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Google Authorship Is Over: 4 Reasons To Justify Its Removal

When we wrote about Google Authorship and the Possibility of an Author Rank, little did we know that Google authorship would be doomed so soon. Panda, Penguin and Pigeon updates aside, this is one update that has come as a shock to the SEO and blogging world. That’s right, Google authorship is over. It has been discontinued for many reasons; reasons we are going to discuss today.

But first let’s take a tour of Google Authorship’s ambitious three years of existence. This was one project that gave authors high expectations about getting well-deserved recognition on Google search and earning a reputation to influence the ranking of their content on search (a.k.a. author rank).

A Quick Look At Google Authorship’s Short Life Story

Back in 2011, Google made an annoucement about Google authorship and encouraged authors and publishers to connect their Google+ account to the site where their content resides. The owners of those Google+ profiles were then acknowledged in search results as authors of that content. It was a part of the structured data markup that was used to produce rich snippets in search. As a result, Google search results started looking colorful, with photographs of authors in some search snippets, as shown below:
Author Photographs Shown In Google Search Results
Author Photographs Shown In Google Search Results

From Google’s point of view, there were bugs to fix and spam to fight on the Google authorship road. Google’s Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst from Google Switzerland, John Mueller, subtly announced the demise of Google authorship toward the end of August 2014.

John Mueller’s primary role is to connect webmasters with engineers at Google, which means he manages to effectively communicate feedback from webmasters to Google engineers. Apart from Google authorship he was closely associated with the Google Webmaster Tools and Sitemap teams.

From the users’ point of view, Google authorship made some blunders, most notably where a man was attributed as the author of an article 28 years after his death. Flaws aside, Google authorship did give a certain authority to content with a recognizable human author. It encouraged authors and publishers of online content to carve their niche with quality content because they got credit for it. It was also considered a way to improve clickthroughs in search results.

In June 2014, however, Google discontinued displaying author photos. This was mainly because they occupied precious real estate on Google’s mobile SERPs. Instead, they limited the display of author information to names and the number of Google plus circles they were in for blog posts and article snippets. By the end of August 2014, they completely removed Google authorship.

Justifications For Taking Down Google Authorship

There are more than a couple of reasons for taking down Google Authorship. The first two listed below are directly given by Google, the third is deduced by renowned SEO experts and the fourth one is our own. Let’s take a look at each of them in detail.

1. Not Useful?

Google is all about user-experience and they introduce many products and technologies to enrich that on a regular basis. Google Authorship was primarily released to attribute content to human authors and put a futuristic agent rank or author rank into practical use. But it also made sense to consider the fact that search engine users would trust content that is attributed to a human author and prefer them over syndicated, automated, machine generated or thin content with no name on it.

This eye tracking study conducted with LookTracker on fifteen test subjects, proved that among a list of search snippets, the ones with an authorship caught the most attention than paid ads or the first organic search result. Three types of study was carried out and the conclusion was that even though the few search snippets without authorship on the top garnered user attention because of their position, towards the lower end the snippets with authorship captured the user’s eye. The ones without an authorship placed towards the end were not viewed much, as compared to the ones with authorship.
A screenshot of one such heatmap result is shown below:
Heatmap Study On Influence Of Authorship Search Snippets Among Non-Authorship Ones
Heatmap Study On Influence Of Authorship Search Snippets Among Non-Authorship Ones

According to John Mueller, however, the main reason to take down Google authorship is because there is no notable difference seen in the search behavior of an average person, with or without authorship in the snippets. In their tests, the absence of authorship did not cause a reduction in traffic. They say that not only does it seem to be less useful to the average searcher but it may also be a distraction to them.

Mueller was probably talking about mobile users here, as an author photo, name and number of circles takes up a lot of screen space and may distract the mobile user from his/her primary search task. As for desktop users, we don’t think it was a distraction. It certainly was useful in filtering manned content from unmanned. Anyway, as the drift of search traffic is increasing rapidly on mobile, this is probably a wise decision.

2. Improve Mobile Performance

Almost two months ago, when search results were sans author photo, John Mueller explained that the reason for this was to improve the mobile experience. And like we mentioned above, authorship information on search results probably did distract mobile users of Google search.

