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").
Powazek's rant about how S... > 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 Tool and our Free Key... > 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 price and locatio... > 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't used to... > 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
This is Part 6 of a 10-part series on 10 things we believe about search marketing. These 10 beliefs form our product design philosophy. Part of the power of web marketing is the abundance of data it creates. Web analytics put you in the control room—with so much to measure and analyze, you can take control of optimizing your paid and organic search marketing campaigns.
However, analytics are only valuable insofar as you put them to work. Unless you take action on that data, data is all it is. In order to actually benefit from analytic data—to see the right numbers go up (traffic, clicks, conversions) and the right numbers go down (bounce rate, cost per action)—you have to act on it. That's why, at WordStream, we believe that analytics should be actionable. Most analytics applications... > Read more
Lisa Barone is a co-founder and Chief Branding Officer of Outpoken Media. Read her blog or follow her on Twitter. You're kind of famous on Twitter. When I first started working at WordStream, I signed up for Twitter and you were one of the first people I followed, because my coworker referred to you as her "girl crush.
" :) How long have you been on Twitter and what do you say to detractors and people who just "don't get it"? How can businesses use Twitter to their advantage? No one is famous on Twitter. Let’s just get that out of the way. :) As far as how long I’ve been a member, the experts say I joined Oct 18, 2007. That sounds about right. I do think Twitter is something you either “get” or you don’t. And if you don’t get it, it’s because you have forgotten how ... > Read more
Google this week began sending out invitations for the beta version of Google Wave. Demand for these invites has been pretty high—Matt Cutts tweeted that he's already out of invites (Really Matt Cutts? Can't you like, snap and someone rollerskates up with more invites on a tray?) and one invite sold on eBay for over $150.
Aside from this crazed desperation for invites reminiscent of the search for golden tickets in Willy Wonka (that's right, I compared you to Augustus Gloop), most of the conversation has revolved around the question of success: Will Google Wave be a game changer? Loren Baker of Search Engine Journal lands squarely on the fence: "Could be yes or could be no. It depends on how good it will [be] and how much users will actually use it in their daily online activities." Cer... > Read more
This is Part 5 of a 10-part series on 10 things we believe about search marketing. These 10 beliefs form our product design philosophy. Ongoing negative keyword discovery is an important part of optimizing your keyword research, keeping it "clean" and high-quality. From a pay-per-click perspective, negative keywords are terms that might match your ad but which you don't want to bid on.
For example, if you're running a PPC campaign for a stationery store, you might have an ad group for the keyword "notebooks." If you're using the broad match option to catch long-tail variations like "bulk reporter's notebooks" and "back to school sale notebook paper," you run the risk of matching for unrelated search queries like "notebook computers." To en... > Read more
Believe it or not, September is over. The aisles of your local CVS are probably already clogged with Halloween candy and plastic pumpkins, if not Xmas decorations. Damn you, time's winged chariot! Point being, it's time for a monthly roundup of highlights from the WordStream blog. In case you missed them the first time: Top SEO College Websites 2009 – In this popular post, Ken looked at several ranking factors to determine which university websites get A's for search engine optimization.
Perhaps not surprisingly, he found that colleges with an online learning presence often came out on top. Read the full post to see how your college measures up, and if it's not on the list, check out his two-part guide to SEO for colleges. 2009 Search Marketing and Social Media Salary Survey – ... > Read more
The following is a guest post by Marshall Sponder of WebMetricsGuru. I was thinking about several keyword tools out there offering basic analysis of what’s popular, including WordStream’s own free keyword tool, but none of them approaches WordStream's keyword management solution in its sophistication and prompting to help us make the right choices for our search marketing campaigns.
I don’t run any paid campaigns, so I don’t use WordStream in the same way many users do, nor is that the focus of this article (you can learn about using WordStream's solutions for PPC in this video). Sometimes, it’s not what a tool or platform does, but the way it does it – the interface that stimulates creativity and gets us to make associations we might not otherwise make. I could have pulled my ... > Read more
Once again, this SEO for College Websites post comes on the heels of my popular yet somewhat contentious post on top seo college websites. I'm writing a follow up to share advice to colleges that are struggling with search engine optimization (SEO). These SEO tips should give colleges some ideas on how best to optimize their websites to rank better in higher education search verticals and attract more students though search engine marketing.
In SEO for College Websites, Part One, I covered how to conduct effective keyword research and how to create killer degree page title tags for SEO. In this post, I'll discuss how to optimize your degree page content and how to acquire some quality inbound links. Step Three: Optimize Your On-Page Content When optimizing your content for search, there a... > Read more
We got an interesting email the other day from our friend Jim Jansen, assistant professor at the College of Information Science and Technology at Penn State. If you haven't heard of Jim yet or aren't familiar with his research in search marketing and searcher behavior, read our recent interview with him here: Jim Jansen on Click Behavior and SERP integration.
