Most SEOs use keyword ranking tools to track where their pages are ranking in the SERPs for target keywords. It gives them an idea how well their optimization efforts are faring against the competition as well as how well those rankings are progressing over time. Now even though rankings without traffic and conversions are meaningless, it all starts with rankings.
If your pages don’t rank, nobody finds them. And the higher you rank, the more potential traffic you can grab. Now, there are a lot of a lot of paid and free tools out there that help SEOs track keyword rankings. Some are paid and some are free. In writing this post, I did a lot of research to bring you the best keyword ranking tools for SEO.Free Keyword Ranking Tools Rank Checker Web CEO Ventio Paid Keyword Ranking Tools Ad... > Read more
1. SEO copywriting sounds forced and mechanical. This myth is almost true: Bad SEO copywriting sounds forced and mechanical. You can spot it from a mile away: The Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar What are the benefits of apple cider vinegar? The benefits of apple cider vinegar are many! The benefits of apple cider vinegar include improved health and boosted immunity.
This page is all about the benefits of apple cider vinegar. I guess if this page starts ranking for "the benefits of apple cider vinegar" I'll have to eat my words, huh? But seriously folks: SEO copywriting doesn't have to, and shouldn't, be robotic. Keyword research is a supplement to good writing, not a replacement for it. The only reason that keyword-targeted copy would end up sounding as ridiculous as the above paragraph i... > Read more
Keyword research as we know it suffers from a major disconnect. On one hand, you have keyword tools, which provide keyword suggestions and associated keyword frequency estimates. On the other hand, you have web analytics applications, which provide you with the actual search queries that are driving traffic to your site, and the true relevancy of your keywords based on real conversion data.
But there is no reason for these two types of tools to be divorced from each other. In fact, in my experience, successful keyword research largely depends on your ability to leverage and manage data from both keyword tools and web analytics in a continuous fashion.Let's take a look at why neither keyword tools nor web analytics alone is sufficient for complete keyword research, and how the future of key... > Read more
Ben Wills and Garrett French are the cofounders of Ontolo, a link building agency. Check out their link building blog or follow them on Twitter: @benwills and @GarrettFrench. (Note: Also check out Ari Ozick's SEO Contrarian blog for a similar series of interviews with link building gurus Tuesdays of this month.
) What factors go into a "quality" link? Garrett: Backlink profile of prospective linker -- which sites link to the page and the site as a whole An engaged, relevant audience Distribution and reach of target site -- are they social media participants? Do they have an email newsletter? How far will your link there take you? Ben: Relevance and value Keywords used on page, etc. Quantity and quality of backlinks Relevance of entire site Relevance of entire site's backlinks Whi... > Read more
I'm sort of surprised that I've never linked to Chris Brogan's blog in a Friday roundup before, since I'm a regular reader. Maybe because his posts tend to be short, to the point and difficult to disagree with, and finding something to disagree with is one of my top ways of brainstorming new blog posts.
It's also one of Chris Brogan's! His "How to Think of Blog Posts" post features the good-old-fashioned rant at #8 (see roundups of Fridays past in which I disagree with Seth Godin, David Powazek and Robert Scoble). I guess I'm feeling agreeable this week because I have no beef with Chris's post; I simply want to add a few more ideas to the list: 1. Expand on a tweet: The next time you start to respond to something or someone on Twitter, hold that thought and see if you can't expand beyond 1... > Read more
SEO is rampant with misinformation, speculation and myths about SEO. But that's the nature of the game, right? Since nobody but Google knows for certain which 200 plus ranking signals comprise the Google secret algorithmic formula, we're left to speculate. However, there's gross misinformation, complete speculation and then there are theories put into practice tested and proven to return results with some degree of reliability.
With that, I've decided to address some of the SEO myths I see or hear from time to time. Most of the following SEO myths I'm attempting to debunk are controversial, meaning the vast majority of SEOs will disagree with my assertions, and I'll probably take a lot of flack. But that's okay. Feel free to lambaste me in the comments. I stand behind everything I'm profe... > Read more
We're offering a new free white paper for download: 4 Steps to Better Keyword Grouping. This is a focused, tactical white paper offering clear and actionable advice to help you achieve more effective and profitable keyword segmentation for search marketing. If your keyword grouping strategy could use some polishing—or you're not even sure where to start—this white paper is a must-read.
Here's an excerpt from the new paper: If you only have time for one change to improve the overall performance and value of both your pay-per-click marketing and search engine optimization efforts, turn your attention to keyword grouping. Far from a single, isolated process, keyword grouping represents a paradigm shift for search marketing. Better keyword grouping and organization can transfo... > Read more
This is a guest post is by Bob Stanley, WordStream’s Senior Client Services Representative. Bob has extensive experience in paid search, which he now leverages to help our clients solve difficult problems surrounding pay-per click marketing with the WordStream software. One of my roles as a client services rep for WordStream is to help clients use our software to successfully manage their paid search accounts.
