Archive for the ‘Search Engine Marketing’ Category

21 Spectacular SEO and Search Marketing Stats and Facts

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

Social may be sexy, but search still pays the bills.

As reported below, organic search drives 51% of all visitors to both B2B and  and B2C Web sites, while paid-search drives 10% (and social 5%, on average). 89% of customers begin their buying process with a search engine.

Image credit: Digital Marketing PhilippinesHow can marketers get the most out of search? The search marketing stats and facts below provide some helpful guidance. Here are four key takeaways from this research:

  • • Do feed the gorilla. Search doesn’t only mean Google, but the elephant in the room can’t be ignored either. While everyone knows Google is the big dog, the magnitude of its dominance still amazes. Google accounted for nearly 40% of all U.S. digital ad spending last year, while Facebook’s share was about 8%; and Google’s advertising revenue is larger than that of the entire U.S. print industry.
  • • Be like Avis. As the company’s iconic slogan went, “When you’re number two, you try harder.” Or rather in the case of organic search, you need to try harder. While it’s great to be #1—the top result still generates nearly one-third of all organic search clicks—the share garnered by results two through four has increased significantly in the last decade. No matter the slot though, the key to getting clicks from any rank below #1 is to craft top-notch meta titles and page descriptions.
  • • Get creative. The top challenges in organic SEO are link building (easy-to-get links no longer have much value) and keyword research (the low-hanging fruit is long gone). To rank well today, use a web presence optimization (WPO) approach in order to earn high-quality links from online publications and industry influencers, and write to “be the best answer” to search queries rather than stuffing content with repetitive phrases.
  • • Open your wallet. Marketers spend a lot of money online; overall, U.S. marketers will spend more than $103 billion on search, display, social media, and email marketing by 2019—but search will remain the largest share of interactive spend (about 44%). And in PPC search ads, 86% of all ad impressions accrue to the top four spots.

For more insights, check out these 21 SEO and search engine marketing stats from top experts including Caroline Nicander Mohr, Laurie Sullivan, Berrie Pelser, Rob Petersen, Melissa Hoffmann, and John A. Lee.

3 General Search and Google Stats and Facts

1. Google estimates that the Internet now contains roughly five million terabytes of data – but the search giant has indexed only 0.04% of it all. (The Wonder of Tech)

2. Integrating PPC and organic SEO efforts results on average in a 25% increase in clicks and a 27% increase in profits over isolated or disconnected efforts. (Digital Marketing Philippines)

3. Google accounted for nearly 40% of all U.S. digital ad spending last year. Facebook’s share was about 8%. (eMarketer)

9 Organic SEO Stats and Facts

4. Lead generation (cited by 61% of corporate marketers) and Web site traffic (57%) are the top SEO objectives for marketers at enterprise companies in 2015. 54% want to improve traffic conversion rates. Just 24% cited attributing sales and revenue to SEO as a top goal. (MediaPost)

5. Organic search drives 51% of all visitors to business-to-business and business-to-consumer Web sites, whereas paid-search drives 10% and social 5%. (MediaPost)

6. Having video on the landing page of your site makes it 53% more likely to show up on page 1 of Google. (41 Stories)

7. A URL’s number of Google +1s is more highly correlated with search rankings than any other factor. (Ber|Art)

8. Ranking near the top of search results is great, but if you want the click, your title and description better be top-notch also. In 2005, searchers spent just under 2 seconds, on average, viewing each listing; in 2014 that has dropped to 1.17 seconds. (MarketingProfs)

9. The top organic result still captures about the same amount of click activity (32.8%) as it did in 2005. However, organic results that are positioned in the 2nd through 4th slots now receive a significantly higher share of clicks than in 2005–63% vs. 48%. (MarketingProfs)

10. 89% of customers begin their buying process with a search engine. (Biznology)

11. 72% of marketers from enterprises rate search engine optimization (SEO) as successful in achieving marketing objectives like lead generation and increased Web traffic. (MediaPost)

