Three years ago, on January 15th, 2013, I announced here that HIPPO Internet Marketing was closing. After ten years, I decided to stop taking clients and focus on my e-commerce sites. Shortly after that, I went to Ephricon as their Director of Client Services for about a year.
Two years ago, after Ephricon became Straight North, I took some Internet marketing clients, but mostly just those that I already had a relationship with already. I never opened up Hippo Internet Marketing in the sense that I started taking clients. But now, after three years of being “closed”…
HIPPO Internet Marketing is Open again!
In fact, I’ve started to redesign our website at www.HippoIM.com!
(I love the fact that my office is the main picture on the home page.)
For a while now, I’ve been very excited about teaching Google AdWords later this week on Thu January 26 and Fri January 17. It’s my first classroom training in over a year and this has always been THE CLASS that people have benefited the most from.
But over the weekend, this particular class just got better.
See, we have several students registered already. I recognized some of the names. One or two are new to AdWords. No problem.
But several others have been using Google AdWords for a while now. And I just know that they will have some advanced questions. For example, they are going to want to learn more and perhaps have some very specific questions on QUALITY SCORE and RETARGETING.
I’m currently on my plane ride home from Vegas. Unfortunately, this plane does not have Internet access like my last one did. So this is a good time to write out a bunch of my observations and thoughts from the conference I just attended.
WARNING: This post is going to be long. Feel free to just scan over the Bolded/capitalized headings and just read what you are interested in.
(You can also just read the very brief points at the end.)
1. PUBCON HAS A DIFFERENT FEEL The style of Pubcon is different than any other conference in my opinion. Brett Tabke is a genuine nice guy that does this conference year after year. Many of the speakers and attendees know him personally and speak positively of him. The conference has an overall feeling of individuals helping individuals. Everyone is not just friendly, but genuinely helpful.
Guys like Jerry West, Greg Boser, Brad Geddes, Christine Churchill, and countless others all rally together to learn from each other and to help newbies at Pubcon. The whole event is very welcoming to newcomers. This is evident not only in the presentations, but in the constant conversations between sessions. Pubcon is mostly about search, but like most conferences, they delve into other areas such as social media, new media, etc.
2. SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING TOOLS For keyword research, several marketers are complaining about the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. They are not showing all data as of just a few weeks ago. It looks like many are going back to using WordTracker and Keyword Discovery for inventory data. Another incredible tool to mine new keyword phrases is Scrapebox. It’s amazing.
For Link Building and other SEO tools, it seems as if SEOmoz and SEOBook are the clear leaders.
For SEO reporting, Raven Tools is quickly becoming the industry favorite.
3. PAY PER CLICK SEARCH MARKETING I was surprised that more people were not excited about jumping head first into Microsoft AdCenter now that it is powering both Bing and Yahoo. Rather, most everyone still focuses their energy on Google AdWords and simply copy what works into Microsoft AdCenter.
The strongest tips that came out of PPC were to focus more intently on negative keywords. Several presenters encouraged using thousands of negative keywords. Use tools such as Scrapebox to find as many as possible.
Some other good tips were to focus on Quality Score. Improving your QS can have a dramatic effect on your spending.
4. FACEBOOK MARKETING Between the sessions I attended and the conversations I had, it’s becoming more obvious that using Facebook for marketing is really in its infancy. Very few marketers are just STARTING to even try this, let alone see the potential.
The technique that many are using is to use targeted ads to drive traffic to custom built pages that engage and reward “liking” the page. Hopefully, the viral effect kicks in. If your audience engages, their friends see them and may join too.
The concept is that you then “own the audience” and can try to engage them on the page over and over. You may choose to push them toward an offer on your website or just keep engaging them to the benefit of the brand.
Interestingly, if it doesn’t work, it’s easy to start over, give up, and try something different on a Facebook page. So the general idea is to keep trying something until it starts clicking with your target audience. Very little harm is done if you fail at first. Just reiterate and move on.
5. E-COMMERCE It works. People make very good money at it. Search engine placement for the right keywords is money in the bank. In fact, it is reoccurring money that keeps on coming in.
This is so true that those that are involved in successful e-commerce can’t help but laugh at those that are trying to make money in social media. Both e-commerce and affiliate marketers look at social media and just smile, as if they know something the others don’t. (It’s kind of amusing to watch, actually.)
