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While Google Adwords is an easy way to create an effective, keyword-rich PPC campaign, in order to use the program to its full potential, consider which features to use and when to use them. This is a continuation of sorts to my previous post about setting up an Adwords PPC campaign, discussing the keyword grouper featureavailable in the Adwords Editor.

Remember, the first step is to create a basic keyword list. Then, once you’ve explored all variations for your keywords, you’re ready to use the keyword grouper.

Ideally, different ads should show up for different keywords, but it takes awhile when done manually. That’s why Adwords includes the Keyword Grouper. This tool will show you commonalities between keywords and attempt to group them based on these similarities between keywords. However, this tool may not always group keywords as effectively as hand-picking keywords for your various adgroups. More so, editing such a campaign later on will prove more difficult.

Suppose you run a PPC campaign for a travel agency. Your best option would likely be to create a master adgroup for the general area of travel you service, then to duplicate this adgroup and change the area name to specific locations in the keywords, as well as within each ad. This way, you can cycle 4 or 5 relavant ads for the particular area denoted by the adgroup, for each main area of travel.

Using the keyword grouper in this case may be overkill. Not only will the travel areas be grouped, but so will methods of travel, places of interest, as well as different synonyms for travel, such as trip, vacation, tour, etc. For smaller overall campaigns, this may be optimal, but your ads need not always repeat exactly what the user searched for, as would be the purpose for creating as many adgroups as would be generated through this method of keyword grouping.

Still, one can use the tool in this case and simply copy and paste the unnecessary adgroups into more appropriate, existing adgroups. Either way, the tool can be handy, or it could create more work for you.

Pay Per Click is a formidable task for anyone without a lot of experience. It is highly recommended that anyone interested in setting up a PPC campaign should consult professionals, or at the very least, take the full tour of Google Adwords before embarking on the journey to an efficient PPC campaign.

Some businesses choose to set up their Pay Per Click campaign themselves. Often times, they will create a base upon which an Internet Marketing Firm like Reciprocal Consulting will build, and mantain beyond its inception. In other cases, however, the initial campaign runs poorly, and the business enlists the help of PPC professionals to correct the issues, or create a new campaign all together. In order to avoid wasted time and bids, consider the following tips:

  1. Google provides a series of in depth video tutorials to help learn the ins and outs of Adwords. As stated above, it is preferable to run through these tutorials prior to using Adwords for PPC.
  2. Make a keyword list, using broad matching. Basically, anything that you would want a user to search for in order to find your site, these will be your keywords.
  3. Divide these keywords into relavant Adgroups, each of which will show different Ads. Some of these keywords may overlap, but remember, the search term should return an advertisement relavant to the search term which returns the ad.
  4. Include all possible variations for appropriate key words. This includes plurals (vacation & vacations), sensible re-ordering of keyphrases (europe vacation & vacation in europe), as well as different forms of the same word (europe & european), where applicable.
  5. Once you have your complete set of keywords for an Adgroup, including all relavant variations, duplicate the entire set to create an identical group using phrase matching and another using exact matching.
  6. Try to avoid one-word key phrases. Your Cost Per Click (CPC) depends on your quality score, which means if you’re bidding on highly competitive keywords (ball versus rubber ball), you may overpay for a top spot that will bring no conversion, or have no position on the search at all. Keep your keywords relavant and not only will your CPC likely be lower, but your conversion rate will be higher.

These are just a few tips for PPC. Obviously, there is much more to a successful campaign than just these six steps. For more in depth information on using Adwords, consult Google’s tutorials.

In every area of marketing on the web there are questions surrounding morality and fairness. These debates generally stem from questionable practices, and more specifically from uncovering those that are involved in such “foul play” pertaining to their area of so-called expertise. With Search Engine Optimization, there have been numerous malpractices, known as black hat SEO, from link farms to cloaking, which achieve numerous links by deceiving search engines and misrepresenting actual content on site. Luckily, for those of us that wish for search engines to return relevant results and not those which contain massive metatags or get the majority of their rank from sites riddled with unrelated links, search engines are smarter now.

But the debate still remains, whether or not certain practices are ethical. Competitive Intelligence is one of these areas with a significant grey area between what is considered right and that which is not.

Consider sites that store information about other sites. Whois.net, for example, is a domain-based research service, which will return numerous facts about any domain name, including registrant, server, date registered, and more. Many other sites like Whois.net will disclose similar information. Additionally, searching on Yahoo, appending “link:” to a domain name will show all incoming links to that domain, and it’s various pages.

As you can imagine, there are a significant number of ways to retrieve information about a competitor through publicly accessible sites and databases, so as one may wonder, where is the line drawn?