12. The top challenges in SEO are link building (cited by 41% of corporate marketers) and keyword research (39%). (MediaPost)

9 Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Facts and Statistics

13. Google’s advertising revenue is larger than that of the entire U.S. print industry. (The Wonder of Tech)

14. 30% of companies outsource their paid search advertising, and 28% do so for display advertising. (MediaPost)

15. Total internet advertising spending is growing 16% per year. Mobile accounts for 11% of the total. (TechCrunch)

16. 61% of CMOs say search engines are an effective marketing channel. (AdWeek)

17. Nearly half of digital marketing budgets are spent on search, with 31% on paid search and 18% on SEO. (MarketingProfs)

18. In PPC search ads, 86% of all ad impressions accrue to the top four spots. (ClickZ)

19. Overall, U.S. marketers will spend more than $103 billion on search, display, social media, and email marketing by 2019 — growing at a 12% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) — but search will remain the largest share of interactive spend. (MediaPost)

20. U.S. spending on search marketing will reach $31.6 billion in 2015. (MediaPost)

21. U.S. spending on paid search and organic optimization will top $45 billion by 2019. (MediaPost)

This was post #3 of Marketing Stats Summer (#statssummer) on Webbiquity.

#1: Welcome to Marketing Stats Summer!

#2: 34 Compelling Content Marketing Stats and Facts

#3: 21 Spectacular SEO and Search Marketing Stats and Facts

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How to Make News Content Viral Using People-Based Marketing

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

Guest post by Jack Dawson.

There are a lot of resources online that can help you move from newsjacking – “stealing” potentially viral news items before they become viral – to creating potentially viral news yourself. The most important technique to date is through people-based marketing.

Using PPC ads to promote newsWhat this means for marketers is that it is no longer necessary to research and pitch thousands of publications, hoping and praying that some of them stick and make news. By creating your own news, you gain an opportunity to earn greater PR for your organization as well as win over higher traffic and more inbound links.

Pay-per-click marketing provides an important platform through which content promotion and other social PR efforts can be successfully driven, and just a minimal investment can lead to huge returns for your business. This article describes just how to do this.

Introduction to people-based marketing

Also called identity targeting, people-based marketing is founded in creating audience segments based on different characteristics; this allows you to actually target a certain person with a specific ad that will appeal to them. Some characteristics include location, employment status, age, income level, purchase history, interests, among others.

Essentially, PPC harnesses the power that email and social media marketers have had in their arsenal for a while now.

PPC Marketing for PR Pitching

Online marketing technological advances have enabled us to automate many time-consuming and tedious processes. PR pitching also has the potential for automation, which would be a breath of fresh air compared to the present technique:

  • Create stellar content which you are ready to transmit to the world
  • Identify news media and opinion influencers within your niche
  • Pray that you have some kind of previous relationship, at least a few, so that they are not all cold pitches
  • Find their Twitter handles, emails or other contact info
  • Draft a personalized form letter which can still be considered impersonal, or spend hours personalizing all pitches you send out
  • Pitch and pray and pitch and pray some more, until you catch someone’s interest before you’ve annoyed them so much they block your contact

As an alternative, you can take the same stellar content from about and share it on all your social media profiles. In Twitter, for instance, you can create a customized list of your influencers using Twitter Ads.

On Facebook, you can do even better. Facebook allows you to get more granular by creating different layers according to demographic information. For instance, you can target people within your contact list that have a specific interest, or job title.

Within a few minutes, you have placed your content within the reach of industry experts, journalists, or influencers with huge social followings. Your content will show up on their activity streams/newsfeeds, where it’s difficult to miss. They can then click, read through and share within their networks and voila! Job done!

Value of Virality through PPC

Using the scheme presented above can get your publicity within a few hours, and all for less than 10% of the effort you use on old-fashioned pitches. You can earn hundreds of mentions on media, not forgetting backlinks to the post and your site in the process, all of which improve your search engine optimization strategy.

