Why You Shouldn’t Obsess about Quality Score


What’s your Quality Score—a metric Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, and Bing use that influences your ad rank and SEM cost-per-click—right now? For those already in the know about this, do you spend a lot of time trying to fine-tune every detail so you can maximize it?

There’s something to be said for optimizing your Quality Score, but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t perfect it. Let us explain why:

  1. Technically, It’s Not a Score Out of 10

Quality Score really tries to predict your click-through rate, measuring criteria such as ad copy, landing page experience, optimization, and your current click-through rate.

While you can thus learn how well you score overall regarding these factors, that won’t guarantee your true ad performance.

  1. Google Itself Sometimes Doesn’t Understand Quality Score

On one disastrous occasion many years ago, every keyword saw its quality score fall to 3 or less.

Google reported:

“The issue appears that the Quality Scores of the keywords in the actual auction are not being affected, but the way they are being reported in the interface is incorrect.”

What this means is that the actual Quality Score and the reported score are two different things, explaining why keywords with a good click-through rate can have poor quality scores.

  1. You Don’t Control Quality Score

If one thing from this post is now crystal clear, it’s that you have no control over your Quality Score. You won’t always know why you have the score you do, and neither does Google.

When you earn a high Quality Score, you might get a lower cost-per-click—but even that isn’t always precise.

  1. Profitability Counts More

At the end of the day, this is what any search marketing campaign is about, isn’t it? So, if you see good margins from keywords with average Quality Scores, why worry?

You can adjust and test a little to see if you can reduce your costs. Yet, so long as you’re profitable, that’s what counts.

  1. There are Many Other Factors to Worry about with PPC

Quality Score is just one of many things you should concern yourself with. For example, you must also keep in mind location targeting, device modifiers, cost per conversion, conversion rate, and net margins. With more important metrics related to your profitability at play, Quality Score shouldn’t represent your sole or primary focus.

Wrapping Up

It takes many hours to optimize your Quality Score: hours you could instead spend fine-tuning other aspects of your PPC campaign. Remember that and act accordingly!

Penguin Everflux is Here – What Your SEO Company Should Do About It


The Google Penguin update now changes persistently in real-time. Make sure your SEO company does these things to stay in compliance.

How do you feel when you see Penguins these days?

They used to be these cute, cuddly, and lovable little creatures that were a little awkward on land and amazingly agile in water.

But it seems like Google does what it can to tarnish their reputation.

Enter Penguin Everflux.

Historically, Google has processed Penguin updates offline and then put the update online at a specific point in time. Then of course, you’d hear about the fallout from all the SEOs out there.

Now, with Everflux, Google says it’s going to continuously update the Penguin algorithm, optimizing it bit-by-bit and making those changes to their live ranking processes.

How Can You Protect Your Website from Getting Hit by Penguin?

Penguin 3.0 is really all about linking. And unless you’re a very ambitious business person, most of the responsibility for that falls on your SEO company.

Ask them which of these they do, and do not do, to make sure they’re doing the right thing for your website:

  1. Have your backlinks analyzed. Too many low-quality (“spammy”) websites linking to you makes Google unhappy. Unfortunately, this can happen even if you have a great SEO company.

That’s because some low-quality websites focus only on linking back to others, or copying their content and reposting it. Not fair to you, but it does happen.

  1. Audit your content. Websites choose to link (or not to link) to yours because of the quality of the content. To get those grade-A links, you must have the very best content of its kind available on the web. You’ll also want to monitor your website’s content for comment spam that could include bad links.
  2. Only link to websites that Google trusts already. Google assumes that high-quality websites choose to link to other high-quality websites.

Makes sense, right? So, if you link to Forbes, Google’s going to trust you more because of who you choose to associate with.

You don’t have to link to big brand names only, but you should be very selective with who you link to. Many websites e-mail you asking you to link to their site, but the majority of those requests are not good news for your site.

  1. No paid links. Your SEO company should never buy you links. Google’s been clear about this from the outset.
  1. Don’t use blog networks. Websites like PostJoint, though well-intentioned, charge a fee (others don’t) to hook you up with guest posts with other blog owners. Google doesn’t want this at all.
  1. Don’t use over-optimized anchor text. Links both on and off your website should include your primary keywords in their text less than 5% of the time at most. If you do any more than that, you are at high risk for a penalty.

It shouldn’t be your job to supervise your SEO company. But as you know by now, it’s something you do have to do.

Make sure they pass these simple checks. But remember to be fair and objective. You can get bad links to your website even with a SEO company with a high level of integrity.

Twitter & Google Work Out Deal to Index Tweets


With user growth slowing, Twitter is now becoming open to new revenue generation ideas. For the past 3 ½ years, Google has had to crawl Twitter, index the Tweets, and then list them in the SERPs. That could be a days, weeks, or months long process.

Previous to that, Google would immediately index Tweets. No one knows why the two companies let the deal come to an end. Rumors do indicate that Twitter was ready to try monetizing without Google in the mix. But regardless, the deal did end, and for whatever reason, it was never renewed.

