How do you feel about private data in public spaces? Search Plus Your World was disturbing enough. If I do a Google image search for “ice cream,” it’s because I want some generic pictures of ice cream. I don’t want to find a picture of myself eating ice cream. I especially don’t want to find a picture of myself eating ice cream naked.
(I don’t have any nude photos in my Picasa account, that I know of, but it’s possible right?) And I especially don’t want a friend who is using my computer to find a picture of me eating ice cream naked. And if I’m borrowing a friend’s computer, I don’t want to find their naked pictures either! (I don’t know any male models.)And now Google has officially gone completely crazy. Yesterday they announced that search results will soon inco... > Read more
Note: This article, originally titled "Debunking the Myth of the Long-Term Value of SEO," has been edited from its original version. I've taken some of the arguments in the comments into consideration, and upon reflection a lot of my points were unclear or misleading, and I've adjusted my language accordingly.
Thanks to everyone for contributing to the debate. - LarryOne of the most common responses to my recent “War on Free Clicks” study and yesterday’s article, “Why SEO’s Suck at PPC,” was the notion that PPC stops the moment you stop spending, whereas SEO provides benefits forever.It reminds me of the “better to buy than rent a home” advice that was all the rage in the days leading up to the housing meltdown. Millions of homeowners got completely wiped out listenin... > Read more
When it comes to search marketing, SEO’s are from Mars and PPC’s are from Venus.Just over a week following the release of our War on Free Clicks infographic, dozens of whiny SEO’s have come out of the woodwork with ludicrous sob stories about how they purportedly tried and failed to get PPC to work for them and/or their client.
Sure, PPC isn’t easy – I get that, and I’ve even written a few articles about how some small businesses are struggling with PPC.But, seriously – compared to SEO?!! PPC is a total cakewalk. Like rolling off a log. Easy as pie.SEO, on the other hand, has recently become a complete nightmare-circus – I’m talking about the keyword analytics “not provided” brouhaha, Panda, Penguin, unnatural links notifications, the increasingly ridiculous and ... > Read more
Dalton Caldwell Gives Mark Zuckerberg the BusinessI mentioned the App.net project – Dalton Caldwell’s vision of an ad-free Twitter platform – last week. Now Caldwell is making headlines for an open letter that he posted on his blog, called “Dear Mark Zuckerberg,” in which he recounts a meeting he had earlier this summer with several top Facebook executives.
As Caldwell describes it, he was hoping the outcome of the meeting would be “executive-level support for [his] impending product launch.” Instead, those executives informed him that the product he was developing sounded like a competitor to Facebook App Center. As you can guess, they didn’t like that. Dalton writes:Your executives explained to me that they would hate to have to compete with the “interesting product” I... > Read more
I taught Google Search tricks the way you teach them to Furby. Their creepiness awesomeness is on the same level. Create your unique Google Search stalker app today!When Google’s Search Plus Your World was first released, people were all worried about the world ending as we knew it. The theory was that world views were about to become narrower as an invisible filter bubble would alter your access to information.
What I hope to demonstrate here is that I believe the opposite is true.There’s too much information on the web. Better filters can help users get what they want.Let me show you how I Furby-trained Google to only more efficiently fetch the information I wanted – specifically, information about people. (Link-builders, PR professionals, and intelligence agents, it’s time to ta... > Read more
Last month, we reported that the click-through rates on Facebook Ads average a dismal 0.04%, which is approximately 10x less than the equivalent display ad on the Google Display Network.Today, e-commerce store builder Limited Run is claiming that 80% of the clicks paid for could not be verified! The company is so unhappy with the results on recent Facebook ad tests, they're deleting their Facebook page entirely.
Latest Google Penguin Update Sends Slew of Unnatural Link WarningsIn “a step towards transparency,” Google webmasters initiated a series of warnings to sites against spammy activity and sketchy, manipulative links better known as unnatural links. On July 19, a confusing link warning was sent to a large number of sites.
