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Monthly Archives: May 2011

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How To Select The Perfect Clients

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By Bill.Sebald

Posted by Bill.Sebald

I truly believe in the power of partnerships. There have been some incredible partnerships that changed the fabric of our culture. Larry Page and Sergey Brin. William Procter and James Gamble. The Olson Twins.

Good partnerships provide support, motivation, and complementary skills, often allowing you to overcome hurdles faster and create some truly marvelous things. In consulting or any agency work, the concept of “partnership” should be the backbone of your relationship. Like a puzzle piece, sometimes the fit is initially difficult to find – if available at all. The truth is, you’re only secure if your clients are walking in the same direction as the flow of your service. If they’re walking against the current, you have what I believe to be the most detrimental predicament a service provider can have –
a rift. That’s a truly offensive four-letter word.

What kind of rift are we talking about? Let’s do a little calculating.

First think about what you or your agency is really good at. Think about the components you have the most success with; this may actually be different than where you’re most experienced. Think about what you should be selling versus not (even if those items are currently on your menu – let’s be candid here, a lot of us casually promote services we
believe we should be selling even though it’s not a fully baked product or core competency). Think about the amount of time you really spent challenging a given service to make sure it’s truly impactful to a client versus your own bottom line.

Next, think about your past client debacles (if you haven’t stopped to perform a postmortem, you should). Chances are these led to events that cost you a lot of time, pain, and possibly money. They are the memories that make you shudder. Those are the days that made you dust off your resume and think about a career change.

Finally, how many of these past clients should have never been signed in the first place? How many simply weren’t a fit from the start? How many simply never had a shot at being successful with you – and vice-versa? This computation really needs serious consideration. Have you wasted everyone’s time?

There can be a costly fallout. I’ve seen talented team members quit over clients that simply could not be managed. I’ve seen my colleagues go so far as to cry or start seeking therapy (in part) because of overwhelming clients who were not getting what they expected and a parent company who wasn’t providing any relief. Sometimes these clients were bound to an annual contract which only made them more desperate and angry. Rifts like this can kill your business.

This should never happen.

Client/agency relationships are marriages, but marriages start with dating

I really like this 2011 post from A List Apart called
Marry Your Clients. A few years old, but nothing has changed. However, my post is going to talk about the courting part before the honeymoon.

My post also assumes you make more money on longer consulting relationships. If you’ve somehow built your model through routinely hunting new business with the expectation you’re going to get fired, then that’s a different story. For most of us however, on-boarding a client is a lot of work, both in terms of hours (which is money) and brainpower. If you “hit it off” with your client, you begin to know their business more intimately, as well as their goals and KPIs. The strategies get easier to build; they also tend to be more successful as you become aware of what their tastes and limitations are. You find you have things in common (perhaps you both enjoy long walks to the bank). You often become true partners with your clients, who in turn promote your ideas to their bosses. These are your most profitable engagements, as well as your most rewarding. They tend to last years, sometimes following your point-of-contact to their next jobs as well.

But you don’t get this way simply because both parties signed a legally-bounding document.

The truth is not all parties can work together. A lot of client/agency relationships end in divorce. Like in romance, sometimes you just aren’t compatible.

A different kind of online dating

After my first marriage went kaput, I’ll admit I went to For those who never tried online dating, it’s really an exercise in personal marketing. You upload your most attractive pictures. You sell yourself above everyone else. You send communications back and forth to the interested parties where you work to craft the “perfect” response; as well as ask qualifying questions. I found it works pretty well – the online process saved me from potentially bad dates. Don’t get me wrong, I still have some awkward online dating stories…

Photo from Chuck Woolery’s
Twitter profile

With consulting, if we’re supposed to ultimately marry our clients, we should obviously be allowed to see if there’s a love connection. We should all be our own Chuck Woolery. I tend to think this stage is crucial, but often rushed by agencies or managed by a department outside of your own.

Some agencies seem to have a “no dating” policy. For some, it’s not uncommon to come in to work and have an email from a higher-up with the subject, “congratulations – you’re now married to a new client!” Whether it’s a client development department, or an add-on from an existing client, your marketing department is suddenly forced into an arranged marriage where you can only hope to live up to their expectations.

