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SEO Saturday: Should I Invest In PPC Ads Or Content Marketing?

This can be a tough question to answer for many business owners and managers. Should you invest more of your money into PPC ads and see results now or should you invest in content marketing and possibly reap the investment for years to come? Which choice is the best one for you? Let’s explore how to arrive at that decision.

If It Ain’t Broke…

First of all, if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it! This holds true for your marketing. If you are running PPC ads with strong ROI, then keep it up. If your organic content is making you a killing, then keep that up. The point is, if you are already doing something and it is successful, keep doing that.

However, don’t forget to experiment with other marketing and advertising to see what works because this will change over time. For instance, you can maintain your PPC advertising campaign, but go ahead and try a small amount of content marketing for one month and measure what effect it has.

Core Differences Between PPC Advertising And Content Marketing

There are two essential differences when it comes to PPC advertising and content marketing, and those two factors are time and guarantees.

Time

Once you stop paying, your ads will stop displaying

PPC advertising has an extremely short life span, once you stop paying, your ads will stop displaying. This means that you have to constantly spend money to keep traffic coming to your site.

On the flip side, content marketing can have a indefinite impact. One post that you write this week could bring your site a substantial amount of traffic for the next several years. Content marketing has a longer shelf life than a PPC ad by a long shot.f

Guarantees

PPC advertising has a sort of guarantee that comes along with it. You will know ahead of time about how much traffic you can generate at what cost. This consistency and ability to know before starting is what comforts a lot of marketers and businesses alike.

Content marketing lacks any gaurantee. You could spend weeks writing what you think is the greatest blog post to ever be written only to find out that not a single person on the internet cares. It could also take weeks for your content to pick up any traction, or it could be months, or years. Costs for content marketing can be all over the place too, do you need a video or an infographic this week? How much does that cost? Oh, this blog post took longer than expected to write, that will be an extra $150! These variables can be a campaign killer for an unorganized marketer or business.

Choosing A Side

Now that we have covered the basic differences between the two types of marketing, we can begin to discuss which marketing method is best for your business or situation. Although it is generally recommended to use a balance of both techniques, some businesses may cater themselves strongly to one side or the other.

Ask yourself the following 5 questions about your marketing campaign goals:

  • Is it time sensitive?
  • Do you have specific sales goals that need to be met?
  • Do you sell your product/service online (no phone call or further action needed)?
  • Does your product have a short buying cycle?
  • Is there enough search volume to sustain your business?

If you answered yes to these 4 questions, PPC advertising is mostly likely your best option. If you answered yes to most of these questions, your answer is most likely yes as well, but I highly recommend talking to a marketing consultant or agency about your situation.

If you answered yes to some, but not all of the above questions, ask yourself these 6 questions to see if content marketing is best suited for you:

  • Are you willing to invest the time?
  • Do you have the basic writing skills?
  • Do you have other ways to promote content?
  • Is branding (and brand recognition) is a major goal of the campaign?
  • Do you need authority to sell your product?
  • Is there a long time between consumer purchases?

If you can answer yes to all of these, content marketing is a great option for you to explore. Content marketing will offer you traffic now and increasingly in the long run, making this marketing method a great option for campaigns that aren’t facing definite short term goals. You will also need another way to promote this content, especially at first before you start getting traffic from the search engines. A few ways to do this are to utilize your social media channels, do some guest blogging, use forums, and you can even use PPC ads!

Sites that need authority to help sell their products or services will generally benefit the most from content marketing. Companies that need authority to sell are companies that tend to charge a premium price for their product. Customers need content to be convinced that your product or service is worth the additional cost.

Products or services with long purchasing cycles tend to experience good results with content marketing as well. This is because these kinds of purchasing decisions are usually made with more research. This means that you need to have a steady supply of onsite content, as well as other online touch points for your potential customers to find you (they won’t do all of their research on just your site).

In conclusion

You should now have a pretty good idea about how to make a decision between PPC advertising and content marketing. It is not always a clear cut decision, and as I mentioned earlier, it is usually best to utilize both for maximum effect. If you are still not sure, ask me on Twitter or on Google+ and I’d be glad to help.

Be sure to let myself and others know how you determine whether to use PPC advertising or Content Marketing in the comments below!

Do you need to talk to someone about managing your PPC campaigns to boost ROI?

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SEO Saturday: Should I Be Worried About Google’s Organic Results Space Decreasing?

A recent article by Aaron Harris has sparked a lot concern and controversy lately over Google’s organic results on the SERPs. It claims that only 13% of Google’s SERPs are dedicated to showing organic results. This information has a lot of uniformed SEO’s and marketers going crazy.

Are Google's organic search results dead?

