Bad Ads, Worse Ads, and Very, Very Bad Ads: The Worst of PPC

Larry Kim has been sharing a lot of research lately on the traits and features of winning AdWords campaigns, from those with mega-high click-through rates to those with best-of-the-best Quality Scores. In the course of seeking out examples of advertisers doing all the right things, we found many more who are getting it oh-so-wrong.

From dynamic keyword insertion abuse to crappy headlines and nonsensical ad copy, we've seen it all. What follows are a few epic fails I refuse to feel bad about pointing out, because someone really should have caught these by now. Is anyone home on the other end of these campaigns?Come, marvel at the mistakes, the missteps, the wasted opportunities. We're not just here to poke fun, though; there are important PPC lessons to be learned from each of the bad ads be... > Read more

March 06, 2014     |   Written by: Miranda Miller   |   Posted In: Search Engine Marketing   |   Comments: 9

Landing Page Examples: Learning from the Best & Worst Landing Pages on the Web

With the release of WordStream’s new landing page grader tool, we can’t get landing pages out of our heads! Surfing the wondrous web, landing pages are everywhere – both good and bad. We’re taking today to show some real-world landing page examples, so get ready for some breathtaking brilliance and miserable monstrosities.

Before we get started, it’s important to remember that landing pages aren’t just about the page itself. Process comes into play as well – what did visitors click to be brought to your landing page? If it was an ad, what did the ad say? If it was a newsletter blast, what links did they click? The “landing” process and movement through the funnel is just as important as the physical page design.In the spirit of competitive analysis, I spent some time Googl... > Read more

March 05, 2014     |   Written by: Megan Marrs   |   Posted In: Conversion Rates   |   Comments: 22

The Beginner's Guide to Building a Negative Keyword List

When Thomas Edison said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work,” he wasn’t talking about negative keywords. While paid search was not among Edison’s various areas of expertise, his words of wisdom most definitely apply to how to run an effective AdWords campaign.

Whether you’re a newcomer to AdWords or have been running PPC campaigns since Google launched the platform in 2000 (with a grand total of 350 customers), you’ve probably given a great deal of thought to which keywords will result in more clicks and higher conversions – not to mention that vacation home in Lake Tahoe you’ve been dreaming about.However, fewer businesses devote as much time and energy to building a negative keyword list, despite the crucial role tha... > Read more

March 04, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 11

Want to Increase Your Conversion Rates? Here's How to Triple Them

We recently held a massively popular webinar packed with techniques guaranteed to triple your AdWords click-through rates, and we got a lot of people asking for help with the next logical step: boosting conversions. Once you've earned the click and have a visitor on your site, how do you most effectively convince them to sign up for your offer or purchase your product? Raising CTR’s is great, but raising conversions is even better.

Our next free webinar (THIS THURSDAY, March 6) will teach you just that: amazing – yet perfectly achievable – strategies to increase your conversion rates by three times or more. In Unbelievable Discoveries to 3x Your Conversion Rates, we're going to dive deep into tactics and features of the best converting campaigns in the market, with a replicable proces... > Read more

March 03, 2014     |   Written by: Larry Kim   |   Posted In: Conversion Rates   |   Comments: 5

When Good Tweets Go Bad: Matt Cutts Burned on Twitter, Hilarity Ensues

When Matt Cutts speaks, people listen. As one of Google’s most influential figures, Cutts has a loyal following that hangs on his every word. Unfortunately for him, this doesn’t always work out so well, as a recent tweet demonstrated. Cutts took to Twitter yesterday to announce the launch of a new reporting tool designed to make it easier for site and content owners to flag instances when scraped material is ranking higher than the content’s source.

