Posts tagged keywords
The New New Thing

Are you guys familiar with the Technological Singularity? The basic premise is that machine super-intelligence is an inevitability - that computers will become more and more intelligent until a point at which they surpass us by many leagues. Right now you may be saying to yourself, "Self, what does the Technological Singularity have to do with search engine marketing?" Well, Self, the answer is kind of a lot.

The algorithms and processes used by Google and other search engines are only getting more advanced. "More advanced" is of course a hopelessly general term. But let’s look at the effects it’s already having on the world of content writing.

In the beginning you could stuff your meta data full of keywords and get the undivided attention of the adolescent search engine. Later you could simply optimize your meta data and write thousands of meaningless sentences to draw their juice. More recently, you could still write thousand upon thousands of careful, sensical sentences with careful keyword ratios and internal linking to get attention. But those days are gone.

Content has always been king, but now that the search engines are smarter and more aware than ever, you cannot cheat. You have to write real content that is actually useful - that people would actually like and benefit from reading. Sounds hard doesn’t it? That’s because it is.

At Delegator we’ve always insisted on writing content in the best way we can. But now even we need to start making some changes. The days of 10,000 word orders are fading, and the days of the perfect 300 word product description are at hand. Now you have to be more than present - you have to shine.

Explore New AdWords Account Ideas To Expand Market Share

The secret to awesome AdWords account management (and the secret to maintaining any marketing web platform) rests on the truth that there is always room to grow or change. Sure, you check search terms, and of course you maintain competitive bids on valuable keywords. But what more are you doing that Google might not be reminding you to do?

While perusing a client’s website, I noticed a recurrence in keyword use for top product descriptions that we weren’t bidding on in the AdWords account. Curious, I performed keyword research on this term and related terms to find that we’ve been missing out on a decent amount of traffic. Since this particular keyword does not appear in any major categories or subcategories on the site, we never dug down this deep on the site in the initial account build. As an experiment, I built an ad group for these terms and a few weeks later it was pulling in upwards of 90% new visitors to the site, and it continues to expand the company’s audience today.

The biggest insight we’ve pulled here is that an account is truly never optimized. Don’t assume you’re reaching the entire market on your brand or products. If an account has been running for a while, take an hour to read over the site. Sometimes your market exists in the nooks and crannies.

How Many Keywords with a Limited Budget

Google AdWords is more than just a little overwhelming for businesses just starting to advertise on the Google Search network. When we begin with clients who are new to PPC, one question that is more difficult to explain is how keyword volume and match type per ad group should be built out given the allotted budget. I’ll approach this question here as though the client has a limited budget but moderately wide array of services or products to advertise. Limited BudgetFor a company with a smaller budget or a company just trying to test out the waters in PPC advertising, there are a few key factors to consider:

1. Build the Most Important Campaigns First

The issue you face with a limited budget is that it won’t spread but so far across all the campaigns you want to run without nullifying the value of some campaigns. By focusing the budget on the most important campaigns first, you’re more likely to see the full scope of impression share available to you and how well you can compete in your market.

2. Focus on Exact Match Keywords

With a small budget, broad and phrase match keywords are a bit of a budget gamble. It’s important to start by stocking your ad groups full of every medium-to-high traffic exact match keyword that you believe is most likely to drive conversions. From that foundation, branch out into some phrase and modified broad keywords that are most specific to your service or products so that the matched search query report can show you what people are searching for besides the exact keywords you’re bidding on.

3. Review Matched Search Queries

Limited budgets leave no room for wasted clicks. Check the matched search query report, which you can find both in AdWords and Analytics, at least a couple of times each week to see if there are any irrelevant keywords leading to clicks on your ads.

Essentially, a limited budget means a compact account. Once you carefully plan out your company goals and priorities, you’ll be well prepared to carefully choose the most relevant keywords for your business.

What The Wire Can Teach Us About SEM - Part 2 of 2

(In case you missed it: Part 1 of 2)

“All in the game, yo. All in the game.” - Omar Little

Omar Little - All in the Game, Yo

At the end of the day, SEO is a kind of game. It’s a very serious game with billions of dollars riding on it, sure, but it’s a game nonetheless. There are rules and strategies that work - that have been proven to work for years. Even when the rules change (aka Google gets a big idea), smart players simply work to familiarize themselves with and exploit the new playing field.