The problem with this lies in the way they calculated their findings. The page was only calculated with what was shown above the fold on a 13in MacBook Air, not the entire page. The way he breaks up the content on the page isn’t exactly a science either, more so it is a bad assumption.

Even Search Engine Land has added their two cents on the issue, citing “if you measure the page not by pixel count but by actual listings, the situation is brighter than some of the “death of organic listings” proponents might think.” They also go on to say later in the article that if we look at the total number of listings, and not the pixel count, we find that the “Total paid versus unpaid: 70% to 30%” and “Paid versus unpaid, middle column: 50% to 50%.” These numbers are again counting the listings “above the fold” and not the entire page.

When I ran the same search on my 11 inch Chromebook here in Chicago, I found that there were 6 ads and 4 organic listings above the fold, making this a 60/40 spit between paid and organic results respectively. When we consider the entire page, we find that there are 11 ads and 18 organic listings, meaning that we are seeing close to 62% organic listings, and only about 38% paid listings. This is painting a completely different picture.

Google SERPs for Auto Mechanic showing that organic results are not dead

So, you can now make the decision to fear Google and believe that it is trying to kill organic and useful listings, or you can be a grown up and realize that you are just consuming garbage information without researching it for yourself. What will it be?

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Yelp listings fetcher Google Spreadsheet for local seo

SpreadSheet Sunday: Copy and Paste Yelp Competitor Info With Ease

If you handle local seo or just seo in general, you know that Yelp can be a very powerful tool to help you with competitor research. If you have ever gotten tired of going to each company’s page to get their info, you are in luck. With this new, easy to use spreadsheet you can easily copy and paste any info that you might need from your competition all in one easy place. If you can use yelp and you know how to copy and paste, there is nothing else to learn!

Here are some ideas you can use this spreadsheet for, please add your own ideas to the comments below to let others know.

  • Gathering the names and contact information of local business that compete with your company.
  • Getting a list of competitor URL’s to use for keyword and SEO research.
  • Discovering where you fit into the rankings for certain keywords
  • Discovering the number of reviews your competition has
  • Collecting the names and phone numbers of local businesses that you want to visit on a trip.

Ready to get started? Simply click the button below, make a copy of the Google Spreadsheet (File > Make a copy), and you are all set and ready to go!

Sure, I’ll Check It Out

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Why Keywords Are Dead

For a long time, marketers have been caught up in a game of over optimizing for keywords in order to top the rankings and bring in sales. The trend of over optimizing has come to an end thanks to the likes of Google’s initial Panda update and other updates since then. There is a problem however, with Google Analytics and Google’s Adwords tools, we are still facing a set of data that puts keywords at the forefront of our marketing. I am here to tell you that this trend is fading, and that’s a good thing!

The Semantic Web

One of the biggest things pushing this change is the rise of the semantic web. The semantic web allows search engines to know and uderstand so much more about how ideas relate to one another. This alone is helping to destroy the keyword based web. Search engines are no longer paying attention to just a few metrics that can be gamed, now they are listening to social chatter, reference websites, and so much more to determine where your content fits into the web of information.

User Tracking

User tracking will be the future of the web. HubSpot has been implementing it, and now Google offers a half baked version through their Universal Analytics (read more about UA from Marketing Land).

Why does User tracking matter so much? Let’s consider this scenario: You are walking through the city and you see a really cool t-shirt in a window, you take a quick picture to save it for later. You come home later and you are watching TV, during a commercial break you suddenly remember that awesome t-shirt and reach for your tablet to do a quick price search. You find the shirt online, price compare it to a few other places quickly and decide where you will get it from. Your show comes back on and your attention is taken away again. The next day while at work you remember the awesome shirt and show it to your coworker, who also thinks it is awesome, so you then give yourself a mental reminder to order it when you get home. When you get home, you pull out the trusty laptop, find that awesome shirt again, and then make an order.

90% of multiple device owners switch between screens to complete tasks.

Source: The New Multi-Screen World Study

What does all of this mean? In terms of Google Analytics, you would have already had at least 3 unique views from this scenario. In addition to this misleading data, you would have likely seen a conversion from a brand related keyword, since the user most likely searched your website name on Google to get there and place his order from his laptop. The reality is, this is not the keyword that brought the user to your site or helped them actually convert, it is simply the keyword they used to finalize the purchase after they already decided that you were the right choice. As you can see, we are really getting an unclear picture of what is happening here.

With HubSpot’s tracking software, you get to really see who your customers are, where they are coming from, what they care about, and then you can follow up with them based on what marketing buckets you place them in. I see this as being the future of where marketing will go, since keywords are helpful, but so is knowing who your users are and what they are doing. Whoever can give us access to this user based tracking, create a UI that makes sense, delivers powerful insights, and is affordable will be the market leader in the Analytics and Advertising platforms of the future.