All you need to do is have newsworthy content, and have it picked up by just one journalist. Soon, others will flock in on it to stay ahead of the curve before it blows up, and then all you need to do is sit back and watch traffic, links and mentions come in by the truckloads. They may not all be potential consumers, but it is a more effective way of content marketing and raising brand awareness.

 

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26 Awesome Search Engine Marketing Guides

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Search engine marketing (SEM) accounts for roughly three out of every eight dollars spent on digital advertising, with Google alone commanding 31% of the market.

That share is even larger within the b2b marketing space, and for good reasons: 88% of b2b buyers conduct online research before making business purchasing decisions, and nearly half of b2b tech buyers say they’ve discovered brands they weren’t previously aware of through a search engine.

Best search engine marketing guides 2014

Image credit: Placeit.net

While organic search traffic still drives roughly half of business website traffic, paid search accounts for 10%—and it enables marketers to guarantee first-page presence even for highly competitive search phrases that are difficult to optimize for organically.

So how can search engine marketers maximize their click-through rate (CTR) and conversions from paid search? Which tools and reports are most helpful? How and when should marketers use retargeting and ad extensions? What common SEO pitfalls and mistakes should they avoid?

Find the answers to those questions and many others here in more than two dozen of the best guides to search engine marketing of the past 18 months.

7 deadly sins of Google AdWords by iMedia Connection

Sheri FirstenbergCalling AdWords “both an easy-to-get-started and difficult-to-master tool for online advertisers,” Sheri Firstenberg takes a “look at seven AdWords sins that could be killing your ROI,” among them using search network with display select as your campaign type (search and display work differently and campaigns should be managed separately); dropping the ball on ad extensions; and ignoring match types and negative keywords.

New Google AdWords Callout Extensions How-To: Highlight Offers in Your Ads by WordStream

Miranda MillerMiranda Miller writes that Google’s recently introduced Callout extensions enabole “you to add more text to your ad to spotlight free shipping, discounts, price matching and more. Callout extensions are similar to sitelinks, but without the links,” then explains why advertisers may want to use them, how to get started, and tips & tricks.

10 ways to get the most from PPC in a small-keyword category by eConsultancy

Malcolm SladeUsing the category of home insurance as an example, Malcolm Slade demonstrates how “how search marketers operating in a highly-competitive category can achieve visibility and acquire new customers without simply increasing their paid search bids,” through tactics like remarketing, ad extensions, and social proof.

9 Pay-Per-Click Tools That Will Help You do Keyword, Ad Copy and Profit Analysis by KISSmetrics

Gary VictoryOnce you get past the obnoxious pop-up ad here, Gary Victory reviews nine helpful tools for paid search keyword research, including KeywordCompetitor (which shows “your competitors’ paid keywords, ads, and landing pages”) and iSpionage (“allows you to gain insight into competitors’ effective keywords, ad copy, and ad budget”) as well as popular tools like SEMrush and SpyFu.

Your Guide to Targeting Prospects on Google’s Display Network (Part 1) by The Daily Egg

Adam KreitmanAdam Kreitman explains what the Google Display Network is (“a huge network of websites—from the New York Times site down to tiny sites hardly anyone knows about—that run Google ads”); how it can help search advertisers expand impressions, clicks and conversions; and how to use keyword targeting and management placements. Additional targeting options are explored in part 2 and part 3 of this series.

4 Google Analytics Reports Every PPC Manager Should Use by PPC Hero

Emma WellandEmma Welland identifies four reports within Google Analytics that search engine marketers should be reviewing, and the value provided by each. For example, the Keyword Positions report (found at Acquisition>Adwords>Keyword Positions) reveals which ad positions actually provide the highest conversion rate (it’s not always the top spot).

Help! I Raised My AdWords Bids and Got LESS Traffic! by WordStream

Andy StefanoAndy Stefano does the math to show how increasing bids can actually reduce clicks, how quality score can increase clicks without increasing the budget, and strategies to address different search marketing goals (branding, traffic, conversions, or ROI).