There will be bumps in the road (there may also be a few boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios and bags of cash dropped from on high), but dogged and intelligent pursuit of organic power using the rules that search engines created and SEOs have trail-blazed is a surefire route to success.

“I want my corners.” - Avon Barksdale

Stringer Bell believed in a new kind of game - the game beyond the game as he memorably put it - and he stopped believing in the importance of territory. It was a classic case of vision becoming unmoored from reality. Yes, in a perfect world Stringer’s strategy might have worked, but in the real world it was always going to be a flop. Owning the corners was a fundamental building block of the drug trade in Baltimore - you couldn’t divorce them from the rest of your strategy. The same idea can be applied to SEM; you’ll never get anywhere unless you execute on fundamentals. You’ve got to have your corners.

There are dozens of aspects of SEM that all contribute to a better organized and optimized web presence. There are a hundred ways to make your online presence more visible, more effective, and more profitable. But there are a few rock solid fundamentals that absolutely every SEM effort will fail without.

  • Content
    • Without it, you don’t exist to search engines.
  • Site Structure and Speed
    • Without it, you don’t exist to Google.
  • Analytics
    • Without it, you are flying completely blind.

Without those basic building blocks in place, nothing else you do is going to work the way it should, or the way you want it to. There is a game beyond the game, there surely is - but you’ve gotta have your corners.

“‘Failure to properly identify myself as a police officer.’ Sounds like what I was guilty of most of my career, actually.” - Detective Roland Pryzbylewski

Prez was not natural police. He got on the force because his father-in-law was a higher up in the department, he was unable to control his fear in the field, and he consistently failed to take his situation as seriously as he should. He just wasn’t a good cop - he wasn’t cut out for it.

But he was a fantastic teacher. After being drummed out of the force he ended up working in Baltimore public schools and making a real difference. It was a match for his skill set - it was his calling.

We see this happen a lot with e-commerce sites. They can get carried away chasing rankings and traffic for terms that aren’t their real strengths. If you’re a company that makes vacuum cleaners, then focus on selling vacuum cleaners! Don’t waste time and money trying to rank for other items that are insignificant in the larger scheme of things, and which are inferior products to your main offerings. Know thyself, and do what you do when you do what you do.

“A man got to have a code.” - Omar Little/Bunk Moreland

Perhaps the most quoted line from The Wire. It expresses the moral center of the entire show - that a man must have a personal code of conduct that transcends the law, and any traditional or makeshift authority or set of rules. It’s an acknowledgement from Omar that there is indeed a “game beyond the game” - but it’s not about what Stringer thought it was. It’s about integrity.

We would argue that’s the primary value of an SEO company as well.

At Delegator we don’t do black hat SEO - while it may pay off in short term results, we know it’s a losing strategy in the long game and a threat to the businesses of our clients.

We track and keep our clients apprised of their organic and PPC results at all times - good or bad. That keeps us accountable.

We assign an account manger for each client so that communication never breaks down, and there’s always someone looking out for your best interests with skin in the game.

We believe in comprehensive packages that keep us flexible, rather than monthly draws on your bank account for services you might not need anymore or that may have become less important to your business.

It’s all in the game, yo. All in the game.

What the Wire Can Teach Us About SEM - Part 1 of 2

The Wire is everyone's favorite show for a reason. A deep well of characters, a sprawling narrative that felt intimate and alive, a searing critique of the drug war and a top to bottom post-mortem on the heart of a once-great city. It could only be described as, well, "Dickensian." Sorry, Gus! The Wire was one of those shows that kept you on the hook with long-developing plot lines (investigations, mergers, a series of major news reports) that typically extended over an entire season. It also delivered incredible quotes and moments of drama and comedy on a weekly basis - sometimes both in the same scene. It's what gave the show its weekly entertainment punch to go along with its historical level of sophistication and "reporting."