This is a recipe for disaster. I don’t like to run a business on luck and risk, so clearly this makes no sense to me.

But I’ve been there. I once worked for an agency that handed me a signed contract for a major underwear brand – but I didn’t even know we were even speaking to them. Before I had a chance to get the details, the VP of digital marketing called me. I did my best to understand what they were promised in terms of SEO goals without admitting I really had no clue about their business. The promises were unrealistic, but being somewhat timid and naïve back in the day, I went with it. Truth is, their expectations did not fit into our model, philosophies, or workflow. Ultimately I failed to deliver to their expectations. The contract ended early and I vowed to never let that happen again. Not just for the stress and anxiety it brought upon my team and me, but for the blatant neglect to the client as well.

With this being something I never forgot, I would occasionally bring this story up with others I met at networking events or conventions. I quickly learned this is far from an isolated incident occurring only to me. This is how some agencies build their business development departments.

Once again, this should never happen.

How to qualify a client

Let’s assume by now I have successfully inspired a few things:

  1. A client/agency relationship should truly be a partnership akin to a good marriage.
  2. A client should never be thrown into a model that doesn’t make sense for their business (i.e., your style of SEO services), and process should be in place for putting all the parties in the same room before a deal is signed.

    Now we’re up to number 3:

  3. Not all relationships work, so all parties should try to truly connect before there is a proposal. Don’t rush the signature!

Here are some of the things we do at Greenlane to really qualify a client. Before I continue, though, I’m proud to brag a little. With these practices in place, our close rate – that is, the companies we really want to work with – is 90% in our favor. Our retainment is also very high. Once we started being prudent with our intake, we’ve only lost a few companies due to funding issues or a change in their business model – not out of performance. I should also add that these tips work with all sizes of clients. While some of our 20+ clients are smaller businesses, we also have household brands and public companies, all of which could attest to going through this process with us.

It’s all in the details

Your website is your profile. Your website is your personality. If you’re vague or promotional or full of hype, only to get someone on the phone to which your “car salesman” gear kicks in, I don’t think you’re using the website to the best of its ability. People want to use the website to learn more about you before the reach out.

Our “about us” page is our third most visited page next to the homepage and pricing (outside of the blog). You can see an example from a
Hotjar heatmap:

The truth is, I’m always tweaking (and A/B testing) our message on the about us page. This page is currently part of a funnel that we careful put together. The “about us” page is a quick but powerful overview putting our team front and center and highlighting our experience (including some past clients).

I believe the website’s more than a brochure. It’s a communication device. Don’t hide or muddle who you are. When I get a prospect email through our form, I always lead them to our “Are We The Right Fit” page. That’s right – I actually ask them to consider choosing wisely. Now at first glance, this might go against a conversion funnel that heats up the prospect and only encourages momentum, but this page has really been a strong asset. It’s crafted to transparently present our differentiators, values, and even our pricing. It’s also crafted to discourage those who aren’t a good fit. You can find this page
here. Even our URL provides the “Are We The Right Fit” question.

We want prospects to make a good decision. We care so much about companies doing great that we’d rather you find someone else if our model isn’t perfect. Sure, sometimes after pointing someone to that link, they never return. That’s OK. Just like a dating profile, this page is designed to target a certain kind of interest. Time is a commodity in agency life – no sense in wasting it on a conversation that isn’t qualified. When we do catch a prospect after reviewing the page and hear, “we went with another firm who better suits our needs,” it actually doesn’t feel like a loss at all.

Everyone who comes back goes into our pipeline. At this stage they all get followed up on with a phone call. If they aren’t a good fit from the get go we actually try to introduce them to other SEO companies or consultants who would be a better fit for them. But 9 times out of 10, it’s an amazing conversation.

Never drop the transparency

There are a few things I try to tell all the prospects I ultimately speak with. One, I openly admit I’m not a salesman. I couldn’t sell ice water to people in hell. But I’m good at being really candid about our strengths and experiences.

Now this one tends to surprise some, especially in the larger agency setting. We admit that we are really choosy about the clients we take on. For our model, we need clients who are flexible, fast moving, interested in brand building, and interested in long-term relationships. We want clients who think in terms of strategy and will let us work with their existing marketing team and vendors. We audit them for their understanding of SEO services and tell them how we’re either alike or different.