AdWords Keyword Diagnosis Report: Diagnosis Statuses Decoded by Search Engine Journal

Heather CooanReporting that “AdWords provides a keyword diagnosis tool inside the user interface that few people know about, and even those who do use the tool may be surprised to learn the tool is quite robust,” Heather Cooan explains what each keyword status means, from “ads showing now” (what you’d like to see for every keyword phrase) through “low quality score,” “low search volume,” “keyword disapproved,” “excluded” and more than a dozen others.

Crowded SERPs, Top-Heavy Ad Positions, and What It All Means for Your PPC Campaigns by ClickZ

John A. LeeJohn A. Lee looks into the implications of changes to search engine results pages like product listing ads (PLAs), knowledge graphs, and suggested searches (less space for ad units and higher CPCs), and what search advertisers can do to try to retain top exposure for their ads.

Maximize Your Click Through Rate: Tips on Writing Killer Ad Copy by Vertical Measures

Natalie BarredaNatalie Barreda explores how to optimize ad copy, from the headline to ad extensions, competitive analysis, and ad body text: “The absolute, most important component when writing ad text to ensure quality clicks is the call to action in the ad. Another important thing to note is the ad relevancy/keyword use within the actual ad copy.”

Going Unicorn Hunting: The Secrets Behind Ads with 3x the Average CTR by WordStream
***** 5 STARS

Larry KimIn this long and detailed post, Larry Kim goes step-by-step through a process to “ads to the point they’re performing in the top 1% of all ads across the platform.” Along the way he spells out the difference between average and exceptional campaigns; the intricacies of AdRank; dynamic keyword insertion; ad extensions; and much more.

The Ultimate List to Clean Up Your PPC Accounts for the New Year by Search Engine Watch

Joe KerschbaumJoseph Kerschbaum details 16 elements that search marketers should review periodically to keep campaigns running in top form, among them geographic tarketing and bid modifiers; ad scheduling; ad rotation and delivery; ad copy; landing pages; and shared negative keyword lists across campaigns (“make sure all of your negative lists are targeted to the proper campaigns. You might be surprised at what you find”).

Rethinking Your Paid-Search Presence by MediaPost

Writing that “Unfortunately, many marketers look at their paid-search keywords in a silo. They get stuck in the channel. They may realize that certain terms work better in paid search, increasing conversions, customers and revenue, but they stop there, rather than integrating these terms across all marketing initiatives — which would provide a far greater impact,” Elizabeth Dillon explains how marketers can and should rethink paid strategies in terms of optimizing overall web presence.

New AdWords Ad Ranking Formula: What Does It Mean? by Search Engine Land

Larry Kim (again) demonstrates how AdRank works in AdWords and how Google uses it to determine “the order in which competing ads should be ranked on a SERP.” He also points out that AdRank “plays a huge role in determining the actual cost-per-click that your competitors [ITALICS] pay when someone clicks on their ads,” and delves into what search marketers should be doing to optimize AdRank given Google’s latest changes to this algorithm.

The Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords Quality Score by PPC Hero
***** 5 STARS

This long, detailed, and outstanding guide is designed to “help you understand the different types of Google Quality Score, why they’re important, the misconceptions about Quality Score, and it will provide you with a checklist of actions you can take to help raise your Quality Score.” This is one worth bookmarking for long-term reference.

Top 5 Ways You’re Leaking Money in AdWords by WordStream

Erin SaginNoting that small businesses typically waste 25% of more of their AdWords budget, Erin Sagin identifies five “culprits” that unnecessarily drain those dollars, and how to deal with each one. For example, not using negative keywords: “If you detect that a searcher is looking for something that you do not offer, eliminate the possibility of showing your ad to them by setting a negative keyword.”

A Guide to Retargeting (Remarketing) for B2B Marketers by KoMarketing B2B Online Marketing Blog

Joseph VivoloJoseph Vivolo defines what remarketing and retargeting (which are pretty much synonyms) is; dispels common misconceptions (“The biggest misconception is that retargeting is a form of stalking…[but] no matter what, you will find ads on webpages as you browse the web. The only difference with retargeting, is that the next time you see an ad, it will most likely be something that you are interested in”); explains the value of retargeting for B2B marketers; and lists several best practices.