I’m finding more and more with our clients that the long tail is getting extremely competitive. I personally blame advanced broad matching options, dynamic keyword insertion (DKI), and just the industry becoming more sophisticated. We all know the advantages of getting more specific with grouping and creating better conversion paths – however, it’s not always so cut and... > Read more
For many online marketers, pay-per-click advertising is a relatively complicated marketing tool with a lot of moving pieces. Maybe that’s an understatement, but with so many moving pieces, it is commonplace to let certain strategies and best practices fall through the proverbial cracks. Admittedly, a lot has been written on PPC mistakes.
But that is just further proof that so many advertisers are leaving money on the table and need to be reminded how they can step up their game and improve their PPC performance. Today I’m going to discuss 5 common mistakes that PPC advertisers make and offer simple solutions to get your campaigns moving in the right direction. Ignoring Quality Score-Friendly Campaign Structure Despite the wealth of knowledge found on blogs and in ... > Read more
All this month we'll be interviewing link building experts on the WordStream blog. First up is Debra Mastaler. ( Does great content market itself? Yes and no. This really depends on the reputation of the person/company producing the content. Those with a good rep can publish and have content pushed forward, even if it's not so great.
Strong reputations carry tremendous power. Those without a reputation will need to work at pushing content and building their power base. Do you believe in linkbait? If so, what are some strategies for creating it? Interesting question, I've never been asked if I "believe" in something link-related before. Let's see ... I use it, I think it's effective and I think it adds diversity to your content mix which is important when trying to tap into new traff... > Read more
I hope you're not feeling antisocial out there, because today's roundup is all about social search. There were several big announcements this week in the world of social and real-time search. Microsoft and Google both announced agreements with Twitter. Bing's Twitter search is live, but it doesn't seem to work all that well – when I searched for my username, instead of getting a string of my tweets and @replies, I got this: Um, OK, but why? Why doesn't it just search for my username and return all the results? I can see why the "top links shared in tweets about" thing would be interesting/useful, but why is that the default search behavior? What if that's not what you're looking for? For its part, Google soft-launched social search in labs.
Danny Sullivan goes into some de... > Read more
Google updated their Tool Bar PageRank (TBPR) last night, October 29, 2009. I noticed the change around 9 p.m. last night, when I visited CNN.com and saw an all-green PR 10 tool bar, which caught my attention immediately. Previously, I believe they were PR 8. With the lastest update, the WordStream home page (now PR 5) and many of our top level pages have risen in rank.
So too have our blog posts, with many previous unresolved pages resolving and now achieving TBPR. Also, our take is Google is updating Toolbar PR more frequently in 2009. By my count, this is the fifth update this year, with the last PageRank update occurring on July 29, 2009. Note that in 2008, there were a total of five TBPR updates, so with this latest PageRank update, we've already tied last year's updates and may excee... > Read more
It's Halloween time again. Time for fright flick gore-arathons, Trick-or-Treaters, and...um...oh yah, bucket loads of Halloween CANDY! I'm sure many of you are stocking up on jumbo bags of fruity, chocolately or gummy candy treats for the roving bands of costumed kids that will soon descend upon your doorstep, that is unless you're one of those people who give out bags of chips or boxes of raisins as "treats," which BTW is a great way to get your house egged.
And with Halloween only days away, what better time to roll out some SERP analysis and crown the Top SEO Candy Websites. Let's find out who's doing a killer job at optimizing their on and off page elements for the Web's top candy queries. So sit back, relax and enjoy, 'cause this edition of our "Top SEO Websites Series... > Read more
October is winding to a close, and if history has taught us anything, November comes next. And with it, a candy hangover, my birthday, and pervasive Xmas music, in roughly that order—none of which I'm particularly looking forward to. So let's take this opportunity to look back—at our most popular blog posts from the past month, that is: Advanced Link Building: Clone Your Most Successful Link Profiles – Resident link building expert Ken Lyons explains how to analyze your link profiles step by step and then replicate your best link prospects.
Top SEO Web Design Company Websites – Another installment in the Top SEO Websites Series, Ken looks at which web design firms are practicing what they should be preaching: SEO-friendly design. 20 Conversion Rate Optimization (CR... > Read more
Bounce rate has become a hot topic in the search community. It's a bit of a buzz word, and if you're doing any sort of SEO or even PPC consulting you'll likely have clients concerned about theirs. In analyzing a site's bounce rate, I like to look at three main factors: Bounce Rate Factor #1: Traffic Source Often times the place traffic comes from (search, direct, referral) can have a major impact on bounce rate and can be an indication of irrelevant traffic (some perhaps that you may be paying for).
