SEO vs. PPC: Which Should You Use?

Two of the most popular and successful online marketing strategies are Pay Per Click and Search Engine Optimization. Although both use keywords to direct traffic to a specific website, they are very different marketing strategies. They do not use keywords in the same way. If you are looking for new marketing techniques for your business, then you need to familiarize yourself with both strategies.

What’s the Difference?

A PPC marketing campaign is essentially a method of buying viewers for your company’s website. It involves bidding on placing ads in the search results for specific keyword combinations. An SEO marketing campaign is a particular method of designing your company’s website so that it appears high in the search results for a given set of keywords. SEO is focused on your company’s website. PPC is focused upon what Internet users see when conducting searches.

Although there are a lot of factors involved, PPC is usually a little more profitable in the short term. SEO is more profitable in the long term. SEO is also cheaper, and Internet users tend to trust companies that use SEO instead of PPC a little more. On the other hand, SEO is vulnerable to changes in search engine algorithms and PPC is not.

SEO campaigns are a little easier to run, in that they are very fault tolerant. In other words, if you make some mistakes with the keywords you choose you can still get good results. This is especially true ever since Google’s Hummingbird update. Even if you make major mistakes in keyword selection, you can easily tweak your company site and try again. PPC campaigns are not very fault tolerant. Every keyword mistake costs money, sometimes a lot of money. PPC campaigns require a lot of research work up front.

If you do not have a lot of experience with Internet marketing campaigns, start with SEO. It requires less understanding than PPC and risks less money. If your company needs to increase sales quickly, then PPC is the better choice as long as you can do it well. Using both strategies together, if possible, is best.

SEO Tips

The first step in an SEO campaign is to research the keyword landscape for your company’s products or services. Every topic has its own keyword landscape, which is a list of the keywords that people use most often when searching for information on a particular topic. These keywords will either relate to the topic as a whole or to some particular aspect of it. After determining the keyword landscape you need to analyze each keyword carefully. What does it say about the intent of people who are conducting the search? Does it indicate that they are likely looking for other things that your company offers too? Does it mean that they might theoretically be interested, but probably really want something else? Once you have conducted this analysis you can write out a final list of keywords that are specifically optimized for your SEO campaign.

For an SEO campaign, you need to consider keyword depth for each page on your company’s website. “Keyword depth” is an industry term that refers to how specific or general the keyword is. The most general keywords belong on your company’s home page. Conversely, the most specific keywords belong on the lowest level pages, the pages that feature specific products or services. Do not be tempted to use all the keywords that you can think of in the hope that some of them will be effective. Not only does this strategy not work, but it will send your company’s page plummeting to the very bottom of the search results. Most major search engines do not like that trick. Instead, your total keywords should never exceed 5% of the total word count on any given page. It is probably better to stick to 3% as a rule. If the word count on a page is under 100, do not use more than one keyword.

The keywords that you select should be relevant to the rest of the content on the page. Once the keywords are written into the page text, that text should read smoothly and naturally. It should seem like someone wrote it without a thought for marketing. Today’s search engines can tell the difference and will penalize clunky, unnatural language and keywords that are shoehorned into irrelevant text.

PPC Tips

Because the success of a PPC campaign depends on proper keyword selection, it is necessary to make the effort to choose exactly the right keywords. The best way to do this is to hire the services of a reputable PPC marketing professional. If this is too expensive then there are a number of online keyword research tools that produce good results, though not as good as an experienced human being can. Besides doing the research before starting the campaign, it is also necessary to keep tracking the results of the campaign. Check the Quality Score and cost per click of each keyword, and always stand ready to get rid of keywords that aren’t working.

A successful PPC campaign also depends on the selection of the right negative keywords. Negative keywords are exclusion parameters. They will prevent your ad from being shown on irrelevant pages. For instance, if your company sells fishing products, you could easily find that your ads are wasted on results for deep sea fishing trips. Using trip as a negative keyword will prevent this from happening.

You should also tweak your company’s website a little bit, if necessary. Your PPC keywords should appear on your website. They should also be used in the ads themselves, in the same ways in which they are used on your company’s web page.

In Conclusion

When in doubt, hire a professional. Even if it is only for a short advisory session, the expense is likely going to be worth it. A poorly conducted SEO or PPC marketing campaign wastes time, money, or both.

