Thursday, September 30, 2010

Understanding How PPC Affects SEO

Understanding How PPC Affects SEO
There’s a lot of debate about how an organization should use organic keyword marketing versus
the way those same organizations should use PPC marketing. And there seem to be two (and possibly
three) distinct camps about what should and shouldn’t happen with these different types of
The first position is that PPC programs can hurt organic keyword programs. According to subscribers
to this position, PPC programs damage organic rankings because the act of paying for a listing automatically
reduces the rank of your organic keyword efforts. Those who follow this theory believe that
there is no place for PPC programs.
Another position in this argument is that PPC has no effect at all on SEO. It’s a tough concept to
swallow, because one would naturally believe that any organization paying for a specific rank in
search returns would automatically push organic keyword returns into a lower slot (which supports
the first theory). Those who follow this theory believe that there is no need to invest in PPC,
because you can achieve the same results with organic keywords, though it takes much longer for
those results to become apparent.
The most widely held belief, however, is that a combination of PPC and organic keywords is the best
approach. This theory would seem to have a lot of validity. According to some researchers, PPC programs
tend to be much more effective if an organization also has organic keywords that rank in the
same area as the PPC ranks. For example, if you’ve bid on a keyword that’s consistently placed number
two or three in search engine returns, and you have organic keywords that fall in the next few
slots, you’re likely to find better conversion numbers than either organic keywords or PPC programs
can bring on their own.
It’s important to note here that all search engines make a distinction between PPC and organic SEO.
PPC doesn’t help your organic rankings. Only those activities like tagging your web site properly,
using keyword placement properly, and including great content on your site will help you on the
organic side. PPC is a search marketing strategy.
PPC Is Not Paid Inclusion!
One distinction that is important for you to understand is the difference between PPC and paidinclusion
(PI) services. Many people believe that PPC and PI services are the same type of marketing,
but there can be some subtle differences. For starters, paid-inclusion services are used by
some search engines to allow web-site owners to pay a one-year subscription fee to ensure that their
site is indexed with that search engine all the time. This fee doesn’t guarantee any specific rank in
search engine results; it only guarantees that the site is indexed by the search engine.
Yahoo! is one company that uses paid inclusion to populate its search index. Not all of the listings
in Yahoo! are paid listings, however. Yahoo! combines both normally spidered sites and paid sites.
Many other search engines have staunchly avoided using paid-inclusion services — and
Google are two of the most notable — because most users feel that paid inclusion can skew the
search results. In fact, search engines that allow only paid-inclusion listings are not likely to survive
very long, because users won’t use them.
There is a bit of a gray line between paid inclusion and PPC. That line begins at about the point where
both services are paid for. Detractors of these types of programs claim that paying for a listing — any
listing — is likely to make search returns invalid because the theory is that search engines give higher
ranking to paid-inclusion services, just as they do to PPC advertisements.

NOTE Throughout this book, you’ll like see the terms SEO and search marketing used interchangeably.
Very strictly speaking, search marketing and SEO are quite different activities.
Search marketing includes any activity that improves your search engine rankings — paid or organic.
SEO, on the other hand, usually refers to strictly the free, organic methods used to improve search rankings.
Very often, the two terms are used interchangeably by people using SEO and search engine marketing
techniques. SEO and SEM experts, however, will always clearly differentiate the activities.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pay-per-Click Categories

