Search Engine Journal explains really well why you might be losing traffic to Google if you fall into a certain website classification. But it’s been our experience that even new websites aren’t getting as much direct traffic from Google as they used to. And that includes websites where Google is not providing direct information.
Nevermind why this is happening. The truth is, you can’t do anything about it. Except one thing: Seek alternative sources of traffic.
Now, more than ever, it is very important to seek website traffic from other sources. But what sources should you consider? Here are three specific sources I’d recommend for getting more website traffic besides Google search:
- Guest blogging – Much has been said about guest blogging. I won’t harp on the benefits. One thing is for sure, however. If you guest blog correctly, you’ll get more traffic to your website. Start with blogging on sites within your niche or that target the same audience you do.
- Social media – Google can’t control Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. If you’re more active on these sites, you’ll drive more traffic to your website. You may also appear in Google search more for your brand name, which is a huge benefit. By the way, Google+ is included in this category, and you should know that Google+ is counted as a separate referrer channel in most analytics packages than Google search.
- Paid advertising - Google wants your money. They want you to advertise with PPC. That’s why they’ve made certain changes like (keyword not provided). Don’t get upset about it. PPC is a good traffic generator. Use it wisely.
I know what you’re thinking. PPC costs money, and that’s true. If you want a less expensive alternative, spend some time on social media. It’s growing in its payoff benefits.
When it comes to paid advertising, most people know about Google AdWords, but that’s not your only option. In most cases, Google AdWords is the most expensive option and therefore maybe not your most cost efficient option. Here are several options you can choose from when it comes to pay per click advertising.
- Bing Ads – Bing Ads is the Microsoft equivalent to Google AdWords. The advantage is you have less competition because most advertisers are using Google AdWords. The downside is you won’t reach the same size market. Bing’s search engine is quite a bit smaller than Google’s. Still, it’s a viable option.
- Facebook Advertising - Facebook has its own advertising model. Ever see those ads on the right side of your wall? You can target your ads demograpically, which is something you can’t do with Google AdWords. The downside is, the keyword targeting isn’t as impressive as with Google.
- Promoted Tweets – Twitter has something called Promoted Tweets. You pay to have a tweet appear in the Twitter stream of people who fit your target profile.
- LinkedIn Advertising – The B2B network LinkedIn also have an advertising model. If you are a business-to-business business, then LinkedIn could be a good alternative to Google AdWords.
If you’re ready to expand your PPC advertising strategy, start with these good Google AdWords alternatives.
In a way, online marketing has come full circle. In the early days, you wrote articles and published them. That was it. Yeah, you might have purchased a banner ad on a related niche website, but were those really effective?
No matter how effective those early banner ads were (not very), you could always count on well-written and well-placed articles.
Over time, the definition of content has changed. In those early days of the Internet, pretty much all content was articles. You might have had graphics on your website, but they couldn’t be search engine optimized. So articles were the real content.
The Internet grew, photos and videos became popular as the technology to implement them online improved, and millions of websites sprung up in every niche imaginable. The leading online advertising model became PPC advertising. It was very effective if you did it right. It still is.
But, there are many Internet users who developed ad blindness. It’s a very real phenomenon that causes people to ignore ads – even if they’re effective in every way.
It’s hard to ignore native advertising.
Native advertising is content that doesn’t look like content. If it does look like content, then it’s so effective that users will still click to view it even knowing that it’s an ad. It’s content even if it’s advertising. The reason this works is because users really care about great content, even if it’s advertising.
If your idea of keyword research is that it is a one-time activity, then you should probably take a primer on keyword research. It may not be something you need to spend time on every day, but you should definitely revisit the issues periodically. How often is your call, but don’t wait a whole year.
Brainstorming for keywords is not necessarily as simple as using Google’s Keyword Planner either. A lot of the free tools are dead, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative.
Here are 5 ways you can brainstorm for new keywords to use in your online marketing:
- Suggested Search – Both Google and Bing will suggest search terms as you enter a keyword into the search box. Take advantage of this. Use your keywords and look at what the search engines suggest. You might be surprised at the gems you’ll find.
- Make a list – The old brainstorming method of writing it down still works. Write down every variation of your keyword phrases that you can. Use it as a jumping off point, not a definitive list.
- PPC campaigns – You’ll have to break down and use Google AdWords or Bing Ads for this, but look at your keyword groups and suggested opportunities in your PPC admin panel.
- Social media – What are people saying on your social networks? Are they talking about you or your competition? What words are they using?
- Customer reviews – I hope you’re reading them. You can often find out precisely what people think about your brand by reading their reviews. What keywords are they using to talk about your company and its products?