  • First and foremost, anything that is illegal applies online as well. This may be a no-brainer for most of us, but there are still those that think being behind a screen protects them from certain laws, like plagiary. This is most certainly not the case.
  • Public databases, searches, and information are available for everyone; what they choose to do with what they find is their decision, and the choice to use that information in an ethical manner is theirs, as well as any consequences which may result.
  • Analyzing data is a large part of Competitive Intelligence. Obtaining such data through illegal practices, such as bribery, bugging, or theft, is of course considered to be extremely unethical.

The best way to protect yourself against such practices is to ask a lot of questions of your Internet Marketing Firm. As part of a firm that insists on ethical practices, we are happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have about the services we offer.

Most of our clients have asked us to setup both PPC and SEO for their businesses because it is preferable to utilize more resources in order to get their website maximum visibility on the internet, but one thing that we certainly understand here at Reciprocal Consulting, is budget. While setting up both PPC and SEO campaigns may be optimal for most businesses, there are cases which may warrant one or the other to a greater extent, as various aspects of each type may hold more relevance to the site for which the optimization is being performed.

It is imperative to be well-informed of the differences between PPC and SEO, and which can be more beneficial to your particular business needs. This depends on a number of factors, but generally your niche is key, followed by what type of business it is, how grand a scale you intend to market to, and who your target audience is. These factors all determine which keywords will convert best, and are the backbone to any campaign, PPC or SEO.

With Pay Per Click, we utilize Google Adwords, as well as similar PPC services on Yahoo and MSN. A maximum budget can be set for such a campaign, and within that budget, we strategically bid on your keywords, targeting geographically and categorically, displaying custom ads based on the search terms entered. These ads appear on the right-hand side of the browser, under the sponsored ads of the Google search page. How it works is you only pay when a user clicks on your ad. The price you pay for the click depends on your bid, quality score, particular position of the keyword(s) in the results, as well as other factors. Ads may also be shown on the Google Content Network, featuring your ads on sites within the network, which contain content relevant to your site. These ads may also be filtered depending on which lead to more conversions and better costs per conversion.

With Search Engine Optimization, we use your niche to build links to your site, build actual page rank, and get your site to show up higher on natural search results for your best performing keywords. We also have writers on staff who utilize various article and press release sites to spread the word about your site, new products and services, as well as other pieces of newsworthy information pertaining to your business. It should be noted that there are many factors that determine page rank, and the Google toolbar does not necessarily accurately represent your actual page rank. The focus of any SEO campaign is relevant link building on a wide scale.

The differences between PPC and SEO are vast, even though the purpose of both are the same. Online visibility can be achieved in many ways by utilizing a lot of different resources, but it is important that you choose the correct methods for your particular business and its needs.

Linking is the key to any natural search-oriented campaign. While Pay Per Click increases the visibility of your website through strategic keyword building, natural search is a combination of on page and off page optimization. The main difference between the two, as to how you achieve a desired visibility status, is the importance of your site. A site of lesser importance, as determined by Google’s complex algorithm, can obtain the first position in searches utilizing a PPC campaign. While it is possible for the same site to appear within the top 3 for natural searches, it is less likely, and therefore natural search depends more on page rank for a site’s position. The similarity between the two is the keyword relevance to the search.

While it would be nice for your website to appear number one for every search, this is not practical. Via a PPC campaign, this mis-targeted traffic would cost you thousands, maybe more, as the majority of clicks would not take the user to a site relevant to that for which they searched. It would make no sense for a law firm website to show up in the top spot for a “heavy equipment training” search query. The purpose of search engines is to return relevant results, not just high ranking sites. The rank is factored in only to represent the importance and usability of the site itself, generally determined by relevant links. Here are four steps for building relevant links to your site, for free:

Social Media Optimization – this may not be the most efficient approach, as far as time is concerned, but the use of Social Media can prove very effective for the initial campaign. Simply, it puts your website on the map. The main quality to look for in a Social Media Site is the ability to add direct links with custom anchor text. This is possible through your profile, various groups, or occasionally, through message systems which allow users to contact each other, via their profile pages. It should be note, however, that many SM profile sites utilize no follow links, which will not benefit keyword relevance of links. Much like relevant pages on a website linking to each other, if only for ease-of-use, consider the network of pages linked to each other on a site such as MyBlogLog or BlogCatalog. It is important to exercise self control with such links, as irrelevant links may be read as spam or abuse of the site. Be sure to read the terms of use for such sites, as violation of such terms can result in the deletion of your account.

