Hard Decisions on Your AdWords Budget

When it comes to Google AdWords, decisions you make about how much you should spend should all revolve around statistical data. Never make a decision about your ad spend based on feel-good ideas or what you “think” you should do. The biggest thing I tell clients to remember is that:

AdWords will spend every penny if you allow it to do so.

McCord Web Services is an AdWords Certified Partner.
McCord Web Services is an AdWords Certified Partner.

For many clients whose business is struggling in today’s economy or have been affected by Penguin and Panda updates, it boils down to how much should I spend?

Here are several tips and talking point I review with my own AdWords clients about budget.

1. Never spend more than you really can afford and base your initial budget based on what you are comfortable spending without a return. Don’t go in debt to drive traffic!

2. Make budget decisions based on data. Use conversion tracking, business research, Google Analytics data review to base your budget changes.

3. Allot your ad spend where it is generating a return or where you have made a decision your focus is for traffic not for conversions.

4. Hold out some of your budget for a mature program for testing to see if you can uncover additional revenue areas. Test new markets but be realistic in your ad spend, limit your testing, and evaluate the return.

5. If money is tight, look to advertise only in the areas where you are getting sales. Don’t serve ads nationwide and in Canada if when you review where you have shipped goods in the last 90 days and only three states are involved, rather serve ads to those three states and then when money is not so tight expand your exposure.

My rule has always been – own your city, own your state, own your region, then own the nation!

If you are looking for an AdWords Certified Partner to set up and manage your AdWords account, I invite you to check our our service offerings and fee schedule.


Inbound Marketing – Where to Invest Your Time?

With link building right now being a big no-no while the Penguin 2.0 shakedown continues this week, the big question is where should you invest your time to improve your organic placement?

Where should you invest your time for the biggest payoff with search engines?
Where should you invest your time for the biggest payoff with search engines?

Here are my top tips and suggestions and where I invest my own time in regards to inbound marketing.

  1. I blog. I cannot underestimate the value of blogging. It has been a marked key to my own personal success online and one we highly recommend to clients. Not just drivel for your blog, but insightful information-rich content and a perspective that differentiates you from others.

  2. I write periodically for two large authority sites – SiteProNews and the Bing Ads global forum. I don’t waste time writting other places and will typically give these sites a 2 week exclusive on my content and then reuse the content for my newsletter. I don’t spin my articles or widely distribute them. Additionally I require that my Google+ author link be included in my bio so I personally get AuthorRank juice.
  3. I tweet. I have moved down in frequency from 5 per day to at least 3 and occasionally more.
  4. I Facebook but only once a day typically.
  5. I work my Google+ Community daily. I own AdWords Strategies and find the interaction of my peers interesting. I have used my ownership and moderation of this community to really boost my Google+ Circles.

These are the top areas that I invest my own personal time for my own business to get a pay off. You may have other areas you use, why don’t you leave a comment and let me and my readers know where you invest your time.


Penguin 2.0 Shakedown In Progress

Google just rolled out their newest algorithm update this past week and already I am hearing from colleagues that they are seeing their sites drop. Rollout finished on May 22nd with Matt Cutts from Google announcing the update in process on his Twitter account last Wednesday. Additionally Cutts asks for crowdsourcing to identify sites that the algorithm update may have missed.

Cutts states, “If there are spam sites that you’d like to report after Penguin, we made a special spam report form at http://bit.ly/penguinspamreport . Tell us about spam sites you see and we’ll check it out.”

Don't get nailed by Google's Penguin filters
Don’t get nailed by Google’s Penguin filters

Matt Cutts, Google’s lead spam engineer, has stated that about 2.3% of all American searches will be impacted and some measurably that users will notice a difference. Not only were American website affected, globally Penguin 2.0 was rolled out impacting search positions really across the board.

So Who Exactly Gets Impacted?

There is no clear cut answer here, but the Penguin update is about inbound links and spammy links. Sites that have been involved in link building using link exchanges, article marketing, blog and forum posting, potentially guest blogging, the purchase of links, created multiple websites for the purpose of cross link building, and have had the same anchor text repeatedly in inbound links will most certainly be penalized.

It appears that Google is setting up a filter, when a site hits a unknown number of questionable links based on Google’s own parameters, then the site is penalized in the Google.com search results by a significant drop in placement. What is most concerning to professional webmasters is that out of the sites that were initially hit by the very first penguin update articles site statistics stating that only 6% of the impacted sites have recovered placement. That is pretty serious news.

Here is my short list of things that you should not do at this time as Penguin Preventive.