I don’t think a prospect call goes by without me saying, “while you’re checking us out to see if we’re a good fit, we’re doing the same for you.” Then, if the call goes great, I let them know we’d like a follow up call to continue (a second date if you will). This follow up call has been where the real decision gets made.

Ask the right questions

I’ve vetted the opportunity, now my partner – who naturally has a different way of approaching opportunities and relationships – asks a different set of questions. This adds a whole different dimension and works to catch the questions I may not have asked. We’ve had companies ready to sign on the first call, to which I’ve had to divert any signatures until the next conversation. This too may seem counter-intuitive to traditional business development, but we find it extremely valuable. It’s true that we could have more clients in our current book of business, but I can proudly state that every current client is exactly who we want to be with; this is very much because of everything you’ve read so far.

On each call we have a list of qualifying questions that we ask. Most are “must answer” questions, while others can roll into a needs analysis questionnaire that we give to each signed client. The purpose of the needs analysis is to get more granular into business items (such as seasonal trends, industry intelligence, etc.) for the intention of developing strategies. With so much to ask, it’s important to be respectful of the prospects’ time. At this point they’ve usually already indicated they’ve read our website, can afford our prices, and feel like we’re a good fit.

Many times prospects start with their introduction and answer some of our questions. While they speak, I intently listen and take many notes.

These are 13 questions from my list that I always make sure get answered on a call, with some rationale:

Questions for the prospect:

1. Can you describe your business model and products/services?

  1. What do you sell?
  2. B2B or B2C
  3. Retail or lead generation?

: sometimes when reviewing the website it’s not immediately clear what kind of business they’re in. Perhaps the site just does a bad job, or sometimes their real money making services are deeper in the site and easily missed by a fast scan. One of our clients works with the government and seems to have an obvious model, but the real profit is from a by-product, something we would have never picked up on during our initial review of the website. It’s important to find out exactly what the company does. Is it interesting? Can you stay engaged? Is it a sound model that you believe in? Is it a space you have experience in?

2. What has been your experience with [YOUR SERVICE] in the past?

Rationale: Many times, especially if your model is different, a prospect may have a preconceived notion of what you actually do. Let’s take SEO as an example – there are several different styles of SEO services. If they had a link building company in the past, and you’re a more holistic SEO consulting practice, their point of reference may only be with what they’ve experienced. They may even have a bad taste in their mouth from a previous engagement, which gives you a chance to air it out and see how you compare. This is also a chance to know if you’re potentially playing with a penalized site.

3. What are your [PPC/SEO/etc.] goals?

Rationale: Do they have realistic goals, or lofty, impossible goals? Be candid – tell them if you don’t think you can reach the goals on the budget they have, or if you think they should choose other goals. Don’t align yourself with goals you can’t hit. This is where many conversations could end.

4. What’s your mission or positioning statement?

Rationale: If you’re going to do more than just pump up their rankings, you probably want to know the full story. This should provide a glimpse into other marketing the prospect is executing.

5. How do you stand out?

Rationale: Sometimes this is answered with the question above. If not, really dig up the differentiators. Those are typically the key items to build campaigns on. Whether they are trying to create a new market segment or have a redundant offering, this can help you set timeline and success expectations.

6. Are you comfortable with an agency that may challenge your plans and ideas?

Rationale: This is one of my favorite questions. There are many who hire an agency and expect “yes-men.” Personally I believe an agency or consultant should be partners; that is, not afraid to fight for what they know is right for the benefit of the client. You shouldn’t be afraid of injury:

7. Who are your competitors?

Rationale: Not only do you want this for competitive benchmarking, but this can often help you understand more about the prospect. Not to mention, how big a hill you might have to climb to start competing on head terms.

8. What is your business reach? (local, national, international)?

Rationale: An international client is going to need more work than a domestic client. A local client is going to need an expertise in local search. Knowing the scope of the company can help you align your skills with their targets.

9. What CMS are you on?

This is a big one. It tells you how much flexibility you will have. WordPress? Great – you’ll probably have a lot of access to files and templates. A proprietary CMS or enterprise solution? Uh-oh. That probably means tickets and project queues. Are you OK with that?

