sure how. And by "this," I mean the bizarre game/meme known as icing, as documented by the site Bros Icing Bros. And by "somebody," I mean the New York Times. Earlier this week the NYT's J.
David Goodman asked, in the form of an embarrassingly lame headline, "Popular New Drinking Game Raises Question, Who’s ‘Icing’ Whom?" (At least they didn't misuse the phrase "begs the question.") If you're not a frat boy and you've somehow missed this cultural phenomenon, it consists of one "bro" presenting another "bro" with a Smirnoff Ice, frequently lukewarm, as a kind of dare. To maintain his honor the challenged bro must drop to one knee and chug it on the spot... > Read more
Quality Score affects virtually all the important metrics of a PPC campaign, including: Impressions Ad position Cost-per-click (CPC) Here’s how: How Quality Score Affects Impressions Each time a user conducts a search, Google AdWords conducts an internal ad auction to determine which advertisers have ads it deems eligible (relevant enough) to appear alongside the user’s search results.
Google has publicly stated on numerous occasions their underlying belief that it’s better to display no ads at all than to display irrelevant ads (and in doing so, potentially lose an opportunity for incremental revenue). Quality Score partly determines if a keyword is relevant enough, and hence eligible to enter an ad auction. The more times an advertiser’s ads are deem... > 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. Google determines Quality Score slightly differently for each of the different advertising networks that it runs.
Here we’ll learn how Quality Score is calculated for Google Search, which is the largest source of traffic for most advertisers. According to Google: Quality Score is calculated in real-time, every time your keyword matches a search query—that is, every time your keyword has the potential to trigger an ad. Quality Score is used in several different ways, including influencing your keywords’ actual cost-per-click... > Read more
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 yank. What's good about a link - i... > 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
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 generated, or a registered user or downloaded application.
Any discrete action that can be tracked as the result of paid search or any other type of performance-based marketing is a CPA. Many marketers obsess over the profitable value of a CPA to their business. This is a worthwhile undertaking since knowing your monetary targets in paid search is the easiest way to hit them. Let’s take a simple example for context. Say you’re selling baseball hats online. For the ease of the example, we’ll say that ev... > 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 old-fashioned … In Facebook’s view, everyt... > 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, Virginia blogs ... > 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 noticed. In a post titled... > Read more