Searching Beyond the Paid

Friday, June 24, 2011

Display Network Resources

Last Friday, I had the privilege of participating in the PPC Hero Twitter chat. It was a lot of fun, and I'm honored to have been chosen for the interview. We talked about a couple of hot PPC topics, including Adwords Campaign Experiments and the Display Network.

During the Q&A, several questions came up regarding display, and I've seen some chatter on Twitter this week about it too. So I thought I'd post a few resources here.

When I have questions, the first place I always go is the Help section of the respective engines. Both Adwords and adCenter have helpful, informative sections on Display. I recommend starting there.

If you're looking for additional suggestions and best practices, take a look at this post I wrote recently on Adwords Display Network Best Practices.

For your additional reading pleasure, here's a big list of display network resources that I put together recently.

Display can be a great way to expand your PPC reach, and it's becoming more important than ever. Here's to your success with display advertising! What are your favorite display resources or success stories? Share them in the comments!


Friday, June 17, 2011

Top 3 Takeaways from SMX Advanced, aka Homecoming for SEMs

Last week, I attended my 4th SMX Advanced in Seattle. It’s probably my favorite SEM conference of all because there are no beginner sessions. Every session covers advanced ways to improve your SEM and social media campaigns.

As usual, there was a ton of great info shared – I have 15 pages of notes from just the sessions I attended! Here are the top takeaways from this year’s conference.

Quality Score is Complicated.

OK, we all probably knew that. The Quality Score session was top-notch, though – I consider myself pretty knowledgeable on this subject, but I learned a TON. I especially enjoyed my friend Joe Kerschbaum’s talk on quality score for adCenter. Turns out, landing page relevance does count in adCenter – it’s one of their key factors. (I believe it’s a significant factor in Adwords, too, but that’s another post.)

Quality Score is so complicated that there’s a new book out about it – and it costs a whopping $149. Are you kidding me?!? Craig, I have a ton of respect for you, but the book is like 75 pages! That’s nearly $2 per page. Really??


Tweeting and Facebook are SEO.

There was a session on Twitter SEO and another on Facebook SEO. I attended the Twitter session and took copious notes. I’m not an SEO, but I do oversee the entire search marketing program at Fluency Media, so I try to learn as much as I can about SEO.

Incorporating both good social tactics (create quality, shareable content; engage with people, etc.) and good SEO tactics (make content relevant, use good keywords, link to deep pages, etc.) makes it very possible for your Twitter content to show up in search results pages. With both Google Panda and Bing, social signals are becoming more and more a part of the SEO algorithm – so it makes sense to optimize your social content as well as your website content.

Link Building is Almost Impossible.

I’m really trying to get my head around link building. And I’ll admit: I’m struggling. It just seems to take tons of time for very little payoff.

But I was optimistic: there are some really good link builders out there, and they were at SMX. So I sat at a link building Birds of a Feather table, and also attended a link building session.

The big takeaway? Link building is really hard, and often is just luck. On top of that, it’s nearly impossible for an agency to do link building for clients. It just doesn’t scale well. This is what I suspected all along, but had hoped I was wrong. Oh well.

PPC People are Awesome.

This year, I saw so many friends from the PPC industry that I joked about it being like homecoming for SEMs. I realize that I’m an old-time PPC’er, and I’ve been going to conferences since 2003, so I’ve met a ton of folks over the years. But I’m continually thrilled with how friendly and open everyone is. People freely share give-it-up style secrets, test ideas, tips, and tricks – it’s such a welcoming and collaborative community.

This year, about 10 participants in the weekly Twitter PPCChat met for dinner in Seattle on Monday night, the night before the first day of the show. Even though I’d only met a couple of the attendees before, it was like we were all fast friends. And indeed we were, because we knew each other on Twitter!

Anyway, the dinner was great, and the PPCChat group ended up hanging out throughout the whole conference. Even though SMX is smaller than most SEM conferences, it can still be hard to navigate the dynamics of a group of several hundred people. But as with homecoming, it’s a lot of fun if you hang out with a smaller group of friends – and that’s just what we did.

I learned so much at this year’s SMX, as usual. I’m already looking forward to next year!

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Friday, June 03, 2011

Using Twitter to Keep Up with PPC News

It’s no secret: I love Twitter. When used strategically, Twitter is a great way to network, meet new people in your field, and get breaking news. It can also be an overwhelming firehose of random content. With a little forethought, though, you can dial down the firehose. Here are my tips on using Twitter to keep up with PPC news & innovations.

Include “PPC” in your Twitter bio.

Part of making good use of Twitter is getting followed. When people follow you, they’ll see your tweets and, hopefully, interact with you. People who are new to Twitter often use the “people search” function to find other people to follow – and they’re searching on keywords like “PPC.” Including “PPC” in your Twitter bio will help you get found by other PPC pros, with whom you can then interact and share info.

Follow other PPC pros.

A lot of celebrities have thousands of followers, but are only following 12 people. This isn’t really interacting – it’s broadcasting. While that’s fine for celebs, Twitter is much more useful for you and me if it’s a two-way conversation.

Make an effort to find other PPC pros and follow them. You can use the people search feature I mentioned above to start. Another great way to find people is to do a hashtag search. Hashtags are used on Twitter to sort conversation around a certain topic or catch phrase. Search for hashtags like #PPC, #SEM, and #Adwords. I’ve found a lot of great new PPC’ers to follow in #PPCchat (by the way, if you’re doing PPC and are not not currently participating in this chat, you’re missing a ton of great info!).

Set up a list or column for PPC pros.

Finding great PPC pros to follow is cool, but they’ll get lost in your Twitter stream quickly (unless you ONLY follow PPC people, which most of us don’t). If you’re using the Twitter web interface, create a list for PPC pros and then add your new friends to it. If you’re using a desktop client like Tweetdeck, create a column for PPC pros, and add your friends there.

I personally love Tweetdeck: it’s much easier to sort conversations there than in the web interface, in my opinion. I have a column for PPC Tweeps, another for #PPCChat, and yet another for conferences I attend, such as #SESCHI (SES Chicago) and #SMX (SMX Advanced).

Lists or columns are awesome when you’re really busy. I almost never read my entire Twitter feed during the work day; I just don’t have time. But I do make sure to read my PPC Tweeps column – that way I can keep up with what’s going on in my industry, and even interact a bit, without it sucking up hours of my day.

Learn who always shares worthwhile & trustworthy content.

Let’s face it: we’re all guilty of sharing the occasional off-topic, personal, or silly remarks and links on Twitter. That’s fine – in fact, it personalizes the experience and lets us all get to know one another as people instead of just PPC’ers.

That said, you’ll find that some people’s Twitter stream is 10% personal and 90% good & useful PPC info; while other people’s streams are just the opposite. Unfortunately, some people also use Twitter for sales pitches disguised as good info. They’ll tweet a link with a comment like “New techniques for PPC keyword research!” but then the link goes to a page to buy their company’s expensive tool.

If you’re in the market for a keyword research tool, that’ll be helpful to you. If not, though, you probably don’t care – and neither do your followers. Retweeting is a big part of interacting on Twitter – it’s a great way to share useful info with your followers. But you need to know what you’re retweeting; your followers may not appreciate being baited into clicking a link that turns out to be a sales pitch.

The bottom line is this: Twitter, like any social media, is a conversation. Treat it as such. People don’t want to hang out with blatant shills in real life; nor do they want to be barraged with personal details. People do want to learn things that will help make their jobs easier, though. With a little forethought, and a little more practice, you’ll find Twitter to be an invaluable resource.

What are your favorite ways to get PPC info on Twitter?

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