10. What does your internal team look like?

Another important question. Who will you be working with? What skill sets? Will you be able to sit at the table with other vendors too? If you’re being hired to fill in the gaps, make sure you have the skills to do so. I ask about copywriters, developers, designers, and link builders at a minimum.

11. What do you use for analytics?

A tool like Wappalyzer can probably tell you, but sometimes bigger companies have their own custom analytics through their host. Sometimes it’s bigger than Google Analytics, like Omniture. Will you be allowed to have direct access to it? You’d be surprised how often we hear no.

12. How big is your site? Do you have other properties?

It’s surprising how often a prospect forgets to mention those 30+ subdomains and microsites. If the prospect envisions it as part of the deal, you should at least be aware of how far the core website extends.

13. What is your budget, preferred start time, and end date?

The biggest question of all. Do they even meet your fee requirements? Are you staffed and ready to take on the work? Sure, talking money can be tough, but if you post your rates firm, the prospect is generally more open to talk budget. They don’t feel like a negotiation is going to happen.


While these are the core questions we use, I’m sure the list will eventually grow. I don’t think you should copy our list, or the order. You should ultimately create your own. Every agency or consultant has different requirements, and interviewing your prospect is as important as allowing them to interview you. But remember, you don’t have to have all the business. Just the right kind of business. You will grow organically from your positive experiences. We all hear about “those other agencies” and how they consistently fail to meet client expectations. Next to “do great work,” this is one powerful way to keep off that list.

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Bing Makes Local Search More Intuitive With Google-Like Quick Answers by @mattsouthern

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By Matt Southern

The local search features we’ve grown accustomed to using on Google are now making their way over to Bing, the company revealed in an announcement today. Now when you search for a local business on Bing, all the pertinent information such as phone number, address, store hours, and directions will be accessible at the top of the search results page. If you know the address you want to get to but just need directions, you can skip a step by typing in “Directions to…” and then the address. Similarly you can get estimated travel time to your location by typing […]

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Bing Predicts More Than 95% Of The Senate, House & Governor Elections

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By Amy Gesenhues

While some may be surprised with just how red the U.S. elections went last week, it appears Bing knew all along.

Following last Tuesday’s national elections, Bing announced it had predicted more than 95 percent of the called races for state Governors, U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

We did better head-to-head than renowned forecasters including Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight.

Based on search, social and other relevant data, Bing was able to forecast 34 of the 35 Senate races, 419 of the 435 House votes and 33 of the 36 Governor seats.

Bing’s Governor Predictions & Results

Bing Predicts US elections 2014

Next up, Bing says it will be using its Predictions technology to forecast the NCAA March Madness brackets, NBA Playoffs, as well as NFL game predictions and Dancing with the Stars winners.

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Looking Back At The Top 13 PPC Marketing Articles Of 2014 (So Far)

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By Larry Kim

Yes, it’s that time of year again already. You haven’t even sat down for Thanksgiving dinner with friends or family, and already everybody is clamoring to compile their “Best [insert topic here] Articles of 2014″ lists.

Well, this round-up of 2014’s best paid search articles is worth checking out, because these posts offer tips, tricks, and insights that could help you start your 2015 campaigns with a bang.

top ppc articles

I’ve categorized each article by PPC topics, so you can quickly check out the articles that are most relevant to your job. I’ve also added a key takeaway from each article, so you can still walk away with some valuable information even if you’ve only got time to skim through the list.

So, without further ado, let’s look back at the best of the best from this year – so far, that is.


1. 10 Things Nobody Tells You About Google AdWordsEntrepreneur

Getting into paid search is kind of like learning to drive – you’re going to stall out a few times, but before long, you’ll be cutting everyone off and leaning on your horn like a seasoned veteran. In this Entrepreneur article published in late September, Zebra Advertisement’s CEO Rocco Baldassarre breaks down ten things that nobody bothers to tell you when you first get into AdWords.

Key Takeaways

The first thing Rocco hits on is self-explanatory to paid search pros but is easy to miss for the novice, and that’s the fact that AdWords is much different now than it used to be. Strategies and tactics that were one highly effective could very well be outdated today.

Rocco also touches on the almost inevitable feature creep that can ruin even formerly high-performing AdWords accounts. Remember – just because a tool or feature is available doesn’t mean you have to use it.