Jim told me about a really cool project he and his students are doing in his PPC advertising course (BTW, how cool is a class on PPC advertising?). He and 55 of his technology and advertising students at Penn State are creating keyword advertising campaigns for eleven non-profit organizations. Apparently, the students will be implementing paid search campaigns for these eleven non-profits, as well as doing some SEO work and optimizing... > Read more
This was a big week in the blogo- and Twittersphere for poorly received product launches: Two new products from Google and Squidoo threaten to become reputation management nightmares, if they manage to catch on. Ironically, the products also threaten to (further) tarnish the reputations of their creators.
Brands in Public: A Big Misstep from Seth Godin? Seth Godin this week announced a new product/service from Squidoo called Brands in Public: If your brand has any traction at all, people are talking about you. Of course, they've always talked about you, but now they're doing it in writing, in video and in public. Today, Squidoo (a company I founded) is launching Brands in Public. It's a neat idea and I wanted to give you an overview and a first look. You can't control what people are sayin... > Read more
Despite billions of searches month in and month out (more than 9 billion in July alone), Google continues to report that nearly 20% of all search queries each month are unique—that is, they have never been searched on before. To help address this challenge, we launched a free keyword suggestion tool last week for specialists and agencies providing pay-per-click (PPC) marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) services.
Initial market adoption and feedback have been overwhelming. In the first week we have provided more than 100 million keyword ideas to early adopters of the tool. The Free Keyword Tool’s database of over a trillion search queries, the tool’s ease and speed of use, and advanced features such as related keywords and filters have search experts favorably c... > Read more
Give me someone's name, and I'll find their personal email address. Sure, it may take some extensive digging and sleuthing, but I'll find you eventually. And I'm not paying to root you out or buying your private info from a lead gen company (though sometimes that would be easier). This is just good old fashioned, organic searching, scanning and scouring the Internet like a Web gumshoe.
And not stopping until I ferret out that personal email.Methods:Google EmailsBusiness EmailsAdvanced Search OperatorsSocial MediaWhois LookupPeople SearchWhy is it important to obtain someone's personal email address?If you're sending out an important email that you really want to be taken seriously and improve your chances of getting an actual response, you need to go directly to the source. Sending an impo... > Read more
This is Part 4 of a 10-part series on 10 things we believe about search marketing. These 10 beliefs form our product design philosophy. One of the most powerful aspects of search as a marketing channel is the abundance of data you can measure and respond to. Web analytics applications provide a wealth of information about your website, your audience and how they interact.
Specific to search, they tell you exactly how people are finding your site: What key words and phrases are users typing into search boxes to discover what you offer? If you look at this data but don't respond to it, you're throwing away potential gains in traffic and revenue. Search marketing, if it's going to offer strong ROI over the long term, requires dedication and commitment. The SEO and PPC related tasks you n... > Read more
David Harry was nice enough to put up a guest post I wrote today: How to Identify the Best Keywords for Your Niche. In it I talk about: Finding Keywords Refining Your Keyword List Evaluating the Difficulty of Ranking Making Your Keyword Research Efforts an Iterative Process Please check it out and let me know what you think in the comments! Incidentally if you haven't checked them out, David's blog is excellent, his SEO newsletter is great, and he maintains an active community of very smart SEO/SEM folks.
... > Read more
OK, what happened this week on the World Wide Web? A couple of important things: Kanye West made a jackass of himself, and we launched a new free keyword tool! Larry blogged about the tool on Wednesday, covering why and how we developed it, what it offers that other tools don't, and why, as awesome as it is, you still need keyword management to really get somewhere in SEM.
You can read yet more about the tool in our Free Keyword Tool FAQ. Today I want to point to some of the other conversations going on around the newly launched tool, and thank everyone who took the time to mention us on blogs and on Twitter. First up, Aaron Wall over at SEOBook mentioned the keyword tool ("The coolest feature it offers is that it allows you to download thousands of keywords at once") and our keywor... > Read more
Today WordStream released what I and numerous other industry experts believe to be the most comprehensive and accurate keyword tool ever. The best part is that we're giving it away for free – no strings attached! WordStream's Free Keyword Tool is quite different from other keyword tools – we've partnered with ISPs, search engines and other data providers to aggregate and weight over one billion unique keywords, representing well over a trillion search queries, and hundreds of millions of related terms from diverse keyword sources.
This video shows how it works: And this Keyword Tool FAQ explains how we've made it more comprehensive, accurate and faster than other keyword tools out there. But you can see for yourself by trying it out now – type some test queries into t... > Read more
On the heels of my popular yet somewhat contentious post last week on the Top College Websites for SEO, I thought I'd do a follow up to give advice to those colleges that are struggling with search engine optimization (SEO). This Google SEO guide should give colleges some insight into how best to optimize their websites to rank well in higher education search verticals and attract more students though search engine marketing.
