The SEO feasibility report: When SEO is a good idea and when it isn’t

This is a guest post by Paul Burani from Clicksharp Marketing, a very sharp search marketer I met in NY

In the search engine world, it’s easy to think in terms of black and white.  Some traffic you pay for, some you don’t.  There’s page one, and there’s everything else.  And of course we use the terms “black hat” and “white hat” SEO to differentiate the practices which push (or exceed) the limits of what is deemed acceptable by each search engine’s terms of service.

This view often creates a temptation to pursue Search Engine Optimization at all costs, when in fact it may be an ill-advised strategy.  What would lead a CEO, marketing manager, publisher or webmaster to make a dubious investment in SEO?  In many cases, this is based on the simplistic notion that clicks from Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising come at a significant price, whereas in organic search, they cost nothing.

The idea that SEO is free is patently false. Read more

Using pay-per-click guinea pigs: How to leverage PPC for more successful SEO campaigns

It happens to the best of us. You work on an SEO campaign with a few carefully chosen keywords for months. But when you finally get to the top of the search engine results…nothing. The traffic you expected doesn’t come in or, even worse, neither does the money. You start to wonder, “What went wrong? Is it that people don’t like the search snippet? Are they finding what they want on the website?”

It’s perhaps the most frustrating thing that can happen to an SEO. But it’s also something you can often avoid completely with a little planning. In this post I’m going to talk about a technique I like for using pay-per-click first to test out my SEO game plan. This way the next time you make it to the top of the search rankings, the traffic and money will start pouring in! Read more

Pay to Play: Common sense tips to help you improve your Google Adwords Quality Score

One of the most frustrating aspects for novice pay-per-click (PPC) marketers is the so-called ad quality score—a method search engines use to measure the relevancy of an ad for a particular keyword. The ad quality score affects the minimum bid price, position and display eligibility. Poor ads cost a lot more and are less likely to be displayed than highly relevant ones, giving advertisers a strong incentive to manage their ads responsibly.

Unfortunately, the exact way search engines measure this score has remained a secret. But a few months ago, Bill identified a set of patents that give us a detailed look under the hood at how these numbers might be computed. Read more

A Little Personality Goes a Long Way

If you read my last post on advanced keyword research, you probably thought that there was no way you could look deeper into your search visitors’ desires. Well, think again. I want to share a clever technique I’ve been using for several months now to drastically improve the conversion rates of some of my projects.

The technique I am going to present is useful for Pay-Per-Click (PPC) marketing like Google AdWords and Yahoo Search Marketing. As you will see, you can later leverage the results for your SEO efforts. Read more

An Open Invitation: Conversions don't start on the landing page

invitation.jpgSome old friends found my blog and asked me a few novice questions personally. I realized that I have not talked much about traffic monetization strategies. There are excellent blogs out there that give solid advice on how to make money online. As has been my practice so far, I will not water what is already wet, but this is a topic that needs some attention. 

There is one fundamental thing I want my readers to understand. While there are many (often conflicting) opinions out there on the Web about making money—about what works and what won’t, what sells and what doesn't, which merchants or traffic sources are better—the only way to know for sure is to test it yourself.  

This has always been my way of doing things. Any new idea that comes to mind or that I learn from someone else, as long as it the basic logic test (“Does it make sense?”), I try it out. I love testing, so I am certain you won't be surprised to learn that I especially love split testing. Imagine how ecstatic I was when Google decided to release the Google Website Optimizer (GWO) for free to Adwords advertisers. Offermatica charges $10k dollars a month for a similar product. Why? Because split testing works! That is where the money is. Read more

On gurus, Google, and gaining marketshare: Leveraging your position as number one

guru.jpgA lot of people read blogs, books, articles and other materials from so-called 'gurus' that made it big. Readers are hoping to do the same but I know that no one will match success by simply following a guru’s advice. I am not saying this because I think those gurus are necessarily dishonest or are holding back (though most are), but because I've learned that you don't become successful by following a specific formula—especially not a formula that somebody else gave you.

Why? Because success is in many ways all about competition. If you learn things from other people's playbook, they already have the first-comer advantage. You too need to be the first somewhere. You need to find unexploited opportunities of your own.

In this post, I want to tell you about my personal experiences with pay-per-click (PPC) and what I’ve learned over the years. I started my first profitable site back in 2002 on borrowed credit with a CAD$3,000 limit. I turned that $3k in $4.5k with PPC and affiliate commissions—a 50% ROI. It was my first time as an online marketer, an online baby step. And now, several years later, I own a 7-figure per year business, I employ several talented individuals and have time to post on this blog! Read more

What do Search Marketing and Going to the Doctor have in Common? Learn my Best Kept Secret: How to find profitable keywords

doctor.jpgPicture this scenario:

Laura Martin has a mild headache. She knows she suffers from migraines, so she goes to her pharmacist. The pharmacist calls her doctor to get approval for a new refill of Imitrex, a migraine treatment medicine.

Paul Stevenson feels extremely tired. He is aware he suffers from type 1 diabetes. His body doesn’t make enough insulin. He only needs another insulin shot to help the food he has eaten turn into energy and get his body back to work.