There are a variety of ways you can quickly diagnose problems using analytics packages. Bounce Rate Factor #2: Page Content/Structure Obviously the way you’re structuring the page or the content therein may cause people to bounce quickly. By carefully syncing your pages' headlines with ... > Read more
Not sure if this is getting rolled out everywhere but Larry spotted this last night and we're seeing it in a lot of SERPs: Pretty interesting. Really I think it's just more emphasis on domain authority. Not unlike site links and the search within search bar, a triple listing allows Google to crowd the SERPs with the single destination they've deemed sufficiently authoritative.
The criteria for attaining a double listing had been that you would need to push both pages into the cluster of ten a searcher was viewing. I haven't done a lot of testing but I find it hard to believe this is still the case, given the frequency with which I'm seeing the triple listing. What do you think? Is this an extension of the Brand/Vince update? Just a test? How aggresively are you seeing it in your SER... > Read more
Ruud Hein is a Dutch family man living in Canada. Newsweek-recommended web publisher and blogger in his own right, he works at the SEO company Search Engine People where he's an internal SEO consultant and blog editor. See also: @ruudhein. Can you describe a typical day in the life of Ruud Hein? 06:50 – Put on coffee, start TweetDeck so it populates, take shower; make breakfast for my youngest daughter and my wife.
07:45 – Open TweetDeck, scan TwitScoop column; check if the world has made it through another night. Decide on which topic I want to track today. Check Cre8asite Forums. Check if blog posts on SEP and SEO Scoop have gone out. 09:00 – One hour of Most Important Task work. 10:00 – Check email. Do short stuff right away. Archive. Put stuff in my Evernote GTD setup. Do Tim... > Read more
Wired this week published a fascinating profile piece on a company called Demand Media: "The Answer Factory: Fast, Disposable, and Profitable as Hell." The company's approach to content generation almost sounds like science fiction or satire, but it's real, and it works. It's a purely algorithmic, data-driven method of prioritizing content designed to rank on the first page of the Google SERPs: basically keyword research in hyperdrive.
And like it or not, this may be where we're all headed. Keyword-research-driven content production is nothing new; we practice this ourselves (to an extent). Workflow is based on the keyword groups that are currently driving traffic and conversions. If tons of people are finding our site after searching on "keyword organization tools" an... > Read more
Link builders often talk about competitive link analysis and exploring your competitors' link profiles to find link opportunities. The logic here is a link profile that works for one site may work for a similar site. And executed properly, this can be an effective link strategy.But I'd like to share a link building tactic you've probably never read about.
It's very effective and based on the same approach and logic as competitive link analysis. Besides analyzing links on competitor sites, you should also be examining your own link profiles for link opportunities, specifically the profiles of your best performing pages. The objective here is to replicate the success of your strongest ranking page on your weaker ranking pages.Why is this link building tactic successful?If it's working for on... > Read more
Google Analytics has some very powerful capabilities for keyword research that are often overlooked. Using advanced keyword segments, you can find and isolate buckets of keyword traffic (organic, paid, or both) and their destination landing pages, in mass – and that can be very useful for your optimization efforts.
Take one of my blogs, ArtNewYorkCity.com – I’ve written about shows at the Metropolitan Museum of Art quite a lot over the years. Taking all of my keyword traffic that contains the word “Metropolitan,” I can create an advanced keyword segment in Google Analytics. Below is a list of all those keywords. Creating an advanced segment just to home in on “Metropolitan” keywords effectively gives me the same keyword list. You may be wondering why I would bother cre... > Read more
It's a question that's asked more often then you might think. "What determines my pay-per-click keyword price?" The answer is most certainly not "Google" or another PPC search engine. Truth be told, this question is aptly answered by a quick lesson in PPC fundamentals. Your keyword price, or cost-per-click (CPC), is determined by a combination of your bidding strategy, keyword competition, Quality Score and a handful of other factors.
TIP: PPC terminology 101. While keyword price is a seemingly accurate descriptor, the more appropriate (and widely accepted) term is actually cost-per-click - aka CPC.Your Keyword Bids: The most obvious determinant of your keywords' cost-per-click is in fact your actual bid! Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing and Microsoft adCenter all util... > Read more
Our friend David Harry recently launched a new SEO community called the SEO Dojo. I've been a member through the community's "beta" period, and it is packed with a ton of great information and there are numerous "hardcore" SEOs offering up their expertise to answer questions and help drive discussions.