Keyword research is an ongoing activity. You should spend at least a few minutes each month doing keyword research.
Pay per click advertising is one of the most powerful modes of online advertising if for any reason because you can target and re-target in real time and on an ongoing basis. Don’t like the way your advertising is leaning right now? Just tweak your ads, keyword groups, and your targeting efforts and you’ll begin to see instant changes.
One of the best ways to reach your target demographic with PPC is by close and careful monitoring of your keyword groups.
In other words, if you create a tight keyword group that targets a specific demographic and point your ads for that keyword to a common landing page that is targeted specifically for the demographic, then you’ll have a powerful advertising platform. But you need to keep an eye on your keyword group and landing page. This is where you want to do extensive testing and monitoring.
If your landing page, or your ads, are off in any way, you could spend hundreds of dollars on ineffective advertising. The worst thing in the world is to target a specific demographic with a keyword group that sees no conversions.
If you do it right, however, you could see big results from your advertising. PPC is cost effective only if you see results from the money you spend. Keep your ad groups tight and your keywords tighter.
According to Business Insider, Twitter and Facebook are now earning 50% of their advertising revenue from mobile phones. Facebook took 11% of its ad revenue from mobile last year and 23% in the fourth quarter.
Naturally, BI is expecting these numbers to increase. So am I.
What is driving this increase? Native advertising. Not traditional PPC.
Native advertising is advertising that appears in the news feed of Facebook and Twitter users. It’s not something they are looking for, but it appears there based on what they normally tweet or post about on Facebook. It’s a combination of targeted demographic marketing and affinity marketing. And it seems to be working.
With this kind of powerful marketing available to them, online paid advertisers are sure to invest more into the advertising that is effective for them.
Social media advertising provides one advantage over traditional PPC. With Google AdWords, you only reach people who are searching for information related to your offering based on keywords you enter. With social media advertising, you choose the demographic you want to target. It’s more like traditional advertising, putting control back into the hands of advertisers.
Naturally, there’s no perfect advertising medium, but social media advertising represents the best of two optimal worlds. You can target your ads to a demographic you know and you can take advantage of the social media opportunity. Combine them for one great opportunity.
Search Engine Journal published an article today that discusses how the Bing ad tool can be used to make your PPC advertising on Bing and Yahoo! more effective and cost efficient. What I want to discuss regarding the article, however, has to do with the most frequently changed ad campaign changes, according to the Bing ad Editor Tool.
The top 5 most frequently Bing ad campaign items are:
- Ad content
- Negative keyword
- Location targeting
- Negative site
In that order.
This is an interesting list because it appears that keywords are changed a lot. When you consider that negative keywords are keywords you definitely do not want your ads to target, it makes you wonder why advertisers would change them. Are advertisers changing the keywords that are a part of their negative keyword lists, adding new negative keywords, or moving words from the keywords list to the negative keywords list?
Another interesting tidbit here is the location targeting change. Are advertisers changing the locations they want to target, adding new locations, or deleting locations? Probably, all of the above.
It’s hard to tell from this list and the lack of specific data whether advertisers are on the right track or wasting their time and money. One thing is for sure, if advertisers want to be successful on Bing or any other PPC ad network, changes to their ad campaigns are inevitable. PPC requires constant monitoring, and regular changes can be positive or negative.
From PPC advertising to video marketing, and everything in between, you’ll need to monitor your analytics to see how effective your campaigns are working for you. Without measuring your efforts you don’t know what to change.
So, what if you do watch your metrics and you notice that you are getting a lot of traffic from a particular geographic region. Does that matter?
Maybe it does. Maybe it doesn’t.
If you aren’t targeting that demographic area in your content or consciously striving to get business from that area, then you might ask why you are getting a lot of traffic from that area. There could be a number of reasons why you’d get traffic from a specific geographic area without consciously targeting that area.
For instance, maybe someone in that region has taken a liking to your content and shares it on a regular basis.
There could be other reasons why you are getting traffic from that region. Maybe you mention a certain area in your blog posts a lot and don’t realize it.
Your first step is to research the issue and see if you can determine why you are getting that geographic traffic. Secondly, ask if it is hurting. If not, find a way to capitalize on it. If it is hurting in some way (for instance, traffic from that region doesn’t convert or leads to a lower conversion rate), then your challenge is to find a way to turn that into a positive.
You can do the same thing with other demographic elements (age, gender, etc.). If it doesn’t hurt, find a way to capitalize on it.
