1. Code School
3. Gift Rocket
5. Tiny Letter
15. Tips and Trip
17. Clean My Mac
21. Daily Mile
24. Visual Website Optimizer
25. New Relic
28. Huli Health
29. Mobile Web Book
Resources on Optimizing Landing Pages
If you’re looking to improve the performance of your landing pages in terms of converting your site visitors into users, check out the articles listed below:
- 101 Landing Page Optimization Tips (unbounce.com)
- How we made $1 million with one landing page and a few emails (www.conversion-rate-experts.com)
- Landing Page Best Practices: the definitive guide (with infographics) (vwo.com)
- Landing page optimization – Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org)
If you want to see more beautiful sites that use large photos, please check out these two other website design showcases:
- Using Photo Backgrounds in Web Design: 30 Examples
- 40 Beautiful Web Designs that Use Photographic Backgrounds
1. Leve Hytter
2. Piz’ za-za
3. Milwaukee Police News
4. Worth & Worth
6. Insomnia Coffee Company
7. Public Art Fund
8. Brooklyn Soap Company
9. The Old Barber Shop
10. Beg Bicycles
13. Let’s Travel Somewhere
14. Thirty Dirty Fingers
16. Cap Gun Collective
18. Tim Roussilhe
19. Sweet Basil
20. Seesaw Studio
21. APEMAN boards
22. I Shot Him
24. Muriel Labro
25. Magic Leap
29. Secret Study
30. Sandra Lovisco
Hanukkah came to a close on Sunday evening and Christmas and Kwanzaa are right around the corner. The malls are packed, shoppers are scrounging around for last minute deals and steals, and marketers are ready to give their holiday messages that final conclusive push.
In the world of online marketing, timing is king as companies follow suit of the most popular online shopping days in Q4 – a period where carefully crafted messages can either make or break the chance at a last minute sale before year’s end. Because the online medium provides companies and advertisers the ability to capture consumers at the heart of the buying process, oftentimes before they’re ready make a final decision, tailoring the message to their needs must be done with clear intention and extreme caution.
If your holiday marketing campaign includes tailoring messages through a PPC management in Google Adwords, allocating enough time to devote to maintaining and optimizing your account throughout the final week before the holiday rush can feel overwhelming and, oftentimes, impossible. Alas, in the spirit of holiday giving, the following tips provide a framework on utilizing an overlooked tool within the Adwords interface that can help you step away from the campaign and devote more time to enjoying the holidays with those you love.
So, What’s Automation?
Automated rules is a feature within the Adwords interface that gives you the ability to make changes to your account automatically, based on settings and campaign performance conditions that you choose. Automated rules can be set within the campaign, ad group, keywords, and ad text levels of your entire campaign, and provide versatility in delegating action upon tasks that are usually done manually by the advertiser. So before you sit back and wonder how in the world you’re going to get up at midnight to set a special promotion ad group to go live, worry no more – automation has got you covered!
How to Set Up Automated Rules
Setting up automated rules within the Adwords interface is relatively straightforward and requires no more than 2 minutes of your time. The time you spend now to set up a couple automated rules within your campaign will inevitably save you 1-2 hours a week that you would have spent optimizing your PPC campaigns during the holidays, so it’s worth the investment!
To find the Automation settings in Adwords, click the Automate drop-down menu on the Campaigns, Ad groups, Ads, or Keywords tab.
Depending on the campaign level that you’re planning on implementing rules under, the options available for selection in the drop-down will be different:
- Within the Campaign level, advertisers can make adjustments to the daily budget, campaign status, and receive email updates when an automated rule takes effect.
- Within the Ad group level, advertisers can make adjustments to the max CPC, ad group status, and receive email updates when a rule takes effect.
- Within the Ad text level, advertisers can make adjustments to the ad status and receive email updates when a rule takes effect.
- Within the Keywords level, advertisers can make adjustments to the max CPC bids, raise bids to top of page CPC, raise bids to first page CPC, keyword status, and receive email updates when a rule takes effect.
When thinking about all of the changes you implement to your PPC campaign manually, it doesn’t seem so difficult to put together a comprehensive list of the work that automated rules can do for you.
The Meat and Potatoes of Automation
In order to help you better visualize how automation works, the examples below are good starting blocks to reducing the amount of manual tasks associated with your holiday PPC campaigns.