For many site owners and content producers, this was welcomed as a step in the right direction. However, for Cutts, the backlash was swift.Dan Barker was quick to point out that Google’s own Knowledge Graph is the biggest content scraper on the web. To add insult to injury, Barker included an image of a Google Knowledge Graph SERP ... > Read more

February 28, 2014     |   Written by: Larry Kim   |   Posted In: Twitter   |   Comments: 15

WordStream’s Best of the Month: February’s Greatest Hits

Unless you’re lucky enough to live somewhere warm like southern California or Florida, chances are pretty good that you’ve been suffering through the bitter cold like we have here in Boston. As much as I would have loved to open February’s Best of the Month blog post with some pithy references to the weather, Elisa used them to great effect last month – Posts So Hot They Ended the Polar Vortex? That's a tough act to follow.

Instead, I’ll cut to the chase and present you with a roundup of February’s most popular blog posts – and a Futurama meme for good measure, since some of our most popular posts this month peered far into The Future™. Enjoy!1. The Future of PageRank: 13 Experts on the Dwindling Value of the Link – Are links still the essential currency of the web, or are... > Read more

February 28, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: WordStream   |   Comments: 2

A/B Testing Best Practices Can Save You Time, Money and Effort – Here's How

Everybody* knows that A/B testing best practices can help you run faster, jump higher and increase conversions. When it comes to providing users with an engaging and rewarding online experience, good A/B tests are a more effective treatment for embarrassing landing pages than topical ointment. However, approaches to designing multivariate tests that provide accurate and representative results can be uncertain at best and outright divisive at worst.

A/B testing is an invaluable tool for landing page optimization when implemented correctly. To minimize wasting time, money and effort on changes that will yield little to no benefit – or even make things worse – take the following points into consideration during your next project.* Not everybody knows this Prove ItBefore you casually a... > Read more

February 26, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Conversion Rates   |   Comments: 20

The Future of PageRank: 13 Experts on the Dwindling Value of the Link

In a recent Webmaster video, Matt Cutts confirmed that Google has tried internal versions of its search engine that work entirely without links. The results are low-quality – “for now,” he said. But this suggests that the value of the almighty link has come into question at Google, and they may be working on a version of the PageRank algorithm that doesn't depend so heavily on the link graph – which means PageRank as we know it might be on the chopping block.

But when?Don LaFontaine, Master of the "In a World" Movie Trailer VoiceoverIn light of this, we asked some of our favorite SEO and inbound marketing experts to answer the following three questions:Do you see the link losing value over time? Do you foresee a future where backlinks lose some or all of their weight in the PageRan... > Read more

February 25, 2014     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: Google   |   Comments: 45

Facebook's News Feed Algorithm Change: What It Means For Your Facebook Marketing Strategy

Facebook turned 10 this month! This seems like a birthday worth celebrating as we have all watched Facebook grow from an exclusive college-only social club to a social platform dominating the internet and connecting the entire world through likes, pokes, and shares. I remember several years back peering over my sister’s shoulders while she used dial-up internet to connect to this mysterious thing called Facebook on the family computer, which resembled an oversized microwave and weighed more than my dog (who was not “health-conscious”).

The Today Show’s Savannah Guthrie recently interviewed Zuckerberg and asked if headlines like “Facebook’s For Your Grandma” bother him, but why should they? As Zuckerberg pointed out, “We pay attention to every demographic in every country.”... > Read more

February 21, 2014     |   Written by: Margot daCunha   |   Posted In: Social Media   |   Comments: 10

More Ads Coming to Knowledge Graph: Google Testing Ads in Movie Results

Remember how we said wayyy back in 2012 that Google's Knowledge Graph feature was conditioning searchers to look to the right side of the SERP for information, where the ads usually go? Our conspiracy theory gets a little more credence today: According to Search Engine Land, Google is increasing their commercialization of Knowledge Graph and simultaneously promoting their Google Play service by testing movie ads in Knowledge Graph panels.

Back in 2012, this was just a theory and we had to give Google the benefit of the doubt – that Knowledge Graph truly intended to use this space for relevant, informative answers to questions and informational queries. But early on, Elisa theorized that Google had more nefarious intentions. What if Knowledge Graph was really about training the eye to see ... > Read more

February 20, 2014     |   Written by: Miranda Miller   |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 4

Matt Cutts Confirms That Google Has Tried Search Without Links

When I suggested last month that someday, search engines could work without links, a lot of people thought it was an interesting gedankenexperiment (they didn’t use that word but hey, it’s one of my favorite words) but didn’t believe Google is really moving in that direction. The future, by definition, remains to be seen, but today in his webmaster video, Matt Cutts revealed that Google has already experimented with a version of Google that doesn’t use links as a signal:A user asked:Does the big G have a version of the search engine that totally excludes any backlink relevancy? I’m wondering what search would look like and am curious to try it out.

