What Are The Best Management Groups For My PPC Campaign?

Last week we met with a client concerning his Pay  Per Click managed account.  While reviewing his keywords for SEO, we looked at the keywords he was paying for.  To our surprise, he was paying top dollar for items that seemed just short of criminal.  While Naper Design has at times taken a stance against PPC campaigns, we do recognize the need for strong advertising management in professional settings.  Often the view has been that we are completely anti-PPC ads.  This would be a very incorrect interpretation of our core beliefs.  The problem we have are managed accounts that sell and bid for keywords that are unneeded or to expensive, selling to competing groups, and dishonest practices.  I should point out that there are PPC management groups out there that are honest and provide quality service, but when looking for an advertising group, it would be wise to check that the following keyword issues are not arising:

1. Paying For What You Don't Have To

Our encounter last week began with a web design client of ours asking us to add some of his PPC keywords into his site.  This is perfectly common and highly encouraged.  The better the keyword score in the content, the lower the keyword will cost... (so use it...).  What surprised us was that the client was being charged for any and all variations of their own business name.   Even worse, they were being charged for their competitions business name.  Keywords are generally for prospective customers that don't know the business that they are looking for, not for your assured clients that already know who you are.  Title tags should be used to make sure that your business name keeps you up top, but paying for a listing directly above your organic listing is absolutely ridiculous and highly dishonest by your marketing management team.  If you find that you are paying for your business name, it would be highly advised to demand an audit of clicks to that keyword and a refund for them.  In the future, I would also suggest ensuring that they are never added to a campaign. -the only exception to this rule is for large companies that have scam sites attempting to take traffic, sadly, these still need title payment-

2. Wanted But Unneeded PPC Keywords

At what point are you happy with your position in the search engines?  There are arguments that say first on everything, and then there are those that say bottom of first page.  The debate on placement will continue to rage with no winners but several losers.  The problem is that it's so case specific that nothing can be considered doctrine.  The only thing certain is that there is a point when the owner should feel comfortable in his organic, and comfortable in his Search Engine Marketing(SEM).  If a keyword cost $50.00/click, but you rank on the middle of Page 2, is it worth it to pay for a listing?  The hard answer is "probably not, but possibly maybe". No one can say with absolute assurance that this keyword will inspire a client.  No one can say with any certainty that a client will not be born from someone clicking the add.  The point is to maximize the performance of your add campaign.  This requires sitting down with a calculator, a rank checking script ( We use Traffic Travis because the cartoon is cute), and weighing which keywords will pay for themselves and provide the best profits for the money spent.  This process should not be painless, and should not be quick.  This should be a process where both parties delve into the need of each keyword to make sure for effectiveness.  If this is something that is blown off or rushed by your advertisement representative, then I would suggest caution.  Nothing is worse than moving to quickly through a situation and purchasing something that wasn't needed.  Proper management of your funds will lead to better returns on your investments.

3.Dishonest Practices

Most advertising management companies that you can meet face to face are going to be reputable.  There are a few out the who are not honest, but they often don't survive a market based on the value of public image.  Most dishonest practices tend to come from Cold Calling representatives who either refuse to meet in person, or can't because they live somewhere completely out of range.  It is highly suggested to conduct a simple Google search of a reps number as soon as you hear from them.  In this day and age of shared information, people are quick to report harassing calls from marketers, and more importantly, the ones that are selling a Scam.  While it's true that not every company can be met with face to face, it is highly suggested to only teleconference with companies that have proven themselves to be reputable.  If you conduct a search and find nothing but complaints, it's a good possibility that you will want to avoid their practices.  There are companies that have been spammed, and as much as we fight against these practices, the ultimate goal for you as a business owners is to safeguard your business. Keep in mind, not every marketing company is suitable for your business.  Likewise, your business might not be suitable for the marketing agency.  Each agency has its strong-suits and they may differ from your company goals.  Come prepared with questions relevant to your business goals. After all, no matter how reputable, honest and effective the marketing company may be, if they don't know your exact goals for the future, they will be unable to perform to peak performance. For a list of trusted marketing agents, we suggest asking businesses that have been around for some time.  Ask them what companies they have worked with.  Study the trends in conversation.  Like all situations, if you stick with the winners, you'll follow their path.