Pay-per-Click Categories
Pay-per-click programs are not all created equal. When you think of PPC programs, you probably
think of keyword marketing — bidding on a keyword to determine where your site will be placed
in search results. And that’s an accurate description of PPC marketing programs as they apply to
keywords. However, there are two other types of PPC programs, as well. And you may find that
targeting a different category of PPC marketing is more effective than simply targeting keyword
PPC programs.
Keyword pay-per-click programs
Keyword PPC programs are the most common type of PPC programs. They are also the type this
book focuses on most often. By now, you know that keyword PPC programs are about bidding on
keywords associated with your site. The amount that you’re willing to bid determines the placement
of your site in search engine results.
In keyword PPC, the keywords used can be any word or phrase that might apply to your site.
However, remember that some of the most common keywords have the highest competition for
top spot, so it’s not always advisable to assume that the broadest term is the best one. If you’re in
a specialized type of business, a broader term might be more effective, but as a rule of thumb, the
more narrowly focused your keywords are, the better results you are likely to have with them. (And
PPC will cost much less if you’re not using a word that requires a $50 per click bid.)
Did you know that Google and Yahoo! have $100 caps on their keyword bids? They do.
Imagine paying $100 per click for a keyword. Those are the kinds of keywords that will
likely cost you far more money than they will generate for you. It’s best if you stick with keywords
and phrases that are more targeted and less expensive.
The major search engines are usually the ones you think of when you think keyword PPC programs,
and that’s fairly accurate. Search PPC marketing programs such as those offered by vendors like
Google, Yahoo! Search Marketing, and MSN are some of the most well-known PPC programs.
Product pay-per-click programs
You can think of product pay-per-click programs as online comparison shopping engines or price
comparison engines. A product PPC program focuses specifically on products, so you bid on placement
for your product advertisements.
The requirements for using a product PPC program are a little different from keyword PPC programs,
however. With a product PPC, you must provide a feed— think of it as a regularly updated pricelist
for your products — to the search engine. Then, when users search for a product your links are given
prominence, depending on the amount you have bid for placement. However, users can freely display
those product listings returned by the search engine in the order or price from lowest to highest if
that is their preference. This means that your product may get good placement initially, but if it’s not
the lowest-priced product in that category, it’s not guaranteed that your placement results will stay in
front of potential visitors.
Some of these product PPC programs include, NexTag, Pricegrabber, and Shopzilla.
Although product PPC programs are popular for controlling the placement of your
product listings, there are some services, like Google Base, that allow you to list your
products in their search engine for free. These product PPC programs still require a product feed,
however, to keep product listings current.
Implementing a product feed for your products isn’t terribly difficult, although, depending on the
number of products you have, it can be time-consuming. Most of the different product PPC programs
have different requirements for the product attributes that must be included in the product
feed. For example, the basic information included for all products are an item title, the direct link
for the item, and a brief description of the item.
Some of the additional attributes that you may need to include in your product PPC listings include:
mpn (Manufacturer’s Part Number)
Some product PPC programs will require XML-formatted feeds; however, most will allow text
delimited Excel files (simple CSV files). This means you can create your product lists in an Excel
spreadsheet, and then save that spreadsheet as text delimited by selecting File ➪ Save As and
ensuring the file type selected is text delimited.
Service pay-per-click programs
When users search for a service of any type, such as travel reservations, they are likely to use search
engines related specifically to that type of service. For example, a user searching for the best price
for hotel reservations in Orlando, Florida, might go to Advertisers, in this case
hotel chains, can choose to pay for their rank in the search results using a service PPC program.
Service PPC programs are similar to product PPC programs with the only difference being the type
of product or service that is offered. Product PPC programs are more focused on e-commerce products,
whereas service PPC programs are focused on businesses that have a specific service to offer.
Service PPC programs also require an RSS feed, and even some of the same attribute listings as product
PPC programs. Some of the service PPC programs you might be familiar with are
and In addition, however, many product PPC programs have expanded to include
services. One such vendor is NexTag.
In addition to the three categories of PPC programs discussed in this text, there is an
additional one. Pay-per-call is a type of keyword advertising in which search results
include a phone number. Each time a call is connected through that phone number, the company
that owns the number is charged for the advertising, just as if it were paying for a traditional payper-
click service.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

How Pay-per-Click Works
How Pay-per-Click Works
Pay-per-click marketing is an advertising method that allows you to buy search engine placement
by bidding on keywords or phrases. There are two different types of PPC marketing.
In the first, you pay a fee for an actual SERP ranking, and in some cases, you also pay a per-click fee
meaning that the more you pay, the higher in the returned results your page will rank.
The second type is more along true advertising lines. This type of PPC marketing involves bidding
on keywords or phrases that appear in, or are associated with, text advertisements. Google is probably
the most notable provider of this service. Google’s AdWords service is an excellent example of
how PPC advertisements work, as is shown in Figure 5-1.