2. These 10 Analytics Reports Will Improve Your AdWords ResultsSearch Engine Land

Most paid search professionals know that you can integrate AdWords data into Google Analytics, but fewer actually bother to hook the two applications up. However, failing to do so could mean valuable insights slipping through the cracks, leading to misguided assumptions at best and costly mistakes resulting from bad data at worst. Check out this article by Frederick Vallaeys on Search Engine Land to learn more.

Key Takeaways

If you learn just one thing from Frederick’s article, it should be that integrating AdWords data into Google Analytics can help you track more complex conversion paths. As we all know, users rarely take the path of least resistance between arriving at your site and ultimately converting, so understanding often-complex conversion paths is essential.

3. The Top 10 Best PPC Hacks… Ever!WordStream

I’m going to take the liberty of including a couple of my own articles in this round-up, the first of which is this post from the WordStream blog from September. Based on a popular webinar that I co-hosted with Thue Madsen from KISSmetrics, this post includes ten ways you can turbocharge your PPC account.

Key Takeaways

Ever tried to win an argument by making your opponent mad? Do the same with your PPC ads. One of my top 10 PPC hacks is manipulating your prospects’ emotions with your ad copy, a remarkably effective strategy that can yield impressive results. Read how to do this, and much more, in the post.

Conversion Rate Optimization

4. 6 Key CRO Lessons I’ve Learned As EditorConversionXL

Tommy Walker has extensive firsthand experience of what it takes to really improve conversion rates. In this post from early November, Walker outlines six key lessons he learned during his tenure as editor of ConversionXL, all of which can – and should – be applied to your own campaigns.

Key Takeaways

Reiterating a point I’ve made repeatedly in the past, Walker advises against focusing on the small stuff like changing button colors. Sure, testing for these optimizations certainly has its place, but it shouldn’t overshadow the bold changes that could yield real results.

5. The Most Entertaining Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization You’ll Ever ReadMoz

Oli Gardner, CEO of Unbounce, knows more than a thing or two about CRO. Fortunately for us, Oli offered some great lessons about optimizing for higher conversions in this guest post for The Moz Blog in May. Featuring tons of high-quality examples and accompanying screenshots (and more than a few jokes), this guide might just be the most entertaining guide to CRO you’ll ever read.

Key Takeaways

It’s hard to condense this excellent guide to a single takeaway, but one recurring theme everyone should remember is that failing to account for user expectations is probably the fastest way to tank your conversion rates. If you promise a user something, you’d better follow through and deliver what they expect.

6. Everything You Know About Conversion Rate Optimization is WrongWordStream

Can’t see the forest for the trees when it comes to CRO? You’re not alone. There are so many “experts” out there preaching a false gospel about conversion rates that it’s little wonder that many marketers are so full of misinformation. In this post from the WordStream blog in March, I outline why conventional wisdom about CRO is likely to lead you astray, and what you should be focusing on instead.

Key Takeaways

Don’t believe everything you read on the internet, especially when it comes to conversion rates. It’s that simple. Like a game of telephone, it doesn’t take long for well-intentioned advice to spread like wildfire and end up doing more harm than good.

Paid Social Advertising

7. Why Every Business Should Spend at Least $1 Per Day on Facebook AdsMoz

This year, Facebook made it pretty clear that you’ve got to pay to play, much to the chagrin of marketers everywhere. However, even a minimal investment in Facebook advertising can boost your visibility significantly, and in this post from The Moz Blog in February, Brian Carter shows you how a budget of even $1 per day can yield real results.

Key Takeaways

Although Facebook has become largely useless for organic purposes, it’s a powerful platform for paid advertising. Fortunately, you don’t need to be heir to the Rockefeller fortune to see a return on investment from Facebook advertising, so check out the data Brian presents in this post and then get to work.

8. 6 Irrefutable Reasons Why Psychographic Content Marketing IS the New DisplayAimClear

These days, personalization is paramount. With the amount of rich demographic data marketers have at their disposal, there’s no excuse for anybody not to be tailoring their content to highly specific audiences. In this post from March, Marty Weintraub of AimClear explains why combining psychographic targeting with content marketing is a sure-fire recipe for success and backs up his assertions with a lot of actionable data.