Google’s Matt Cutts posted on his Google+ account soon after to address the SEO hysteria:If you received a message yesterday about unnatural links to your site, don’t panic. In the past, these messages were sent when we took action on a site as a whole … For example we may take this kind of targeted action to distrust hacked links pointing to an innocent site. The innocent site will get the message as we move towards more transparency, but it’s not necessarily so... > Read more
Warning! Don't do something or something might happen, maybe?Google’s Link Warnings Run AmokOn July 19, like many other sites, we received a warning email from Google Webmaster Tools that Google had detected potentially harmful, unnatural links pointing to our site. The sequence of emotions went something like this: panic, fear, confusion, relief, irritation, then back to confusion.
The “relief” phase came when we realized the warnings went out to a huge number of sites – including SEOmoz, which I think of as squeaky-clean and unimpeachable. According to Ruth Barr, SEOmoz does “virtually nothing in the way of active link solicitation.” In other words, they have a huge and active community and they focus on churning out good content daily, so, as Ruth says, the links build ... > Read more
Microsoft adCenter: Learn to Login, Download the Desktop App, Import from Google AdWords & Market on Bing & Yahoo
If you’ve already created a successful Google AdWords campaign, a great way to drive more leads through PPC is to start to expand to platforms outside of AdWords, like Microsoft’s adCenter, which allows you to place ads on Bing, Yahoo! and their partner sites. (And now that WordStream PPC Advisor offers support for adCenter in addition to AdWords, it’s the perfect time to learn.
)Many of the fundamental best practices for being successful in Google AdWords also hold true for creating a successful adCenter campaign, but the platform definitely has some distinct wrinkles. If you’re starting to advertise with adCenter, or thinking about getting started, there are several great informational resources available to help you get more out of your campaigns.One thing I think is worth cleari... > Read more
To Bing or not to Bing, that is the question – for countless advertisers who are considering whether to advertise on Bing (and Yahoo!). The pros are pretty clear. Advertising on Bing gives you access to roughly 30% of the search market. If you play your cards right, that’s 30% more impressions. And 30% more clicks.
To top it all off, costs per click (CPCs) on Bing tend to be a little cheaper than AdWords, so advertisers can potentially get a higher ROI on their PPC spend.Now I know what you’re thinking – more impressions, more clicks, better ROI –there has to be a catch right?And there is.In order to access Bing’s share of the market you need to set up a separate account on Microsoft adCenter. This means you need to have new campaigns, new ad groups, new keywords, new ads and n... > Read more
Among the most common tasks that new AdWords advertisers can find daunting is simply starting a new campaign. Just in the initial campaign setup screen (before you even begin to create your actual ad groups and ads), you’re presented with 22 separate choices! We recently created a series of posts dedicated to determining the right Google AdWords settings for your campaign, but as you might have noticed, Google introduced a new look to their interface recently.
In this post, we’ll walk through a couple of subtle but important differences that have been introduced with the new interface that you can leverage when setting up a campaign.What’s New in the AdWords Campaign Settings?On the whole the new interface does improve the workflow of setting up a new campaign, introducing elements li... > Read more
You can gauge the unexpectedness of an event by the number of tweets announcing the news that start with “Wow.” And Monday, my tweetstream was full of wow’s, because the news broke that Marissa Mayer – formerly a VP at Google and one of the company’s most public faces – was leaving to take the helm at Yahoo as CEO.
This is shocking because:1. Who would choose Yahoo over Google?! Yahoo seems to exist solely to serve as the butt of tech jokes.2. OMG, Marissa Mayer is pregnant!!!Let’s take the second shocker first: Does it matter that Mayer is pregnant? Can a pregnant woman run a company? I’ll answer this question with a little analogy. My brother and I went to the same college (Rice University, go Owls!), and we used to play a lot of ping-pong. Now, I’m pretty damn good at ... > Read more
Howdy, sports fans! Thanks to the good people at MarketingProfs, we have a special offer for our readers to save $200 on an upcoming MarketingProfs University (MPU) online training course: Search Marketing School: SEO. This training course features classes on keyword research, content strategy, link building, social media, SEO metrics and more, with expert speakers including Vanessa Fox, Andrew Hanelly, Jill Whalen, Ian Lurie, John Doherty, Ruth Barr, and yours truly.