Determining visitor value
So the first thing that you need to do when you begin considering PPC strategies is to determine
how much each web-site visitor is worth to you. It’s important to know this number, because otherwise
you could find yourself paying far too much for keyword advertising that doesn’t bring the traffic
or conversions that you’d expect. For example, if it costs you $25 to gain a conversion (or sale)
but the value of that conversion is only $15, then you’re losing a lot of money. You can’t afford that
kind of expenditure for very long.
To determine the value of each web-site visitor, you’ll need to have some historical data about the
number of visitors to your site in a given amount of time (say a month) and the actual sales numbers
(or profit) for that same time period. This is where it’s good to have some kind of web metrics
program to keep track of your site statistics. Divide the profit by the number of visitors for the same
time frame, and the result should tell you (approximately) what each visitor is worth.
Say that during December, your site cleared $2,500. (In this admittedly simplified example, we’re
ignoring various things you might have to figure into an actual profit and loss statement.) Let’s also
say that during the same month, 15,000 visitors came to your site. Note that this number is for all
the visitors to your site, not just the ones who made a purchase. You divide your $2,500 profit by
all visitors, purchasers or not, because this gives you an accurate average value of every visitor to
your site. Not every visitor is going to make a purchase, but you have to go through a number of
non-purchasing visitors to get to those who will purchase.
Back to the formula for the value of a visitor. Divide the site profit for December ($2,500) by the
number of visitors (15,000) and the value of your visitors is approximately $.17 per visitor. Note
that I’ve said approximately, because during any given month (or whatever time frame you choose)
the number of visitors and the amount of profit will vary. The way you slice the time can change
your average visitor value by a few cents to a few dollars, depending on your site traffic. (Also note
that the example is based on the value of all visitors, not of conversions, which might be a more valid
real-life way of calculating the value of individual visitors. But this example is simply to demonstrate
the principle.)
The number you got for visitor value is a sort of breakeven point. It means you can spend up to
$.17 per visitor on keywords or other promotions without losing money. But if you’re spending
more than that without increasing sales and profits, you’re going in the hole. It’s not good business
to spend everything you make (or more) to draw visitors to the site. But note the preceding italicized
words. If a $.25 keyword can raise your sales and profits dramatically, then it may be worth
buying that word. In this oversimplified example, you need to decide how much you can realistically
spend on keywords or other promotions. Maybe you feel a particular keyword is powerful
enough that you can spend $.12 per click for it, and raise your sales and visitor value substantially.
You have to decide what profit margin you want and what promotions are likely to provide it. As
you can see, there are a number of variables. Real life is dynamic, and eludes static examples. But
whatever you decide, you shouldn’t spend everything you make on PPC programs. There are far
too many other things that you need to invest in. Popular keyword phrases can often run much more than $.12 per click. In fact, some of the most
popular keywords can run as much as $50 (yes, that’s Fifty Dollars) per click. To stretch your PPC
budget, you can choose less popular terms that are much less expensive, but that provide good
results for the investment that you do make.
Putting pay-per-click to work
Now that you have your average visitor value, you can begin to look at the different keywords on
which you might bid. Before you do, however, you need to look at a few more things. One of the
top mistakes made with PPC programs is that users don’t take the time to clarify what it is they
hope to gain from using a PPC service. It’s not enough for your PPC program just to have a goal
of increasing your ROI (return on investment). You need something more quantifiable than just
the desire to increase profit. How much would you like to increase your profit? How many visitors
will it take to reach the desired increase?
Let’s say that right now each visit to your site is worth $.50, using our simplified example, and your
average monthly profit is $5,000. That means that your site receives 10,000 visits per month. Now
you need to decide how much you’d like to increase your profit. For this example, let’s say that you
want to increase it to $7,500. To do that, if each visitor is worth $.50, you would need to increase
the number of visits to your site to 15,000 per month. So, the goal for your PPC program should be
“To increase profit $2,500 by driving an additional 5,000 visits per month.” This gives you a concrete,
quantifiable measurement by which you can track your PPC campaigns.
Once you know what you want to spend, and what your goals are, you can begin to look at the different
types of PPC programs that might work for you. Although keywords are the main PPC element
associated with PPC marketing, there are other types of PPC programs to consider as well.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pay-per-Click and SEO