3. Little Or Incorrect Implementation Of Authorship

According to other search experts, such as Eric Enge and Mark Traphagen of SearchEngineLand.com, the authorship markup was not implemented by the majority of authors around the globe. Even if they did implement it there were often mistakes in adding the rel=”author” tag on their sites or adding their site URL to the ‘contributor to’ section on Google+.

This is probably because Google+ was fairly new and people without a digital marketing background wouldn’t know how important it was to have a profile on Google+ to link authorship to their content. Google has been spotted automatically attributing content to authors in some cases where authorship was not implemented but there were errors in that too.

4. Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird and Pigeon

Taking into consideration all the reasons for shutting down Google authorship as stated by Google staff and SEO experts, we also have a deduction of our own. One of the reasons for this unforeseen step taken by Google would be its algorithmic updates. Search results have become so clean after introducing the Google updates at regular intervals, that content probably doesn’t need to be tagged to a human author as a mark of quality. So, with or without the author information, Google seems to be serving quality content to users and thus authorship does not matter anymore.

These are the four major reasons for the shocking yet understandable death of Google authorship. As for authors who think that Google may use the authorship information for their own reference, we can tell you that John Mueller confirmed in the comments section of his Google+ post that they would not.
John Mueller Confirming Google Authorship Not To Be Used Anywhere
John Mueller Confirming Google Authorship Will Not Be Used Anywhere

NOTE: We’d like to clarify two things that remain unaffected by the removal of Google authorship.
1. The publisher markup is not affected by this update. John Mueller has confirmed that in the comments section of his Google+ post:

John Mueller Says Publisher Tag Remains Unaffected
John Mueller Says Publisher Tag Remains Unaffected

2. When logged into Google+ you can still see posts and pages from people and pages in your Google+ circles, both in the main search results and on the right hand-side.

Things We’ve Lost Since Google Authorship Was Taken Down

  • Author Recognition: Bloggers all over the world finally got to be known by their names and faces thanks to Google Authorship. Their work was credited duly in search results with a photo and a name. People recognized these faces but this is not the case any more.
  • Social Recognition: Authors were also recognized on their respective social media profiles that contained the same author photo.
  • Author Rank: Since authors were given due credit for their work, there was a possibility of an author rank being introduced in the future. There remains no current hope for an author rank.
  • Google+ Significance: Many authors started to use Google+ profiles to share useful content in order to increase their Google+ profile authority. Since the Google authorship take-down the significance of Google+ for authors remains a big question.
  • Click-Through Rates: As mentioned above, Google reported no significant increase in click-through rates in snippets containing author information and photographs. To some readers, however, who started to develop a sense of trust in a certain author, click-through rates on other posts of the same author increased. This will no longer be possible.
Google is not to blame though – when it introduced Google Authorship back in 2011 Google referred to it as ‘an experiment’. Three years down the line the experiment did not yield the expected results in global online presence, so it had to be taken down.
Google Authorship Was An Experiment

Google Authorship Was An Experiment


Hope is not lost. We can always expect Google to use the concept of agent rank or author rank in the near future in a better way.  Maybe they’ll come up with a new way of bringing back all the benefits that Google authorship once offered.

How Will Changing IP Addresses Impact SEO?

Never has something so simple as a string of numbers inflicted as much fear and confusion as IP addresses. Add SEO complications into the mix and you’ve got some very frustrated webmasters.

IP addresses are a little complicated – they’re hardworking things after all. But there’s no need to fear them. In this blog post we’ll explain what IP addresses are and what you can expect if you decide to change yours. Spoiler alert: it’s a lot simpler than you’d think!

Firstly, What Is an IP Address?

Every machine connected to the internet – including your personal computers and the machines that store website data (servers) – has a unique IP address. An IP (Internet Protocol) address is a string of numbers that acts as an identifier for all devices. It’s essentially a code that allows all machines (regardless of location) to ‘talk’ to each other via the internet.