Search Remarketing: What You Need To Know by MediaPost

Contrary to the post above, Jeremy Walker writes that “While each serves to more accurately reach specific audiences, search retargeting and search remarketing are two very different practices.” He goes on to explain the distinctions, benefits, considerations (be prepared for much lower volume), and mistakes to avoid when using search remarketing.

Infographic: Nearly 1/3 of consumers click on paid links by leaderswest Digital Marketing Journal

Jim DoughertyJim Dougherty presents an infographic from DMNews containing a number of interesting SEM-related stats, such as that paid search has a higher average conversion rate (2.6%) than organic search (1.9%), and that paid search accounts for 44% of all search engine traffic revenue for online retailers. The figures may or may not be spot on, but the underlying message that marketers shouldn’t ignore paid search is spot on.

Should Every PPC Expert Know CRO? by PPC Hero

Sam OwenCalling conversion rate optimization (CRO) a”a fundamental part of PPC,” Sam Owen lays out the five principles of how good websites work, then explains how to improve your CRO skills using the DHAES approach (for data, hypothesis, approach, experiment, and statistical significance: typically you “need at least 50 conversions per test page”).

Google Rolls Out Metrics Tool, Estimates Conversion Tracking To Improve Bids, Budgets by MediaPost

Laurie SullivanLaurie Sullivan writes that “The Estimated Total Conversions AdWords tool estimates online sales and conversions that require multiple devices to complete,” and explains how this tool works to “give advertisers a complete view of all conversions driven by Google search advertising…(including) metrics based on phone calls and store visits.”

The 10 DOs & 10 DONTs in Google AdWords by Search Engine Journal
***** 5 STARS

Rocco BaldassarreRocco Baldassarre helpfully provides a reference-worthy list of 10 things advertisers should definitely DO in AdWords (e.g., utlize the keyword planner, hone your ad text, use tightly themed ad groups) and 10 practices to avoid (such as paying “too much attention to keyword popularity metrics,” trying to outbid competitors, and neglecting geographic targeting).

Quality Score Hacks: 3 Sneaky Ways to Increase Your Quality Score by WordStream

Elisa GabbertAfter noting that optimizing AdWords quality score can reduce CPC by as much as 50%, Elisa Gabbert explains three ways to gradually improve quality scores, from using site extensions (like sitelinks and call extensions, which are “especially key for mobile ads, allowing people to call you with one click and get what they need right when they want it”) to bidding on brand terms.

Every Adwords Campaign will have its Day by KKSmarts

Mike SeddonWriting that “By combining their adcopy with that time their ad is running they will definitely stand out from the other adverts and, as we know, ads that stand out usually get clicked on!,” Mike Seddon proceeds to explain how to use ad scheduling to separate your ads from the pack and increase CTR.

10 best practices for landing page design you need to know by Polaris B

Shelley PringleShelley Pringle shares 10 key considerations for designing an effective landing page, from making the offer clear and “answering, the question: what’s in it for them?” and keeping the form short to using the “blink test” and optimizing your post-submit thank-you page.

10 Alternatives to Google AdWords by PPC Hero

Aleh BarysevichWhile Google AdWords is by far the largest PPC network, there are times when marketers may need to use other networks in addition to or in place of AdWords. In this post, guest blogger Aleh Barysevich details 10 alternatives, from the obvious Yahoo! Bing Network to AdRoll, “a retargeting platform, which is one of the top third-party tools officially approved by Facebook.”

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The 5-point plan: how to increase marketing ROI from call conversions

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

Guest post by Luke Rees.

Every marketing executive wants to know when their efforts are getting through to consumers, and the online world is certainly making it easier to do so. Whilst there is still no way to track impressions from offline marketing (human interface programmes just aren’t that advanced yet…), the online world makes it possible to track real time results via impressions and clicks.