Here at Delegator we're big fans, and we even started using some of those quotes around the office to reference some of the things we were doing for clients related to AdWords, SEO, Analytics, and more. With a recent upswing in attention on the show (thanks Grantland!) we thought now might be a good time to share with our clients and readers what we've been talking about for years. Search Engine Marketing - As Explained by the Cast of The Wire. Sheeeeeeee...

“When you take a shot at the King, you best not miss.” - Omar Little

Omar Little

Taking aim at the number one Google ranking is a formidable task. That’s especially true when you happen to be going up against another entity that a) has a clearly more relevant relationship to the keyword than you do or b) can spend you under the table. Unfortunately for most companies, it’s not a realistic goal.

Now that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn't try, or shouldn’t at least set it as your goal. Sometimes toppling the king is easier than you thought (just ask Marlo). But more often than not, as Wee-Bey found out, you end up eating chicken salad across from Bunk and McNulty. What is realistic for most companies is getting a few corners of their own - corners the big boys  might not know about. The way to do this in SEO is by investigating and then investing in long tail keywords. Maybe Huge Company X has the market cornered on "The Wire Posters," but you could get a real foothold in "Michael K. Williams Posters," "Omar Little Wire Posters," or "Omar Little Season 5 Posters." You won't get quite as much traffic as you would for a generic term, but the traffic you do get will be specific, and motivated to convert.

The only way to achieve a ranking like that for a competitive keyword is perfect preparation, determination in the form of time and money, and luck.

“Look the part, be the part.” - Proposition Joe

Proposition Joe

Joe came in for some ridicule from Avon when he showed up to the annual East/West showdown in full “Pat Riley” suit and tie regalia, but his commitment to looking like a “real” basketball coach helped him coach with more authority and confidence. In other words, getting the look right helped him get the job right. That, and a hired ringer. This is a lesson that can be easily applied to SEM.

Everything starts with your site design. A newcomer to your site should immediately be able to understand what you’re about and trust that you can deliver the goods. Building that initial trust element and creating a homepage that effectively funnels users to the pages you want them to hit is a complicated, multi-faceted process, but it’s a time and design investment well worth making. When you look like a “real” site, you’ll see yourself start to perform like one.

“Our job is to report the news, not manufacture it!” - Gus Haynes

Gus Haynes and Scott Templeton Season 5 of The Wire was about the breakdown of professional ethics within the main character, Detective Jimmy McNulty, as well as the august offices of the Baltimore Sun (where series creator David Simon began his career as a journalist). McNulty, frustrated with the lack of institutional support for his wire investigations, (SPOILER ALERT) fakes the presence of a serial killer by “adjusting” bodies post mortem. Scott Templeton, a hotshot up and comer at the Sun, began his career making up innocuous stories about wheelchair bound children going to Orioles games, but he eventually begins to stretch the truth about the serial killer case - he is the only reporter the “killer” ever contacts.

In the end McNulty loses his badge and Templeton wins a Pulitzer.

When you go with “black hat” SEO - SEO that attempts to get around Google standards and practices through any one of a dozen illicit strategies - you’re taking the same chance. Maybe it will work, you won’t get caught, and your business will go up, up, up. But maybe you’ll get caught, blacklisted, and penalized indefinitely in the organic results, crippling and even killing your business. Is that really a chance you want to take?

At Delegator we only do “white hat” SEO. Be very careful before getting in bed with any firm that doesn’t, and make sure that if you’re running your own SEO operation you don’t cross the line. It’s not worth risking your entire business.

“If Snotboogie always stole the money, then why did you let him play?”

“Got to. This America, man.” - McNulty and Man on Stoop

Anybody can play the AdWords game. Doesn’t matter if they don’t understand it, try to cheat it, or run their accounts into the ground. Because it depends on the quality of your site much less than the value of your dollar, it’s as open as it gets in the land of SEM. The only thing you need to play is money - Google allows you to set up your account and start spending faster than you can run down to your neighborhood game of bones (though your ROI is likely to be higher with Google). You will almost certainly need an expert to guide you through the weeds with no pain and plenty of profit.

Active AdWords management is the best way to navigate the choppy waters of paid search. Active management means going in every day and making changes, re-organizing, raising and lowering bids, and identifying and exploiting new best practices. That's the only proven way to consistently stay ahead of the curve when it comes to the wide open AdWords game.