And here’s Matt Cutts’ response (emphases mine):We don't have a version like that that is exposed to the public, but we have run e... > Read more

February 19, 2014     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: SEO Marketing   |   Comments: 19

The AdWords Landing Page Grader: Try Our New Free Landing Page Tool

We consistently hear from our clients and prospects that PPC landing pages are a struggle. There’s so much at stake on the landing page – that’s where your visitor either converts or doesn’t. But you don’t get much help from Google when it comes to landing page optimization. A poor landing page experience affects your Quality Scores as well as your ROI, but it’s tricky to actually figure out what the problem with your page is in AdWords alone.

Given this common pain point, I’m excited to announce the release of WordStream’s brand new landing page tool, the AdWords Landing Page Grader. This tool, now in beta, is the newest addition to the family of free tools WordStream offers small businesses to help them assess and improve PPC performance. And today, I’d like to tell you ... > Read more

February 19, 2014     |   Written by: Ben Kasdon   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 4

Case Study: How a Small Business on a Tiny Budget Doubled Their Quality Score in 30 Days

Folks, we have a winner. The results are in from our Grade and Get Paid contest, and the big winner is GetOutfitted, a small startup based in Colorado. If you missed the announcements surrounding the contest, here’s how it worked:We invited marketers and businesses owners to use the AdWords Performance Grader twice – once to get an initial report on their AdWords account performance, and then again after 30 days, to show much they could improve.

We then asked them to tell us what they learned about their account.The business that was able to show the most improvement in 30 days won a tricked-out prize package: $25,000 in free AdWords spend for 2014, plus a year-long subscription to our WordStream Advisor platform to help them make the most of that spend. (They also got a subscription to... > Read more

February 18, 2014     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 7

Paid Ads Drive a Third of Traffic But Almost Half of Search Revenues – Here’s Why

As online shopping continues to grow as the commerce method of choice for US consumers, so too does the efficacy of paid search for internet retailers. MarketLive Performance Index data shows that as paid search drove 37.6% of all search traffic in Q3 2013, the channel produced a disproportionate 45.8% of all search revenues. That suggests, as we’ve said in the past, that paid search ads get the clicks with the most intent to buy.This was a 4.5% gain over the same period a year prior, when paid search accounted for 40.3% of search revenues. Online retailers are increasingly finding greater value in their paid search marketing campaigns.Image credit: MarketingCharts.comMobile traffic to the sites analyzed increased 56% YoY, with revenue from mobile visitors growing 65%. Tablet traffic was... > Read more

February 14, 2014     |   Written by: Miranda Miller   |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 3

Why Tracking Conversions for Your PPC Efforts Is a No-Brainer!

Does your business have marketing goals?If the answer is no I hope you have an alternative source of income.If your answer is yes then your business should be tracking conversions.But what is a conversion?One of the most common misconceptions about conversion tracking is that it only works for purchases made online.

In reality, a conversion is any meaningful action completed by a visitor on your website. Something as simple as subscribing to your company blog, downloading a whitepaper, or even viewing an important webpage on your site can be tracked as a conversion.So first, define what actions are meaningful to your business. Perhaps you own a sports camp and visitors who explore your interactive activities map on one of your web page’s tend to be valuable to the growth of your business... > Read more

February 13, 2014     |   Written by: Margot daCunha   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 6

How to Make Great Landing Pages (With Crazy High Conversions)

What are landing pages? A landing page is the page a visitor arrives at on your website after clicking an ad (for example, a Google text ad or display ad). Inexperienced marketers often direct all of their PPC traffic to their homepage, but this can be a big mistake. Specific landing pages tailored to different offers are essential for providing a quality experience for visitors and driving conversions with a targeted message that matches each user’s need.