Forums – actively participating in forum discussions can increase the online visibility of your company greatly. Choosing a username on said forum that represents your company’s name or primary keyword will increase the relevance of posts, and posting within categories related to your business, its name or its purpose, will increase its importance. Much like social media sites, many forums will have no follow links, so use caution. The best way to utilize a forum is to set up your own. This gives you full control over comments, link properties, posts, and categories. Additionally, relevant traffic generally increases on forums as it allows others to participate in discussions and talk about their own interests in relation to your site.

Free Article and PR Sites – articles and press releases are a great way to build relevant links to your site, and its sub domains, as well as increasing your online availability through referred traffic. Additionally, you have full control over the surrounding text, and many free article sites allow you to include multiple links within the content. An article site might also feature a well-written, highly viewed article on the front page, and if nothing else, feature the submission in a category section related to your article or press release, which will have a URL containing very relevant text.

Blogging – much like article sites, setting up a blog is another good way to build links with more relevance and rank behind them. The only difference is, you can also optimize the blog itself, utilizing your social media profiles, and the articles/pr you’ve written. You may also include links to your blog from your site and forum posts. Cross linking relevant content on your blog and your site, as well as all other areas of the web you maintain, can be quite the task, but well worth the effort and time. Additionally, blogging allows for minimal effort in organizing, coding and optimizing content. Since posts are automatically sorted by date, category and tags, this is an easy way to quickly add content with little hassle; plus, adding images makes your blog more vivid, wont clutter the screen as much, and when ALT tags are properly used, will return links to your blog via image searches. Also, if said images are hosted on your site’s domain, this will add to the relevance of the blog to your site and the use of such images within your blog. You may be hosted on a Blog Site if you wish, but it is generally preferable to be self-hosted, as it implies that your site is more important.

These are only the basics of free link building, and as effective as these may be, there is only so much you can achieve with this method – it really depends on your niche. If you are fighting over less common, less desired, or more unique keywords, these tactics may be enough to put your site on the charts, even at the top spot in searches for those keywords. However, more competitive keywords require more variation, dedication, time, and resources.

When it comes down, most businesses don’t have the time or man-power within the company to embark on a campaign of such magnitude. Consider an experienced, well established, Internet Marketing Firm like Reciprocal Consulting to aid you in this endeavor.

It is no secret that images are a large part of any internet user’s browsing experience. Pictures of products, sports games, celebrities, and so on, are important for associating onsite text content with that which the text is describing. However, many tend to overlook images in SEO practice, which can lead to a few, though not detrimental, problems:

  1. Believe it or not, the seeing impaired browse the internet, too. There are programs available to these people that will read the text straight from the browser, and having an image in a document without simple SEO considerations will diminish their experience. They will not even know the image is there.
  2. Search engines cannot read image files. While there is a filename associated with every image on the internet, chances are, these filenames do not contain a sensible title or description of the image. More than likely, image titles found online have names including a string of numbers, letters or abbreviations for what is actually represented in the image.
  3. Even image searches will not recognize images in raw form. You may have an image on your site depicting a celebrity relevant to the topic described in your content, but with no mention of the person, this will not be relevant to the image search. Many times, a simple image search can lead a person to your site when there are no other means to bring them there.
  4. Various handheld devices and older versions of web browsers cannot display images. Although rare these days, there will occasionally be users without image capabilities in their web browsing experience. When this is the case, an empty box will appear in the images place the user will be left to wonder what should be contained within.

SEO is a kind of structure, much like any great work of architecture, with a foundation, supports, design and an overall sense of flow. Build a campaign up right and the result will be a fully functional and aesthetically pleasing site. While images may serve this appeal, the structural integrity of your site gains nothing from images with no association.

There are a few ways to associate text with your image, including surrounding text which relates to the image itself, but rather than interrupt the flow of the writing to include a shameless plug for the image, the best way to make your image visible to searches is via the ALT tag.

Here is your basic image tag: <img src=”IMAGE URL”>

And here it is with the ALT tag: <img src=”IMAGE URL” alt=”NAME”>

The addition of this tag, however, should most certainly not be used to stuff keywords. This practice has long been exposed and will achieve nothing at best. Worst case scenario, your site will be penalized for Black Hat SEO practices. You should also refrain from using the ALT tag to describe the image or relay information that the image itself does not convey.

Icons used on page, as well as images used in the site’s appearance, need not use this tag. This is what is referred to as eye candy, which is onsite strictly to better the appearance. Still, some icons which serve a purpose, such as an image used as a button, will benifit from the use of the ALT tag. A good example of this would be a “submit” button, should be tagged as such.

The importance of ALT tags with images is overlooked many times, and especially now with sites like Digg, Spinn, and other popular social media sites, it is important to practice using ALT tags on your site, and anywhere you share said content.