Avoiding Spam When Building Strong Backlinks Part 2

Last we spoke of the dangers of building backlinks through spammy techniques.  Here are examples of those dastardly techniques and the proper methods of replacing them when dealing with blogs.  Saturday we will discuss the manners of building strong directory references without being spammy. You will need to first download the SEOmoz toolbar for Firefox.  This toolbar has a function that shows “No Follow” tags on page links.  Using this tool will allow you to determine which blogs are worth commenting and interacting with for links and track-backs. Most everyone with a blog has visited or even pursued Tecnorati… (if you haven’t you will after reading this.)  Within Techgnorati, you have access to blogs that are separated by category and relevance.  There are other blog index sites that maintain a strong list of blogs by content, but Tecnorati tends to be the most reliable for the search engines. Once you are on the site, search for a blog that resembles the topic of whatever page you wish to link to.  If you are choosing to link to your main page, choose a blog that is closely associated with the Keywords of your entire site.  If you are using the link of a specific page, search for a page that has that specific topic.  Tecnorati has a ranking system that allows the user to comb through different levels of relevance. Obviously, you want to get links from the most relevant site to the topic being covered. Using this method, you’ll want to start by performing a “Time Honored Blogging Tradition” RTFA!!! Read the article people.  Seriously, if you don’t know what the topic is, it will show in what you’ve written. Once you read the article, then it’s time to interact. Make sure that the comment you leave is more than the following junk: “nice post” “I agree with the points you made” “good thoughts but I take issue with your points” These comments are common and quite annoying pieces of spam.  These statements will likely be caught in any filter and removed from any site that cares about their relevancy.   It would always be suggested to be Part of a conversation.  If you’ve read a post, use enough of the material within it to make a valid statement. Here’s a list of other rules that will avoid negative treatment for blog comments:
  • Only leave comments that are a full, comprehensible sentence.
  • Sign up for updates on future comments.  This can ensure many links and a future relationship between your site and the site you are commenting on.
  • Leave only on link on the site, the one in your name description.  Leaving tons of links in the content of your comments makes it strongly resemble an unwanted communication, leaving many to list your comments as spam.  If your site links or email addresses becomes associated as spam, it’s very likely that your future comments on other blogs will be filtered as well.
  • Leave the auto commenting software to those who don’t mind being banned from the search engines.  It’s just not worth it.
  • Read the articles!!! There will always be a better exchange of ideas when you do and you’ll likely receive more convertible visitors to your website if they believe your communication to be respectful.

Ensuring Quality Backlinks For Your Website Part 1

This is the first of three post that will be added over the next few days.  There is very little chance that the thoughts will stay completely congruent, but there's just far more than one post within this topic... While linking structure has always been an important piece of the SEO equation, it seems that a more intuitive linking structure is becoming more and more necessary for modern SEO development.  The day of submitting to random directories or commenting on unrelated blogs is long gone.  Spam comments and unrelated directory listings cause damage to website relevance and search engines are constantly looking for ways to counter their effects. That being said, there are highly effective methods of getting related backlinks, they just require more work than the spammers and scammers are likely to give. If you’re wondering, “is Christian about to rail on the Spammers again?” the answer is always, yes!  Spammers not only made the system harder for all of us, they’ve caused themselves to become endangered.  Yes, you can still find tons of affiliate websites offering their “Link Building Software”.  This software is usually some form of Blog Spamming software.  While these sites can be found all over the place, they’re owned by only a small group of spam-jockeys who and are becoming marginalized by people becoming more aware of affiliate scams and MLM’s.` Ok, now that we got that out of the way, blog backlink software is going to do nothing for your site but possibly get it banned from Google.  Not only is the software disastrous for your reputation with the SERPS, they almost always have a very short and mitigated list of sites to choose from.  They claim that their program makes searches through Google, but this is only a half truth, they are most often pre-rigged with a select amount of search criteria.  The resulting searches leave the user with the same tired group of blogs that were used 1,000’s of times before by other Spammers. Most of these sites and pages that have been bombarded by spam are already flagged by Google.  Add your link to this page, and you risk being considered spam as well. That out of the way, the question of how to get the quality links and avoid being all spammy is going to be asked.  Unfortunately, the answer will have to wait until tomorrow. We're out of coffee.