Key Takeaways

It’s time to fundamentally reevaluate what display ads can do for your business. Rather than think of display ads within the context of traditional advertising, instead think of your display ads as extensions of your existing content production calendar and a means to generate conversions faster, drive influencer awareness, and increase your social footprint.

9. How to Design Content Remarketing Campaigns That Actually WorkHubSpot

I’ve been evangelizing about content remarketing for some time now, but I’m consistently surprised by how few marketers are leveraging this incredibly powerful technique. In this guest post for HubSpot from October, I explain how to design content remarketing campaigns that will increase click-through rates, overcome user ad fatigue, and provide you with the return on investment that your content deserves.

Key Takeaways

In today’s media environment, great content simply isn’t enough anymore. The “build it and they will come” mindset can be a long, painstaking process that might not even yield any real results. Start creating content with remarketing in mind and get ready for a tsunami of satisfied readers clamoring for more of what you’re offering.

10. The Ultimate Retaliation: Pranking My Roommate with Targeted Facebook AdsMy Social Sherpa

You already know how powerful Facebook ads can be, but this post from My Social Sherpa was too good not to include in this list. Brian Swichkow explains how, by creating a custom audience segment of one individual (his unsuspecting roommate), he was able to pull off one of the funniest pranks of the year. It’s a very funny read, but there are some valuable lessons for marketers in here, too.

Key Takeaways

If you know your target audience well enough, the sky’s the limit when it comes to ad targeting. Sure, Swichkow used this to hilarious effect with this elaborate yet inexpensive prank, but the experience demonstrates how highly segmented paid social targeting can be one of the most effective ways of reaching audiences with niche products or services.

PPC Industry News

11. Inside Pinterest: The Coming Ad Colossus That Could Dwarf Facebook and TwitterForbes

For many marketers, Pinterest is easily overlooked. However, this sleeping giant could become one of the marketing industry’s dominant powerhouses if it plays its cards right. In this Forbes article from November, Jeff Bercovici explains why Pinterest should be on everybody’s radar as an advertising platform, and why the popular social platform could pose a genuine threat to established players like Facebook.

Key Takeaways

While Facebook and Twitter offer marketers an invaluable insight into users’ lives, Pinterest promises something few other platforms can offer – a glimpse at their desired future. Pinterest users exhibit levels of intent rarely seen on other social networks, and this data could prove hugely influential to marketers seeking to understand where users want to be in the future, not just where they are today.

12. With New Ad Platform, Facebook Opens Gates to Its Vault of User DataThe New York Times

Few industry announcements were as eagerly anticipated as Facebook’s momentous decision to capitalize on its vast database of user information as part of its relaunched Atlas advertising platform. Unveiled during the Advertising Week conference in New York, Atlas will revolutionize online marketing, so much so that even the Gray Lady took notice.

Key Takeaways

Although the prospect of unprecedented targeting options offered by Atlas had marketers practically salivating, this New York Times piece also raised some valid questions about Atlas’ impact on user privacy and the perception that user data is being sold to the highest bidder. Facebook may well be standing on the precipice of a truly game-changing technology, but Mark Zuckerberg’s cavalier attitude has burned him in the past. Will history repeat itself? Only time will tell.

13. Farewell ‘Pure’ Exact Match, AdWords Will Soon Require All Campaigns to Use Close VariantsSearch Engine Land

Paid search might not have the mainstream appeal of paid social, but that doesn’t mean major announcements by Google have any less weight. In my final pick of marketing articles of the year so far, Greg Finn writes for Search Engine Land about Google’s decision to mandate all campaigns use close variant matching in AdWords.

Key Takeaways

Although this move could have beneficial impacts for some advertisers, the lesson here is that Google can — and does — change the rules of the game frequently. The outcry over this move wasn’t as loud as those of previous announcements, but it’s important to remember that if we want to play in Google’s sandbox, we have to abide by the rules – even those we don’t care for.

Final Thoughts

Well, that just about does it for this round-up. Of course, we’ve still got around five weeks until the New Year, which is plenty of time for some more excellent PPC marketing content to be published.

What marketing articles would make your top list of 2014? I’d love to hear about your favorite PPC marketing articles of the year so far in the comments.