Increase ROI from call conversionsBut although online is great for understanding your customer base, it may not be the best platform for converting leads into customers. In fact, a recent study found that two thirds of people get frustrated when they can only interact with a company online. 

65% of businesses still consider the phone their strongest lead source, so how can marketers track when their online efforts are generating phone calls?

Here are five techniques marketers can use to better understand their customers; to streamline their experience with the contact centre; and to ultimately improve ROI.

Click-to-call tracking

Click-to-call tracking allows advertisers to identify and measure calls to their business after an ad click through occurs. Google recently announced they are offering this service free for their AdWords users.

How it works:

  1. a code is placed on the company’s website or mobile site;
  2. this code generates a unique forwarding number for each AdWords click;
  3. when a customer calls from a unique number you can link it back to a specific page on your website, as well as publisher sites within the display network, to see the types of calls that are being generated;
  4. with the help of Google Universal Analytics it is possible to track the keywords (i.e. search phrases) the customer used before clicking on your webpage. Your call centre staff are therefore already clued-in about the specific needs of the customer.

Data from this new free feature allows marketers to understand which keywords and ads are driving the most phone calls from your website, as well as where the most valuable calls are coming from.

Customer acquisition

Google’s call conversion tool allows marketers to optimise each page of their website by seeing the amount of engagement it’s getting, but there are also more sophisticated methods available for tracking where customers are coming from.

Here are two more techniques for tracking customer acquisition:

  1. IP and ISP (Subscriber Trunk Dialing) tracking software allows agents to see the exact geographical location where calls are coming in from;
  2. integrating call tracking with bid management software can allow marketers to see the keywords that lead to the most offline telephone conversions. Having this data means they can fine tune their PPC and SEO campaigns.

Companies who understand the needs of their clients and know how to target them are likely to significantly reduce their cost per lead. For one company who had their data reviewed this was as much as 50% reduction.

Conversion to call

Call tracking companies like ResponseTap provide software which allows marketers to track the entire customer journey, not just the initial call.

With the help of web analytics programmes it is possible to see:

  1. which keywords the customer used before calling;
  2. the publisher which drove the visitor to the website;
  3. the webpages they looked at before, during and after each call.

Integrating call tracking with analytics software like Google Adwords tracking, Adobe SiteCatalyst, or DC Storm can further improve customer understanding and increase the conversion to the right kind of call.

One company wanted to reduce information only calls to make capacity for Sales calls. By reorganising content for existing members and non-members differently they were able to increase the conversion to the right kind of call by 66%.

Conversion to sale

Wouldn’t it be great if your call centre staff new exactly the needs of the customer before they’ve even picked up the phone? These three strategies do just that, which significantly increases your chance of making a sale:

  1. Call screening alerts the agent about the campaign that has motivated their call. A phrase is read out to the agent before or after a call, telling them information like how the caller found your website, and what keyword they typed in;
  2. Dynamic call routing allows companies to route a call depending on to how a visitor have found their website. The call can then be directed to the best team, department or person within the business;
  3. SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) can be integrated into your call centre tactics. SIP is a signalling protocol that makes it possible to implement services like voice-enriched e-commerce, web page click-to-dial, or Instant Messaging depending on the preferences of the individual customer.

Using smarter and more sophisticated routing to get the calls to the right people will result in increased ROI. One of the businesses who had their data reviewed saw an uplift in sales of 15%.

Higher order value

Increasing the average order value (AOV) at the end of the customer journey is the final part of the customer journey which marketers can optimise through clever call tracking.

Two way to ensure customers spend bigger are:

  1. URL callbacks allow you to send data about the caller to an online system at the start or end of the call in real time. By storing this data in a database, you can integrate with other online solutions like web analytics or CRM solutions to better understand the customer experience and needs.
  2. CRM Integration: instead of using your CRM to just be a system that retains customer information based on manual entries, integrating your website and call tracking software brings in valuable customer information directly into your CRM. It also enables complete end-to-end reporting of lead to conversion through the call channel.