7 Ways Your Homepage is Like A First Date

Dating, in general, kind of sucks. Or at least that’s always been my impression. Unfortunately, unless you want to die alone in your gorgeous Troy, NY apartment under a mountain of cats who do nothing but leach off you and prevent you from sleeping a solid eight hours, at some point you have to get in the game. And that means going on the elusive first date. The first date is when you get to know someone. It’s when you get to observe their behavioral cues to determine whether you’d be a good match. It’s when you watch how he butters his bread and wonder if he’d be gentler with a baby. [Don’t tell me you’ve never done that, ladies.]

As wacky as it may sound, people are judging the homepage of your Web site in the very same manner that they’re judging their date. And they’re asking themselves the very same set of questions.

Questions like:

Are we on the same page?

During a romantic encounter, you want to make sure you both have the same goals, want the same things, and that you’re not looking for a first kiss while he’s trying to get you back to his place with as little effort as possible. And when you’re a searcher, it’s the exact same scenario, minus the creepy porn music, of course.

Someone conducted a search and was woo’d back to your place by a compelling Title tag and Meta Description. In a perfect world, you’d direct them to a properly optimized landing page, but if you’re not, then you need still need to make sure your homepage ‘matches’ their search. There needs to be some cue that, “yes, you searched for [delicious vanilla cupcakes] and here are all of our delicious vanilla cupcakes”. Because if you create disconnect between what they WANT and SEARCHED FOR with what you’re offering and the language you’re using, they’re gone. In an instant and they’re not leaving a phone number. Your homepage should be designed to address the exact concerns customers are arriving with.

What are you about?

A first date is a reconnaissance mission. You arrive trying to corroborate everything Google told you find out as much as you can about this person, including their profession, what they do for fun, where they grew up, etc. You want to get a feel for what this person is all about to see if you’re a match. And it’s the same process when a customer lands on your site for the first time.

When someone hits your site for the first time, they’re taking everything in and trying to get a feel for who you are. Your homepage needs to lay the groundwork for the entire culture of your business. You want to use not only your words and language to convey a message, but images, social proofing, video, white space, etc. One glance of your page (which is probably all you’re getting) should tell people who you are and what audience your business is looking to attract.

Can I trust you?

While you can’t create trust in one date, that doesn’t mean people aren’t looking for the cues. They’re looking to see how you talk about your friends, whether you’re rude to the waiter and if you’re checking out someone else while they’re telling you a story. And, again, it’s not much different here on the Web.

On the Web, trust rules all and your homepage should be the first step in creating it. It’s really important that you focus on hitting all the important site trust indicators so that customers know it’s safe to enter their credit card information on your site, that you’ll still be around tomorrow, and that you have experience in whatever it is you claim that you do. Investing in a professional Web design and displaying links to security information, About pages, etc, are all great ways to let people know you’re going to treat them well and not rob them of their life savings.

Are you literate?

Part of that ‘trust’ thing means ensuring that if my life was in danger, you’d be able to use the phone book to call the appropriate authorities. On your Web site, I want to know you can spell newsletter before I agree to sign up for yours. It’s the little things.

Do other people like you?