Read on for more details on this offer.About MarketingProfs UniversityMPU provides affordable, comprehensive online training in the interrelated disciplines that make up your marketing mix.With each course you'll get 10-17 hours of instruction in what you need to plan, build, and measure successful marketing programs. Plus yo... > Read more
Yesterday we published the results of a study showing how sponsored advertisements on Google (PPC ads) are taking over territory previously reserved for organic listings, AKA “free clicks.” This is both good news and bad news for marketers. On the plus side, Google continues to roll out more and better types of search advertising to help marketers target their customers.
On the negative side, you (obviously) have to pay for those clicks.But the fact is, organic clicks aren’t really “free” either – gone are the days when it was relatively easy to rank on the first page in Google for your target keywords. Given the increasing costs and complications involved with SEO, it’s important to diversify your marketing channels. You can’t rely on organic search alone for traffic and l... > Read more
If you use Google search (and who doesn’t), you may have noticed that sponsored results (pay-per-click, or PPC, ads) have been taking over more and more of the search engine results page.Here at WordStream, we’ve noticed that too! So we decided to do some research into what impact all of these new, bigger, more prominent and engaging ad formats are having on the average Google searcher.
The results are astonishing:Clicks on paid search listings beat out organic clicks by nearly a 2:1 margin for keywords with high commercial intent in the US.Click here to skip ahead:Organic Search ListingAlgorithm UpdatesSEO vs PPCAcknowledgementsSurvey MethodologyNow, to be clear here, organic searches still get more clicks overall than paid search – but not all keyword searches are created equal. Ke... > Read more
Perry Marshall on the AdWords Stupidity Tax & Why You Should Never Let a Google Rep Near Your Account
Perry Marshall is one of our favorite people in PPC. We’ve partnered with him on a few webinars, and we love that he doesn’t just parrot back conventional wisdom at you. He shares real insight into web marketing strategy and has a knack for analogies that hit home. He recently sent me the new edition of his popular AdWords guide, The Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords, and spoke with me about some of the great advice you can find inside.
About Perry: Entrepreneur Magazine calls him “the #1 author and world’s most-quoted consultant on Google Advertising … He has helped over 100,000 advertisers save literally billions of dollars in AdWords stupidity tax.” His Chicago company, Perry S. Marshall & Associates, consults both online and brick-and-mortar companies on generating sales ... > Read more
Google recently announced the release of the Knowledge Graph, a new feature designed to “help you discover new information quickly and easily” by providing informative answers to informational queries directly in the SERP. In other words, for search queries that are typically answered by a high-ranking, ever-present Wikipedia page, some of that top-level information can now be found on the results page itself, so you don’t necessarily have to click through to another site.
For example, if you google “Mae West,” you see some basic information (date of birth and death, height, name of spouse, and some of her more well-known movies, as well as related figures) to the right of the organic search results (click to enlarge):Yesterday, I was talking to Larry about different types of sea... > Read more
We had an interesting question posed by a commenter named Scott recently regarding how to target a very specific offer to a remarketing audience:Thanks for your insights. I have a question about how to really implement a remarketing strategy on the website. Take this scenario into consideration: a user views a page on the site, leaves, is later targeted with a remarketing ad that says something like 'Come back for 25% off' and includes a coupon code on the ad, so they click on it, return to the site, proceed to checkout.
..and can't remember the coupon code... What to do then? I'm trying to brainstorm ideas for how to remind remarketing customers about the coupon code without telling everyone about it who visits the site.For this it seems like the best way to direct these visitor... > Read more
We've evaluated thousands of PPC accounts with the AdWords Performance Grader, adding up to almost $1 billion in total PPC spend. Looking at this huge amount of data in aggregate, one of the most salient trends has to do with account activity. Namely, we've noticed a strong correlation between regular activity and relative success.
