The Debate Between Paid and Organic Search Results

When it comes to paid and organic search results, many experts have their opinions on which is more effective. Many studies have shown that Internet users are more likely to click on the first few organic search results than the pay per click advertisements. This does not mean that PPC ads are without benefits. So, why does one have to be better than the other? Most industry experts believe that it is important to focus efforts on both paid ads and organic search in order to maximize your gains.

It is important to understand the relationship between paid ads and natural searches. Together, they can build a strong foundation that your company cannot be successful without. In the short run, a paid ad campaign is beneficial because you will receive traffic almost immediately. With PPC, you can control the content of your ads and quickly make changes. On the other hand, organic search marketing is a tedious task and it may take many months before you see any results from your efforts.

Even though this strategy may not work for everyone, it is crucial to understand the synergy between these two approaches. Research has revealed that showing up for paid and organic results increases overall click through rates. Although natural results may get more clicks, they receive even more traffic when paired with an ad campaign. Also, paid ads get more clicks when you also show up in the organic search results. Not only will the number of clicks increase, but studies show that both efforts will help increase page views, conversions, quality of the visitors, and time spent on your site. So, before you make your final decision on what to focus on, don’t overlook the benefits of using both paid ads and organic search results!

How long does it take to improve the Google Quality Score?

google quality scoreWe’ve been working on improving our client’s Google Quality Score for our paid search clients and we recently asked our dedicated Google team the following question:

How long does it take to improve the Google Quality Score?

For those of you who are new to paid search, Google now provides your ads with a quality score. The above link goes more into detail if you’re interested. In short, Goolge wants to make sure that they’re providing relevant ads for the search and will reward you if your ad and landing page relates to the search phrase.

Here’s the response from Google:

There really isn’t a set time frame. All we know is that changes to Quality Score will not happen immediately. The system may take up to a few weeks to reassess the keyword’s Quality Score in the context of the ads and landing page. Please note that during this time you may see stronger fluctuations in Quality Score than usual, as the system processes the new information.

Using Twitter to Achieve a Higher Search Ranking

It can be difficult to fully recognize the potential of Twitter as a useful advertising tool. So, how do you know if you’re doing it right? Take e-commerce company Zappos, as a good example. Zappos effectively utilizes Twitter by establishing a microsite, twitter.Zappos.com. The site obviously also links to Zappos’ site, but more interestingly links to the CEO’s Twitter account and even features employee tweets.
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Many companies use Twitter, but what makes Zappos different? Their CEO, Tony Hsieh, tweets on a whole variety of topics. Ranging from business advice, occasionally promoting his business, and even humorous updates, such as “Calling a children’s word game “hangman” just seems plain wrong”. They should invent a more humane game, like “lethal injection””.  Sometimes, it is really refreshing to see a corporate Twitter account actually be social! Users are drawn to this because it shows that a CEO understands the use of Twitter as a social media utility and is not only using the account for the sole purpose of gaining sales. Zappos has gained followers, received positive publicity, and gained exposure by being featured on sites such as Twitter of the Day.

The success of Zappos’ Twitter site has resulted in their achievement of a higher search ranking. However, there is still argument on how you can really tell if the traffic driven is accurately measured as a direct result of the Twitter account. Nevertheless, studies have shown that you get the best results when both your paid and organic search works in unison. A recent study found that you can get up to a 20% increase in clicks on your natural listing if you have a paid ad near it. Not surprisingly, the study also showed that if you show up on paid and organic search, your number one ranking gets 20% more clicks. In the end, it is important to learn from Zappo’s social approach to gaining more clicks and to think about synergizing your paid and organic search efforts to get the best results.

How Quality Score Can Help Or Hurt Your Adwords Campaign

Quality score is a somewhat mysterious variable for Google Adwords campaigns that have a real effect on the cost of your advertising. The price of your pay per click ads is determined by a combination of your bid and your quality score, which means that a good quality score can get you a higher ranking for less than the other guy is paying. So how do I get a good quality score? Well, that’s where Google is a little vague, but there are some strategies.

You can use the keyword report to discover which keywords have a low Quality Score. Once you find those weak keywords, you can use the keyword analysis tool to find out what factors are affecting your score.
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The analysis really only gives you three categories and a thumbs up or down. It may not be very useful if you are trying to bump your score up from an 8 to a 10, but it will let you know when you are way off base. The three areas that affect your quality score are: keyword relevance, landing page or landing page load time. Basically you want to make sure your keyword is relevant to the page your ad is linking to, this means including your keyword on the page, and maybe even creating specific landing pages for certain keywords. Also if the link is broken or takes a long time to load, your quality score will go down.