But don’t just check off received best practices. What makes a great landing page? How can you make awesome landing pages that boast off-the-chart conversion rates? We’ll walk you through what you need to know to make it happen.New! Try WordStream's FREE AdWords Landing Page ToolBefore You Build a Landing PageBefore creating your la... > Read more

February 12, 2014     |   Written by: Megan Marrs   |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 29

Going Unicorn Hunting: The Secrets Behind Ads with 3x the Average CTR

What’s the average click-through rate for a Google AdWords ad? When people ask this question, it’s often because they want to benchmark their own ad CTR’s. Unfortunately, way too many advertisers are content to reach an average click-through rate and leave it at that.We recently held a well-attended webinar packed with crazy techniques you can use to triple your AdWords click-through rate.

Sounds unbelievable, right? It’s not at all – in fact, we walked step-by-step through a process that helps marketers improve their ads to the point they’re performing in the top 1% of all ads across the platform.We’ve had a number of requests for more information on this webinar, so here we go! This post is a monster – use this handy guide to help you get around:What Is a Good CTR?Why Uni... > Read more

February 11, 2014     |   Written by: Larry Kim   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 16

How to Pass the AdWords Advanced Display Exam & Earn Google Partner Status

We’ve already delved into surviving the AdWords Advanced Search exam, thanks to Margot da Cunha’s post last December, so now let’s take a look at the other advanced exam, Advanced Display. Display seems to be a bit of a great unknown, the dividing line between the hardcore search geeks and the creative, right-brained people who cringe at all the spreadsheets and analysis that accompany search.

It bears mentioning here that 95 percent of people’s online time is spent consuming content, so learning about display (and video) can be a nice upsell to your clients, or it could be a career path you carve for yourself. Here’s an interesting fact: YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine – and it’s a major component of the Advanced Display exam.Let’s assume you’v... > Read more

February 10, 2014     |   Written by: Brad McMillen   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 17

AdWords Metrics: How to Make Sense of Your PPC Data

When it comes to the paid search environment I think it’s safe to say that most people are very results-driven. After all, would you really go through all of the effort to build out, optimize, and monitor your AdWords account on a frequent basis if all you got in return was a blank sheet of paper? Of course not – we put the effort into our search campaigns because we expect results, we want to see an outcome, and we need AdWords performance metrics to alert us of our success or failure.

That being said, looking through all of the data that Google provides can sometimes feel like searching for your child in a giant ball pit. In other words, it can be tough to find something meaningful in the chaos.Let’s take a look at some of the AdWords metrics that are going to help you really home i... > Read more

February 06, 2014     |   Written by: Katie Lyons   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 1

Search Network with Display Select: Should You Use AdWords' New Campaign Type?

You may remember that in early November 2013 Google rolled out a new AdWords campaign type called “Search Network with Display Select.”For advertisers, we now have a serious option to consider when debating the merit of running a combination search and display network campaign. In the past, we were able to simply combine both the entire search and display networks into one “hyper” campaign.

This presented a unique opportunity to seriously expand your reach and generate potentially valuable impressions, clicks and conversions across a broad range of web assets.The results, however, usually were not that great. I can corroborate this. Rarely do I see accounts that actually use this combination campaign type, and when I do, I recommend splitting up campaigns based on their network tar... > Read more

February 05, 2014     |   Written by: Jeff Stevens   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 6

Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land on SMX West 2014: More Search & Social, New Marketing Land Summit

Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Land's founding editor (not that he needs any introduction in search marketing circles) is getting geared up for SMX West, the next in his series of search marketing conferences spanning North America, Europe and Australia. SMX is known as one of the best conferences to marketers to learn the latest trends and tactics to improve their marketing performance.