Since then, Twitter’s gone public. And with user growth slowing, they’ve been looking for more sources of revenue. So this deal with Google seems to be a natural fit. There is no specific timeframe for the deal to complete, but current talk says it should happen sometime during the first 6 months of this year.

Interestingly, Google was the very last company Twitter struck this deal with. It already had similar deals in place with Bing and Yahoo. In fact, if you search someone’s Twitter handle on Bing, several of their recent Tweets pop up right beneath their handle.

While Twitter gets more reach and monetization out of the deal, Google gets greater relevance on mobile devices. And it’s also less likely Google ever tries to buy out Twitter.

What Does This Deal Mean for Small Businesses?

This opens up an opportunity for small businesses. If Tweets get indexed immediately, there’s potential to drive business right away through Twitter.

For example, think about what would happen if your product or service solves a local problem happening right now. There could be flooding in your area. If you do flood cleanup, you could Tweet that out and get indexed in Google right away.

The same goes for talk shows, holidays, or special events happening around town. You can make their publicity yours. What you could do is only really limited to your creativity.

We’re not saying it’s the next big thing. But it could be another useful tool in your bag of marketing techniques.

The Secret to Creating Successful PPC Campaigns…

We’ve previously discussed Quality Score, how it affects your PPC costs and ad placement, and what you can do to get it as high as possible. Now, we’re thrilled to share a super-special insider secret that few other internet marketing companies readily employ: skilled copywriting.

All companies enlist the help of dedicated folks to write ad copy, but few work with premier professionals who know how to create impactful ads that generate more clicks.

Allow us to show you what we mean:

1. Writing an Attractive Title. Everyone knows you need to include your keyword(s) in boldface type to aid visibility. You also mention your company name if you have a recognizable brand, but it’s most important to have an emotional title over anything else.

What’s the best way to go about this? You can enlist the help of the Advanced Marketing Institute’s headline analyzer, which opens your eyes to the emotional value of your headline. A score in the 0-30% range implies you’re likely a new writer and won’t get too much of a response to your ad’s title. Moving up the scale, a score from 30-40% is average for a professional copywriter, while the best copywriters score 50-70%.

Check out some title ideas for this very blog post and their respective scores:

  • The Secret to Creating Successful PPC Campaigns…: 42.86%
  • How to Create Successful PPC Campaigns…:  33.33%
  • 9 Tips for Creating Successful PPC Campaigns…:  14.29%
  • Creating Successful PPC Campaigns…:  25.00%

An additional tip for writing effective headlines is to speak directly to a common customer problem. If you own a plumbing company, for example, you can say something like: “Need emergency plumbing repair?”

2. Including a USP and CTA in the description. A USP (unique selling proposition) sets you apart from other businesses out there that offer the same service(s) or product(s).

Returning to our plumbing company example, you might say something like: “We guarantee all repairs for 3 years and fix any issues for free” (knowing the industry average in this respect is 1-2 years).

A CTA (call-to-action) follows at the end. This tactic boosts responses, as people are more inclined to take action when you explicitly tell them to do so. That plumbing company could then say, “Call 555-555-5555 to receive your FREE estimate.”

So, now, if we put the entire description together, it looks something like this: “Repairs guaranteed for 3 years. Call 555-555-5555 to receive your FREE estimate.”

Rather than just squeezing the keyword in there, it’s easy to see how this approach can lead to additional click-throughs as you maximize your quality score: making it a key component of your digital marketing strategy!




Don’t Fear the Hum of Hummingbird

A mass panic breaks out among SEOs and businesses every time Google releases a major algorithm update.

But, if you’ve been doing SEO ethically all along, you have nothing to fear from any Google update for any reason.  Ever. Period.

SEOs first started noticing changes in Google’s algorithm the last week of August and the first week of September.  But Google denied any major updates.

However, now it’s here.

What Does Hummingbird Do?

Don’t Fear the Hum of Hummingbird

At its simplest level, Hummingbird is a huge leap forward in semantic search.  “Semantic search” refers to the idea that Google now understands the relationships between keywords you type in better than ever before.

Google’s actually been working on this since, well, forever, but Hummingbird signifies a huge leap forward in this regard.

In its earliest days, Google was all about keywords.  If you typed in the keyword in Google’s search 10 years ago, the website with the word on its page the most showed up first.

Now, Google still reads keywords and ranks pages accordingly, but it understands the relationship between those keywords more effectively than ever.  So, you don’t have to focus on having the exact keyword on the page as much anymore.

A Specific Example of How Google’s Functioning Changes

Google’s Knowledge Graph is a database of over 570 million concepts.  Knowledge Graph stores known people, places, and historical events, which allows Google to return more intelligent results for searches along those lines.

Hummingbird expands Knowledge Graph.  Now, you can type in a question on Google, and it will give you an answer to the question.  You can even type in a follow-up question and get an answer to that.