Writing Meta Data for Websites Made Easy

Writing meta data is easy once you become familiar with the concept and the rules. The concept is that you’re trying to gain the attention of the search engines. Meta data is very important for SEO purposes. The rules for writing meta data are simple. Keep them short, sweet and keyword packed to bring more website visitors your way. If you want to become a meta data master, here are the rules better explained.

The Types of Meta Data to be Concerned With

There are three primary meta ‘tags’ that you will want to familiarize yourself with as you begin optimizing your website for search engines like Google and Bing. There is the title tag, which represents the title of the page or media file you’re optimizing, there is the description tag, which is the description of the page or file, and then there is the alt tag.

If you use a search engine, then you’ve seen title and description tags in action. When you conduct a search on Google, for instance, the listings you see are comprised of those very titles and descriptions. Keep this in mind when writing your own meta tags. You’ll want to make sure that your tags describe what your web page is about, and explain it properly so that potential visitors are enticed to click through.

Of course not all title and description tags are associated with web pages. Media files can also be optimized with meta data, and you are encouraged to do so if you want to expand your marketing reach.

The alt tag is a bit different. Also known as alt text, these are the words or phrases that show up when you hover your cursor over a media file or link. For those browsers that block images and other media, your alt tags will show instead of the image, photo or video.

Now that you know what each tag is, let’s start writing meta data that will succeed in bringing more website visitors your way.

Writing Title Tags

The rule for title tags is to keep them under 60 characters. To help you adhere to the proper character count, look up a free character counter online and use it to keep your tags at the correct lengths. A character counter is a copy and paste device that shows you instantly how many characters are in the sentences you write. This can help immensely as you write meta data. Incidentally, WordPress will tell you how long your tags are as you input them into your site, which is also helpful.

Include your keywords and use the pipe character (|) to keep your titles neat and organized. For instance, a company that sells pontoon boats called Love’s Crafts, might have a title tag for their home page that looks like this:

Pontoon Boats | Love’s Crafts, Inc.

According to the character counter, the above title tag is 35 characters long. That means that you have room to add even more SEO goodness. If the company above also sells pontoon boat accessories, add it to the title tag to let the search engines and your customers know that fact. For example, the tag might now read:

Pontoon Boats & Accessories | Love’s Crafts, Inc.

Or you might want to optimize your site for local SEO, which means you might want to use a geographic modifier in the tag, like so:

Pontoon Boats | Love’s Crafts, Inc. | St. Paul, MN

As long as you adhere to the 60 character rule and you include all the keywords you wish to optimize for, your pages should rank where you want them to.

The Art of Writing Description Tags

The rules for writing description tags are a bit different. Whereas your title tags should be short, concise and keyword packed, description tag writing is a bit more lax. You are encouraged to write in complete sentences. Just make sure that they remain under 140 characters (about the size of a standard tweet).

For media files, simply describe the file. You can also use the description tag to give attribution to the owner of the file. For example, the description of an image file of a pontoon boat on your site might read:

This pontoon boat was sold last year to Mr. and Mrs. Faye Huddleson. Image used courtesy of Boat Lover’s Media.

If your description tag is for a web page, don’t be afraid to use enticing language and a call-to-action. After all, your website’s visitors will probably see your description as part of a search engine results listing. So use the space available to entice the click, like so:

For pontoon boats and pontoon boat accessories in St. Paul MN, your first and only choice should be Love’s Crafts. Visit and shop today!

Or you can take it a step further and include a phone number with a CTA right in the description, such as:

For pontoon boats and pontoon boat accessories in St. Paul MN, call Love’s Crafts at [Insert Phone Number] today!

That way your visitors can call from the search results page without ever having to click-through to your site.

How to Write Alt Tags

Since Alt Tags will show when someone hovers over your media file or link (or in place of media files), make your alt tags descriptive while also using keywords, if applicable. It’s far better to be descriptive for those people using non-HTML capable browsers. You also get 125 characters, so feel free to add whatever you think is best for the end user.

For example, an image of a pontoon boat winch might simply read, “Pontoon Boat Winch”.

Of course, you could take it a step further and add, “Pontoon Boat Winch, St. Paul MN”, to give your alt tag even more local SEO juice.

