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Adwords Conversion for Dummies

Convert or Fail!

Using Google Adwords to drive traffic to your website is expensive. I suspect that Google gets most of it's money from Adwords advertisers who have no idea what they are doing. These advertisers quickly set up a campaign and pump a bunch of money into it, but see few to no leads. They then pour increasing money in until it starts to hurt, thinking that is the answer. They finally give up, wondering why other people are successful with Adwords, and they are not.

The problem is that setting up an Adwords campaign is very easy. Getting your ads to show on the first page of Google is very easy. Converting those clicks into dollars is NOT easy. That's where people get confused, frustrated, and too often defeated.

How do you convert a click into a sale? The schematic below shows a basic Adwords setup:

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The secret to converting Adwords clicks to sales? Design your site for Adwords conversion! 

Pay Per Click (PPC) Adwords Campaign Management

Link Building is Not Optional

Link BuildingBecause many non-web professionals do not understand how the complex network of computers called the Internet works, they fail to see the importance of link building to the success of their website. The truth is that link building is not optional to the success of a website.

The black art of obtaining traffic from search engines in often called SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. SEO activities are aimed at two sets of factors:

  1. On-page factors
  2. Off-page factors

On-page factors are those that can be easily adjusted by the webmaster or content editor of the website. When the web first started, these were the factors that were primarily used by the search engines to rank webpages. They include the visible text of the page, the page title that shows in the browser, and those enigmatic "meta tags."

On-page factors are still very important, but not as singularly important as they once were. Google revolutionalized the use of off-page factors to determine the importance of webpages with its PageRank formula. In a nutshell, Google assigns a PageRank to each webpage in it's index, based on how many other pages are linked to that webpage. Each incoming link is seen as a "vote" for the webpage that the link is pointing at. It also takes into account the PageRank of the linking pages, and the number of outgoing links on the linking pages. This means that the most valuable links you can get are links from high PageRank pages, where your link is one of only a few on that page. Links from low PageRank pages are of lesser value, as are links from higher PageRank pages with many outgoing links.

The activity of obtaining these valuable incoming links is called Link Building. Link building can be time-consuming, difficult, and is a long term investment whose effects may not be immediately apparent. Once the site is mature, assuming that it is a quality site, it will gain incoming links naturally, as other sites link to its useful and interesting information. At the beginning however, it is critical that a link building program be budgeted and properly executed, otherwise, no one will ever find out about the website, and it will fail to meet its business goals.

Ecommerce - 5 Tips For Selling Products Online

ImageSelling products online may seem like a simple and easy business to some, but it is actually very competitive and requires a significant amount of knowledge in order to make a significant amount of money.

Here are some tips that will help make your online business a success.

1. Do Your Research. Like any business, your online business should start with a good business plan, and that business plan should be based on solid market research. Throwing up an ecommerce website that offers products for sale is not enough. You need to know how you are going to get traffic to the website, and how you are going to convert that traffic to sales.

2. Build a Quality Website. Although you don’t need your own Website to sell your products online, for businesses that want to succeed in the long term, establishing your own domain and branding as early as possible is key. You don’t want to be at the mercy of eBay or Amazon forever, and the sooner you establish your web presence, the sooner your brand will be established and your site will start gaining authority in the competitive searches.

3. Get Traffic. Traffic is the currency of the internet, and don’t expect it to get it for free. Whether you are promoting your site via search engines, or some other method, it will take significant effort and budget to drive targeted traffic to your website in sufficient volume to meet your sales goals.

4. Use Other Websites. Since you did your homework and your ecommerce website has feeds, you can easily post your products to established websites through services such as:

Many businesses sell via this method alone, but as a website owner,  you can also leverage your existing product database to take advantage of this method.

5. Persist. If you start your ecommerce venture thinking it will be easy money, you are going to be disappointed. Success IS possible though, and if you plan for the long term, learn from your mistakes, and continue to build your business over months and years, that success can be yours.

Three Major Web Copy Mistakes

Having high quality web content is the most important factor in the success of a website. Here are some ways people commonly shoot their website in the foot:

  1. Not taking the web copy seriously. Content is King on the Internet. If you want your website to be successful, you must have quality content. Copying text from other websites, writing poor quality content quickly "just to have something," or putting "under construction" in place of content are the 3 most common examples if this mistake. 
  2. Not knowing the difference between effective web copy and effective print copy. For the most part, people don't read websites, they scan them. For that reason effective web copy is significantly different than effective print copy. The most common example of this mistake that I see is writing too much text in the mistaken assumption that people will read it as they would a passage from a book. Although it may be a very convincing argument as to why someone should buy the product, or use the service, if it is too long, people just aren't going to read it at all. Above all, web copy needs to be concise.