One company presented the call handler with the actual landing page the customer arrived at so that they had an immediate understanding about their intent. As a result they believe AOV went up 20%.

Conclusion

By taking each point of the customer’s journey in isolation, businesses will begin to notice real results.

Let’s take a look at the example company numbers for each metric, before and after they integrated four call tracking strategies.

So initially traffic acquisition went up 50%, then conversion to phone call improved by 66%, conversion to sale went up 15% and finally AOV increased by 20%:

Before 

  • 1,000,000 visitors
  • converting at 1% from visit to call
  • converting at 20% from call to sale
  • at an AOV of £1000

= £2,000,000 revenue

After (assuming some fairly typical conversion metrics, and the improvement percentages taken from each of the businesses above)

  • 2,000,000 visitors
  • converting at 1.66% to call
  • converting at 23%
  • at an AOV of £1200

= £9,163,200 revenue

The difference on these metrics is a 458% improvement. By implementing some clever software with a few smart tactics to connect online and offline efforts, it is possible to improve marketing ROI exponentially.

Luke Rees is a digital marketing executive from London who writes extensively about technology and trends in the search market industry. You can contact him on LinkedIn and Google+

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11 Expert PPC Guides, Tips and Techniques (and One Rant)

Monday, May 6th, 2013

With all of the hype surrounding inbound and content marketing, it’s easy to underrate the continued importance of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, a.k.a. search engine marketing. But as Rebecca Lieb recently noted, “Search, email, blogging, digital PR, and  even (brace yourself) advertising have, and will continue to have a place at the table as content marketing grows in importance.”

As vital as natural optimization is, paid search offers three key advantages that make it complementary to organic search:

  • • It’s instant. Organic search experiments can take weeks to show results. SEM changes take effect in a matter of minutes.
  • • It’s flexible. You decide which keywords, and how many,  you’d like to show up on page one for, including popular phrases for which it may be very difficult to rank organically. You can add and drop keywords on the fly.
  • • It’s controllable. You decide exactly which landing page to send traffic to for each keyword–without worrying that a minor edit to the page, or Google’s next algorithm update, will annihilate your ranking. You choose exactly when and where your ads are seen.

Given that PPC advertising is likely to play an important role in your online marketing mix, how can you most effectively target your ads? Maximize the productivity of your ad spending? Design landing pages that most effectively convert? Properly test different creative components?

Find the answers to those questions and more, plus a rant from a PPC skeptic, here in (almost) a dozen of the best PPC guides of the past year.

ABC’s of PPC – A Guide for the Basics! by PPC Hero

Kayla KurtzKayla Kurtz presents a creative alphabetical guide to PPC basics, from A for Ad Goups (“Your ad groups should always start out tightly themed, with keywords included that are similar to one another) through Z for Zero Impressions (“How long has that account element been active while seeing no action? Do some due diligence and try your hardest to make it work, but if you have a portion of your account with no impressions…cut bait and move on).

The 8 Questions That Create Perfect Landing Page Copy by KISSmetrics

Michael AagaardMichael Lykke Aagaard offers “8 simple questions will kick start your writing and guide you through the process of crafting high impact landing page copy that converts,” starting with understanding the purpose of your landing page and creating a specific call to action and progressing through creating a design that supports the copy.

Display Advertising: Targeting Options 101 by RKG Blog

Michelle UlizioMichelle Ulizio explains the structure of display advertising, breaking down the options first into user targeting vs. site targeting; then defining three options for each targeting type (for example, Site Retargeting: “By placing special tracking tags on your website, you are able to show display ads across the web to users who visited your site, regardless of what site they are currently browsing”); and finally showing how the two high-level targeting methods can be used together.

How to Handle the AdWords Ad Rotation Changes by Search Engine Watch

Greg HabermannGreg Habermann reports on Google’s decision to change AdWords ad rotation settings from “indefinite” to just 30 days, explains how this will screw up head-to-head ad testing (particularly for smaller advertisers with low impression volume and agencies managing multiple accounts), and then suggests some alternatives and workarounds to try until Google comes “to its senses and change this back.”