And that’s all there is to writing meta data for websites. Make them unique for each page and media file and add them wherever you can to get more attention from the search engines and new website visitors alike.

5 Platforms You Should be Using to Get More Traffic to Your Website

Starting a new website can be an exciting task. Designing the pages, creating excellent content and honing your SEO are hard work, but are also quite rewarding. However, it can be disappointing when you finally get everything exactly the way you want it, only to discover that you’re barely getting any traffic. There are many ways to increase the traffic to your website, but one of the best is to link to your site from popular platforms, thereby bringing in new readers. Here are the five top platforms you should be using to increase your website’s traffic.

Medium

Medium is one of the most innovative platforms out there at the moment. The website provides a place for bloggers and writers to post articles without the need for a website of their own. However, you can also use Medium to build an audience and drive traffic to your own website. You can either create unique content for Medium or simply copy articles from your website and host them on Medium as well. In the text of the articles you post on Medium, include links to other related articles on your website. Keep posting new articles on Medium, and you’ll begin to see a gradual increase in traffic coming from interested readers who want to learn more about your chosen topic.

Quora

If your content is informational or can answer common questions, try posting on Quora to drive new traffic to your site. Quora is a more serious-minded version of Yahoo Answers, mostly focusing on professional, business, and semi-academic questions. Although this somewhat limits what kind of content Quora is useful for driving traffic to, it also leads to a self-selection process of highly engaged readers who will gladly click through your links to learn more about the topic they are curious about. To take advantage of Quora, search for questions that your content can answer, provide a basic but valuable answer to the question on the Quora platform, and then add the link to your content as a source of more in-depth information.

YouTube

Many website owners disregard the huge potential that YouTube has to drive traffic to a site. However, the video hosting site is one of the largest search engines out there. By producing informative, educational, or entertaining video content, you can not only build an independent audience on YouTube, but also redirect that audience to your own site by putting links in videos or in your video descriptions. YouTube is especially powerful if your goal in driving traffic to your content is to sell physical products, as review videos are a great way to demonstrate and explain product features.

LinkedIn

Much like Quora, LinkedIn can give you access to traffic from highly engaged and serious-minded readers. If you plan to use LinkedIn as a source of traffic, it’s best to post links to your content in LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your topic. These groups can give you an excellent source of traffic, provided the content you are posting is valuable and interesting to the members of that group. Professional services and business-related content will often perform best in these groups, but you can also find LinkedIn groups related to many other subject areas.

Triberr

If you’ve already got a certain amount of traffic coming in and want to take your website to the next level, give Triberr a try. This little-known website is a social network specifically for bloggers to share their content, read what others have written, and share relevant content with their own followers. If you can develop connections with other bloggers and writers in your niche, you can arrange to share the content that others write to your following, while the other bloggers do the same for you. Because it is made up almost exclusively of people with social media and blog audiences, Triberr can be one of the best ways to get large numbers of eyes on your website.

Using these various platforms, you can drive more and more traffic to your website as you grow your audience. Remember that whatever platforms you use to send traffic to your site, you will need to post valuable content in order to convince readers or viewers to go to your website for more. Also, post consistently in order to drive traffic, rather than adding content one time and expecting to see a surge of traffic. Just like building organic traffic on your website, bringing traffic in from other platforms is a process. Keep creating great content and sharing it with as many people as you can, and you’ll begin to see your visitor count incrementally building until you achieve and even surpass your traffic goals.

Use Blogging to Improve SEO and Reach Customers

Use Blogging to Improve SEO and Reach Customers

An important task for a business that wants its website to remain search engine optimized, is to effectively meet the web ranking criteria used by web crawlers.   Search engine web crawlers look for the most current and unique material to offer internet users.  A continually updated website is more likely to get noticed by the crawlers and be ranked higher in search results. 

In order to gain and keep your website optimized, you might want to add a blog to your website.  Blogging is a great way to keep updated material flowing through your website.  You can also choose a standalone blog with its own URL, if you prefer.  A standalone blog is one more way to create a web presence, and becomes a tool for pointing readers to your website.  Yes, customers can find you through your blog in the same way they can through your website. 

In order to build a great blog that both attracts new customers and helps improve your search engine rank, consider including a few of the following tips:

Introduce Yourself

Blogging is a terrific way of introducing yourself to your market in a more personalized way.  How you write and what you share will show a reader a bit about your personal style and knowledge.