Several of the attendees of Pubcon are clearly making good money and are happy to just pick up a few tidbits here and there and get to know the others that are doing the same. There is much less effort into trying to “look cool” and “be in the forefront”, as is seen in the other conferences.
Search engine marketing combined with e-commerce and/or affiliate marketing is not a hobby. It’s an income stream. And it works. It really does. (But please don’t tell anyone. Smile.)
6. THE FUTURE OF SEARCH ENGINES In many ways, the future of how search engines will work is already here. When you type something into Google or Bing, you don’t just get 10 links anymore. Those days are mostly over.
You get what is called “universal search”, which means the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) shows videos, news, realtime (twitter), images, local info, and other things. You need to take all this into consideration.
SERPS are also taking more “unstated signals” into account. They try to determine where you are, what else you are already interested in or like, who your friends are, and what device you are using (PC, mobile phone, tablet, or even television).
7. WHAT GOOGLE THINKS Matt Cutts (the voice of Google) gave a presentation, but others spoke about Google as well. Overall, I get the impression that Google is scared of Facebook because of the data they own and won’t share. (What you like and who your friends are – often referred to as your social graph.)
Google also is very aggressively pursuing mobile and television. (Duh. It’s where the true growth and money is.)
Google is also admitting that spam is starting to increase within their SERPS. Therefore they are soon going to start taking an even stronger attack against spam, buying links, and other inappropriate activities that they feel promotes the wrong sites. They are already rewarding the larger brands over smaller ones. Several noted this.
Matt specifically encouraged all webmasters and site owners to claim their site in Google Webmaster Tools and turn on the flag that allows Google to email them when they note something of concern.
8. SOCIAL MEDIA vs SEARCH ENGINES This is a topic that I brought up to some very interesting people in my conversations. It seems as if several in the “social media” camp believe that the two may eventually combine and/or social may start taking away from search engines.
In my conversations with several very smart people that know both industries well, there seemed to be agreement that this just plain is not true. It won’t happen.
Social is good for hearing from and learning from your friends. Ask your followers on Twitter what they recommend. Check Facebook to see what your “social graph” likes, etc. But when you want to do the research yourself and/or follow up to determine how you feel, you almost always end up back at Google.
I had this very conversation with Tim Mayer after his keynote on the future of search. I also had a roundtable discussion (at a literal roundtable at lunch) with Brett Tabke, Warren Whitlock, Brian Carter, and a few others on this.
After thinking a lot about this, I firmly believe that search engines are here to stay. Social media is here to stay, too. And although they may assist each other a little, they are never going to combine. Nor are they ever going to cannibalize the other. That’s my opinion and I’m sticking with it – for now.
9. VIDEO AND MOBILE ONLINE These are by far the two biggest and hottest topics in all of the Internet right now. Period. Both of these are much greater opportunities, easier, and more powerful online than anything else, including social media.
How’s that for a bold statement?
If you are not starting to create videos and are not at least staying informed of what is happening with smart phones, you are totally missing the bus. The time is RIGHT NOW to get involved. The wave is coming and it’s time to get in front of it. No joke.
10. LOCAL MARKETING For the past six years, local marketing online has always been the next big thing and right around the corner. I feel that it’s actually true this year. The growth of mobile phones, combined with the effort both Facebook and Google are putting into this makes the claim more believable this year than ever before.
Then again, we said that last year, and the year before that, and the year before that… You get the picture. We’ll just have to wait and see.
IN CONCLUSION… (Sorry for the long post.)
1. Pubcon is great. 2. Go buy Scrapebox for keyword research 3. Use more negative keywords in AdWords 4. Don’t be afraid of marketing in Facebook 5. Don’t let people know that e-commerce makes real money 6. Realize that search engines show more than just websites 7. Don’t bother trying to spam Google 8. Learn how to market in both search & social 9. Start jumping into Video and Mobile right now 10. Local marketing is about to take off (maybe)
PS: I have another post ready to come out of me about the true state of Search Engine Optimization and those that practice it. More about that later. Stay tuned.
As of this week, Yahoo is now starting to show Bing results.
The merger was in the news many months ago, but it didn’t actually happen until just this week. Yahoo natural search is now “powered by Bing” which is exactly what it says at the bottom of it’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
The paid listings have not completely changed over, but they will soon.
If you have a Yahoo Search Marketing account and do PPC marketing on Yahoo search, keep in mind that it will die soon. If you use Microsoft AdCenter to do PPC marketing on Bing, keep in mind that those ads will soon be able to show on Yahoo search too.