Pay-per-Click and SEO
Pay-per-click (PPC) is one of those terms that you hear connected to
keywords so often you might think they were the conjoined twins of
SEO. They’re not, really. Keywords and PPC do go hand in hand, but it
is possible to have keywords without PPC. It’s not always advisable, however.
Hundreds of PPC services are available, but they are not all created equal.
Some PPC services work with actual search rankings, whereas others are
more about text advertisements. Then there are the category-specific PPC
programs, such as those for keywords, products, and services.
The main goal of a PPC program is to drive traffic to your site, but ideally
you want more out of PPC results than just visits. What’s most important is
traffic that reaches some conversion goal that you’ve set for your web site.
To achieve these goal conversions, you may have to experiment with different
techniques, keywords, and even PPC services.
PPC programs have numerous advantages over traditional search engine
No changes to a current site design are required. You don’t have
to change any code or add any other elements to your site. All you
have to do is bid on and pay for the keywords you’d like to target.
PPC implementation is quick and easy. After signing up for a PPC
program, it might only take a few minutes to start getting targeted
traffic to your web site. With SEO campaigns that don’t include
PPC, it could take months for you to build the traffic levels that PPC
can build in hours (assuming your PPC campaign is well targeted).
PPC implementation is also quick and easy, and it doesn’t require any
specialized knowledge. Your PPC campaigns will be much better targeted,
however, if you understand keywords and how they work.
As with any SEO strategy, there are limitations. Bidding for keywords can be fierce, with each competitor
bidding higher and higher to reach and maintain the top search results position. Many organizations
have a person or team that’s responsible for monitoring the company’s position in search
results and amending bids accordingly. Monitoring positions is crucial to maintaining good placement,
however, because you do have to fight for your ranking, and PPC programs can become prohibitively
expensive. The competitiveness of the keywords or phrases and the aggressiveness of the competition
determine how much you’ll ultimately end up spending to rank well.
One issue with PPC programs is that many search engines recognize PPC ads as just
that — paid advertisements. Therefore, although your ranking with the search engine
for which you’re purchasing placement might be good, that doesn’t mean your ranking in other
search engines will be good. Sometimes, it’s necessary to run multiple PPC campaigns if you want
to rank high in multiple search engines.
Before you even begin to use a PPC program, you should consider some basics. A very important
point to keep in mind is that just because you’re paying for placement or advertising space associated
with your keywords, you’re not necessarily going to get the best results with all of the keywords
or phrases that you choose. With PPC services you must test, test, and test some more. Begin small,
with a minimum number of keywords, to see how the search engine you’ve selected performs in
terms of the amount of traffic it delivers and how well that traffic converts into paying customers.
An essential part of your testing is having a method in place that allows you to track your return on
investment. For example, if your goal is to bring new subscribers to your newsletter, you’ll want to
track conversions, perhaps by directing the visitors funneled to your site by your PPC link to a subscription
page set up just for them. You can then monitor how many clicks actually result in a goal
conversion (in this case a new subscription). This helps you to quickly track your return on investment
and to determine how much you’re paying for each new subscriber.
Before investing in a PPC service, you may want to review a few different services to determine
which is the best one for you. When doing your preliminary research, take the time to ask the
following questions:
How many searches are conducted each month through the search engine for which
you’re considering a PPC program?
Does the search engine have major partners or affiliates that could contribute to the
volume of traffic you’re likely to receive through the PPC program?
How many searches are generated each month by those partners and affiliates?
What exactly are the terms of service for search partners or affiliates?
How does the search engine or PPC program prevent fraudulent activity?
How difficult is it to file a report about fraudulent activity and how quickly is the issue
addressed (and by whom)?
What recourse do you have if fraudulent activity is discovered?
Do you have control over where your listing does appear? For example, can you choose
not to have your listing appear in search results for other countries where your site is not
relevant? Or can you choose to have your listing withheld from affiliate searches?
When you’re looking at different PPC programs, look for those that have strict guidelines about
how sites appear in listings, how partners and affiliates calculate visits, and how fraud is handled.
These are important issues, because in each case, you could be stuck paying for clicks that didn’t
actually happen. Be sure to monitor any service that you decide to use to ensure that your PPC
advertisements are both working properly and that they seem to be targeted well.
It often takes a lot of testing, monitoring, and redirection to find the PPC program that works well
for you. Don’t be discouraged or surprised if you find that you must try several different programs
or many different keywords before you find the right combination. But through a system of trial
and error and diligent effort, you’ll find that PPC programs can help build your site traffic and goal
conversions faster than you could without the program.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