Choose a blog template, font style and layout that reflects the image you want projected.  Decide on what voice you’ll write in and try to remain fairly consistent throughout ongoing blogs in order to brand yourself.

State Your Purpose

The purpose of your blog can be captured in your title, sub-title or in a stand alone box.  A reader should be able to quickly identify your blog’s purpose and know why they should read it or subscribe to it. 

If your blog is serving its intended purpose, it will do its job in drawing and maintaining readership.

Consider Your Layout

The blog’s layout includes information boxes on the sides, top or bottom that surround the posts.  Updating these boxes also serves to improve your SEO.  Use layout boxes for important information such as your contact information, links to your website, product recommendations, and so forth.  Frequently asked questions (FAQs), with accompanying answers, can also be featured in your layout. 

Include Analytics

Free or purchased analytic tools make blogging exciting.  The goal of these tools is to tally the visitors you’ve had, identify where they’ve come from, and sometimes spell out the exact words visitors have entered into their search boxes. 

Analytics will help you to identify whether your blog is reaching its intended audience or not, and tip you off to new markets to be pursued. 

Write Great Posts 

Your posts will be the meat of your blog.  It may help to think of a post as a mini version of a book. Each post should be effective in drawing a reader into the story being discussed.  A blog post should inform, inspire or educate a reader.

To get yourself into writing mode, try putting yourself into the shoes of your target audience.  Ask what they might want to read about or find a solution for.  Give your readers a reason to investigate who you are further. 

Write your blog in the tone you’ve chosen as your personal brand.  It might be witty or sarcastic, professional or coffee-break conversational.  Keeping your posts fairly consistent in style will brand you better in your reader’s mind.    

Invite Dialogue

Write and build your blog in such a way that it invites dialogue and has the potential to go viral.  Adding an email widget will allow readers to sign up and receive new blog posts by email.  Share buttons can be added to entice readers to share posts on their Facebook or Twitter accounts. 

It’s always a good idea to invite readers into the conversation by asking them to leave a comment, pose questions or offer input.  Don’t forget to acknowledge their comments for maximum payback.

Investigate Other Blogs

A goal of any blogger is to make their blog the go-to place for readers.  This requires staying in touch with what their customers are doing, reading about and  searching for.  A good way to find out, is to participate in other social media sites where you can eavesdrop on conversations. 

Being a reader of other blogs is essential too, after all, how will a person know if their blog is the go-to place if they don’t know what’s going on at other places?

Try blogging.  Keep your blog current with valuable information, maintain a healthy pace of postings, and then let your analytics reveal the magic.  After blogging for a few weeks, enter your business or product name into a search bar and see for yourself just how effective this tool has been in raising your ranking.   

Simple Tips to Make a Successful Blog

Whatever reason you take up blogging, you want readers to come and visit your site and read what you have to say, whether it be an opinion, a comment on something like news or an event or you are providing expertise or information.

For a blog to be successful it must provide useful information to the reader and is also unique at least in the way it is put across.  If it’s interesting and engages the reader and provides him or her with what they are looking for, they will return for more of the same or similar.  The best way to achieve this is by studying the reader and find out what it is they are looking for and give it to them.  Useful content means different things to different people.  Some blogs provide laughs, gossip and fun conversations.  Some blogs provide education or teach the reader about a given topic.  Many successful blogs are sites where debates are encouraged whilst others provide news or information about issues, topics or products.  A blog can provide one of these, some of them or all of them. 

You can find out what kind of content your readers want can be found by asking either formally or informally for feedback. You can also look at similar blogs which is going to be the main way to research your readers if you haven’t yet started your blog.

Another good tip, if you are starting out in blogging is to develop a style that defines you and your blog and helps make it stand out from the blogs that are writing on the same topic/subject. 

When actually writing the blog you should keep an eye on the reader attention span.  Most people are scanning pages rather than in-depth reading as if they were reading a book.  Research has shown that the average reader stays on a blog for 96 seconds.  This means you should keep your blog entries short.  Make them easy digestible short grabs that the reader can read within 96 seconds.  Another thing to think about is Search Engine Optimization (SE0).  Some researches suggest an article length of around 250 words gets ranked higher than longer articles.