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Thin or Duplicate Content: Not a Safe Bet for E-Commerce SEO by @alan_smith80

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By Alan Smith

The results of using thin and duplicate content can be fatal for e-commerce sites because Google completely disapproves of these practices. E-commerce offers universal outreach, and is completely accessible at any location and at any given time. These advantages have allowed e-commerce sites to grow over the years and have facilitated smooth commercial transactions. However, there are serious concerns regarding the content used by many e-commerce businesses on their sites. Most e-commerce sites are killing their business prospects. Not everyone is inclined to follow the Google Algorithms and the Panda Update guidelines for using original content on sites – and some site owners […]

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Creating Content That Leads to Sales: An Interview With Steve Floyd by @johnrampton

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By John Rampton

A big thanks to our Pubcon 2014 sponsor, LinkResearchTools, your off-page SEO toolkit. Link Detox: Recover – Protect – Build. At Pubcon 2014 in Las Vegas I had the opportunity to talk to talk to Steve Floyd of AXZM. There is not enough talk about how a customer’s path to purchase has changed, which is an area that Steve is very familiar with. I used this time with Steve to ask him how to go about mapping the path to purchase process that a customer goes on after landing on your site, or being exposed to one of his ads. […]

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10 Tools To Give Your Instagram Campaign a Boost by @albertcostill

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By Albert Costill

Did you hear the big news? Instagram recently unveiled several new features that are making its users all giddy. For those uninitiated, Instagram finally updated its system so that users can edit captions on their posts – previously this was a head scratching limitation. As the press release states, “a typo shouldn’t get in the way” of capturing your favorite moments. The other update was improvements to the Explore page which now features a ‘Photos’ tab and a ‘People tab. This will make it easier for you to find the accounts that you think are more interesting or relevant. Even without […]

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How To Grow PPC Revenue Without Tanking ROI

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By Amanda West-Bookwalter

Growing a company’s revenue with a good ROI is basically the goal for every marketing venture. The method and strategies vary from case to case, but mostly they all boil down to an effort to increase profits. It’s important that as digital advertisers, we align ourselves with that end goal in our own efforts.

As most of my work in pay-per-click advertising is with direct-response campaigns, it’s normally pretty easy to measure costs versus profits.

What’s not pretty easy, however, is the never-ending struggle to be consistently improving results by growing revenue while keeping ROI at or above goals. This is especially true after managing an account for a long period of time.

However, there are many ways to get creative and improve results with the amount of data and optimizations available to us. Today, I’m going to share three of these ways I’ve developed to keep revenue growth up and to the right while at least keeping ROI steady.

Strategic Position Targeting

It’s easy to think that targeting higher ad positions will lead to higher revenue, as it will likely increase exposure. However, this is not always the case, and certainly runs a risk of tanking ROI since conversion rates can plummet with higher ad positions.

Performance will vary according to a wide range of factors like what type of user your ads are targeting. For instance, some types of users will click the first ad without even reading it.

The best way to know what ad positions your bids should be targeting is by analyzing your results.

I pulled a keyword report for the last 30 days, making sure to include revenue data. Hopefully if you’re running an e-commerce account, this is imported into AdWords, but available through other reporting systems otherwise.

In the case of the latter, you can match up the impression and average position data with your revenue data from another source. It will take some Frankensteining, but you can do it!

I will also throw in a piece of advice that you should not included branded terms, as they will always perform great and have high average positions.

Then, you can create a pivot table to review average positions according to revenue and impressions. Then, use calculated fields to determine what % the revenue is for each avg. position, what % of impressions went to each position, and then the RPM (revenue per one thousand impressions). Calculate it like this: (revenue/impressions) * 1000.


This is an example from one of our accounts. You can see that the highest RPM actually comes from the 3.6+ positions. While it can be difficult to garner impression volume at those positions, I can see from this data that targeting these positions will be the most profitable in terms of ROI.

This is valuable to have, because now I can take keywords that aren’t reaching ROI goals at higher positions and lower them drastically instead of pausing or deleting them.

Aside from the low position performance, the second highest RPM comes from positions 1-1.5, which means higher positions, which garner the most traffic, will likely be profitable for this account.

It’s likely that this account includes a lot of very specific and long tail keywords with results like this, which brings me to my second strategy for increasing revenue without tanking ROI:

Strategic Keyword Length Targeting

Keyword length, or the number of words in a keyword, often indicate how broad or general a keyword is, where in your sales funnel the keyword is targeting, and how much impression volume you’re likely to get.

