Pay Per Click Marketing Guide

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You’re missing out on big revenues by not using Pay Per Click Advertising! Download our FREE Comprehensive Guide to Marketing Your Business Online covering topics including:

  • Why Should Your Company Run a PPC Campaign?
  • What Kinds of Companies Can Benefit from PPC?
  • A Side-by-Side Comparison of PPC vs Organic SEO
  • Kinds of PPC and Benefits of Each
  • PPC Innovations You Can Use to Get Better Results
  • Ad Copy 101: How to Write PPC Ads that Get Sales
  • A Brief Analysis of a Landing Page that Sells Like Crazy
  • Should You Use PPC to Drive Brand Awareness?
  • Common Profit-Killing PPC Mistakes SMBs Make on Their Own
  • What Negative Keywords are and How They Skyrocket Your Costs
  • What Does Quality Score Have to Do with PPC?
  • PPC in Action: Setting Up A Sample Campaign
  • Frequently Asked Questions about PPC

To learn how you can boost your revenues with Pay Per Click, fill out the form below to download our free guide.

Want to Cut Your PPC Costs?

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Type an extra “0” in the wrong place in Adwords, and you send your PPC costs out of control!

That’s an easy fix though.

Did you know you could be wasting hundreds, maybe thousands, each month on PPC?

Instead of one gigantic mistake, you slowly drain the financial health out of your company.

Google defines “Quality Score” as “…an estimate of the quality of your ads and landing pages triggered by that keyword.”

Sounds simple in theory, but it gets amazingly complex in practice. In reality, the rank of your PPC ad equals your bid times your Quality Score.

So, the more you increase your Quality Score, the lower the bid you have to pay to keep your rank the same.

Here’s a quick hint too: you don’t want the number one PPC ad rank all the time. There’s lot of research on this, and this post at Wordstream.com shows why it doesn’t always give you the best ROI.

In general though, you want be near the top.

And of Course, Google’s Changed How Quality Score Works (Although it’s Still Unclear What This Means)

It used to be something worth obsessing over, but Google now advises you to keep an eye on it, and not to get too worked up about maximizing it. At ThinkWithGoogle.com, they advise to view it as a “check engine light,” not a defining metric.

You should focus on ad relevance, expected CTR, and landing page experience. Beyond that, don’t get hyper focused on every little detail.

How do you keep your Quality Score high? Here are a few basics:

  1. Avoid negative keywords. Your PPC ads will appear for keywords that do you no good at all. Add them to your negative keywords list so that doesn’t happen. You get a better CTR and Quality Score as a result.
  2. Try new calls-to-action. One may get you much better CTR and Quality Score. Try out several, and test out new ones on an ongoing basis.
  3. Send people to relevant pages. A common rookie mistake is to drive PPC visitors to your home page. You can do that if you’ve set it up to be a landing page. Always use the keyword searched in the title of the page so your visitors know they’re in the right place.
  4. Fast landing page load times. This is a must-do on your website anyway. Aim for 2 seconds or less with every important landing page.
  5. Keep testing keywords. Keyword research is an ongoing process. Always be testing and refining your keywords. Google considers a CTR of less than 1.5% low. Discard any keywords that go below that threshold.
  6. Test your copy. Always make sure your landing page is loaded with benefits for your readers. Many businesses write facts and features. They’re helpful, but benefits like “fast, saving time, and saving money” sell.

The Moral of the Story: Don’t Obsess Too Much about Quality Score

It’s a general indicator of how well your ad will perform. However, if you’re making a tidy profit on leads that come from various searches, be happy with that.

Don’t worry too much about perfectly optimizing each and every landing page!

Panda 4.1 – The Google Update for the Little Guy

Professional SEOs have long contended that Google shows favoritism to big brands. This may or may not be true.

Some SEOs argue Google’s made some changes that more or less continue the evolution of the internet. And it just so happens big brands benefit the most.

What’s the truth?

We don’t know.

But what we do know about Panda 4.1 is that it’s very clearly designed to help small and medium-size businesses. Forbes wrote a blog post announcing this.

It’s nice to have something cut-and-dry in an ever changing world of search engine algorithms.

Panda itself is really all about taking poor and low-quality content websites and shoving them to the bottom of the search results. Panda 4.1 just means Google does this with even more accuracy than ever before.

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Panda 4.1 Winners and Losers

Depending on the quality of your site’s content, you could experience very good or bad results.