Schedule Ads for Holiday Specials/Events
Let’s say you plan to schedule ads for special promotions or events on Christmas Eve, arguably one of the largest shopping days of the holiday season, and have them end the day after Christmas. Instead of camping out next to your computer until the clock strikes midnight, how about you set up an automated rule for it and rest easy?
First, create the ads and keep them set to pause. Then set up two automated rules: one for the day the ads are set to go live on Christmas Eve and the other to pause the ads at midnight on December 27th.
To create these rules, go to All online campaigns within your Adwords dashboard, then click the Ads tab. Within the Automate drop-down, select Enable Ads When… and customize your campaign options closely mirroring the screenshot below.
Next, create your second rule, this time following the options under the Pause Ads When… selection, and change the frequency to December 27th at midnight. And then you’re done! Your ads will run between midnight on Christmas Eve through midnight on December 27th.
Pause Campaigns that Spend Certain Budget Partway Through Month
Create a custom automated rule for campaigns to better track your spend throughout the busy periods of the month. For example, if you want to check the status on a campaign that is likely to exhaust its budget relatively quick into the month of December, run an automated rule to check the spend daily at 6 am and pause if it has spent over half the monthly budget, say $200.
To create this rule, go to All online campaigns and select the Campaigns tab. Within the Automate drop-down, select Pause Campaigns When… and tailor your options mirroring the example image below:
Because this rule deals primarily with optimizing the campaign budget, it would be a good idea to set up an email alert to inform you if this rule has been triggered. That way, if and when you do receive notification, you can go into your campaign, better allocate your budget spend and re-enable the campaign for the rest of the month.
Pause Low-Performing Ads Based on Metrics
Because you’re advertising for the holiday season, shoppers want to see carefully crafted and attention grabbing ads that will make them want to convert. In turn, shoppers are happy because they can find what they’re looking for, and you’re happy because you made a sale. But not everyone is a literary genius when it comes to writing PPC ads that drive conversion; so if such is the case for you, no worries, there’s a rule for that, too!
If, for example, you’re looking to test out and pause any ads that don’t perform as desired within the holiday season, you can use a daily rule to look for ads with less than a 0.1% CTR and over 2,000 impressions in the last day.
To create this rule, go to All online campaigns in your Adwords account. Click the Ads tab, then select the Automate drop-down menu. Choose the Pause Ads When… option and customize your options to mirror the example below:
This rule helps better track your keyword/ad group/ad performance by honing in on the ads that aren’t driving significant traffic to your website. When you begin weeding out the low performers, you’re able to understand what phrases, products and calls to action don’t stack up to the needs of your target audience. Plus, it also greatly influences the overall CTR of the campaigns that are performing well.
Next, Try Advanced Automation Techniques
While the examples mentioned above cover very basic, yet important campaign optimization techniques, try researching online for tips setting up more advanced automation rules. Examples:
- Raise bids for keywords below first page bid to ensure holiday ads are secured in the top positions;
- Raise bids during high performance hours or days of the week; lower bids during low performance hours or days of the week; i.e., Raise bids by 25% on Christmas Eve to move ads to higher ad positions;
- Change the max CPC keyword bids to control your average ad position of holiday ads.
The options are virtually endless when it comes to creating rules, so drive right into Automation and explore the many ways in which you can increase the level of control you have over your campaign.
Wrapping it Up
If automation is no longer applicable to your holiday PPC campaigns (either because they’ve run out or you haven’t set any up this year), consider the major takeaways from these tips and begin positioning yourself ahead of the competition for next December. Or better yet, start testing today. Automation certainly is not limited to any specific time of the year, so if you’ve got a major event coming up and want to devote more time to that, use automated rules to take care of the manual labor and spend more time enjoying the event, knowing that your campaigns will be taken care of.
Do you have any other actionable tips for optimizing your PPC campaign this holiday season? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
The Golden Rule of SEO
“Think like your customer.” If your company has even the faintest working knowledge of SEO and its best practices, then you have probably heard this statement a thousand times before — and justly so. The key to breaking through to quality rankings in Google SERPs involves thinking like the customers do when they conduct a basic Internet search.
But sometimes thinking like the customer can be a difficult task, especially for those deeply involved in the business. While you may think it’s possible to rid yourself of any recollection of your business, sometimes you might not even be sure what your customers know and don’t know about your products or services. This can make customer engagement a challenging task and make it a lot more difficult to improve your SEO efforts. There are a number of things businesses can do in terms of influencing customer engagement for SEO purposes, but crowdsourcing can be a fun and exciting way to tap into the minds of your target market.