Another tip that many bloggers give is on the quantity of posts.  One blogger suggests writing as many short posts as you can every day whilst others suggest writing at least one of a reasonable length 400-500 words.  Also it’s a good idea to comprehensively cover the topic you are writing on without writing a long post.  It’s not a hard and fast rule and some bloggers recommend mixing it up a bit so that your blog site is varied in post lengths but generally short around 200-250 words.

One aspect that many bloggers forget is use of titles.  If you make good of the title for your post you will grab the attention of the search engines and you will also attract the attention of the RSS feeds.  Loyal readers will be more likely stop and read your post if it’s title stands out and hits them between the eyes.

These are simple tips that can help establish your blog as one of the successful blogs on the internet.  These are just a few tips, there are many more that can be found by speaking to other bloggers who will be, in many cases, happy to share their experiences and hints and tips.

How to Build Backlinks for Your Boring Product?

Question: Your Company Is in a Boring Industry and You Have a Boring Product. How Do You Build Links for It?

You can’t use the same link building techniques for every kind of business. Businesses with interesting products like electronics or fashion wear easily lend themselves to link building efforts. Other products are impossible to talk about, though. If your company deals in inexpensive dry cells imported from China, for instance, it can be impossible to write a blog about them, write guest posts or try any of many other link building techniques commonly used for interesting products. Hundreds of business areas are considered so uninteresting that they have no specific industry blogs, at all. If your business exists in such a category, where do you find the link building opportunities that you need?

The answer is that you need imagination. Many successful businesses in boring business areas succeed in building great link profiles. Here’s how they do it.

Use a category map and start brainstorming

Conventional link building ideas don’t work for boring businesses. You need to concentrate on finding unconventional ideas. Trying brainstorming is the best way to uncover them. Brainstorming doesn’t happen in a vacuum, though. You need to lay the groundwork to stimulate a brainstorming session properly. One of the best ways to begin brainstorming for link building is to lay out a category map.

A category map is easy to create. You simply need to map every single category that your business belongs to on a large whiteboard and think of all the content and link ideas that come to you when looking at each one of the categories you see.

You can start by placing the name of the most specific industry sub-category that your business belongs to in a circle at the center of your category map. You then need to begin thinking of every business element related to your specific industry and putting it in its own circle.

Your can put down the names of your business vertical, related business verticals, noncompeting verticals, complementary businesses, the parent category for your business vertical, the names of the business areas that your suppliers and customers belong to, popular topics of discussion, the names of related categories that those popular topics may belong to, industry trends, buyer personas and so on. Each circle can connect to the main circle that contains the industry sub-category in some way. Soon, you will have a system of circles all around the industry sub-category mapped out in the center – a map of the ecosystem that your business exists in.

As an example, if your company makes paving stones to supply to road building firms, you could consider putting down categories for the construction business, for road trips, holiday travel, safety issues related to road building, government regulations, any controversies related to these regulations, industry authorities and bodies and so on.

Once you manage to flesh out your category map, try to build a list of every related community, possible

Once you have a system of categories to surround your main business category with, you need to begin making a list of websites, forums, blogs and other communities that every one of the categories in your map holds. Once you have a list of relevant online services, you can find out what experts, authorities and enthusiasts each field holds.

With all this information, you can finally begin building links

As you study every community, website, blog, and expert on your list, you’ll find a few that aren’t very interesting – they may not be particularly well-respected or may not be active or even particularly relevant to your industry. For instance, if you need a link building plan for a DWI law firm, you’re likely to see plenty of websites and communities related to spreading awareness about the dangers involved in drinking and driving. These communities tend to be dead set against anyone trying to help DWI offenders get off the hook. It wouldn’t make any sense to try building links for such a law firm with such awareness-related websites.

If you are trying to market a boring product, regular link building techniques may not work even if you have a list of related websites and communities. You may need to genuinely engage the link building targets that you’ve discovered. You may need to organize seminars, help an industry authority with an educational or other effort and so on. In general, you may need to give back to the community to endear yourself to it. On your way, you’ll be able to drop plenty of links around.

If you go about building links in these ways, you will need at first to invest in the activity without adequate return. It can take time for such a genuine investment in the community to begin paying off. When does begin paying off, though, the results could be spectacular.