Come back for more Wire action next week!

Part 2 of 2.

The Top Ten Ways to Optimize Your Wordpress Blog and Make It More Powerful Than Ever - Part I

1. Top Ten Lists

You see what we did there? Top ten lists are enduringly popular. They present a lot of information in quick, easy to read bits, they give the reader a reason to keep reading, they show off expertise and a depth of knowledge, and they create arguments. And that’s what blogging is all about. Not many people know this, but the Ten Commandments are considered to be the very first blog post.

2. Infographics

In an increasingly visual society infographics are a fantastic way to draw the eye, impart information, and get your blog linked. A lot. Make it good, make it useful, make it colorful (literally and figuratively) and put it out there to get noticed.

3. Keyword-Rich, Compelling, Unique Headlines

This is an SEO recommendation combined with an interest-grabbing tactic. Most people read blogs in compressions (think Google Reader, RSS, etc.) and the headline is often the only chance you have to get them to read what you wrote. Moreover, headlines are a great way to get the attention of the google-bots crawling the internet looking for relevant, useful content. Make your headlines attention grabbers, but also fill them with keywords. For instance, “Optimize Wordpress Blog.” See what we did there?

4. Unique Content

For SEO purposes this is absolutely essential. Never take content from another source and present it as your own (unless you’re quoting), and don’t repeat yourself. The bots don’t like it. And you won’t like the bots when they’re angry. Besides, who wants to spend their time reading an un-orginal blog?

5. Reader Participation

Blogs need communities of readers to really thrive. And the best way to build that community is to engage with them. That doesn’t just mean good content, headlines and graphics. That means literally inviting them in, listening to their thoughts and airing their opinions. Keep and cultivate a vibrant comments section (don’t let it get abusive), post reader polls, ask questions, and post worthy thoughts on your main pages as blogs. Involve your readers and they’ll keep you in their life.

Check back in with us in the next few weeks, when we'll reveal the rest of the top 10 list. We want to give you some time to start working on the first five. See you then!

Top Six Ways to Write More, Yes Even More Content

Okay, so you’ve spent months writing content for your new site. You’ve written about every little detail of every product or service you offer, filled in every bit of background information you can think of, and generally driven yourself crazy trying to fill as many pages as you can. But you’re still not quite where you want to be; you need more content. How do you do it? How do you dig down deep and come up with meaningful, useful content when you feel like you’re at the end of your rope? Let this long-time content writer show you the way with my personal Top Six content fixes.

1. Top Five, Top Ten, Top 15, even Top 27 Lists

One of the easiest and most fun ways to bulk up your on-page content is what you’re reading right now - a top (whatever number you choose) list. Come up with something that’s interesting to your readers, and then rank or list them - there’s nothing more compelling to a reader than a numbered list with a juicy headline. Just look at the magazine stands during football or Oscar season and you’ll see what we mean. Because lists are so popular with readers, they are excellent link bait. If you’ve got a great list with a compelling title, you’re sure to generate some interest from other sites and aggregators.

2. Q&A’s

Post question and answer interviews on your site. Talk to the people who started your business, the movers and shakers in your particular sphere of influence, or people who produce the things you sell (if you’re an e-retailer). If you run an appliance business, for example, you might want to send a few emails to the designers and manufacturers of the things you sell and then publish the resulting interview on your site. Make sure these are informative, interesting, and relevant to your site.

3. Transcripts

Transcripts of speeches, videos, or promotional material are a great way to add content to any site. If you work in the real estate business, a transcript from a realtor’s speech or promotional video is a great way to get keyword-rich text on your site. Just make sure the transcript mentions keywords you’re interested in ranking for on Google, Yahoo and Bing (and that you have the rights to publish the material!)

4. FAQ’s

The Frequently Asked Questions section is a great place to serve the readers and the search engines in equal measure. You can create an FAQ on any of your landing pages by collecting real questions from readers/buyers/users, as well as some of your own, to create compelling and helpful content. Make sure to mention the keywords you want to invest in by name, and make sure the answers to the questions are honest, helpful, and easy to understand. Some of the most popular search queries are in the form of questions. How many times have you typed in “How do I...” or “How to...” into a search bar? With well written and thoughtful FAQs, you can make it easier for these users to find your site. FAQs benefit all three parties involved in SEO - the search engines, the users, and you.