When you’re chatting with someone on a first date, you’re trying to gather up some social proof. Essentially, you want to know that this person has OTHER people in their lives. Like, friends. This, as you may know, is a good sign that the person you are out with is not, in fact, a raging psychopath that their own mother had to move thousands of miles to get away from them.

On the Web, we look for social proof to help us determine whether or not this is a company we want to be associated with. For example, if your homepage shows you actively talking to people on Twitter, displays that you have 8,000 Facebook fans and that you have tons of testimonials from happy customers, I feel a lot safer doing business with you. People are sheep. We like doing business with the same companies the rest of the flock is doing business with. Show me your flock.

Are you gonna make me work for it?

When you’re out with someone, you want to know it’s not going to become a hassle to KEEP going out with them. For example, can the other person hold an intelligent conversation or do shiny objects distract them? Are their cute quirks like loud chewing, rambling, inability to hold their alcohol, etc, going to stop being “cute” and start becoming “annoying” three months down the line?

On the Web version, people are looking at your site and trying to determine how difficult it’s going to be to navigate and get through it. Are they going to have a hard time finding the right product? Is the check out process five more steps than it needs to be? Are things laid out sensibly? If your site looks like it’s going to be high maintenance, customers are going to go find a site that isn’t. We don’t have that much time to wait on BS these days. Yeah, boys, I’m talking to you.

Will you tell me what to do next?

The end of a first date is always a little awkward. Do you shake hands? Hug? Go in for the kiss? And what do you do once you figure that part out? Who’s going to call who? Should I just sit around and wait? Should I just say screw it and get the third cat now? For me, the sign of a successful first date ends with a plan for the next one. Some sort of follow up that lets me know, hey, this worked, next we should do X. Without it, I’m stuck on my couch wondering what just happened and waiting for the ice cream to thaw.

Once I’m on your homepage, you need to give me a road map for how I’m supposed to get off and get on with my life. Yes, I came to you looking for cupcakes and you seem to sell them, but now what? What’s next in the conversion path? A successful homepage will lay the groundwork for the rest of my site interaction. Without it, I’m fumbling in the dark. I don’t like to fumble.

Those are some ways I think homepage and dating interactions tend to mirror one another. Any others you can think of?


Starting Your Own Viral Marketing Campaign

Viral marketing needs four things to work properly: (many of these you would have found in the Hubspot Webinar on April Fools Day) Never before has it been easier to reach potential customers. Using digital technology, you can reach your audience for pennies. But as it turns out, inexpensive marketing is a double-edged sword because it attracts more competition. This is because the technology that makes production of media inexpensive, also creates a low barrier of entry. As a result, the market is flooded with products, and the consumer is overwhelmed. The range of products and brands to purchase has become numbing to the customer. Proven strategies of the past are being abandoned, because they clearly no longer work. That being said, brand-building is one strategy that will never go out of date regardless of technological advances. And the good news is that building a brand has never been more feasible than it is now—if you are willing to use social media and use it well. Simply blogging or having a presence on Facebook is not enough. Viral marketing needs four things to work properly:
  1. An offer (preferably free) that has value
  2. An easy way to distribute the offer
  3. An incentive to get consumers to pass the offer along to their friends
  4. A way to make the campaign profitable
  1. An offer (preferably free) that has value. When thinking about viral campaigns, many people think of funny videos. Funny videos do have value, but I would encourage you to consider something different. There are just too many companies trying to do funny videos and it is hard to stand out. Rather, come up with an offer that has more legitimate value. For example, I offer free online piano lessons for church pianists. I have also offered free downloads of CDs and printed piano arrangements.The key is that whatever you offer has to have real value, and it probably needs to be free. People will not jeopardize their relationships by promoting an offer that has no value, and they will usually not promote offers that are not free (unless the brand is already very strong). Think hard about an offer you can make available that is inexpensive but has great perceived value to others. Be creative; there are numerous possibilities, particularly if you create digital media.
  2. An easy way to distribute the offer. You must provide an easy way for people to get your offer, and ideally, it should be delivered automatically without requiring your involvement. For many of us, our offers can be distributed digitally on our websites. If you can host your offer on your own website, that is the best scenario. If you cannot, there are other websites that allow you to do these kinds of campaigns. For example, musicians can use BandCamp to deliver their music offers to consumers.
  3. An incentive to get consumers to pass the offer along to others. It is critical that your consumers are “reimbursed” to pass along your offer. Sometimes, their payment can be as simple as the thanks they get from their friends when they pass along funny videos. But, I would not count on that being enough. Try to find a way to offer something extra to people who will post your offer in places like their Facebook status or on their blogs. These are the people who are critical to your viral marketing success.
  4. A way to make the campaign profitable. Viral marketing is primarily about brand-building. But it is also a great way to sell other products, build a fan base, obtain concerts and speaking engagements, and much more. Don’t make your offer something that you can’t afford to give away. Also, set goals for what you hope to obtain from your campaign
Don't go into this just to be the next Great Orator. Paid speaking engagements are far fewer than those seeking to host them.  They're also limited to those who are truly qualified to deliver a strong message and have something so innovative that no one else will bringing it to market.  I myself will not being doing that, as there are four different post of other offers combined into this one to make a stronger thought.  The main goal is to bring your brand, products and clients to the top of their markets. Execution is the key to all types of marketing. Plan and experiment before you launch. When you start something virally, there is no way to stop it and no way to fix mistakes; so make sure the message is the one you wanted. When you are ready to launch a campaign, you simply have to send out a short email to your fan email list. After that, if it is going to work, you simply manage which direction it needs to be steered(you won't have much influence to provide, but can turn it to the next hit you have in waiting).