A fairly new concept in the online marketing world, crowdsourcing is the term to describe the act of reaching out to members of the Internet community to contribute to a campaign or project. Crowdsourcing involves appealing to a wider community whose advice and opinions matter most, and it is usually up to the party in question as to whether or not the consumer input is rewarded. Campaigns can take the form of a themed post, a custom landing page, a discussion board or any type of unique, shareable content that fosters a sense of community within the brand.
If this concept is still not ringing a bell, “My Starbucks Idea” is a great example of how crowdsourcing consumer information has produced an interesting marketing campaign.
In 2008, My Starbucks Idea started out as a community website intended to collect suggestions and product feedback from customers, but evolved into something much bigger than that. Unlike most crowdsourcing campaigns that are centered towards improving the business’s products and services, Starbucks created a campaign that instead focuses on the entire customer experience. Ideas have stretched way past the development of better products and entered into the realm of establishing and maintaining Starbucks’ corporate social responsibility. Users are heavily involved in the voting process and have put many well-known ideas into action. That plastic reusable cup you drink your frappe from once originated as a My Starbucks Idea back in 2008.
The power of the crowd is already being utilized by many businesses and is serving as an initiative to replace current customer service models. Crowdsourcing taps right into the core line of support and information for a business’s model: its market. The information can be perceived as honest and invaluable in terms of consumer engagement on a more personal level. And what can be better than getting feedback from the decision makers in your industry?
Okay, So What About SEO?
A recent SEO case study conducted by a photo identification products vendor, ID Wholesaler, took a glimpse into the world of crowdsourcing by creating a unique campaign intended to increase customer engagement for the B2B retailer. Their efforts didn’t stop there; the campaign also aimed at improving various SEO tasks that the company had yet to target including increasing their inbound links and Google SERP rankings.
So what did they do? A lanyard design contest prompted a niche target market (graphic artists, fashion designers, etc.) to submit design entries to a custom landing page that served as the central hub of the campaign efforts. Much like My Starbucks Idea, visitors could submit, view and vote for their favorite entries until a winning design was selected. ID Wholesaler received over 80 entries, 7,000 votes, and nearly 1,000 Facebook “likes” following the campaign launch.
Lanyard Design Contest Custom Landing Page – Source SEO Moz
Although they chose to pay the winning designer, the campaign proved to be well worth the investment. Because the campaign required some initial outreach, the company was able to dig deeper into social networking, an area of online marketing that proved to be an ongoing challenge for the B2B retailer. The campaign spurred a large volume of blog articles written about the contest, as well as a spike in social mentions and inbound links. Crowdsourcing has the potential to turn your online “focus group” into a great source of links back to your site.
Crowdsourcing campaigns can also help your website show an increase in non-paid traffic and rankings, which can be traced through Google Analytics. For ID Solutions, their results were quite eye opening and provided them with fresh information regarding keyword opportunities they were not previously targeting. Keyword variations for the term “lanyard” saw a 90% increase in non-paid traffic and the company jumped to the number 2 position in Google for the search term “ID badge lanyards.”
Ranking History – Source: SEOmoz
If creating a fresh campaign from scratch is too intimidating for you, crowdsourcing can also be as simple as creating an ongoing forum that could be promoted through social networks. A couple intriguing questions is all it takes for decision makers within your industry to want to respond, which can prompt relationship building with industry authority figures, a wider scope of input, more links, more site content and increased brand exposure. If you’re a small restaurateur, decision makers could include a food reviewer or even your local food distributor. Whatever the case, igniting the conversation within key influencers can set you up with the perfect opportunity to understand how viewers interact with your brand, and with a little testing, can point out flaws in your site’s usability and conversion data (Source: .
But Before You Go Crowdsourcing Crazy…
As with anything, there are advantages and disadvantages to crowdsourcing. I think this article from Mashable does a nice job of explaining some key tips for your next campaign, but here are the main things to be cautious of when it comes to crowdsourcing:
Understand that crowdsourcing campaigns involve some type of initial or post-investment.
- People want to be rewarded for good ideas. Don’t damage your brand reputation by just soliciting people for what you want – reward those ideas which you want to make use of!
Set Campaign Rules and Have Them Handy.