5. Compare and Contrast

This is when you take the product you sell, or a particular feature of your site, and compare it to a similar product or feature somewhere else (in a favorable light, of course). You might compare the quality of your product to that of another, or the advances your product has made in reference to an older or more well known model. Just make sure you pick products, services or specialties that make you look better than your competitors, and that the content is sharp and informative.

6. Product Reviews

Similar to Compare and Contrast, except you don’t give your competition any exposure and you get more control over your message. There are plenty of companies who will do independent reviews like this (Delegator is one of them) and still work in plenty of SEO-goodness with keyword-rich content. On page reviews are also a proven reader and link magnet, with users of all stripes wanting to get a little inside information when it comes to buying your product or service. Product Reviews are where you can sell your products, utilize SEO and provide a great service for your customers all at the same time.

These are just my proven techniques. If you know any other great strategies for writing more and more content, let us know in the comments! No matter what strategies you use, just remember that Black Hat SEO is never worth it. Do things the right way, and always create unique, keyword-driven content. You don't want to be on notice, do you?

Longtail Geo-Targeting Your Content and Keywords or, Why It’s Good to Be “Chattanooga SEO Experts” instead of “SEO Experts.”

Many of our clients came to us at first because they had become frustrated trying to do their own SEO copywriting. The big terms they wanted to rank for, like “personal injury lawyer” or “office furniture” just weren’t seeing much traction on the Google results page, no matter how hard they tried and no matter how much content they wrote. They came to Delegator wanting to know why - and, if we were so smart, how could we fix it? For a large percentage of these clients, the answer was very simple. They were going after keywords that were much too competitive for their budget. For instance, the term “personal injury lawyer” gets 368,000 searches per month and a competition ranking of “High,” according to Google, which has over 12 million indexed pages for that single term. For small to medium sized law firms that can be a tall mountain to climb with a limited budget. In cases like this we often recommend that our clients employ geo-targeted long tail keywords. Which is a fancy way of saying, “Put the name of your city, state or region in front of the term you want to rank for.”

Geo Targeting Keywords

“Personal injury lawyer” then becomes “Tennessee personal injury lawyer.” The second term, as you might imagine, gets fewer searches per month than the first (1,600). However, because there are fewer searches, and often less competition, there is more opportunity for small to mid-sized businesses and firms. Yes, you will be fishing in a smaller pond with less fish - but because you won’t be competing with 12 million other fisherman, you’ll be more likely to bring in a great catch.

But that’s not the only advantage of geo-targeted long tails. Not only is there less competition, the people who are performing searches for your new keyword are more likely to click and convert. Why? Because the use of a longer, more specific keyword has filtered your results. Instead of getting calls from Montana and Ottawa, where you might not be willing or able to do business, you’re only going to get hits from local, interested searchers who have self-selected for their viability and availability as clients.

Less work and administrative headaches, more interested and viable searchers, and a higher ranking--that’s the beauty of a geo-targeted longtail keyword. You can trust us - we’re “Chattanooga SEO Experts!”

4 Ways Google Instant Affects SEM

Google Instant LaunchGoogle’s new search update, Google Instant, launched on September 8th and has everyone in the SEM (Search Engine Marketing) world talking. While the full effects of Instant have yet to materialize, I wanted to give my early ideas on its implications for the future of search and how it could affect your site. 1. User Behavior Will Change

The most interesting thing to keep an eye on with Google Instant will be how it affects user behavior. The consensus is that it will change the way people search, but because the technology is so new, no one knows exactly how it will make that change. My instinct is that it will create "lazier" search queries, as people rely on the Google suggestion to complete their thought. This could mean less long-tail searches and will almost certainly mean less click-throughs to the second page of results.

What we should see from an SEO perspective is a greater premium placed on ranking on the first page, and in the Top 3 more specifically. If this holds true, it would hardly be an unintended consequence. Google’s SEO guru Matt Cutts has stated that “a key insight behind Google Instant is that we want to get people answers and solve their problems faster”.