More About Keyword Optimization

More About Keyword Optimization
There is much more to learn about keywords and pay-per-click programs. In the next chapter,
you learn more about how to conduct keyword research, what pay-per-click programs are, and
how to select the right keywords for your web site. But remember, keywords are just tools to
help you improve your search rankings. When designing your site, the site should be designed
to inform, enlighten, or persuade your site visitor to reach a goal conversion.
And that’s truly what SEO is all about. Keywords may be a major component to your SEO strategies,
but SEO is about bringing in more visitors who reach more goal conversions. Without those
conversions, all of the site visitors in the world don’t really mean anything more than that people
dropped by.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Avoid Keyword Stuffing

Avoid Keyword Stuffing
Keyword stuffing, mentioned earlier in this chapter, is the practice of loading your web pages with
keywords in an effort to artificially improve your ranking in search engine results. Depending on
the page that you’re trying to stuff, this could mean that you use a specific keyword or keyphrase a
dozen times or hundreds of times.
Temporarily, this might improve your page ranking. However, if it does, the improvement won’t last,
because when the search engine crawler examines your site, it will find the multiple keyword uses.
Because search engine crawlers use an algorithm to determine if a keyword is used a reasonable number of times on your site, it will discover very quickly that your site can’t support the number
of times you’ve used that keyword or keyphrase. The result will be that your site is either dropped
deeper into the ranking or (and this is what happens in most cases), it will be removed completely
from search engine rankings.
Keyword stuffing is one more black-hat SEO technique that you should avoid. To keep from
inadvertently crossing the keyword stuffing line, you’ll need to do your “due diligence” when
researching your keywords. And you’ll have to use caution when placing keywords on your web
site or in the meta tagging of your site. Use your keywords only the number of times that it’s
absolutely essential. And if it’s not essential, don’t use the word or phrase simply as a tactic to
increase your rankings. Don’t be tempted. The result of that temptation could be the exact opposite
of what you’re trying to achieve.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Taking Advantage of Organic Keywords

Taking Advantage of Organic Keywords
We’ve already covered brief information about organic keywords. As you may remember, organic keywords
are those that appear naturally on your web site and contribute to the search engine ranking of
the page. By taking advantage of those organic keywords, you can improve your site rankings without
putting out additional budget dollars. The problem, however, is that gaining organic ranking alone
can take four to six months or longer. To help speed the time it takes to achieve good rankings, many
organizations (or individuals) will use organic keywords in addition to some type of PPC (pay per
click) or pay for inclusion service.
To take advantage of organic keywords, you first need to know what those keywords are. One way
to find out is to us a web-site metric application, like the one that Google provides. Some of these
services track the keywords that push users to your site. When viewing the reports associated with
keywords, you can quickly see how your PPC keywords draw traffic, and also what keywords in
which you’re not investing still draw traffic.
Another way to discover what could possibly be organic keywords is to consider the words that
would be associated with your web site, product, or business name. For example, a writer might
include various keywords about the area in which she specializes, but one keyword she won’t necessarily
want to purchase is the word “writer,” which should be naturally occurring on the site.
The word won’t necessarily garner high traffic for you, but when that word is combined with more
specific keywords, perhaps keywords that you acquire through a PPC service, the organic words
can help to push traffic to your site. Going back to our writer example, if the writer specializes in
writing about AJAX, the word writer might be an organic keyword, and AJAX might be a keyword
that the writer bids for in a PPC service.
Now, when potential visitors use a search engine to search for AJAX writer, the writer’s site has a
better chance of being listed higher in the results rankings. Of course, by using more specific terms
related to AJAX in addition to “writer,” the chance is pretty good that the organic keyword combined
with the PPC keywords will improve search rankings. So when you consider organic keywords, think
of words that you might not be willing to spend your budget on, but that could help improve your
search rankings, either alone or when combined with keywords that you are willing to invest in.