Some highlights: Ask the Experts & Dojo Chat - I haven't had a chance to be as active in the chat as I'd like but from browsing transcripts its obvious that there is a lot of activity and that there will be numerous SEOs eager to interact, answer questions and offer feedback. Knowledge Exchange - The forum area allows you to have your site reviewed, offer or shop for services, and more. Study Hall - This area is home to a lot of great SEO guides authored by David and the Dojo members. ... > Read more
If you've been working in the search marketing industry for long, you know that every so often some scheming troll (or major news corporation) comes along and delivers a rant against SEO, usually including most if not all of the following sentiments: Search engine optimizers are snake oil salesmen (Would that those fighting the war on SEO were also familiar with the war against cliché) SEO is just common sense; it's obvious Most of what SEOs do is smoke and mirrors SEOs are scam artists Information on optimizing a site is freely available on the web, so why pay for it? This week, that troll was a Derek "Powa-jerk" Powezek (hat tip to Ken for the wrestling name), who I guess is a designer (his actual job titles include Creative Director and "Chief of Awesome").
... > Read more
There's big news in WordStream World. We've moved to shnazzy new digs! It's pretty exciting and we all love the new space in Boston's Back Bay, just across from the Prudential Center. We're on the 16th floor of the Christian Science Monitor building and the views are incredible. What's more, our new space is a big step up from the last place.
See that "WordStream is that-a-way" sign above. Yes, that was the actual sign that greeted visitors at our previous office, so you can imagine what the rest of the place looked like. Actually, you don't have to imagine. I've taken some pics of the new WordStream office and I've also got some photos of the old space (evidence is what the police are calling them now), that way you can witness our ascent from outhouse to penthouse. So sit bac... > Read more
Continuing with the Top SEO Websites Series, I decided to turn the spotlight on Web design companies to find out which ones are excelling at SEO. Sure, these Web design firms may be able to create really slick websites, but how good are they are ranking organically in highly-competitive verticals in their industry? My previous post in this series "Top SEO College Websites" made the case that most universities get an "F" when it comes to SEO.
Here's hoping the top Web design firms in the country fare better in the search engine results pages (SERPs) than most colleges did. Top SEO Web Design Company Websites: My Process My process for determining which sites are doing the best at SEO involves three steps: 1) Identify Top 20 Searched Keywords - I used the Google Keyword T... > Read more
Remember MTV's Pimp Your Ride? Well today I'm going to pimp your PPC ad. Roll in with your Chevy Cavalier and I'll send you home with a Cadillac. Of pay-per-click ads. OK, these advertisers didn't ask me to revamp their ads, but I'm doing it anyway (for free!) and I think we'll all learn some valuable PPC ad writing lessons in the process.
Lesson #1: You have limited space. Don't waste it. Below are the first-page sponsored links for a search on "web design firms." This ad is redundant. The URL tells us the name of your company, so use the headline to say something more—tell us a little about what you offer and what sets you apart. (And one or the other could include the keyword to increase relevancy.) Notice how the competing ads have included useful information about pri... > Read more
Disagreeing with Seth Godin is basically a cliché now, but I'm going to do it anyway—or quibble with him, at least. I like this chart on Seth's blog (who doesn't like charts?) that plots some broad cultural phenomena against two axes, the sophisticated/tacky axis and the techie/tech-phobic axis.
The challenge, he says, is in designing structures and transparency that will attract the good guys while burying or repelling those that seek the new technology (because they can't find anywhere else to go). In other words, you either need to move the top left to the top right (not easy, but possible*), or educate the bottom left of the grid in how to contribute to the culture (really difficult indeed). The best new media (like blogs and possibly twitter) open doors to people who didn... > Read more
Not unlike a lot of marketers who enter the discipline through the SEO door, my initial fascination with search marketing was the idea that you could promote and optimize a piece of content and generate large volumes of really specific search traffic. And, also not unlike a lot of marketers, I quickly realized that traffic is only a directionally significant metric: people visiting your site is financially meaningless if you can’t turn their visit into a business-driving activity once they get there (even if you're monetizing based on CPM, you still want visitors to go deeper into your site, create a relationship and return, etc.
). The following is a collection of resources surrounding website conversion rate optimization. There’s a lot of great content out there on the subject, but t... > Read more
Drupal and Wordpress are two of the most popular, open source content management systems (CMS). Many websites and blogs run either Wordpress of Drupal chiefly because they are flexible platforms with large user support communities, and they're free. I use both Drupal and Wordpress in my day-to-day activities: WordStream runs on Drupal, while my personal websites and blogs run on Wordpress.
So I have a pretty good handle on the advantages and disadvantages of both CMS platforms. In this post, I'm going to offer my opinions on Drupal VS Wordpress with respect to: Ease of use Custom templates and free themes SEO plugins or modules CMS performance So let's dive into the Drupal vs Wordpress debate and see which CMS emerges victorious. Ease of Use Out of the box, Wordpress has... > Read more