I had a few questions for Danny Sullivan about the upcoming event and the state of the search industry in general. Here’s what he had to say about the evolution of SMX and what marketers will need to focus on this year:Danny Sullivan on Knowledge Graph, Predictive Search & Social SignalsLarry Kim: You have Google’s Amit Singhal doing a keynote on recent Google updates and the future of search, but wh... > Read more

February 03, 2014     |   Written by: Larry Kim   |   Posted In: Search Engine Marketing   |   Comments: 7

The WordStream Top 10: Posts So Hot They Ended the Polar Vortex

ugh i’m still writing “ugh i’m still writing 2013 on all my checks” on all my tweets— Andy Levy (@andylevy) January 1, 2014Funny story: I published the first few blog posts of the year with “2013” in the URL. Funny because a) I’m a cliché and b) our Drupal installation doesn’t automate blog URLs, I have to plug the date in myself.

Le sigh.Here’s to a 2014 with no stupid mistakes! Right? Right! (Right?) But before we head off into Month 2, let’s take a look back at our most popular blog posts this month:6 Social Media Marketing Strategies to Drastically Improve Your Efforts in 2014 – Margot, one of our client services superstars, wrote this great, actionable post with lots of tips for better managing your social presence.Toward a Linkless SEO: The SEO Link Is Dying.... > Read more

January 31, 2014     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: WordStream   |   Comments: 2

45 Fabulous Facebook Advertising Tips & Magic Marketing Tricks

We've got a huge collection of tips and pointers for mastering Facebook advertising and marketing. We'll be covering...Facebook Advertising 101: General Tips & TricksFacebook Advertising Budgeting & Bidding Tips: How to Control Costs4 Ways to Create More Engaging Image Ads with Facebook Advertising7 Secrets for Better Facebook Ad Targeting20 Facebook Marketing Tips: Posts and Promotions to Help Your BusinessFacebook Advertising Tips 101: 11 Basic TipsWe're starting off our Facebook Advertising & Marketing Guide with some general tips and tricks for advertising on Facebook.

Learn to select your campaign objectives, use various Facebook advertising formats for different needs, control the costs of advertising on Facebook, and more.1.  Go in with established goals. Do you wan... > Read more

January 30, 2014     |   Written by: Megan Marrs   |   Posted In: Social Media   |   Comments: 48

Hacking AdWords: Winning at AdWords the Weird Way

As search marketers, we spend a lot of time analyzing crazy SEO algorithms (hello, Panda and Penguin) and constantly trying to reverse-engineer ranking factors in an attempt to increase our organic rankings.Yet when it comes to paid search, there's not nearly as much research, despite the fact that PPC, like SEO, is largely driven by an algorithm (Quality Score) which determines ad position, cost per click and many other factors.

By understanding how Quality Score works, AdWords can be cracked.In my article today, I'll quantify the impact of Quality Score on your cost per click and cost per conversion. I'll also explain to you (mathematically!) how Google calculates your Quality Score. Finally, I'll share my three best tips on how to raise your Quality Scores, all in an effort to help you h... > Read more

January 29, 2014     |   Written by: Larry Kim   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 30

Pubcon Founder Brett Tabke on the Future of Google Search & the Decline of the Web

Internet marketing legend and conference organizer extraordinaire Brett Tabke took time from his busy schedule recently to discuss a number of issues with me, from the impact of Google search updates and upcoming trends in online marketing to the future of his popular Pubcon conference series. Read on for his fascinating insights into Google’s changing business model, the secret of content marketing and more.

Thanks for talking with me, Brett!Referral Data Losses a Game ChangerLK: Back in November, you and Joe Laratro spoke at SLC/SEM about the Year in Search Marketing. What do you think were the biggest game changers in search in 2013? BT: The Snowden revelations gave search engines cover to implement SSL connections on all searches. That has led to the loss of referral data. Not h... > Read more

January 27, 2014     |   Written by: Larry Kim   |   Posted In: Google   |   Comments: 3

Toward a Linkless SEO: The SEO Link Is Dying. Here's What Might Replace It

Whether they saw it coming or not, and whether they believe it or not, everyone in SEO sat up and noticed when Matt Cutts declared that guest blogging is dead. We’d all like to believe that we only guest-blog to share our knowledge, but the truth is, most of us have guest-blogged and gladly taken the links that came along with it.