(Chances are that you may not use either. After all, the share of search for both Bing and Yahoo is still less than half of what Google offers. Google is the major player in search, by far. Individually, each of these did not have much to offer.)
However, with the merger happening it may be a good time to try something more than AdWords. In fact, if you start a new Microsoft AdCenter account and already own an effective Google AdWords account, you might want to try importing it.
I imported an AdWords account into Microsoft AdCenter the other day and it worked fairly well.
Google now has a new feature that gives some interesting insight into what they care about. More accurately, it shows what they want YOU to care about.
To see it, login to your Google Webmaster Tools account. (Don’t have one? Go signup now.) Then, choose the website you have decent rankings and traffic for, and choose YOUR SITE ON THE WEB > SEARCH QUERIES. See screenshot below.
The resulting screen should look like this.
SIDE NOTE: The screen shot is for this blog (www.TheJungleMap.com). Please understand that search engine rankings are not what I’m trying for with this blog. (In other words, I rank for a lot of strange things that I never meant to. I also don’t rank for things I would like to – because I’ve never tried.) Your results will hopefully look a lot different. (My other sites do, I assure you.)
Important points to note
1. Google shows your AVERAGE position In other words, ranking reports are not that valuable. Just because Web Position Gold (or some other ranking checker) reports that you are ranked #2 does not mean you always do. Rankings vary by time, geo-location, and many other factors that fluctuate.
2. Google shows your CTR (Click Thru Rate) before position Honestly, we all need to stop caring about our rankings. Good SEOs know this. Ranking #1 does not mean you get the click, let alone the conversion. A lower ranking can get good clicks. Other times, a top ranking will get no clicks.
What Google wants you to care about…
Google’s clear message here is that you should focus less on specific rankings and start focusing on getting the click. This has been the message of Google’s advertising program (AdWords) and now the message is migrating to natural search.
By the way, Google has always wanted users to click on Ads in Google. (No surprise. AdWords is how they make 97% of their income.) They encourage us to write ads that people will click on by emphasizing CTR as the goal.
But now the message is being extended to your natural listings. They want you to care more about getting the click. How? Mostly, by writing better title tags and description tags which will encourage users to click on your listings over your competitors.
NOTE: Good SEOs have known for years now that title tag writing is not just about rankings.
What you should care about…
As interesting (and yet not surprising) as this new development is, don’t be too fooled.
Google is trying to make their search engine the best it can be. They want users to love the results they get on Google. Clearly, if users are happy with Google, they keep coming. If the users keep coming, you keep advertising. Simple as that.
But as online marketers and website owners, your emphasis should not just move from trying to get a top ranking to trying to get more clicks. Rather, your goal should be to get the conversion (sale, signup, etc).
The ranking is important. The click is important. But the sale is most important.
Remember, search engines don’t have wallets. People do.
If you want to know exactly which keywords convert into sales, and then how to get the RIGHT rankings and clicks, the best tool you could have is a good Google AdWords campaign. It’s the starting point for successful search rankings that bring profits. Done right, AdWords can teach you exactly which phrases bring in the money.
I know. I do it for my e-commerce sites all the time.
I normally charge $100 per hour for Internet marketing consulting. But this week, I’m doing something special.
I’m teaching a class on Thursday and Friday specifically about Google AdWords. I know this stuff and I know how to make money with it. I’ve been a certified Google AdWords Professional for several years. I created my first account in 2002 and I still manage that same account and make money with it.
I honestly think that almost every business can make money by spending a specific and budgeted amount on Google AdWords. I also firmly believe that almost all SEO work should start with a small amount of Google AdWords. It’s the BEST Keyword Research in the world. I show how in this class.
It will be held in the training room at our office and I sincerely hope you can make it. So here’s my offer…
If you come spend 2 days with me learning how to build and/or refine your Google AdWords campaigns, I have two $100 Google AdWords coupons I will give you for free. You can use them on new accounts.
After the class, you’ll know exactly how to turn them into even more money for your business.
There’s only one catch. The class costs $299. But even at that rate, once you get the $200 in coupons, you’re really paying less than $50 per day for training.
For the next two months, we’re working on a new, big project here at Hippo. So you won’t be hearing much from me.
I’ve got my entire team really focused on this new initiative. We’ve got a lot of people involved and I need to stay focused to succeed.