An IP address consists of four numbers (of one to three digits), separated by a single dot. Each of the numbers can range from 0 to 255, so an IP address might look like this:

23.135.0.206

IP addresses are the single most important thing in technology today. Without them we simply would not be able to use the internet. IPAddress explains further:
IP Address Checker - WooRank Blog
“This innocuous-looking group of four numbers is the key that empowers you and me to send and retrieve data over our internet connections, ensuring that our messages, as well as our requests for data, will reach their correct internet destinations. Without this numeric protocol, sending and receiving data over the World Wide Web would be impossible.”

Will Changing IP Address Impact My Website’s SEO?

Websites also have IP addresses, assigned by the server on which they are stored. If you move your website to a new server (also known as a hosting service) the IP address of your site will change. This puts many people off making the move because they fear that such a drastic change will have a huge impact on their website’s SEO. All that hard work optimizing their website undone in one fell swoop.
But are these concerns legitimate or is this another myth borne from Google’s notorious secrecy? Well, you’ll be pleased to hear that for the most part there’s little to worry about. According to our research, the SEO impact of changing IP addresses is minimal.

Image shared by LeadQual once they changed their IP
LeadQual, a US based marketing agency, recently moved their website to a new hosting service. They were interested in the impact of such a move on SEO and so carefully monitored their rankings for six weeks after the deed was done. They noticed no decline in their rankings during that period. In fact, LeadQual claim their rankings actually improved ever so slightly.

Many other word-of-mouth reports suggest similar stories. Rankings were either unaffected or slightly improved by moving to a faster server.

Of course, as with most things there are a few possible exceptions, such as geolocation and server ‘quality’. The location of the new server is especially important – if, for example, you are targeting an American audience, it is advisable to use an American server. As for the quality of a server, if it is especially slow or you move to a blacklisted neighborhood, you may notice a drop in your rankings.

How to Change IP Addresses Seamlessly

SEO may not be an issue, but there are other things that can go wrong when you change IP addresses. It’s a highly technical process which involves transferring all of your website files from one place to another. It’s a bit like moving important physical documents from an office in London to offices in New York. Documents could be lost in transit or filed wrongly when they arrive in the new location, causing confusion and chaos.

Google’s very own Matt Cutts (an expert on all things SEO) provides a solid, easy to follow guide for moving to a new webhost. The best thing about Cutts’ method is that he has tried and tested it on his own website, so it’s based on practice rather than theory. By following Matt Cutts’ five step method you can move to a new IP address without having problems in Google or suffering any downtime. This means if you need to change your hosting service for any reason, you can do so without fear of losing business.

How To Recover From A Penguin Penalization

By now, you’ve probably heard all about Google’s algorithms. If you’re not familiar with Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird (the algorithm’s cutesy code-names), be sure to read this excellent, in-depth guide.

Google’s not-so-fluffy algorithms have been sending the SEO community into a spin since 2011, when the first (Panda) went live. And frequent updates have continued to wreak havoc on unsuspecting websites.

If you’ve been hit by an algorithm penalty, it may feel like it’s the end of the road. Watching your rankings tank and your organic traffic decline can be devastating, but it is possible to recover. In fact, it’s even possible to improve on your pre-penalty rankings and traffic.

A few blog posts ago, we showed you how to recover from a Panda penalty. Today, we’ll be showing you how to bounce back from a Penguin penalty.

A Brief History of the Penguin Algorithm

Before we go on, let’s first take a look at what the Penguin algorithm is and does. Announced in April 2012, Penguin decreases the search rankings of websites that violate Google’s guidelines. More specifically, it targets sites using manipulative black-hat tactics such as link spam and keyword stuffing.

There have been 5 further updates (confirmed) to the Penguin algorithm, which amounts to roughly 2 or 3 a year. The most recent was on October 17, 2014 and it impacted around 1% of all English search queries. This number may seem insignificant, but in reality it means millions of pages were de-ranked.

Identify the Penalty

If you wake up one morning to discover your rankings have suddenly tanked, you’ll probably want to leap into action. The very first thing you need to do then is identify the penalty. You can’t fix the problem if you don’t know what it is.

There are two types of penalty: manual and algorithmic. Manual penalties are easy to identify – you’ll find a message from Google in your Webmaster Tools account. Google won’t let you know if you’ve been hit by an algorithm penalty, but a severe and sudden drop in traffic will give it away.