Earlier this week, Google reported that they are making a change to how they report AdWords quality scores. It’s important to note that this will not change how your quality scores are calculated and therefore won’t affect how your ads are displayed.
This is the kind of change you’d expect Google to make from time to time. It means they are committed to providing a quality advertising product.
Your Google AdWords quality score is represented as a 1-10 number tied to three key aspects of your AdWords campaign – expected CTR, ad relevance, and landing page experience. Let’s analyze these three factors briefly.
Expected Click-Through Rate
Note that your quality score is not tied to your actual click-through rate (CTR) but your expected CTR. This is determined by past click throughs on your specific exact match keyword relative to your ad’s position. You are graded according to “average,” “above average,” and “below average.”
You can affect this measurement through keyword selection. Make sure you use the best keywords for your ad campaign.
This measure is about how your specific keyword relates to the content in your ad. Again, it is measured by “average,” “above average,” and “below average.” If your keyword isn’t specific enough to your ad, then you could be hurting your quality score. Make sure you create tight ad groups.
Landing Page Experience
Your landing page must be relevant to the keyword people use to search for your product or service. It must also match the content in your ad. And it should provide a positive user experience once searchers find your landing page. Is it easy to navigate? Is it organized well and well designed?
All of these factors are important in determining your ad’s quality score. If your Google AdWords quality score dips too low, you could lose your ad placement and end up out-of-sight out-of-mind.
Back to metrics again, it’s vitally important that you measure what you want to control. To that end, perhaps the most important business metric you should be concerned with, and one which you have a fair amount of control over, is the cost of acquisition for each customer.
Whether you market your products and service through PPC, social media, search marketing, other, or a combination of above, you should keep tabs on what it costs to get a new customer. If you don’t know that, you don’t know whether you are earning a profit or not.
By running a few tests you can determine the base cost of a new customer. This is easy to do with pay per click advertising.
After you have determined the base cost of a new customer, you can then adjust that as needed by tweaking your online marketing initiatives. You can downgrade your PPC campaigns to control costs, increase the amount of time you spend on social media, or increase your SEO efforts.
Keep in mind that customer acquisition cost is a one-time event. After you have gained a new customer you then have to expend your resources to keep him. That’s a different cost altogether, and it’s cheaper and easier to keep a customer than acquire a new one.
So keep an eye on the cost of obtaining a new customer. It’s your most important business metric.
Many small business owners new to search engine optimization and online marketing wonder why it takes so long to see results. There are a number of reasons why SEO takes time, but it’s not just SEO. PPC often requires several weeks, or months, as well. But why?
In a word, it’s all about the competition. No matter what niche you are in, if you are just getting started, then you have an uphill climb.
There are likely other businesses who have established an online presence in your niche. For every keyword you are targeting in the search results, you should expect a handful of competitors to already have a head start. Add that to the expectations of the search engines regarding quality content and you have a recipe for success or disaster depending on your implementation.
Google favors sites with age. That means that your new website is at a distinct disadvantage where search engine rankings come into play. That’s not to say you can’t achieve respectable rankings. You just have to work harder.
Recent updates in search engine ranking factors also come into play. Now more than ever, the search engines are looking for high quality content. Businesses new to online marketing generally have a learning curve. Your first attempts at creating high quality content will likely not work in your favor – until you learn what “high quality” actually means for online content.
In a word, you have to pay your dues. It can often be a lot easier to achieve high rankings out of the gate by hiring a professional content service that has a track record in working with businesses like yours.
SEOmoz has an interesting article about SEO insights garnered from a study on pay per click advertising.
I won’t necessarily endorse everything in the article, but I think you can gain some insight into SEO by studying PPC advertising habits, and click-throughs to some extent. For starters, let’s take a look at the top 10 industries by average PPC cost-per-click:
- Jobs & Education
- Computers & Electronics
- Beauty & Fitness
- Home & Garden
Interestingly, in each of these industries, retargeting is proving to be very effective. Retargeting is the act of using PPC to reach the same market prospects across the Google Display Network as you reach in the Google SERPs. In other words, if you advertise using PPC and run your ads on network websites signed on to Google AdSense, you’ll be more effective with your SEO and your PPC efforts.
Mobile PPC Not As Effective As Mobile SEO
Another thing you should know is that mobile users don’t click on PPC ads as often. That’s because they are on the go and don’t take the time to click on ads. If they’re searching for something, however, they will use the organic search option. Mobile search is primarily about organic SEO. This is a golden opportunity for search marketers, especially where local search and mobile search meet.