- Be very clear about what you’re looking for from your visitors, the time period of the campaign and how/when you will select winners. And make sure to have these rules posted on your site to prevent any disasters from occurring.
Keep It Professional.
- Some call crowdsourcing “a solicitation for free ideas.” However, if you keep your campaign professional and rules clear, there is no reason why your brand cannot foster some interesting conversations to produce a change for a mutual benefit. Your consumers are telling you what they want… what could be easier than that?
Has your company had any experience with a crowdsourcing, or have you participated in one? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
This is not a post about “10 Surefire Ways to Optimize a Title Tag” or “Increase your Title Tag Click-Through-Rate in 3 Simple Steps.” Not to knock any of those blog posts out there, but I feel like the same information is being regurgitated with catchy titles and cool graphics. Instead, this is an example of a situation I experienced, the test I ran, and the result from that test.
Quick…. Do a search for your brand, company name or even your URL. What do you see?
Do you see the nicely written title tag that you crafted or do you see your exact brand/company name?
More often than not, you will see your company’s name.
For example, conduct a Google search for “WebFX.” Instead of showing the home page’s title tag (Internet Marketing Services | Internet Marketing Company), Google decides to display “WebFX.”
Seems logical, but why????
Google states it has “algorithms that generate alternative titles to make it easier for our users to recognize relevant pages.” Makes sense to me. If I type in a company’s brand name, I already have awareness of that company and my searching intent is probably navigational, that is, with the purpose to get to a specific site.
This sounds good, but with any automated algorithm there can be flaws. So, sit back, relax, and read how this system can sometimes create headaches.
For the purpose of this article, I am going to create a fictitious company and URL that closely matches the actual website this scenario is based off of:
Fictitious Business Name: Steven, John & Jim’s Surf Shop
Fictitious URL: www.stevenjohnandjims.com
Fictitious Title Tag: Discount Surfing Gear & Water Equipment
When conducting a brand search for the company that was similar to this URL, Google screwed up the capitalization of the company name to look like the following:
This angered me to no end! If I was a user, I would be a lot less likely to click on a result if the capitalization appeared wrong. So I started researching, researching, and finally… doing more research to find the cause for this.
All of the information out there on the web will lead you to a few possible explanations:
- This capitalization inconsistency is located somewhere within the content of my site.
- The site is currently registered that way under DMOZ.
- There may be an anchor text backlink to your site on the internet that is spelled that way.
I went through and started checking the previous points.
- Nope, that type of capitalization was not found anywhere in the source code.
- The site was submitted to DMOZ with the correct spelling but has not yet received inclusion.
- Aha! I used several tools like Open Site Explorer to find that there was a backlink to the site that included “steven, John, & jim’s Surf Shop”.
The link was legitimate so I easily could have emailed the website owner to change the anchor text to the correct capitalization, but I wanted to run a test. 🙂
My hypothesis was this:
If I include the brand/company name within the title tag, Google’s ‘Alternative Title Tag algorithm’ could not justify showing the other, incorrect version of the title and would thus include my newly created tag.
I changed the title tag of the page to read like the following: Surfing Gear & Equipment | Steven, John, & Jim’s Surf Shop
I made sure to make it less than 70 characters long, as Google also states it replaces “long or hard-to-read titles with more concise and descriptive alternatives.” I didn’t want to leave anything to chance.
I checked back in 4 days and voila! The SERP result looked like the following:
It seems that by including the brand/company name within the title tag, I have enabled Google to show the better looking title tag that appears in the source code.
Before I took my victory lap around the office, I had to verify the results with another site. This time, instead of messing up the capitalization, Google was confusing the singular and plural version of the company’s name. The alternative title tag with this site would have little impact on the click-through-rate but I still wanted to test my hypothesis again. I used the same 3 steps noted earlier in this post to find that a couple of powerful backlinks were the cause. I changed the title tag to include the brand/company name at the end and voila, again!
Typically, I prefer including the brand/company name in the title tag to help build awareness in the SERP anyway so this was the icing on the cake to encourage me to do it more often. Of course, the results for experiments like this may vary, but if you find yourself in a similar situation to the one I was in, test out this method and let me know your findings!
If you are new to search engine optimization or just trying to find some more helpful resources, take a look at this list of the 14 tools that every SEO should be familiar with.
Google Analytics is an important tracking program offered for free by Google. It allows you to determine where your visitors came from, how long they stayed on your site, and what they did while they were on your site. You can also track return on investment and conversions so that you can not only increase your presence on the web, but increase the money that you are making too!