Check out some of the winners:

  • Comdotgame.com – 1353% traffic gain
  • Hongkiat.com – 406% traffic gain
  • Babble.com – 379% traffic gain

And here’s what happened to the losers:

  • Yellow.com – 79% traffic loss
  • Similarsites.com – 79% traffic loss
  • Free-coloring-pages.com – 76% loss

What Specifically Should You Do (or Not Do)?

There are no precise answers to what to do about Google Panda 4.1. If you understand SEO and what Google’s trying to do with the web, you’ve been writing high-quality content for some time now.

Even if you’ve noticed a huge dip in traffic over the last couple weeks (when the update was rolled out), you can still recover. But it may not be cheap!

If you’re a small business and you write the content with an attitude of offering the most value for your readers, you’ll be just fine. Hiring professional agencies and writers can pull you more leads, get better engagement, and get your rankings higher than an in-house employee or doing it yourself.

But as long as the words you write make sense and are helpful, you should be okay as a general rule.

4 Simple Tips for Pleasing Panda:

  1. You want your bounce rate as low as possible. If it’s above 70%, your writing needs work or you need to ask your customers questions and answer those on your blog.
  2. Make sure what you write is unique. If you’re a contractor, odds are your topic has been written about hundreds or thousands of times. But, most blog posts are brief. Go in-depth and write the best guide ever that includes everything your customers need to know about the topic.
  3. Include rich media to increase engagement. Add a few simple images. Slip in a YouTube video. Create an Excel chart and insert it. Anything you do to break up the words gets you lower bounce rates, longer times on the page, and more social shares.
  4. Write for your customers, not Google. Make them happy and Google will love you too. After all, its job is to give searchers the most interesting results.

Keeping your Google Rankings is simple – always deliver value to your website visitors.

But it isn’t easy!

Focus on working hard over the long term, and Google will reward you as a result.

What’s the New Google Pigeon Update all About?

If you want to know how hard it is to stay on top of all the Google updates, this is what we inbound marketing companies have to deal with:

  • 500 Google algorithm updates per year
  • 15-20 of them make the news
  • Even Matt Cutts, Google’s spokesman, makes mistakes when talking about the latest updates
  • These updates don’t always impact websites the way Google says they will, so we have to analyze the real results for clients

Google tends to pick animal names for its updates. Usually, they’re seemingly benign animals, with names like Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird.

Google did release the “Pigeon” update, but SEO thought leader Search Engine Land coined the official name.

So What’s the Point of Pigeon?

The whole reason it’s been rolled out is to make local search results more useful and relevant. One concrete example of what’s happened is that the local search pack listings that look like this now appear much less often:

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This blog post at Link Assistant says Pigeon means Google now focuses more on traditional domain authority factors as ranking signals for local search listings. To put it simply, domain authority is made of:

  • The quality and frequency of content published on your website
  • The number of links pointing to your site, and the quality of the websites linking to you
  • Getting listed on authoritative local business directory sites like Angie’s List and others relevant to your niche
  • Positive customer reviews
  • Optimizing everything on your site with as natural of language as possible

What Should You Do to Make Pigeon Happy?

Really, Google’s not changing what you need to do to rank well. They’re doing exactly what they’ve said they would do all along.

When you think of authority websites in ideal terms, envision those websites that are household names like:

  • Time.com
  • Forbes.com
  • The Huffington Post

“But my site will never attract massive readerships like those!” is your first objection.

You’re right – it won’t. Only a few websites attract such massive audiences. But the point is, the more you aim to be like those niche-leading websites, the better off you’ll be in the search rankings in the long run.

Remember, most local and small businesses do not understand the importance of content. Most also don’t realize what an “awesome website” looks like in the eyes of Google and their users.

If you realize and acknowledge where your website is and where it needs to be, you’ll be ahead of 98% of all other local businesses.

For a nice example of a simple, but useful website, check out PaylessPower.com and their blog. They have 4 blogs per month, and a simple web design anyone can use.

How to Increase Authority

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In our final post in the technical SEO audit series, we’ll discuss how to increase your website’s authority. You should care about this metric because the higher it is, the better your site ranks. Remember, you can check yours at http://www.opensiteexplorer.org

The top authority signals a technical SEO audit checks for include:

  1. Links. These are the number one off-site authority signal, and they will stay that way for some time. And out of all search ranking factors, links are most likely the strongest.

Over the years, Google has significantly changed how links impact your search rankings. 5-7 years ago, you could have links from any random website pointing to yours, and you would get some benefit.

But then some SEOs learned how to spam links, helping low-quality websites rank highly. This practice actually still happens.

