Tag Archives: how to learn seo

SEO Learning

Testing Keywords with Google AdWords

Test Before You Build

Here’s a simple tip that could easily save you 12 months of work:

Setting up an effective SEO campaign in a competitive market can be a long drawn out and expensive process. Worse yet, if you are focused on the wrong keywords, you might need to start over again after you find out that your site is not producing the results you want.

An easy way to avoid needing to start over is to test the value of keywords before you heavily commit to your SEO strategy. Buying pay-per-click ads (PPC) from search engines like Google (AdWords), Yahoo (Search Marketing), and Microsoft (adCenter) allow you to see what keywords have the ability to drive traffic to your site.

Learning The Hard Way

When I was new to the search game a client of mine told me that he wanted to rank for a list of fairly broad keywords. We were slowly moving up the search rankings, but he was not seeing much return. SEO is an investment game and it takes time and capital to build momentum. He had a rather low budget though, so it was taking months to see little response.

I could tell that things were not working out as well as either of us planned, and suggested we shift his budget over to AdWords to see what keywords are most valuable for his business. It turns out that the keywords he told me he wanted to rank for had very little value to his business. If I bid more than 15 cents a click for any of them we lost money. But there was a line of products he sold that had some related keywords which people converted on at a great rate. We could afford to pay $2 a click for some of these keywords and still make profit.

In late 2004 we adjusted his SEO strategy to match what worked well on the pay per click ads. When the economic downturn happened in 2008 and 2009 many competing businesses went out of business. Had we not used AdWords to test his keyword strategy his business would have likely went under as well. But he still ranks at the top of the search results because his SEO strategy was focused on what keywords worked well for his website.

Test a Variety of Keywords

Not every keyword you try will be profitable. But if you try a variety of keywords tightly related to your business you are far more likely to succeed than if you only bid on 1 keyword. Most businesses should test at least 5 to 10 different keywords, while retail oriented businesses should test a much larger set of keywords, driving traffic to the most relevant page whenever possible.

Some tools, make it quite easy to quickly create a list of related keywords by entering locations in one box and core keywords in the next.

Track Conversions

All the major PPC ad networks have built in conversion tracking tools which show you what keywords and ad groups convert well. You can also pass the conversion value through to these tools to know exactly how much business came from each ad campaign and each keyword.

In the above groups I used obtuse campaign names to prevent you from knowing what site this data is associated with, but note that

  • the highest volume keywords (listed as “core”) were associated with most of the transactions, but they also had relatively high conversion costs (since they were the most obvious keywords to target)
  • the keywords that we bid much less on (listed as “cheap”) still were not very “cheap” once you factor in the cost per conversion (the traffic was available at a discount rate only because the keywords were worth less)
  • the longtail keywords (listed as “individual”) did not create a ton of sales volume, but they were cheaper clicks and they tended to have a fairly high conversion rate when compared against the core industry keywords (using a keyword list generator like the above and mapping keywords out against URLs helps pick up a lot of this under-priced traffic)
  • the ad group with ad copy catering toward big spenders (listed as “custom quote”) on the surface looks more expensive per conversion, but…
    • the average order size of these customers (not shown) was much larger than the average order size of other customers, yielding far greater profit per conversion
    • some additional orders were taken over the phone (so the cost is even less than what was shown)

If tracking conversions is hard, you can place a link to a coupon (or some other free offer) on your landing page and view a click on that coupon page as a proxy for conversion and user intent. Some more sophisticated strategies involve setting up different 1(800) phone numbers based on the marketing channel or keyword.

Where to Start Testing With Pay Per Click Ads

For most businesses the best way to start pay per click advertising is to test your ideas on Google AdWords and then carry the best results over to Yahoo! and Microsoft. You can find coupons for bonus credits on Yahoo! Search Marketing and sign up to create advertiser accounts on all 3 major search engines on this page.

There are a lot of smaller ad networks that sell traffic as well, but most of them have low traffic quality, so they don’t help you save money and they do not offer representative market feedback. For most advertisers the smaller ad networks are a complete waste of time.

This training module is a free primer to help you get started with pay per click marketing effectively

Apply AdWords Data to Inform Your SEO Strategy

Find out which keywords have value for your business, and set up your site structure based on the top performing keywords. Our member’s area offers an example spreadsheet on how to structure a website

Tomorrow we discuss “on-page optimization” — how to use your keywords on your webpages.

SEO Learning

Testing Keywords with Google AdWords

Test Before You Build

Here’s a simple tip that could easily save you 12 months of work:

Setting up an effective SEO campaign in a competitive market can be a long drawn out and expensive process. Worse yet, if you are focused on the wrong keywords, you might need to start over again after you find out that your site is not producing the results you want.

An easy way to avoid needing to start over is to test the value of keywords before you heavily commit to your SEO strategy. Buying pay-per-click ads (PPC) from search engines like Google (AdWords), Yahoo (Search Marketing), and Microsoft (adCenter) allow you to see what keywords have the ability to drive traffic to your site.

Learning The Hard Way

When I was new to the search game a client of mine told me that he wanted to rank for a list of fairly broad keywords. We were slowly moving up the search rankings, but he was not seeing much return. SEO is an investment game and it takes time and capital to build momentum. He had a rather low budget though, so it was taking months to see little response.

I could tell that things were not working out as well as either of us planned, and suggested we shift his budget over to AdWords to see what keywords are most valuable for his business. It turns out that the keywords he told me he wanted to rank for had very little value to his business. If I bid more than 15 cents a click for any of them we lost money. But there was a line of products he sold that had some related keywords which people converted on at a great rate. We could afford to pay $2 a click for some of these keywords and still make profit.