Quality score may not be your number one concern when designing an adwords campaign, but it’s a good indicator of which ads aren’t working at all, and anything that makes your campaign more cost effective is worth the time.

Using A Creative Commons License As An Online Marketing Tool

If you are publishing digital content to the web, an easy way to encourage people to share and distribute your work to reach a broader audience is a Creative Commons license. Providing a level of protection somewhere between a full copyright and public domain, CC actively encourages people to spread your content around in a way that would be impossible otherwise.

In essence, a Creative Commons license allows people to use your content as long as it is used and credited in a specific way, so that it is still clear who the original author is, but people can use, remix, and distribute the content without fear of legal action. The truth is that obscurity is a far greater threat in web marketing than piracy. Anything that increases your profile will ultimately result in sales, but if you don’t let your content out, you can’t gain an audience.

The truth is, people are going to reuse your content whether you like it or not, so a CC license increases the likelihood that you will be credited, linked, etc… Many influential bloggers are careful not to infringe on copyrights for fear of lawsuits. Make it easy for the people you actually want linking to you, those with credible reputations, to do so and you can be assured you will be credited and reach a wider audience in the process.

One Keyword Per Page

It’s expensive to create and optimize pages for search, so why not try to jam as many keywords onto one page as possible? Unfortunately this scattershot approach won’t increase your ranking, instead only diluting your results. The best number of organic search keywords to target per page is one.

It is important to have one primary focus on the page, one concept that the page is about.
Now of course you can have more than one word on the page, or target two words that mean basically the same thing. For example optimizing the same page for “certified public accountant” and “CPA” makes perfect sense. However, you should resist the temptation to use the same page as the search landing page for “CPA”, “certified public accountant”, “tax accountant”, and “tax services”. Although all of these words are related, you won’t end up with a number one Google result this way.

The bad news is, this means lots of landing pages. Sure it’s more work, but doing something right usually is. The more concepts you try to cram on a page, the more you confuse the search engine, so keep it simple. Just start with pages for your best keywords, and add a few more every week. Over time you will see much better results for the effort.

Not everyone agrees with this strategy, and it is possible to get a number one rank for multiple keywords when they are less competitive, but in a competitive environment, it is important to specialize and be clear with your seo strategy. Keeping your target keywords as close to one as possible will keep you from spreading yourself too thin and losing out on valuable traffic.

One Keyword Versus Multiple Keywords

How many organic search keywords should be targeted per page?

This frequently asked question seems like an easy one to answer—search pages are expensive to create so we should invest in as many keywords as possible per page, right? Wrong. Search engine experts are now telling us that having just one primary focus per page is advisable. It is impossible not to have other words on the page besides the keyword you are trying to optimize, however it is possible to have your page target one specific concept.

What about when you have two words that essentially mean the exact same thing? Landing pages can be shared between two words that have the same basic meaning. Acronyms and initialisms, which are formed using the initial components in a phrase or a name, can share the same page as the full phrase or name that the acronym is abbreviated for.  However, for whatever reason, some people want to target different messages to the people who are searching for the acronym and to the people who are typing the full phrase or name, in which case you could have two different pages.

The reason to target only one search keyword is because you want to get the number one result in Google. Even if you have a number of words or phrases that are related, you will not get the best result with that many targets. The most advisable approach is to think of highly targeted pages with just one goal. Optimize just one concept per page so as not to confuse the search engine and thus lower the page ranking. In doing so, you can include other concepts as long as they fit in with the primary concept.

In order for this to work you must create a number of landing pages. It is a lot of work but simply begin with the best matches for your site and gradually create more.

The Importance of Keywords

The concept of keywords and keyword phrases seems simple on the surface, but when it comes to organic search engine optimization, it can get a bit tricky. A keyword or a keyword phrase is a descriptive word or a series of descriptive words that a person might type into a search engine in order to find a website that pertains to the particular word or words searched.