Use PPC For Keyword Research
Finally, and we’ve known this for years, you can use pay per click advertising to test your keywords for organic search. If you are getting good click-throughs that convert in your PPC campaigns, that can also translate into excellent search positioning in the organic search space.
Savvy online marketers look at SEO and PPC as complimentary marketing channels, not competing ones.
Last month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that there are now 1 billion people on Facebook. 1 billion. That’s 1/7th of the world’s population. And it continues to grow.
As more and more people come online, the number of people using Facebook will also grow. There are an estimated 2.5 billion people online around the world right now. So 1/5th of that number are also using Facebook. That’s a big pool of people that could potentially see your Facebook page or interact with you in some way through Facebook.
Is it any wonder then that brand pages are as popular as they are? If you’ve wondered why big brands are taking to Facebook, there’s your clue. There are a lot of potential customers there.
But that’s true for Mom & Pop as much as it is for McDonald’s or any of the world’s largest brand names. Put your business online and give it a Facebook presence. This is the future of marketing.
But it’s not enough to simply add a Facebook page. What you really want to do is market that page, and there’s more to it than simply joining Facebook and building a brand page. Link to your page from your blog or website. Promote your page through other social media outlets. If you do any paid advertising, then drive traffic to your page through Google AdWords or Facebook’s own paid advertising model.
People are looking at brand pages. Don’t let them down.
Television advertising can get expensive. If you have a larger competitor that is using TV advertising and you want a way to nose in on his turf and siphon away a little business, you can do that with a surreptitious PPC campaign targeting keywords that your competitor is using in his TV ads.
So, how do you do that exactly?
What you want to focus on are brand-specific keywords related to your competition and the products they are promoting on TV. This works especially well if your competitor is promoting a special. Then you can use PPC to undercut that special.
For instance, let’s say your competitor is marketing helium balloons at a 20% discount for customers who buy them by the dozen. The normal price is $3 per balloon, but if the customer buys 12, then it’s $28.80. You can have a PPC campaign that targets your competitor’s brand name, the name of any particular products on sale, etc. Of course, target the generic keywords as well.
People generally search for brand names and product names after they see TV commercials. If you get people clicking on your ads with an offer that undercuts your competition – for example, you could offer 12 helium balloons for $26.00 – then you could siphon away some of that traffic.
It’s a sneaky tactic, but it works like a charm.
Many PPC advertisers have the false belief that quality score is all about click-through rates (CTR). That’s a dangerous belief because, first, it isn’t true, and secondly, if you focus entirely on CTR, then you’ll miss out on great PPC opportunities by not paying attention to other important details.
While Google doesn’t share its PPC algorithm and the factors it deems important for a good quality score, there are some very good reasons for believing that CTR is not the brass ring.
I’m not saying CTR isn’t important. I’m simply saying it isn’t the sole determinant of a high quality score. Other factors like landing page experience and load time, keyword groupings, and ad text also bear on the quality score of your PPC ads.
Google is very concerned about landing page load time. That’s why you can now measure your load time in Google Analytics. If it weren’t important, there’d be no way to measure it. You want to make sure that your landing page loads fast. Beyond that, you also want to make sure it is well optimized and that it answers the questions your visitors have when clicking on your PPC ads.
The ad itself is just as important. If your ad text is misleading or not relevant to the landing page, that will detract from your quality score.
Finally, if you have a lot of non-relevant keywords in your keyword group, that will also affect your PPC quality score. So don’t get wrapped around the axle on CTR. It’s important, but not all-important.
Most businesses approach an online marketing company with a general question like, “what kind of marketing should I do online and what does it cost?”
If an online marketing company answers that question directly, they’re probably not the company you want to go with. The sad fact of the matter is you can’t really define your online marketing strategy unless you define your budget first. Why is that?
Online marketing has blossomed into many different sub-niches. You can use videos online, pay-per-click marketing, social media, search engine optimization strategies, mobile marketing, and the list goes on. Each one of these online marketing channels requires a specialist to put together a strategy that has a remote chance of success. That’s because they’ve each developed into a unique discipline.
You can easily spend $1,000 on marketing your business online and barely touch the tip of the iceberg in terms of opportunities. So you have to narrow your scope to determine what are the best opportunities for your business.
How you spend $300 in PPC is very different in how you can spend the same amount of money on social media. If that’s your monthly budget, then you can’t do both very effectively.
By setting your online budget first, you automatically eliminate certain online marketing channels because you can only do so many videos for $500. That money might be better spent pursuing a channel that allows you to reach your target audience with many more touch points. For this reason, it’s best to meet with an online marketing consultant to help you narrow your opportunities to most cost effective for your business.