The general idea is that the shorter the keywords, or the fewer words in the keyword, then the more broad and general, the more impression volume it will gain, and the higher in your sales funnel the keyword is targeting. Of course, the opposite would be true for longer keywords with more words in them.

By that thought, similar to ad positioning, it’d be a decent guess that the shorter the keyword, the more revenue you’d be able to generate due to the higher impression volume.

However, again, ROI is a concern when keywords get too broad or general. There are strategies to make more broad and general keywords work, like remarketing lists for search ads.

However, I want to look at how these various keyword lengths affect results, and how one could become more strategic with their keyword length targeting to improve results.

Similarly to ad positioning, I created a pivot table with that same keyword report, which had branded keywords removed.

Before doing that, I used an Excel formula to count the number of words in each keyword in a column next to the keywords. I labeled that “keyword count”, copied and then used paste special to paste the values, and then created my pivot table.


You can see that the highest RPM and revenue has come from keyword phrases of 4 words. That is a very middle-to-end of the funnel type of keyword. It’s specific without getting way too focused.

The 6 to 7 word keywords are so specific they barely get any impressions, and while 5 word keywords have a good RPM, they have trouble gaining impressions there, as well.

This data aligns with what we saw in the ad position targeting; the fact that this account gains most of its revenue from these 4 word keywords shows us this account sees the most success leveraging these middle-to-end of funnel keywords in high average positions.

However, since we previously saw there was a great RPM for keywords with super-low average positions, based on this keyword length data, it would likely benefit the account to decrease the average position on the keywords with only two words.

By analyzing and being strategic in keyword length and ad position targeting, this account could increase revenue within ROI goals by ensuring middle-to-end of funnel keywords are always targeting high positions and very general or low-RPM keywords are targeting low average positions.

Optimizing Mobile Ads

One of the most talked-about areas of PPC, at least by every Google rep I’ve ever had, is mobile advertising.

There’s no way to deny the crazy growth in the smartphone market, and how quickly we’re seeing searches go mobile. Every graph those Google reps have shown me have been pretty impressive and convincing.

However, even when looking over accounts from some of the best PPC managers, I often see mobile ads that aren’t really optimized. This often leads to PPC managers saying mobile doesn’t work for their client, or at least that it performs poorly.

However, there are a lot of ways to optimize mobile ads and get a chunk of that crazy market growth while staying in ROI goals.

One of these ways is making sure you have specific mobile ads targeted. My fellow columnist Sam Owen wrote an article about how simply doing this small procedure of creating specific mobile ad copy increased his CTR for mobile by 19%.

Another reason to create specific mobile ads is the new changes to mobile ad copy. Google announced that starting October 15th of this year, there’s a chance that the second description line on your ads will be shaved off in favor of additional ad extensions when they’re served to mobile devices. This determination will be made in consideration with the ad’s expected CTR, as predicted by Google.

This means that having the same ads for mobile and desktop are not only inherently hurting your mobile performance, but it’s also likely your desktop-optimized ads aren’t even showing correctly. You could have a huge opportunity to increase your account growth by taking the small-time commitment to make specific mobile ads.


With all of the nooks and crannies to PPC accounts, there’s lot of ways analysis and strategic implementation of analysis results can help you improve revenue within ROI restrictions. I’ve only covered three of them, but hopefully they’ve got your wheels turning and you’ll begin brainstorming even more.

I’d love to hear about any that have worked well for you in the comments section!

The post How To Grow PPC Revenue Without Tanking ROI appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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Google Shopping Merchant Promotions Roll Out To More Countries

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By Ginny Marvin

Just ahead of the holiday frenzy, Google is expanding Merchant Promotions to the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Australia and India.

Launched in the U.S. in 2012, Merchant Promotions allow advertisers to show promotion code offers alongside their product listing ads in search as well as their listings on Google Shopping.

Merchants interested in launching promotions need to fill out an interest form. Google says it will respond within 1 to 2 weeks.

Promotions can be set up in the AdWords interface or via a promotions feed.

The post Google Shopping Merchant Promotions Roll Out To More Countries appeared first on Search Engine Land.