And the conversation has really been about links all week: Can guest-blogging survive without links? How do we get links if we don't guest-blog anymore?But aren’t we just treading water here? Guest blogging was just one tactic as part of a larger link-building strategy. Google is slowly chipping away at all our link-building tactics. Rather than replacing guest blogging with another kind of link building, maybe it’s time to think about a system that isn’t... > Read more

January 24, 2014     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: SEO Marketing   |   Comments: 55

A User's Guide to the YouTube Keyword Tool

What is the YouTube Keyword Tool?The YouTube keyword research tool, also known as the YouTube keyword suggestion tool, is a barebones tool used to generate and discover new keywords for YouTube videos. It looks like this:How to Use the YouTube Keyword ToolThe YouTube keyword tool is pretty straightforward – simply choose your language and tailored countries, insert a keyword or phrase, and click “Get keyword ideas.

”Some of those keyword suggestions (heck, maybe a lot of them) will make no sense whatsoever. But, buried in that strange, bizarre rubble of YouTube culture, you may find some gold nuggets than can really help you out when it comes to content strategy.While these keyword results aren’t very long-tail in the literal since of having lots of words, they can certainly be cons... > Read more

January 23, 2014     |   Written by: Megan Marrs   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 8

All About AdChoices: What Is AdChoices? How Does it Affect Advertisers & Consumers?

A few years ago, during Thanksgiving supper, one of my relatives asked me to explain what my job entails. Before I could launch into my SEM elevator pitch, one of my aunts jumped in and said something to the effect of “She taps into people’s privacy and harasses them with ads online.” Sure, she made the comment in jest, but I think many people share this misconception.

If you work in the search marketing industry, you’ve probably had a similar experience at one point or another. So it’s probably a good idea to familiarize yourself with the privacy issues in online advertising. This post will provide a deep dive into AdChoices, a program designed to protect internet users’ privacy and give them control over their internet usage data.Use this table of contents to skip ahead:How to... > Read more

January 22, 2014     |   Written by: Erin Sagin   |   Posted In: Search Engine Marketing   |   Comments: 6

3 Reasons Guest Blogging Isn't as Dead as Matt Cutts Says It Is

Matt Cutts just declared guest blogging dead:Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of guest blogging then you’re hanging out with really bad company.

Well, I’m convinced.Just kidding! Guest blogging may be on Google's radar, but I wouldn't close the coffin lid just yet. Here’s why.All SEO Gets Spammier. SEO Still Isn’t Dead.You could substitute almost any SEO technique into this sentence, and it would be true:Over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of keyword targeting then you’re hanging out with really bad company.Over time it’s become a more and more spammy pr... > Read more

January 20, 2014     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: Blogging   |   Comments: 59

How Your AdWords Daily Budget Works With Ad Scheduling

AKA, How to Keep Google from Turning Your $500 Budget into $600 in SpendTake a look around any Google help forum and you’ll likely see questions about how AdWords budgeting works. They usually come from advertisers who’ve run over their monthly ad budgets for lack of understanding of this topic. I have to admit, I was one of those advertisers.

I would have felt a lot of embarrassment about my past mistakes if not for the fact the Google help experts had to do some double-checking of their own on it—that’s how (intentionally?) confusing this topic is.Most, if not all, advertisers use monthly budgets. Of course, AdWords runs on daily budgets. The way you work within this environment depends on whether or not your campaign runs every day of the month.With full confidence intact, let’... > Read more

January 20, 2014     |   Written by: Brad McMillen   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 10
 
Free Keyword Tool

Get thousands of relevent keyword suggestions - more,
faster, free!

Free Keyword Niche Finder

Discover profitable pockets of keywords for your
business.

Free Negative Keyword Suggestion Tool

Identify wasted spend before it happens and increase
your paid search ROI.

Contact Us | Company | Support | Site Map | Trademarks | Privacy Policy © 2007-2014 WordStream, Inc. All rights reserved.