That is to say, the advertisers that get the highest scores (because they're beating everyone else in terms of key metrics like Quality Score, click-through rate, and impression share) usually spend the most time in their accounts.Disturbingly, about 1 in 5 advertisers who used the Grader haven't even logged into their AdWords account in the past 30 days. We get it – we're busy too! – but if you don't actually work on your account on a regular basis, your RO... > Read more
We recently highlighted the different advertising options available via Twitter’s paid ads and promoted tweets platform. Another massively popular social site has also been introducing new advertising options of late: Tumblr. For many businesses, Tumblr’s currently available advertising options may not be a great fit yet, but it’s always worth understanding what’s available with a given advertising channel before you dismiss it, and by following how a popular platform with a lot of visitors evolves their ad products you’ll know when they start to offer solutions that you can get the most out of.
Currently, Tumblr offers four separate ad products:Tumblr Highlighted PostsHighlighted posts allow users to designate their own Tumblr posts to be highlighted in your followers’ dashboar... > Read more
Happy belated Independence Day, WordStream fans! With the 4th falling on a Wednesday, it feels like we had a Saturday right in the middle of the week – but no following Sunday to help us recover. Oof!When I reluctantly dragged myself back to work yesterday, I saw a note from my coworker Adam, who said he was “declaring independence from old emails,” archiving all messages older than two weeks.
That note – and Wednesday’s patriotic festivities – inspired me to think of more ways to assert your independence in the office.1. Declare Email BankruptcyDeclaring “bankruptcy” for your email means admitting that you’re never going to be able to answer all those old messages. Archive them, delete them, unflag, mark all as read – do whatever you have to do, but don’t allow... > Read more
Because they have so many products and users, Google’s account login and access processes are often fairly complicated, and this is never more clear than with Google AdWords. If you’re a small business using AdWords, you might have struggled with some of the following issues:How to grant access to your Google AdWords account to other usersUnderstanding which users currently have access to your accountRevoking AdWords account access to previous usersGranting access to an agency or a third-party PPC software productIn this post we’ll walk through how to deal with each of the above scenarios.
Managing My AdWords Account AccessBy navigating to the “Account access” option in the “My account” tab, you can quickly get a view of:Pending Invitations – See a list of the the invi... > Read more
Simultaneously decreasing your cost per conversion, but still getting inspiration for new keywords in order to expand your successful AdWords campaign? It’s possible! Using so-called "mirrored campaigns," the current campaign is split into two campaigns. One of these two campaigns contains keywords that are set at the keyword option exact and the other campaign contains keywords that are set at broad.
This post describes how you can easily create these mirrored campaigns in AdWords, as well as sharing some real results.AdWords advertising allows you to buy search terms in four different ways. These four keyword matching options determine which Google searches can trigger your ads to appear. The first option is broad match, in which the ad appears on similar phrases and relevant variation... > Read more
As with any aspect of Google’s AdWords program, billing within AdWords can be somewhat complicated and confusing for newer advertisers. In this post we’ll walk through some of the different AdWords billing options and billing features available for advertisers.What Are My Billing Options for Paying for Google AdWords?To customize your billing options you can simply navigate to the Billing Preferences screen under the Billing menu:Or you may have to go to the Billing Settings screen, depending on which version of AdWords Billing your account is showing:Regardless of what your interface looks like there are several specific options for payment:Method of Pay: Postpay versus PrepayYou can set up billing either postpay or prepay.
If you use postpay billing, you’ll accrue advertising costs... > Read more
Check out our top 10 greatest hits from June!Everything You Want to Know About Quality Score & Landing Pages – This FAQ, consisting of questions we received during a recent webinar, is packed with info on AdWords Quality Score and how your landing pages affect it.RIP SEO Footer Links – Matt Cutts recently announced that boilerplate, sitewide links don’t count for much if anything.