Search Timeline 1997 - 2013

What Does This Mean for Your Website?

Step by step, Google is learning how to understand the web just like a human being.  So, the more you focus on developing your website for humans, the better.  Technical SEO is still important because that helps Google understand what your site is about and helps provide a good user experience.

Specifically, however, this is what to focus on:

  • Using long-tail keywords – Google understands the meanings among words better than ever.  Long tail searches will be more appropriately ranked for their topic, without requiring you to spam the phrase all over the page.
  • Providing value on every page of your website – You still need to get the keyword in there.  But really, the goal of this algorithm and every other one is to provide the most interesting result for every search.  So, make sure whatever you write contains in-depth information difficult to find anywhere else.
  • Treat your website like your physical business – Now, more than ever, it takes a team of skilled professionals to keep your web rankings high.  Just like you hire the best to work at your physical office, hire the best to ensure your website provides the optimal user experience.

Hummingbirds Aren’t so Scary After All…

And neither will any future Google update if you follow these guidelines.  Always do what’s best for your customer and Google will reward you.

How to Optimize Google+ Local without Trashing Your Rankings

The title says it all – that’s what everyone’s afraid of. Work your butt off for hours and then find out you ticked off the king of the search world by accident, seriously damaging your business in the process.

If you’re not already familiar, Google+ Local replaces Google Places, combining both Places and Plus. It provides both search and map results as people search the web.
Here’s what you’ll need to do in order to make yourself as effective as possible on Google+ Local: Continue reading How to Optimize Google+ Local without Trashing Your Rankings

Technology Tools to Grow Your Business in 2012

In today’s digital world, business and technology are joined at the proverbial hip. A business that does not embrace, and take advantage of, new technology is missing opportunities to grow. From improving operations, communicating better with customers, and expanding marketing reach, here are top tech trends that can positively impact your business in 2012:

Continue reading Technology Tools to Grow Your Business in 2012

What a Blog Is, Isn’t, and What it Can Do for Small Businesses

Blogs have absolutely soared in popularity over recent years. It seems like everyone from our airlines to our hair stylists are keen to publish their stuff online. But why? What makes blogs such an important social media tool that blue chip brands like Marriott and Coke have decided to adopt them? And more importantly, what separates a good blog from a not-so-good one?

The first thing every social media “expert” should know before diving into the blogosphere is what a blog is—and isn’t! Technically, a blog is a website people update semi-regularly with news, information, commentary, or just general day-to-day details about their lives or business ventures. Blogs are either professional or personal, each boasting its own unique set of guidelines. As far as business bloggers are concerned, a proper blog is:

A Whole Slew of Pages Search Engines can Index
Any blog platform worth its salt will assign each of your posts its own unique URL: meaning Google can index every entry you post. If you’re a chef and restaurant proprietor, for example, odds are that you didn’t devote a main page of your site to your love affair with Wusthof knives. However, if you write a blog post gushing about your love of the Wusthof Le Cordon Bleu sandwich knife for slicing cucumbers, searchers can potentially find your restaurant by way of googling a combination of Wusthof + knife + cucumber + sandwich (trust me, stranger search combos have in fact existed).

A Place to Answer FAQs
If you hear the same question over and over again, why not post a thorough answer on your blog? While you should always answer customer queries immediately, of course, you can also direct them to your blog if the answer is particularly long-winded or complicated. Chances are that if many people are asking you, that many more are asking Google—and wouldn’t it be nice if a few of those Googlers stumbled upon your company’s blog and then hired you or used your products/services?

A Place to Demonstrate Your Expertise
When potential customers visit your website, they want to know your company is the best one for the job. If your blog is chock full of well-written and informative posts, customers will know immediately that the people behind the scenes are capable and competent.

Updated Regularly
I’m not saying you need to update your blog every day. Yet, if month-long gaps exist between posts, old readers will lose interest and you won’t accumulate any new ones. A loved blog is an effective blog, so aim to keep your posting schedule consistent.

Now, for what a proper blog is not:

A Billboard
Entries about why your creamed corn/seared tuna/artichoke dip is better than the versions down the street aren’t all that useful. Sure, you can post an occasional announcement or promote a product. However, by and large, blogs aren’t intended as hubs for blatant advertising. Want to post about the 22nd Annual Half-Price Oyster Week at your restaurant? Do so in an interesting way. Perhaps you can share the story of this tradition or discuss which wines pair best with fried and raw oysters.

A Will/Business Proposal/Other Official Document

A blog is a pretty informal thing, so have fun when you’re writing! Use contractions and colloquialisms where appropriate. Joke with the reader. Just remember that the voice behind your blog is the voice of your company. With this always in mind, keep it professional and consistent with your company’s image.

Remember that above all else, good blogs are those people find interesting and valuable. If they like what you’re saying, they’ll come back for more; and there’s a pretty good chance that if something you write is especially useful or fresh, it will get passed around. This, as we all know, can translate into more exposure for your business and (ideally!) more money in your pocket.