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Why I Prefer Google Spreadsheets Over MS Excel For SEO

Microsoft Excel has been a staple program for SEO’s for a long time. However, the days of Excel acting as the reigning champion in this category are over. Everyone, make room for Google Spreadsheets as your go to spreadsheet program for SEO.

Excel was a great tool because it had arguably the most functional spreadsheet editor known to computer users. There are also some powerful extensions out there that make Excel even more powerful for SEO work. So why then would you want to give all of that up and make the switch to Google Spreadsheets? Keep reading to find out.

Web Scraping

This is arguably the most powerful reason to choose Google Spreadsheets over Microsoft Excel for your go to SEO tool. While there are ways to do this in Excel, it is not exactly built in nor easy to use. With Google Spreadsheets, you can easily scrape all sorts of data from Google and from specific websites. The main way to do this is to use the “importxml” function, which you can learn how to use it here.

This powerful little function lets you scrape all sorts of great info like Google Search results, Trends, and even to find specific HTML tags on a page (list elements, titles, links, etc..). You can get very creative with how you use it, the options are pretty much endless and many of them are quite simple to make. You can check out a few useful SEO tools that others have made here, this will give you a good idea of what kind of power this can have. After that, you can take a stab at building your own agile Google Spreadsheet SEO tools.

Direct Export to Google Spreadsheets

Like many SEO’s out there, I heavily rely on Google Anayltics, Keyword Research Tools, and other Google products to get the job done fast and efficiently. Another nice thing about using Google Spreadsheets over Excel is that you can export data directly into a Google Spreadsheet from most of the other Google products.

This eliminates the hassle of having to download a file and open it in Excel or worse, downloading a file and having to upload it back into Google Drive to use it. You can even bypass this whole exporting process and get live Analytics data directly into your Google Spreadsheets, this can be a huge time saver if you manually generate reports for clients via Spreadsheets.

This doesn’t work for all of Google’s products, yet. But for where it does work, it is a much needed and appreciate function.

Effortless Online Backup, Synchronizing, Sharing, and Collaboration

Needless to say, all of the other joys that come from using Google Drive over Microsoft Office come into play here as well. Knowing that your files are being instantly saved and backed up online is a major relief. Having all of your files ready to be shared with a coworker or client is another great feature that we can’t overlook. And last but not least, the ability to work with someone live on the same document can be such a powerful feature to have, especially when it comes to slicing and analyzing data.

What reasons do you have for choosing Google Spreadsheets over Excel? Or do you think Excel is the better choice? Let us know your reasons in the comments!

Do you need help with your SEO? Get a free one hour consultation phone call today!

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SEO Isn’t Just SEO Anymore

SEO has been a staple buzzword in marketing for years now, but something has changed. When SEO first started, there were very few channels to have your content discovered other than on major news networks or on rudimentary search engines. Now there are tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of niche networks, blogs, major news outlets, social media sites, ecommerce, review and local sites, and amazing search engines. This makes the old way of just getting links from a few link farms far too obsolete and spammy. The internet has grown into a powerful, but highly complex web of ranking factors. What does all of this mean for the humble SEO out there? This means that simply building links or increasing page views on a site is no longer good enough, we must be much more than that!

If pageviews and inbound links are no longer good enough, what does an SEO really need to do? I’m glad you asked. Gone are the days of solely tracking pageviews, inbound links, and simple keywords as the primary metrics for SEO success. There are too many ranking factors in today’s search engine focused world to only focus on a few useful, but incomplete metrics from the dark ages of SEO. Now, we have to worry about leads, conversions, social, and much more.

Your social media affects your page views and other factors, which in turn affects your rankings. Distributed content or guest blogging is a still a great tactic, but with the decreasing importance of anchor link text it is becoming less powerful than it once was. Keywords used to work, now its all about key phrases and conversion paths. With all of the local listing sites and link farms out there, Google and other search engines are starting to decrease their link values as well. So where does an SEO fit into this modern mix?

Without access and control over all of the digital marketing, it is hard to be a successful SEO and get your clients to rank high in the SERPs. There are tons niche networks popping up everyday, while these sites may be a low source of traffic for your site, if used properly they can often bring high converting web traffic. Same goes for social media. This is really where the new modern SEO fits in, finding ways to help their clients find reliable sources of high converting leads and ways to gain publicity online.

But wait, that sounds like being a marketing manager or business analyst! Well, to some degree it really is. However, it’s still far away from doing the complete scope of marketing and you there is much more to being business analyst, so don’t freak out yet. There is a lot to learn from these two business positions, and if you want to secure your future position with SEO, you better take notice.

Other useful resources:

16 Marketers on the metrics that matter
Fixing the Broken Culture of SEO Metrics – Whiteboard Friday

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