Has your link strategy changed?AdWords Live Chat Ad Extension Now In Beta – Google appears to be testing a new “Live Chat” extension that allows people to click a button to initiate a live chat directly from a PPC ad.3 Things I’ve Learned from Founding a Software Start-Up – Larry talks about his experience with founding, bootstrapping, and securing funding for a software company that is now al... > Read more
The (Not Provided) OutlookSince October 2011, organic keyword data from logged-in Google users is not visible in Google Analytics. Google explained its new policy as an effort to protect privacy, but as keyword data continues to be available to Google advertisers, one is left to wonder whether privacy or profit is behind the move.
Whatever the reason, this lack of keyword data presents real problems for the SEO industry. Since October, most firms have seen the percentage of (not provided) data grow, currently averaging around 23% according to some estimates. Making tactical decisions 23% in the dark is hard enough, but things are going to get worse. Firefox, with a hefty 35% market share of browser usage, recently announced that it would default to HTTPS Google search. Whether ot... > Read more
Twitter Paid Advertising for Small Businesses: How to Get the Most Out of the Promoted Tweets Platform
Twitter’s pay-per-click advertising platform, now in beta, has opened up to offer access to some small businesses in addition to the larger advertisers who have been able to advertise via Twitter ads for some time. Getting access to the promoted tweets platform and understanding the different types of advertising available to you via Twitter could be a point of confusion for small businesses, so let’s outline the different means of advertising on Twitter.
Available Forms of Twitter AdvertisingThere are a few different ways you can advertise on Twitter:Promote Tweets to Twitter Search – You can pin a promoted Tweet to a specific search (you could choose some of your core keywords or advertise on a competitor’s brand name).Promote Tweets to Your Followers – You can also promote spec... > Read more
Well WordStream fans, I have some bittersweet news—I’ll be leaving WordStream soon to spend time in Europe.It’s been such a joy to work here and be part of our mega-marketing team.Normally a year isn’t all that long, but in startup years it’s a decent chunk of time. I started at WordStream during its haywire adolescent stage, and have had the unique opportunity to be here as it has come into its own and really begun to thrive.
Blogging and discussing the latest online marketing happenings with you guys has been awesome. While I’ll miss WordStream immensely, I’m excited about my travels and what’s next.Now dry those tears, this isn’t the end! I’ll be spending a couple weeks in Italy teaching a bed & breakfast some SEO basics, so I’ll continue blogging here from time... > Read more
The Microsoft adCenter platform offers its own answer to AdWords Quality Score, but as with negative keywords in adCenter, Quality Scores in adCenter function somewhat differently than they do in Google AdWords.You can easily see your keyword-level Quality Scores in adCenter, similar to the way that you can drill down to the keyword level in AdWords:The way that Quality Score is calculated, however, is slightly different in adCenter.
How Quality Score Is Calculated in adCenterThe biggest difference is that adCenter Quality Score doesn’t actually impact your cost per click and ad rank, ad position, or keyword eligibility. It’s designed to be a metric that indicates how generally competitive your keyword is in the adCenter marketplace as compared to other advertisers’ keywords. The over... > Read more
Facebook Ads Whisper Sweet Lies While Kinect Emotion-Detecting Ads Slap You With the TruthA few weeks ago I encountered a bizarre advertisement on Facebook that caught my attention:I spent a moment trying to puzzle out how a decapitated baby head related to social work. The whole point of course is that it doesn’t—the creepy-baby-head-ad I encountered is a classic shock & awe Facebook ad, determined to capture a user’s attention with a strange picture with hopes that you might be curious enough to click through.
It’s quite the lowly form of advertising, banking on Facebook users’ curiosity alone to drive clicks. But this idea of embracing the “silly” factor that is ever-present on the internet can be successful for some, like the Plenty Of Fish ads made in Microsoft Paint ... > Read more