In late 2004 we adjusted his SEO strategy to match what worked well on the pay per click ads. When the economic downturn happened in 2008 and 2009 many competing businesses went out of business. Had we not used AdWords to test his keyword strategy his business would have likely went under as well. But he still ranks at the top of the search results because his SEO strategy was focused on what keywords worked well for his website.

Test a Variety of Keywords

Not every keyword you try will be profitable. But if you try a variety of keywords tightly related to your business you are far more likely to succeed than if you only bid on 1 keyword. Most businesses should test at least 5 to 10 different keywords, while retail oriented businesses should test a much larger set of keywords, driving traffic to the most relevant page whenever possible.

Some tools  make it quite easy to quickly create a list of related keywords by entering locations in one box and core keywords in the next.

Track Conversions

All the major PPC ad networks have built in conversion tracking tools which show you what keywords and ad groups convert well. You can also pass the conversion value through to these tools to know exactly how much business came from each ad campaign and each keyword.

In the above groups I used obtuse campaign names to prevent you from knowing what site this data is associated with, but note that

  • the highest volume keywords (listed as “core”) were associated with most of the transactions, but they also had relatively high conversion costs (since they were the most obvious keywords to target)
  • the keywords that we bid much less on (listed as “cheap”) still were not very “cheap” once you factor in the cost per conversion (the traffic was available at a discount rate only because the keywords were worth less)
  • the longtail keywords (listed as “individual”) did not create a ton of sales volume, but they were cheaper clicks and they tended to have a fairly high conversion rate when compared against the core industry keywords (using a keyword list generator like the above and mapping keywords out against URLs helps pick up a lot of this under-priced traffic)
  • the ad group with ad copy catering toward big spenders (listed as “custom quote”) on the surface looks more expensive per conversion, but…
    • the average order size of these customers (not shown) was much larger than the average order size of other customers, yielding far greater profit per conversion
    • some additional orders were taken over the phone (so the cost is even less than what was shown)

If tracking conversions is hard, you can place a link to a coupon (or some other free offer) on your landing page and view a click on that coupon page as a proxy for conversion and user intent. Some more sophisticated strategies involve setting up different 1(800) phone numbers based on the marketing channel or keyword.

Where to Start Testing With Pay Per Click Ads

For most businesses the best way to start pay per click advertising is to test your ideas on Google AdWords and then carry the best results over to Yahoo! and Microsoft. You can find coupons for bonus credits on Yahoo! Search Marketing and sign up to create advertiser accounts on all 3 major search engines on this page.

There are a lot of smaller ad networks that sell traffic as well, but most of them have low traffic quality, so they don’t help you save money and they do not offer representative market feedback. For most advertisers the smaller ad networks are a complete waste of time.

Apply AdWords Data to Inform Your SEO Strategy

Find out which keywords have value for your business, and set up your site structure based on the top performing keywords. Our member’s area offers an example spreadsheet on how to structure a website

Tomorrow we discuss “on-page optimization” — how to use your keywords on your webpages

SEO Learning

The Power of Keywords

Why is Google so Valuable?

Have you ever wondered why Google is worth over a hundred billion Dollars? Or why a single click from Google can go for as high as $50? The reason is the precise targeting offered by search engine marketing.

How Most Advertising is Broken

Most ads try to club you over the head and beat you into submission. Search engine marketing is a completely different form of advertising because rather than trying to tell you what to do, the searcher requests to see the ads and views them as relevant to their wants, needs, and goals. Advertisers bid to show up where they are relevant – when they are irrelevant. If they bid for irrelevant keywords they lose money on every click.

2 Approaches to Marketing

Ads on websites with no targeting can have little to no value. Search traffic, which is laser targeted, is worth over 30x as much. [1]

For display advertising, Credit Suisse estimated that in 2009 the average CPM will be $2.39, down from $2.46 in 2008.

As for paid search, JPMorgan projected that for every 1,000 searches, $75.33 would be generated from ads in 2009.

Would you rather hunt for customers, or make yourself available to customers hunting for you? SEO allows you to tap the value of search, with your customers finding your business when they need your products & services!

Research the Market Value of Any Keyword

The cool thing about search engine marketing is not only is it so targeted, but it benefits search engines to share valuable keywords with prospective advertisers. This means you get to spy on the relative search volumes of different keywords, and how much your competitors are willing to pay for keywords.

Using the Google Traffic Estimator Sandbox you can view how much Google’s estimate the of keyword value at

Notice how there are 3 different listings for each keyword. They are based on Google’s AdWords ad match types, and can be used to help you know the relative search volumes between different types of searches.

  1. [credit card] represents searchers who searched specifically for the keyword credit card with no other modifiers in it.
  2. “credit card” represents all searchers in the above group, and searchers who searched for a keyword that contained credit card in it, including people who search for keywords like best credit card.
  3. credit card represents all searchers in the above group, and searchers who searched for any keyword that contained the words credit and card somewhere in their search string, including people who search for obscure keywords like payment card without any credit.

Enter some of your keywords here and see what Google thinks they are worth. Please note these values are rough estimates, but they are a good starting point.
https://adwords.google.com/select/TrafficEstimatorSandbox

  1. list down 5 important keywords to your business
  2. enter in all 3 match types for your keyword
  3. pick your language & markets
  4. do not enter a bid price (this way Google assumes you are willing to pay the market rate)
  5. hit enter & get your results

The above tool estimates the value of traffic to a single paid Google AdWords ad, but most searchers click on the free search results, so the keyword value to your business may even be higher than estimated by the above tool.

Tomorrow we cover other useful keyword tools as well as the keyword research and discovery process.