So how is it, you ask, that a search engine identifies these keywords or keyword phrases? Search engines work by matching up patterns. When you type in a word or a phrase into a search engine like Google, Google would look through portions of content in search of the particular keyword or keyword phrase. If you searched for the keyword “Labrador puppy” Google would view a paragraph on a website and the only words that would pop out as different would be “Labrador” and “puppy.” All of the other words would appear as plain text, no different from each other. If you tried searching “dog food” then Google would view the same paragraph this time with the words “dog” and food” popping out.

Google only sees the keyword or keyword phrase you are searching for. Search engine spiders look at where the keyword appears and how frequent the keyword’s appearance is on the particular site and then determines how pertinent or applicable the site is to the particular word or phrase.

Latent semantic indexing
is a tool that is progressing at a fast pace. Latent semantic indexing is something that search engines use to determine whether certain words are related or not. This technology is still processing and until it is complete, the simple concept of keywords and keyword phrases will do when it comes to search engine optimization.

Blogging Basics

Blogs have reached a new level of popularity in the past several years. Many websites and companies have started one or more consistent blogs in order to add quality content to their sites, which helps to increase their ranking.  According to the numbers provided by New Media Lab in Austin, blogging grew by 68 percent in 2008; 356 million people worldwide read blogs; and 77 percent of active Web users read blogs. New Media Lab provided these statistics regarding who is blogging in the United States:

* 51 percent male
* Age 35+ (58 percent)
* Age 18-34 (42 percent)
* College educated (74 percent)

What is blogging?

Blogging is a social networking tool that can be used for personal and/or professional reasons. A blog is like an online journal that allows you to write about whatever you want. Individuals often use blogs to share personal information and personal opinion with family and friends whereas organizations or companies often use blogs to advertise their services and provide helpful information to clients and potential clients. Setting up and maintaining a blog is simple and usually free of cost, making it an exceptionally useful tool for companies when it comes to educating the public on their business, their products or their services.

Blogs are an easy way for people and businesses to publish their ideas and their opinions. Commenting is allowed on most blogs, making it a kind of conversation. Blogs allow readers to actively participate in the blog by responding to posts and thereby sharing their opinion as well.

Setting up a blog

The first step to setting up your blog is deciding on a unique name. Once you have a name, you should lock in a domain name for your blog. Next, you need to pick your content management system, which will provide you with the tools needed to manage your blog. The two most popular platforms are Blogger and WordPress. Blogger is free, but is somewhat limited in comparison. Next you must design your page. Several tools can help you customize your blog design, including WordPress Themes, Template Monster, and Unique Blog Designs. Also, remember to turn on the comment option. Comments are a good way to get feedback and make your blog appear popular.

Adding Social Media and Links

Add links onto your blog to any of your other social media profile pages, such as Twitter and Facebook. It is also smart to add links to any other personal or corporate pages you have. After you have done this, add links onto these other social media profile pages back to your blog. Many social bookmarking plug-ins can help promote your blog, including:

* Digg
* Sphinn
* Twitter
* Delicious
* StumbleUpon

Web Advertising for Mobile Browsers

The number of people accessing the web from their phones is skyrocketing. However, devices vary from full browsers like iPhone or Blackberry Storm to mobile browsers whose access to the web is more limited. As a result, websites and advertisements must be prepared to cater their search engine optimization campaigns to all types of browsers or risk being inaccessible to their customers.

For businesses who need to reach customers on the run, such as tow truck companies, locksmiths, or even restaurants, gearing pay per click advertising to mobile users is critical. It is important to think about what a mobile user will want to accomplish with a small device with limited speed and storage. Since mobile users are not likely to go beyond the first page of a website, getting the vital information out front and legible on a small device is key.

It is always a good idea to check to see how an ad renders in a mobile browser. Some mobile browsers don’t render flash or java well. When images, flash files, or script files are large, it may take some time for the website to render on a mobile device. One way to test mobile ads without paying for a full mobile site is to create a test site using a blogging platform like WordPress which has a mobile compatible plug-in. Google also has a mobile preview tool that will let you view mobile results from a laptop.

Adwords and Google Analytics also allow you to track your mobile conversions so organic SEO performance can be assessed and adjustments made. It can also be useful to have completely separate mobile versus desktop campaigns, sending traffic to different pages on your site for the same keywords based upon their device.

As phone browsers’ capability increase, it becomes more viable to reach customers anywhere and everywhere and convert a passing whim into a sale, but it will always remain crucial to distinguish properly between the needs of the mobile customer versus the desktop customer.