Profiting from the Content Network

While you may have mastered the art of search targeting directly through the engines, building a targeting content network campaign can be an additional source of profit.  By placing ads on 3rdparty sites you'll potentially reach an entirely new audience, allowing you to target potential customers that are browsing related sites. While the targeting methods on the content network are not quite a precise as exact search keyword targeting, you can find high value on-site placements that generate an impressive return on your marketing spend.

There are two main types of content network targeting: you can either select to place your ads on a chosen set of sites or let Google automatically match you to relevant sites based upon the keywords within your ad-group. Your ads can either be standard text ads or banner ads that meet the network's requirements (some animated ads and certain types of promotions may not be allowed). In general, bidding is done on either a standard CPC or CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions) basis, so you'll want to determine what your optimal campaign structure is.

Just as you can with the search network, it's possible to track conversions and ROI on content network campaigns. Within the content network reports, you can determine which placements are most profitable and can prioritize those settings, just as you would for keyword-level bids in the search network.  Over time, you can place ads on priority sites and opt-out of low performing sites, providing you with a steady stream of targeted traffic from relevant 3rdparty network sites.

How Negatives Can Be a Positive for your Conversion Rate

You've setup your search engine campaign and are ready to target your "oil change" services to a variety of consumer in your area. After adjusting the campaign settings for the proper geographic area, setting your keyword bids properly and performing plenty of keyword research, you think you're ready to go.

A few weeks later, you may be disappointed with the conversion rate of your clicks to new service appointments. An important, but often overlooked, factor for search engine marketing is the important of adding negative keywords to limit the types of search queries you ads display on.

Negative keywords are simply terms that prevent your ads from showing on certain terms. The phrase match keyword "oil change", for example" could match to searches such as "oil change diy" or "free dealer oil change" which likely won't result in sales. By adding negative keywords such as "diy" and "free" you can ensure that your ads won't display on these terms.

Going even further, you can run ads on the exact match [oil change] to ensure complete matching of the exact search query without the need to add additional phrase specifications.  A regular element of keyword research should involve reviewing your search queries for potential negative keywords.

You can review your search queries through the Reports interface within Adwords, which can show you the types of phrases your ads are generating clicks for. Analytics packages can provide further insight into these queries based upon the amount of time spend on the site (as well as the "bounce rate" for users who don't navigate beyond the first page.) Adding negative keywords on a regular basis can reduce your "bad" spend, allowing you to allocate search spend into the most effective areas.

Going Fishing: How to Generate Natural Links

To rank highly in organic search results, it's important to earn high quality links relevant to your industry. Like everything worthwhile in life, you cannot create a long-term strategy based upon buying links to your site - instead, you'll want to cultivate relationships with business partners, credible bloggers and publishers as well as other media outlets in your industry to generate links.

While there are short-term strategies that can generate SEO links to your site, the most effective, high value links are generated through building a credible, high quality brand.

By following the golden rule, you should always start any link building campaign by ensuring that your site is high quality. From the content to design of your website, each element should convey a message of authority along with your corporate ethos. If you're a vacation travel company, the look, feel and text of your site should be whimsical and fun, while also providing important information. When you have a site that conveys the proper message, you'll be able to more easily build high value relationships with other site owners.

Always think about building relationships and adding value to your link partners, rather than just emailing to ask for a link exchange. You might want to offer to write a guest article or post for an industry site, or join some authority industry trade groups that offer links. In general, the value of a link is proportional to the difficulty to obtain it - always focus on building quality links that will add long run value to your search rankings within your industry.

Direct Me: High Value Local Directories

One reliable way to generate high quality inbound links and increase your web presence is to submit your site to high quality directories. These sites generally provide consumers with a way to connect with an electronic version on the yellow pages, and have become a reliable alternative to out-dated print methods. Manual submission to these directories can enable you to promote your site, phone number and business services to targeted local consumers at no additional cost.

There are dozens of local sites which aggregate consumer reviews for local decision making. One of the fastest growing offerings is Yelp, which is a Web 2.0 version of Citysearch that allows consumers to connect with reliable reviews. You can "claim" or add your local business listing on these sites, which allows you to receive notifications of consumer reviews, add special offers or update business information as it changes (including new products and service offerings.)  It's important to claim these listings to keep accurate tabs on your company in the eyes of consumers, as well as ensuring that you get proper links back to your website for SEO purposes.

General web directories are also a good source of potential links and visibility for your company. High quality directories include, Yahoo and Best of the Web, although they each have their own requirements and submission fees for entry. Dedicating part of your promotional budget to submission to relevant niche directories can also be an effect way to generate quality inbound links to increase your search rankings.

Viewing split tests in Google Analytics

Everyone remembers the famous Monty Hall game where guests had to pick between doors A, B and C. Based upon the door selected, you'd be able to switch or stick with the existing door. With the help of Google analytics split testing your website is less about guessing and more about tracking which variants are closest to reaching your given benchmarks.

Making small changes in your website can result in important improvements in conversion rates, consumer retention and mindshare for your visitors. One effective way to begin split testing is to implement free tools from Google including Website Optimizer linked to your Google Analytics account.

To begin, you'll want to determine whether you are primarily interested in running a simple A/B split test or a multivariate test with multiple changing elements. Once you have setup the different versions of the page (or multiple graphics and layouts), you'll need to setup conversion goals and tagging for the outcomes you are measuring. For example, if you want to test whether a given landing page results in more newsletter subscriptions, it's important to setup the goal within your analytics profile before beginning the testing process.

Once you have properly tagged the site, you can use the Google Website Optimizer. The automated setup process allows you to determine which elements will be tested - the Optimizer will show you a preview of the different versions to ensure it matches your expectations. Once you have setup the tests, you can view the results in both Analytics and Website optimizer, so you can gain better insights into the process.

How to Optimize Your Presence in Google Maps

Take a moment and search for a local service in your local area. Chances are that a map will immediately pop-up showing nearby service providers, as well as links to reviews, driving directions and more information on each company. 

Studies have shown that local searches are one of the fastest growing segments of queries ( and that a majority of local business research is conducted online. 

If you have trouble with the link above, you can also view the attached PDF.

For those reasons, it's crucially important that you optimize your local business profile to generate high, relevant local rankings for your services.

Optimizing Your Business Profile

All of the major search engines (Google, Bing and Yahoo) feature their own unique local maps engines which provide information on local business offerings, reviews as well as media such as pictures and videos. By default, many of the listings pull data from around the web and may leave off crucial elements of your business. Claiming the profiles within each search engine gives you the ability to write a detailed description, add coupons for special offers and integrate video into your listings.

These additional elements are a core part of determining how highly your firm ranks when consumers search for your local service. Ensuring the accuracy of the information on the listing, such as updated addresses and phone numbers, can also ensure that you're getting as many possible leads through local search.  As the momentum from local search continues, you can stay ahead of the curve by integrating the latest features into your local listing, further helping you separate from the competition.

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