NOTE: This SEO for College Websites is the first in a two-part series. SEO University: Best practices for optimizing college degree pages Most college websites publish a bunch of content under a variety of topics: from administrative pages, to course catalogs, to campus news, to research lab micro sites, and so on. But the real bread and butter for universities are t... > Read more
Following in the footsteps of Ken's very popular post on title tag formulas, I've noticed that search marketing and social media marketing gurus (AKA bloggers) love to write linkbait in the form of "X Things You Can Learn About Y from Z." You can do it too—plug some numbers and concepts into the formula and the post practically writes itself! For best results, follow this handy guide:X should be an integer, preferably between 5 and 10.
Save lists longer than 10 items for your Facebook meme.Y should be a broad, Web 2.0-ish concept like "SEO," "PPC" or "social media." Don't veer too far off course from your job description; that's what Z is for.Z should be a pop culture reference, the geekier the better. Old standbys include Star Wars, The Matrix, The Princess Bride, Monty Python, Trekkies... > Read more
Search engine and social media marketing are industries that continue to grow even in the face of one of the worst economies since the Great Depression. Talented and skilled SEO, PPC, SEM and SMO professionals are still in hot demand, despite the grim economic backdrop. Recently, we conducted a survey of search engine marketers and social media marketers to get an idea of the current state of SEM and SMO.
More than 100 SEO, PPC and SMM professionals participated in our survey, giving us a window into their experience level, primary fields of expertise, and more to the point how much inbound marketing professionals are earning, given the global recession. The results of our survey may surprise you. 2009 Search Engine Marketers and Social Media Marketers Salary Survey Interpreting the S... > Read more
I had a chance to write a guest post for Web Analytics World last week. In it I talked about quickly diagnosing quick jumps or dips in traffic or conversions, and oulined three steps for getting to the bottom of a shift in traffic: Consider the Source Analyze Your Overall Mix Identify Who or What is Sending You Traffic To learn more about each step and how you can accomplish the above in Google Analytics, check out the post.
... > Read more
This is Part 3 of a 10-part series on 10 things we believe about search marketing. These 10 beliefs form our product design philosophy. Whether you're conducting keyword research primarily for search engine optimization (SEO) efforts or primarily for pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, we believe that effective keyword grouping and organization techniques are crucial to long-term success.
Why is keyword grouping so important? Let's walk through the process. The point of doing keyword research is to inform your site's content creation as well as its information architecture (how content is topically organized), in addition to your campaign and ad group structure in Google AdWords (or other PPC marketing platform). Even small companies can amass thousands, hundreds of thousands or millions o... > Read more
This Week in Search: SEO Needs You to Need It I saw a lot of links and tweets this week pointing to Virginia Nussey's excellent post on the SEO hierarchy of needs, based on Maslow's hierarchy, a psychological theory that says physiological and safety needs have to come before stuff like love and belonging (I almost typed "blogging").
I've created a handy (and tall) illustration to show where the SEO hierarchy fits into Maslow's hierarchy. An SEO's basic needs for Diet Dr. Pepper and a paycheck must be met before he/she can move up the hierarchy. It goes without saying that for search marketers, link-building is more basic than "intimacy" or "sense of connection," and self-esteem and self-actualization are impossible without proper website optimization. Conveniently these latter two go... > Read more
A lot of good things happen on Fridays: payday, a more casual office environment, the start of the weekend, and of course, a helpful lesson from Rand Fishkin and the crew at SEOmoz. For over two years now, SEOmoz has posted quick tutorial videos every Friday, also known as Whiteboard Friday.Below are five of our favorites--cue the techno music!PPC Basics: 10 Minute Rundown of PPC Strategies Everyone Should KnowAn oldie but goodie, this video staring Tom Critchlow breaks down the most important aspects of search engine marketing and PPC.
The Future of SEO: Rand's Take on Where Search is GoingHow important will content be going forward? How will Twitter affect SEO tactics? Find out what Rand thinks is coming next for search engine optimization.Domain Trust and Authority: Google's Algorithm Ch... > Read more
This is Part 2 of a 10-part series on 10 things we believe about search marketing. These 10 beliefs form our product design philosophy. We firmly believe that the best source of keyword data is your own customers. Too often, search marketers over-rely on third-party keyword suggestion tools and neglect their own website data (server log files and keyword analytics), a completely private, self-renewing source of keyword data.
Keyword suggestion tools are fine as a jumping-off point for keyword research, but then you need to go beyond that. Build on public keyword data by refactoring insights from private data into your list for an extensive, expanding keyword research database. We believe your own website data has a number of advantages over typical keyword tools: Personalized keyword... > Read more