Viral Marketing PDF April 2010

After watching the Hubspot's "Grateful Dead Marketing" webinar today, we felt a bit inspired to link a lot of additional Viral Marketing E-books through a post.  The sharing of material is actually one of the preferred and strongest methods of gaining strong readership and increasing traffic reliability. We've included four PDF E-books about viral marketing and techniques.  We hope to offer the different perspectives that are available and give the opportunity for others to compare and contrast the different schools of thought. While all of them are linked back to their authors sites, we ensured that they would be available for re-post on line and have avoided uploading any that wouldn't be.  We also thought it important to ensure that they be more educational than... Well marketing for their own services.  Keep in mind, just releasing these publications was a form of marketing that produces far more name recognition than any form of paid service or bullied email campaign. Feel free to Download the items and ensure that all credit is given to the actual authors:

Millard Browns POV

Ok, I realize there will immediately be a bit of confusion with this selection.  2007?  Why on earth would you be interested with Viral Marketing theories from this time period?  The answer is simple.  The concepts of breaking away from established marketing techniques begins to get real traction with this publication.  There are certainly many earlier publications that have to deal with independent concepts of viral marketing, but this one Nigel Hollis is able to relate the more "out of the box" concepts being elevated by Web 2.0.  I would also suggest reading The Dynamics of Viral Marketing.  This is another from 2007, but filled with great information of the virgining Web 2.0 world.

The Viral Marketing Short

Here's a gift to all of those who enjoy the mathematical calculations involved in marketing procedures, planning, and predicted outcomes.  At this point, there are plenty of analytic resources available to compile the same information (most of them free, and if they aren't you paid to much).  This may be antiquated for a lot of our "I want it now" mentalities, but it's never bad to at least learn the methods of determining your true traffic flow.

The New Rules of Viral Marketing

No list of modern marketing E-books would be complete without this publication. David Meerman Scott has had over One Million downloads of this E-Book and it has become the foundation of the modern principles being introduced into the marketing world.  While competition is still a large factor for the top position of any market, the methods described in this E-book are a necessity  for anyone attempting to market their website in a viral manner. I do hope you like this list and more will be coming.  Please give credit to the original authors and expect a publication of ours to emerge within the near future.