Google Webmaster Tools
Like Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools has many features and uses. Some of the main features include checking for crawl errors and broken links (keep your fingers crossed that there aren’t any). You can also submit a sitemap which tells search engines how to crawl your site. Another important feature is checking your site for duplicate content, Google hates duplicate content.
Xenu Link Sleuth
Xenu Link Sleuth is another tool which is great for finding the dreaded duplicate content and broken links on your site. Google Webmaster Tools only provides you with the top 1,000 pages of errors, while Xenu can crawl through thousands of pages on your site, and quickly. Unfortunately, Xenu only runs on Window PCs, so if you have a Mac, take a look at Screaming Frog. Where would we be without, Tilman, who made this tool!
A1 Sitemap Generator
You should submit a sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools, but before you do so you’ll need to create one. This is where A1 Sitemap Generator comes in handy. With this tool you can scan your website and create a sitemap. The sitemaps can be XML (what Google recommends), RSS, TXT, ASP.net or HTML. Use A1 Sitemap Generator to ensure that all of your pages are crawled and index.
Google AdWords Keyword Tool
Picking keywords is one of the most important aspects of SEO. Without the correct keywords your optimization efforts may be futile. It doesn’t make sense to optimize a keyword that is extremely competitive if you have a start-up site and it doesn’t make sense to market a keyword that doesn’t have any search volume either. The Google AdWords Keyword Tool will provide you with competition and volume information for a keyword so you can determine what keywords to add to your campaign and it also gives suggestions for keyword ideas.
SEMRush is another tool for keyword research which provides organic keywords for a certain domain and a list of online competitors. This tool will also show some useful stats on each keyword such as volume and competition, just like Google AdWords. After determining some of your competitors, researching what keywords they are ranking for can be very useful. Don’t be afraid of stealing keywords from competitors!
A final keyword research tool that shows trends in both paid and organic search is SpyFu. SpyFu is geared more toward competitor research for paid searches, but also provides some great information on organic keywords and organic competitors. Use SpyFu to create a list of keywords that your competitors are targeting and steal them.
Open Site Explorer
Link building is such an important aspect of SEO these days, so finding the perfect tool to track your links is imperative. Open Site Explorer is the perfect tool to do just that! It will show you a list of inbound links along with the anchor text that is used and allows you to compare the link profiles of your site to 4 other sites at once. You’ll be able to identify what links your competitors have obtained, the anchor text their targeting, and work on getting those same links for your site. Open Site Explorer also displays metrics on page authority, domain authority, linking root domains, total links, Facebook shares, Facebook likes, Tweets, and Google+1s.
Once you have used all of the optimization tools above, you’ll have to make updates to your website. FileZilla allows you to edit files remotely, drag and drop to transfer files, and includes a site manager to store your log-in information. It does all of this with a user-friendly interface which displays both local and remote folders. Remember to make backups!
If using all of these tools separately seems daunting, Raven Tools integrates multiple resources into one easy-to-use interface. Resources that are incorporated in this one powerful tool include SEMRush, SEOmoz, Google AdWords tools, Open Site Explorer, Google Analytics, and more. Raven also encompasses social media tools. It will feel like a breath of fresh air to have many of your tools in one central location.
Fiverr is a handy site where everything costs just $5! Normally, $5 doesn’t get you very far, a coffee at Starbucks maybe. So save your Starbucks money and ramp up your social media marketing using Fiverr. People will list social services such as “I will provide 100 tweets for $5” or “I will provide 50 Google+ votes for a blog post for $5.” With Google putting more emphasis on social signals every day, you will need these tweets and votes to help your site rank. And for only $5, you can’t beat that.
SEOmoz will keep you up to date with the industry because the staff at SEOmoz frequently makes updates to their blog with helpful tips and advice for search engine optimization. SEOmoz also provides many tools to assist with optimization such as keyword analysis, link analysis, on-page analysis, rank tracking, crawl tests, and more! SEOmoz is a popular resource among the internet marketing community. Again, thanks to Rand for always keeping us true to the times!
Digital Point is a forum where you can get help with any internet marketing questions you might have. Just post your question and your internet marketing community will assist you with any issues you might be experiencing.
A second notable forum is the Warrior Forum. Along with getting answers to your marketing questions, you can interact with other members of the internet marketing community and stay involved and up-to-date!