Today, Google wants links that are not “built,” but instead require some sort of editorial review process by the other site owner. Good links come from other sites with high levels of authority. Those sites should be topically related to yours. And the text on the link should match your keywords precisely in less than 5% of all instances.

For example, a not-so-good link would come from an internet forum or article directory. A great link to your plumbing website comes from a blog post at a respected DIY website.

If you have a wide-scale effort of links with the exact same anchor text pointing to your website from a number of other websites, Google suspects you of trying to manipulate the search rankings. To you, this means you’re at high risk for a penalty.

It also matters who you link to. Google figures reputable websites link to other reputable websites. And, all valuable sites on the web would do this to some extent. So, it is a good practice to occasionally link out to other authorities in your niche.

  1. Content. Every page of content, and blog post, should include keywords relevant to your service offering. Google prefers websites that offer fresh content. You should publish at least one blog post per month. More is better, but only post when you have valuable information to offer.

Google will crawl and index your website more often, and rank it higher, if you regularly create content. Eventually, Google wants “thick” websites with 25, 50, 75, 100 pages or even more at the top of its rankings.

The figuring is that websites who publish content regularly like that are likely to be more established players in their field and more valuable to their target audiences. And Google’s probably right on that.

  1. Social shares. There’s actually some debate on this one. Matt Cutts recently released a video saying social shares are not a ranking factor. On the other hand, Moz conducted a thorough study in late summer of last year that found a high correlation between website rankings and the number of Google +1s they had. Correlation does not mean causation, but it’s enough strong evidence to make you wonder what’s really going on.

Regardless, the more followers and social shares you have, the better. Even if social shares aren’t a ranking factor, you at least have a good platform for promoting your content and getting more people linking to it.

So those are the main authority signals, and you want to get as many links, produce as much quality content, and get as many social shares as possible. A technical SEO audit checks to make sure you are doing this in a natural, Google-safe way. Just keep in mind that your overarching goal should be to contribute value to the web, and not to manipulate your search rankings.

You can do deceptive things like purchasing 1000s of Facebook followers, but that does you no good because they don’t care about your company and won’t share your content or purchase from you.

Hope this clears up the muddy waters of technical SEO audits for you!

Technical SEO: How to Audit Your Website’s Design

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In part 3 of our 4-part series on technical SEO audits, we’re going to visit website design.

From a big-picture perspective, Google’s trying to place websites that users like at the top of its search rankings. Google already does that far better than any other search engine out there, and the company’s worth more than $355 billion, so you can bet they’re going to do everything possible to stay on top and not become the next Yahoo.

Websites with attractive designs that load fast get lots of love from searchers, so page load speed and bounce rate have become prominent ranking factors. Google has also endorsed responsive design as a SEO best practice, so it’s very important to optimize your site’s load speed.

Here are some of the more important factors that affect how fast your web pages load:

  1. Compress All Your Pictures

It’s fine to use 1 picture on your web page. That increases your visitor’s engagement and the time they stay on the page. On your services pages, you should use no more than 1-2 pictures. With your blog articles, you can use 2-3, or even more if it makes sense. But, pictures take the longest to load, and especially so if they’re large files. Compressing them means you reduce their quality so they load faster. It’s possible to compress their size 60-75% without noticeably (to the naked eye) reducing their quality.

  1. Combine Images with CSS Sprites

Sorry, we do have to go into the geek speak here! If you have many images on your page you must have loaded, this causes your PC to make multiple trips to the server. That slows page speed a bunch. Sprites combine all the background images on a page into one single image, noticeably decreasing page load speed.

  1. Using Browser Caching for Your Website

In the digital world, “caching” refers to storing a copy of a page for a defined period of time. That page is then served, rather than the most recent version of the page.

So, rather than having to take more time and load the newest version of a page, your user gets a cached version. Most web pages, especially for SMBs, don’t change that often. And, you can set this up so the program managing the caching checks the page for any updates every week or so and serves up the new version.

WordPress has a number of plugins that make this process simple.

  1. Check Your Navigation’s Structure

Web users expect small/local business sites to all follow a general format. You should have a Home, Services, About, Blog, and Contact sections on your website. The “Services” section should highlight all your major services. You might also have a “Locations Served” section as well.

Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Unfortunately, many sites don’t follow this format and try to get creative. That frustrates your visitors and costs you business. This behavior gets reflected in your “bounce rate” in your analytics. This number shows the percentage of visitors who view just one page on your website and leave right away.

The web design stuff, clearly, gets a little more technical. But, you have to pay attention to it so you stay on top of the search rankings. And again, this is all fairly high-level. A technical SEO audit goes into much more depth.