These patients know exactly what they need. They have health problems and they already know the solution.

Now consider this:

Ralph Fortin was hit on the head by a baseball. He’s been having strong headaches. He doesn’t suffer from anything, as far as he knows. He doesn’t have a clue as to what might be wrong with his system. He goes to the doctor, explains what happened. The doctors gives him a check up and prescribes a pain killer.

Helen Willis was taking her usual morning walk. She’s a very healthy person with no medical history. She gets dizzy,  everything begins to spin, and she falls to the floor. She wakes up in an ambulance. The emergency doctor starts asking questions, but she doesn’t have a clue how to respond, so he needs to perform further tests. It turns out that she forgot to eat breakfast.

These patients didn’t have a clue as to what their problems were. They needed a solution to their problem.

What does this have to do with search? Good question. Read more

I'm not slacking, I'm working on a homerun post!

I am working on a killer post for next Monday where I am going to detail my best kept secret: a very simple technique to identify keywords with high demand and little or no competition.

Do you want to have keywords like this?

profitable_keywords3.gif

I've asked several A-list bloggers for their niche finding formula.  And guess what: they don't have time or don't think it's a good idea to share it.  I can't blame them.  Sharing this powerful information will render it practically ineffective and can cost them thousands of dollars in revenue due to the increased competition.

My blog reader Paul Montwill started the fire when he dared to ask me for such information.  I am sure he will be delighted when I post my technique next Monday.

Here are a couple of tidbits I was able to squeeze out of Aaron Wall and Neil Patel.  They are busy guys and I am glad they took the time to respond:

if he wants to become an SEO consultant then the easiest way to learn marketing is to start marketing one of his own sites… preferably covering a topic he is passionate about. Aaron Wall

The way I usually start is to look at terms that have a high CPC and
then from there I look for the least competitive ones and go after
them. I don't know of a quick way to do this because I myself don't
really do it, but there maybe some easy ways.  Neil Patel

What Neil mentions applies when you are planning to do SEO only. For PPC, you don't want to pay high bid prices.  In either case, what I personally look for is for terms that have high demand (search volume), good profit per sale, and low competition.  The profit per sale depends on the product and the affiliate commission you would get paid.

To measure the level of competition, I use two basic methods. If I am going to do PPC (which I usually do to start), I check the level of competing Adwords advertisers.  In the case of SEO, I check the SERPS (search engine result pages) to see how many sites are ranking organically for those terms.

How can you find those terms in the first place?

That is what I am going to answer in Monday's post.  I will include very detailed instructions and examples too.

 I am still debating whether this is a good idea.  Am I going to take food from my table by doing this?  Probably, but as I've committed myself to share, I guess I don't have an option.  I have to stick to my word.

Please leave some comments and let me know if this is something that you'll find useful.  Would I be giving away too much?  To share, or not to share: that is the question.

Advanced Adwords bidding strategies

In Yesterday's Search Day article: Are Bid Management Tools Dead?, Eric Enge, writes some interesting facts and conclusions he brought from SMX.

A solid strategy for your PPC campaigns will have the following elements:
  1. Use a bid management tool to manage the long tail of your campaign.
  2. Stay focused on your ad copy and your landing pages, because they can dramatically influence the cost and conversion rates of your campaigns.
  3. Take significant brand building terms and manage them separately
  4. Take significant "first visit search" keywords and manage them separately as well.

While I think it is no longer necessary to manage large lists of long tail keywords for PPC campaigns (thanks to broad matching options), I do see great value in bid optimizing tools on improving the ROI of your PPC campaigns. Read more

Why start SEO and Affiliate Marketing with PPC?

1. Accurate keyword research.  There are numerous keyword research tools that help you identify keywords that people are searching for, their volume of searches, level of competition, etc… Unfortunately, every single tool has a critical problem: the source of the information.

Wordtracker relies on information from meta search engine Dogpile, and similar sources. Yahoo mixes plurals, singulars, and phrases typed in different order; the information reported is from the previous month. Google tries to estimate traffic and fails to provide good predictions most of the time. There are other popular tools that have similar problems.

Running a test PPC campaign for a week or two will provide actual and dependable statistics about the amount and quality of the traffic to be expected for each keyword.

2. High click-through titles and descriptions. Page titles and meta descriptions are what people will normally see in the search results. We need to provide an incentive for the searcher to click-through.

Unfortunately it is very tricky to test changing titles and meta descriptions for SEO. We need to be able to rank first!

PPC management tools are designed so that we can easily split test multiple ads and the system will tell us which ads perform better. When we find the winning PPC ads we can use them to create our titles and meta descriptions.

3. High converting landing pages. Having a high conversion rate and high converting landing pages is not only important for our bottom line, it’s very important to retain top affiliates as well.

Another advantage of running test PPC campaigns is that we can tweak our landing pages until they give us the desired results.

Top affiliates measure the merchants effectiveness by their earn per click (EPC) — how much they make from every click they send. You can offer large commissions, incentives, etc… What really matters is how well their traffic will convert.

Even if you don’t plan to run a PPC campaign, it makes perfect sense to run at least one as a test to help you improve the results you will get with other channels.