The best way to succeed – at anything – is to exercise continuous improvement. And the best way to do that is to measure what you do. Figure out what works and what doesn’t and change what doesn’t. That’s what Website Optimizer can do for you.
Google’s Website Optimizer is a method of testing and tracking your online marketing experiments so you can see what is working and what is not. You can use it to test your landing pages using an A/B testing model or conduct a multivariate testing experiment. Which model you use depends a lot on your marketing campaign.
The Website Optimizer is particularly effective with pay-per-click advertising campaigns. It lets you know how your campaigns are working.
If you have a desire to increase your website traffic or sales conversions, decrease bounce rates and CPA (cost per acquisition) rates, determine the best website design, or see which landing page is most effective, then Website Optimizer is a handy tool.
It’s imperative to test what you’re doing to see if it is working, whether you are engaged in a social media campaign, search engine optimization, or pay per click. Once you figure out what works and what doesn’t, it’s a matter of tweaking until you get it all just right. Think of it as making small adjustments until you get the right mixture of the right elements in your online marketing plan.
You know a strong call to action is a very important part of your sales literature. If you don’t ask your prospect to take action, they might just sit and listen and not take any action. You have to let them know what you want them to do and when to do it.
Here are 5 dynamic ways to use a good call to action.
- Your landing pages – Here’s an obvious one. You have a great sales page that describes your product well, includes photos and maybe even a video. But does it have a call to action? A strong call to action will increase conversions.
- Anchor text – Does your anchor text motivate people to click or does it just provide some keyword-based bland text for SEO effect? Nothing wrong with SEO, but give it a call to action.
- Meta descriptions – Your meta descriptions will appear in the SERPs as search snippets. Do they motivate searchers to click on your page? If they were strong calls to action they would.
- Your Facebook posts – It’s great that you use Facebook as much as you do, but do any of your posts include a call to action? Make people click the link. Tell them to do it.
- Your tweets – There’s not a lot of room for error on Twitter, but one way that many marketers miss opportunities is to include a link without a strong call to action.
- Your PPC ads – Want people to click your ads? Give them a strong call to action and they will click all day long.
Take control of your online marketing with calls to action. They get people where you want them.
Some Internet marketing tactics are timeless – they will always work. You may do them poorly and in that case they may not work. But if you do them well, then they will work.
Here are 6 Internet marketing tactics that worked when they were first used, work today, and will work until the technology on which they are based dies.
- E-mail marketing – Whether you send newsletters, e-brochures, or product giveaway postcards, e-mail marketing is a marketing tactic that simply works. Anyone can do it.
- Blogging – Blogging not only is a great marketing tactic, it’s good for SEO. That may be why it will always work.
- Social networking – Social networking can take many forms. In the past it was known as forum marketing or bulletin boards. Today, it’s just simply social networking. But no matter the form, if it involves socializing (even online), then it will work. Networking is networking.
- Word of mouth – Word of mouth always works. Online and off line. Online, word of mouth takes shape in the share icons you put on your pages. You do put them on your web pages, don’t you?
- Visual imagery – TV advertising is still alive and well. Online, it’s called video marketing. Yes, it works just as well as TV advertising.
- Paid advertising – Free advertising is great, but it may or may not work depending on the venue. Paid advertising works. Off line, print newspapers and magazines offer display ads for your dollars and boy do they work. Online, PPC is the best paid advertising you can get. It’s the equivalent of your hometown newspaper ad.
There’s no question about it. These online marketing tactics work. They always have and they always will.
Is it getting more difficult to market a business online? I can see how a business owner would think so. There is so much to think about. You have to build a website, then you have to promote your website. You have to come up with a search engine marketing strategy, perhaps a pay-per-click advertising strategy, and put together a social media marketing plan. You may need a video marketing plan, an e-mail marketing plan, and even a display advertising plan in some niches. There really is a lot to think about.
While there is a lot to think about when you embark upon an Internet marketing venture, it isn’t as difficult as it seems. There are some things that are actually easier online than off line. For instance, there is a lot that you can measure online that measuring off line is unheard of.
Still, it helps to have a plan.
A good Internet marketing plan starts with research. In your research you should include some time to study your competition. Learn what the movers in your niche are up to. Not that you’ll follow them, but it helps to know what others have done and are doing in your industry. You may find some things that you like that you want to emulate while tossing out other strategies that don’t fit in with your goals and mission.
When you start with research you will eliminate a lot of your options. Taking items off the table that don’t belong there is a good way to narrow your focus and research can help you do that. Build your online marketing plan on solid research and it gets easier. A lot easier in most cases.