Sudden Drop In Website Traffic Indicates A Penguin Attack


Sudden Drop In Website Traffic Indicates A Penguin Attack
To find out which algorithm has affected your website, use Algoroo or Mozcast to check for recent updates. If for example you noticed a decline in traffic after October 17th penalty.

Analyze Problem Areas

Bad links and on-site spam are the usual suspects for a Penguin penalty. First, you will need to analyze all of your sites inbound links and get rid of harmful ones. Second, review your website for issues with keyword stuffing, hidden text and link cloaking.

Jason DeMers claims that the overwhelming majority of Penguin penalties are doled out because of link spam, so that’s what we’ll be focusing on today. Bad inbound links might include:
  • Paid for links (not advertising)
  • Links on article directories and link farms
  • Links in non-industry specific directories
  • Links embedded in spammy content
Use Google Webmaster Tools To Check Inbound Links To Site


Use Google Webmaster Tools To Check Inbound Links To Site

You can use your link profile (found in Google Webmaster Tools) to search for these types of links. This may be a long and tedious process, especially if you have thousands of back links but it is absolutely necessary for recovery. Here is a really useful guide to performing link audits. However, if you don’t have the time and/or patience to do it yourself, consider enlisting the help of professional auditors.

Remove and Disavow Bad Links

Now you have a list of all suspicious looking links, it’s time to get rid of them. There are a couple of ways to do this – you can ask the source website to remove the link or you can disavow them. It’s important to note that just disavowing links may not be enough, so you should absolutely try to have them removed first.
Disavow Tool - Blog WooRank
Google Disavow Tool

Contact the webmaster of the source site and ask politely that they remove the link/s. There’s a great email request template at the end of this post (though the whole article is worth a read). Send a follow-up email after a couple of weeks if you don’t hear back. In some cases your request will be denied or ignored so this is when you will need to disavow the link instead. Some SEO’s recommend performing disavow requests on every bad inbound link, even the ones that have been removed. This is entirely your call of course, but it’s definitely worth considering.

Reassess Your SEO Strategy

‘Prevention is better than cure’ or so the old saying goes. The cost of being hit by a Google penalty is too great to ignore. It’s time to clean up your act.

You need a new SEO game plan that plays by the rules. Familiarise yourself with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, shun all spammy practices and focus on creating a marketing strategy that will make your mother proud. The three pillars of excellent SEO are: killer content, a great social media campaign and natural inbound links.


Remember, the tactics that worked a few years ago are old hat today. Don’t risk another penalty by continuing with these shady SEO tactics.

Creating Content to Attract Links

We all know the old song and dance about how content is king, but what does it mean? Does it mean Google just loves content? Well yes but largely because they rely on great content to attract links naturally, giving honest, trustworthy signals of value. So obviously you want some of those signals to say that your site is the man. Not to mention having link worthy content is something every site wants for the traffic, for the ranking benefits and for the credibility. All of these things help make a site stand apart from the competition. So what exactly are the secrets of creating content that attracts links?

Research

The first step to figuring out what you can do that might get links is to see what’s out there that already IS getting them. There are a few key places to look in your quest:
Competitors – Find the best performing content on your competitors’ sites. Some of it may be impossible to replicate, but other efforts may inspire you with strategies you can use on your own site.

Top Bloggers and Information Sites – When you find relevant blogs or popular resource sites you can look at all of the posts, questions and other leads that give you an indicator of what people have gladly linked to. Then you can then take those assets to the next level.

Tools – Keyword tools are extremely helpful in figuring out what long-tail phrases and questions people may be asking related to your site. You can use that information to write articles or build info graphics that address those well searched topics.

When you take the time to analyze what performs well, you can improve your odds of hitting your mark. You can’t give people what they want if you have no idea what that is.

Titles

Writing great titles is an important part of having content that gets links. There’s no secret formula to writing titles but there are a few things which are just good practices

Match the Subject – Sometimes its fun to mislead people with some title like “Clown Cars for Everybody” which actually leads to a post about the history of the Mini-Cooper. Yeah it makes sense and all but it’s not really what people were looking for when they clicked on it. It’s better to be straightforward about what you’re presenting so that you can keep the readers you do get.