Top 5 ways to use AdWords’ new Auction Insights tool by PPC Hero

Sam OwenSam Owen presents five tips for getting the most out of Google’s Auction Insights tool, from competitive research (“You can also start to try and learn a little about the strategy of your competitors. Perhaps someone is always showing in position 1, but only for 50% of the time—did you just discover a competitor who is day-parting?”) to avoiding underbidding by analyzing lost impression share at the keyword level.

Paid Search: Top 10 Ways To Lower Cost per Conversion & Improve ROI by Fathom Blog

Joe CastroJoe Castro suggests ten ideas for improving the productivity of PPC campaigns, among them filtering to “Pause off active ad groups and keywords with high cost-per- conversion rates or high costs and no conversions,” excluding geographic regions based on conversion rates, and segmenting ads by device type.

10 Quick Adwords Optimizations Tips for All PPC-ers by LunaMetrics

Sarah PaduzziNoting that managing multiple paid search accounts involves substantial effort, but “if you tackle each optimization effort in stages, the work load won’t seem as daunting,” Sarah Peduzzi supplies 10 helpful tips including checking the Search Query Report weekly, continually testing ad copy, and using automated rules for bid adjustments.

5 Quick Ways to Increase Conversions in AdWords by Fathom Blog

Joe Castro (again) tosses out a handful of quick ways to bump up clicks and conversions, including loosening keyword match types, using sitelinks, and bidding on brand terms (“it’s really a no-brainer that your company should be bidding on its name and different variations. Branded keywords are by far your top converting, and you’re leaving money on the table if you’re not bidding on them”).

The Importance of A/B Testing: 24 Marketing Experts on Their Most Surprising A/B Test by The WordStream Blog

Elisa GabbertElisa Gabbert shares the answers from 24 marketing experts to the question: “What is the most surprising or exciting result you’ve ever achieved in a multivariate A/B test?” Respondents included Aaron Levy, Brad Geddes, Brad Shorr, Megan Leap, Oli Gardner, and Todd Minz (“We decided to A B test using brand names in the headline [as variables in place of generic product names]…Overnight, this campaign generated so many conversions that I thought something broke in AdWords.  It went from nearly zero to the highest performing campaign in the account by about 4-5x”).

PPC Myth Busting! Myth 6: Quality Score is All About CTR by PPC Hero

Amanda West-BookwaitAmanda West-Bookwalt busts a common myth about quality scores, writing that “CTR plays a part, but so does ad relevance and landing page experience…(aligning with) the campaign and account quality scores as well as any quality score limitations set on your industry, all of which also influence a particular keyword’s quality score.” She adds several ideas for boosting keyword quality scores.

Why Paid Search for B2B Companies is Dead (or Dying) by Search Engine Watch

Uri Bar-JosephAs Mark Twain wrote that “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated,” so pronouncements of the the death of PPC should be met with skepticism. Talk about a myth that needs busting; though Uri Bar-Joseph quotes an impressive array of statistics in his morbid predictions for the future of PPC, the channel is likely to remain a key component of b2b web presence optimization frameworks for some time to come. Unlike SEO, PPC results (as noted above) are immediate, controllable, and highly flexible. Firms willing to commit investment, testing and experimentation are likely to find PPC campaigns a productive, supportive and cost-effective component of their overall online marketing mix.

How To Leverage PPC To Discover High-Converting Keywords For SEO by Conductor Blog

Nathan SafranAs an example of how PPC can support other online marketing efforts, Nathan Safran notes that “Finding out a keyword converts poorly after spending the effort to work your way up the organic search rankings can be a time consuming and frustrating process, but there is a way to shortcut the process and discover high converting keywords: Paid Search (PPC) data,” then explains how to use PPC data to help focus on the most productive keywords in SEO strategies.

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