  3. Waiting until the last minute to provide the web copy to your web designer. I'd say most small business people that I work with start off their first real web design project with a mistaken idea of how a successful project is executed. Even if the process is laid out clearly and specifically, most people cling to the notion that a website is built first, and the content is written and added to the website last. Proceeding in this fashion can have only two outcomes. Either the website will be very expensive, or it will be poorly designed.

    When a website is built without the content, the designer must guess what he/she is trying to present to the visitor. Once the content arrives, it is ALWAYS different in some respect to what he/she had planned for. The website must then be redesigned  in order to properly present the actual content, once it arrives. This is very expensive for the buyer, because they are not only paying for the site to be designed once, but twice.

    The other option is just to force the content into the existing design, and kludge where necessary. When you run across a poorly designed user-hostile website, there is a good chance that this factor played into that poor design.

The purpose of a website is to present content or functionality to the visitor. Content should be given first priority in any web project. Step One: Create quality content - use a copy writer if necessary. Step Two: Build a quality website that best presents that quality content. Follow that simple formula, and your next web project is likely to be a success!

Bing Local Search Drives Traffic to YellowPages.com by Sucking

A significant number of my clients have been deciding not to renew their AT&T  Yellow Pages.com online advertising contracts. I’ve consistently heard two reasons:

1) They are really expensive
2) They do not get significant traffic or leads from the service.

I also have personal experience with AT&T online advertising. I was once a customer myself.

When Bing launched, I immediately went to their local business center and signed up for a listing. By the second week in June I had verified my mailing address. By the second week in August, my listing was still pending review.

I have a web design business located in Pleasanton California,  so I think it would be appropriate for my listing to show up as a local listing on Bing for the search “Pleasanton Web Design.” Here’s what it looks like on Google:

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Unfortunately Bing’s results for the same search contain not one listing of a business located in Pleasanton. In fact, only one of the four has the same area code as Pleasanton:

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Why? Well, lets say I was a searcher looking for a local Pleasanton Web Design company, and all I see in Bing’s local listings are businesses out of the area. Might I be more likely to click on the “more listings” link? I think so.

Once I click on the “more listings” link, I am immediately presented with 3 sponsored links from YellowPages.com, then 10 listings, none of which are located in Pleasanton, then 3 more YellowPages.com ads.

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In fact, if you can believe this blogger  “the traffic to Yellowpages.com coming from Microsoft’s search engine more than doubled since the Bing launch.” That’s good news for Yellowpages.com. Many of their customers are ready to jump ship. In this tight economy, they are finally asking the question: “Why am I paying so much money for so few clicks, when I can go to Adwords and get much better bang for my buck?”  Well, maybe if the YellowPages.com sales people can show some decent traffic to their customers through this partnership with Bing, they can retain more of them. How long can they, or will they keep this up? Your guess is as good as mine.

This partnership is also good news for Bing, who is probably getting a pretty penny for those Yellowpages.com clicks. Certainly more than they would get if someone were to click on my Bing Local Business listing. If it existed, that is.

Google Caffeine Update

Google is in the process of testing a major new update to their search architecture. According to Matt Cutts, the update consists of "rewriting the foundation of some of our infrastructure." It isn't aimed at being an algorithm update, but the algorithm has been updated, so we will see some changes in the search results.

Compare it to upgrading your computer for more speed, memory, and storage. If the change is significant, the software will change as well (for example from XP to Vista). Google claims that their aim is to keep the results set the same as it is currently, but it is hard to believe that they would not take the opportunity to include what they see as "improvements." Factors included in the change may be:

  1. Reaction to Bing, although I don't see anything about Bing they would want to emmulate besides the size of the result set.
  2. Their "Hilltop" paradigm. Google feels the results that need to be served for any particular search will be referenced often in an initial results set. This initial results set will again be sorted by how often the site is cited within the set, resulting in the final result order.  
  3. Anti-spam measures. Google regularly takes counter measures to any effective SEO strategy or practice. That includes making it difficult to determine the effectiveness of SEO changes by upating their results in unexpected ways.

Google has a sandbox set up so that webmasters may test out the New Google > Caffeine Sandbox. It's down now, but should be up by later this evening.

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