2. Big Brands Will Gain an Edge

Another side effect I’ve noticed in the Google Instant debut is a visibility boost for top brands. This applies to both the paid and organic listings. I cannot help but notice when I type A, I get Amazon, E is eBay, and W is Walmart. Instead of serving a hybrid distribution of results for the letter E (ESPN, E-Trade, Expedia, etc.), Google gives me a full page of eBay results and ads.

The cynic in me wants to say Google is trying to boost some of their top spenders on AdWords such as the aforementioned Amazon, eBay, and Walmart. The line of thought here is that these top advertisers will accrue residual impressions and clicks, increasing Google’s take from AdWords, their cash cow. The reality is likely less sinister than that, but there is no denying that big brands are afforded an advantage in Instant.

Google Instant - eBay

3. Long-Tail Searches Will Change

Long-tail searches ("green eggs and ham" vs "breakfast") are more focused and have less volume than a general one or two word search, but they often lead to more precise results and, thus, strong conversions. Some people have jumped to the conclusion that Google Instant effectively kills the long-tail and will hurt sites that have focused their efforts there. I think that is a bit extreme, and I would encourage anyone to watch their analytics as I think there are potential positive and negative effects.

Because Google Instant results are displayed as you type, users can easily bail from typing a long phrase and settle for what is shown with their partial search. If you do not rank well for the shorter phrase, you will likely see a decrease in traffic. Also, analytics might show keywords that do not make as much sense because they are only part of the searcher’s true search intention. On the other side, Google Instant could also increase your long-tail traffic in some cases because search refinements seem to be easier with the new feature.

4. Data Will Fluctuate

Web analytics and data are key drivers of search marketing strategies, whether paid or organic. Google Analytics and other packages offer detailed data on a user’s intent by showing the search query he or she typed to reach a given website.

Or at least they did.

With Google Instant, and its built-in suggestion feature, Analytics packages will now display the suggested query that led to the eventual click. This is not meaningless, - it will certainly be valuable to see how searchers are reaching your website - but it is not as powerful as it was previously. Search queries as they were previously reported served as a direct line to your customers’ minds. Now, they are a truncated version of a searcher’s question with a little Google suggestion sprinkled on top.

On the PPC side of things, Google has warned advertisers and managers of AdWords accounts to monitor their accounts for increased impression numbers and click volumes. To date, we have not noticed any major impression fluctuations from any of our AdWords clients, but there is evidence that Instant has been responsible for this with at least some percentage of AdWords users.

Overall Google Instant is not going to negate the value of Search Engine Optimization or even change it drastically, but I would recommend staying vigilant. As always, monitoring analytics, watching your Adwords stats, and reviewing your search engine rankings will ensure that your site does not go quietly into the night.

Selling out of Both Sides of Your Mouth: Consumers and Search Engines

“Create content primarily for your users, not search engines”

-Google’s SEO Starter Guide

Too often in recent years, SEO writing has been focused exclusively on search engines and search engines alone. People have tried strange tricks like pasting lists of keywords in white text on white background, hiding content, and even writing incoherent keyword-stuffed gibberish to get picked up by search engines.

In the end, it never works, for two reasons:

1) Google is smarter than you are. 2) Search engines aren’t the only ones reading your stuff; it has to be written for humans too.

Users and Search Engines

The biggest secret in the SEO world is that you have to write for users. It’s great to get on the first page of Google searches that feature your keywords, but if your site doesn’t drive clicks and conversions through relevant, accurate content, you might as well still be on the third page.

The best SEO writing is the kind where users never guess they’re reading something that’s been optimized. Where they never realize a certain word is coming up an awful lot - something like 3% of the time!

Google’s own documents make it clear that unique, creative, focused content is more important to their search engine than any other factor. Delegator is all about servicing both of your needs; the need to be creative, unique and useful, and the need to get ranked, get clicked on, and get paid. Our precision SEO work makes us a great option for getting your website where it needs to be, but it’s our clear, effective content that really sets us apart. Read more about our content writing services.