As you can imagine, it involves a lot of Internet marketing and I really want us to hit this one out of the park. So, I’m learning a lot as I go. In fact, once I’m done I’ll probably teach a new class on the subject and show what we did, including the corresponding results.
As I mention in the beginning of all my Internet Marketing classes, Search Engine Marketing (both SEO and PPC) is a completely different form of marketing. It’s different than most anything we’ve ever known.
Other forms of marketing and advertising tend to interrupt. Television, radio, magazines, newspapers, and billboards all interrupt in one way or another. They all blast their message at you, whether you want it or not.
Search engines are different.
With Search Engine Marketing (SEM), the customer blasts us. They tell us what they want. It is reverse broadcast marketing. We just need to be at the right place at the right time.
To illustrate, Search Engine Marketing is more like farming than hunting. If you build good sites and links, your customers will come to you. You don’t need to find them and hunt them down any more.
What about Social Media?
It’s different. It’s more… well… social! Many compare it to being at a party. People may mention that they are wanting something. They may even ask others for advice. But that is just a small part of what they are saying. They don’t expect to be directly sold on something.
Along comes real time search!
So now, Google is taking content from Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, and putting these comments into search results. Does that mean that if you want to do well with Search Engine Marketing, you need to be all over social media? It may seem so.
But not so fast. Let’s think about this.
For WHICH results is Google showing social media results? If you type in direct queries for services or products, what will Google show? Typically, they will show their paid and natural listings. Sometimes they show local or news results.
But for services and products, they will seldom show real time (social media) results.
When do they show up?
They only show up for subjects that are being talked about a lot. Don’t believe me? Over the past few weeks, real time results show up for “Tiger Woods Mistress” and “Google Nexus One Phone”. They typically won’t show up for “Charlotte Dentist” or “Wii game” or “Internet Marketing Training”.
Sorry Social Media Experts…
I believe in using social media. After all, I teach a two-day class with Brandon Uttley on it. But Google’s real time search does not validate the value and need to do social media.
Use social media to network, build awareness, and communicate.
But don’t expect Google to send potential customers to Twitter or Facebook. They’d rather have your customers click on the Google listings (especially the paid ones).
Whenever I start a class on Search Engine Marketing, it is always interesting to see how people react when I mention the differences between Google paid listings and Google natural listings.
The Common Misunderstandings
1. Not everyone realizes that there are two completely different sets of results showing up when they do a search. Most know the difference, but not everyone. The difference is shown in this screen shot.
2. Of those that do know the difference, at least some feel that one set will influence the other. “If you don’t pay Google for Google AdWords, they will make your natural listings go away so you have to pay!” is a common misconception.
3. The next most common misunderstanding is “Nobody clicks on paid listings. They are just ads. I never do!” This one is not hard to refute. Just because you don’t click on something does not mean nobody else does. The metrics don’t lie. You are not your target audience.
4. If I rank well naturally, I don’t need to do Google AdWords. Wrong again! Over and over, marketers have shown that they get more results when they have both natural and paid search engine rankings. Some of the smartest and most analytical marketers I know have proved that it is financially wise to do both in almost every situation.
5. What about this one? “I want natural listings first because more people click those. Plus, natural listings are free!”
This is a tricky one. The reasons are accurate. (People do click on the natural about 3–5 times more often than paid and they are free – once you rank!)
However, doing Google AdWords first typically works best. Here’s why…
In our recent class on “How to Take Clients”, some of my students were surprised that I typically encourage marketers to do Google AdWords before SEO. Why? Even compared to the Google AdWords Keyword Tool and Google Analytics, Google AdWords is a much better Keyword Research tool.
Try taking hundreds or even thousands of keyword phrases you THINK might work well for you and run them all through Google AdWords for a relatively short period of time. Then notice which ones converted. Shut everything else off (or try to improve them). At that point, you know which keyword phrases not only bring traffic, but actually bring sales.
The final word on Google AdWords…
If you are doing comprehensive Internet marketing, use Google AdWords as a keyword research tool first. Once you know what works, go out and work hard to rank naturally for those phrases.
Use Google AdWords for Return on INFORMATION, not just Return on INVESTMENT.
If you want to learn more…
Google AdWords works very well. I promise you that. If you are interested in learning more, our next class is coming up soon. If you read this blog, here’s an extra incentive to attend our classes…
Use coupon code QQG0MEYL and get 25% off any class.
It only lasts until Tuesday, December 8 and while supplies last, so please act quickly. Our next class on Google AdWords is coming soon and has limited space.