  1. If you have employed an SEO firm to build links for you – stop them now!
  2. Review your link numbers in the Google Webmaster control panel, check to see if you have any notifications of spammy link practices from Google.
  3. Stop article marketing and any guest blogging you are doing except on authoritative websites and blogs.
  4. If you have been buying links – stop now! Disavow those links in the Google Webmaster Control panel.
  5. If you have been doing article spinning – stop now! Disavow any of those links in the Google Webmaster Control panel.
  6. If you are participating in any link share programs stop now and remove any code or links from the site.
  7. If you have built website solely to build a link empire – now I am not talking about one or two website that feature different aspects of your business, but rather a number of sites simply built with thin content to cross link to each other – take them down now!

Got any other tips of what to do for our readers? Just click comments and leave your top tip to share. Don’t let your website be Penguin fodder by letting poor linking practices drag you under.


Why Google Algorithm Updates Get Names and Numbers

If you’ve been around for a while you’ve heard of infamous Google algorithm updates. One I can remember clearly was the Florida update – that was one of the very first that got webmasters to notice what Google was doing to the SERPs. In recent memory there are Panda and Penguin. Several other big updates were called Caffeine, Boston, Esmeralda, Dominic, and Cassandra.

So just how does Google come up with these funny names that stick ?

There’s been no single rhyme or reason to how Google updates are named. The first named update was christened “Boston” by Webmaster World users, as it was announced at SES Boston. The next few updates (“Cassandra”, “Dominic”, “Esmeralda”) were also named by WMW users, in a style similar to how hurricanes are named. Once the monthly “Google Dance” ended, that system fell into disuse. Later updates were named by various sources, including WMW, and major search blogs and forums. Google themselves have coined the occasional name (“Caffeine”), while a few names have been Google-inspired (“Vince” and “Panda” were named after Google engineers). Read for more information.

In the last year to year and a half the big updates have been called Panda and Penguin. In fact although Penguin 2.0 is due to roll out in the next several weeks, Google watchers say that the upcoming update will really the fourth version of Penguin to be released. Panda has completed it 25th rendition.

I have to say from my years of experience that the really big updates that shake and drop the placement for hundreds and thousands of website get names that we webmasters remember and share in our own work circles. Panda and Penguin are pretty bad, but the Florida update was one of the worst one previously that I can remember having such broad far reaching impact and that was back in November 2003.

I am sure that as Google morphs and our search needs change that there are other algorithms in the planning all under the guise of making search results more relevant to you the user.


Penguin 2.0 is Coming – Brace Yourself

Matt Cutts, one of Google’s lead spam engineers, is telling my industry that another large algorithm update is coming in the upcoming weeks. He has stated that it will be an important update and may impact many sites. Google is calling this pending update Penguin 2.0.

Many sites got hit severely by Google last year with the double whammy called Penguin and Panda and most have still not recovered. In fact according to a recent article only 5% of the sites affected have been able to re-mediate their placement. Hit hard were e-commerce website that do not have unique product content and sites with duplicate content. But additionally hit were legitimate websites that had tried to boost their organic placement by using link farms, link exchanges, and link spam creation.

Matt Cutts again states for the record that websites that have unique, well-written, shareable content will benefit from these upcoming algorithm updates but others who do not have this focus will see their placement drop. Here’s an article online that provides a nice short synopsis about what Penguin 2.0 will be doing. This Penguin update will focus on inbound links again as in the previous Penguin update of 2012.

On our end, we’ve already started to see site owners look to mix up their anchor text and move away from repetitive keyword dense anchor text in content and blog posts. Cutts states that this algorithm will be a big one and we recommend that you not ignore his warnings.


Advertorials and Google

Matt Cutts, Google’s voice to my industry, has recently stated in a video that Google considers advertorials and sites that use them without a no follow tag to be in violation of Google’s quality guidelines. You can watch the full video here.

So what exactly is an advertorial and why should I steer clear of them for now?

Wikipedia says this about advertorials:

“Advertorials differ from traditional advertisements in that they are designed to look like the articles that appear in the publication. …The differences may be subtle, and disclaimers—such as the word “advertisement”—may or may not appear. Sometimes terms describing the advertorial such as a “special promotional feature” or “special advertising section” are used. The tone of the advertorials is usually closer to that of a press release than of an objective news story.”

In other words many advertorials are created to appear as if they were native articles belonging to a website or news site. They may not even be marked as a paid advertisement; but that is exactly what they are. A huge cottage industry has grown up around the creation and marketing as well as the placement of advertorials. Just recently sites which use advertorials and sell space have started to (in some cases) mark these well written articles as advertising. Some sites still flow PageRank to the promoted site providing SEO benefits.

Matt Cutts states plainly that these SEO based activities are clear violations of Google’s policies and in near future updates sites that use, promote, and place advertorials will be penalized in organic placement. For now, I highly recommend that using advertorials not be a part of your promotion programs.