Cute is Good, Searchable is Better – Taking a cue from the last point, while it’s great to write clever titles that will intrigue people, like “The Deep, Dark secrets of the One-eyed Jack”  which is a tutorial on Black Jack, but is anyone EVER going to search for that combination of words if they aren’t directly looking for your article? Probably not.  However, “Learn to Play Black Jack like a Pro” has a much better chance of being returned in a search by someone looking to “learn to play black jack”. Except Online gambling is super competitive, so that niche takes a ton of work.

Buzzwords Still Work – You know how everybody likes to slap words like “guaranteed” and “new and improved” on everything? Well that’s because it works. Certain words like “Free”, “Quick” and “Best” still grab people’s attention. It seems commercial and over done, I know. But they do work so don’t neglect them.

Promotion

You can create all the content you want, and it can be amazing, but if no one ever sees it, it’s not going to do you much good. Promoting your content well is almost as important as making it great. The problem is that getting your content in front of people is one of the hardest parts of getting links. Fortunately there are a few ways to make it happen.
  • Make contacts – Your contacts and network are crucial to getting people to look at your content and consider linking to it or sharing it in other ways. You can spend time making contacts by
    • Contributing to popular blogs in your niche
    • Sending individual emails to webmasters with relevant sites
    • Trying to get into weekly or monthly “round ups”
    • Talking to local press
    • Collaborating with charities and not-for-profits
Obviously there are many more ways to expand your contact base, but the point is the more people you can build relationships with the more of a platform you will have to distribute your content.
  • Social Networking – Social media is one of the better ways to build your network of contacts. But make sure you use it well. Interact with others, re-tweet other people’s content and make some completely non-promotional updates and/or Tweets. Humanity drives social networking, not automation. By being personal and interactive you can gain friends and allies.  Just make sure your stream isn’t limited to sales pitches and self-promotion, or you will only bore and alienate people.
  • Authority – Making your company an authority in your field is another highly valuable part of attracting links. When you are a recognized leader in your industry your content will be considered more credible. When other’s reference you as an expert it builds up your brand name and increase your visibility. Making in-roads and establishing collaborations with other giants in your space is one of the best ways to use other people’s authority to build up your own.


Attracting links is a huge part of the life of a website, but in the vast landscape of the internet, it’s a huge challenge. The content that you add to your site can be the make or break factor in how many links you are able to procure. But when you research your content ideas, write the titles to gain the most search traction and promote your best content in the right ways, you can get the links you need. Resource development is an on-going part of maintaining a website and one that will always remain vital. But when you master the finer point of content creation and promotion, your site can become a link magnet.

How to Handle Negative Comments

If you run an online community service where others are encouraged to participate with their own thoughts, you’re sure to come across negative comments throughout your blog or forum’s life. While negative comments may be one of your greatest fears as a social media participant, they are a reality. Furthermore, the way that you deal with negative comments can either make or break your online reputation—and the reputation of your business.

Tackling bad comments on the blog
Check out the following tips on dealing with negative comments in the online arena:

1. Walk Away

Whatever you do, do not respond to negative comments immediately. Chances are that you’re fairly upset or offended by the comment or comments, and replying while in an emotional state of mind isn’t the best way to deal with negativity on your blog or forum. Instead, give yourself a couple of hours (at the very least) to sit on the negative comment. Then allow yourself to respond.

2. Don’t Ignore the Comments

While it may be tempting to simply ignore the negative comments, this is not the wisest route. By ignoring and/or deleting negative comments, you may be tempting your unsatisfied readers to make a louder outcry on a more public forum. You want to take on the negative comment and see it as an opportunity to work on your customer service skills, if nothing else.

3. Climb into Your Reader’s Shoes

Believe it or not, some negative comments can actually be constructive underneath their offensive surface. Furthermore, this is the Internet. More times than most, things get misconstrued in the online world. Do your best to see your reader’s point of view on the subject at hand. If you’re able to understand their perspective, great! Use this as an opportunity to improve your blog or forum and thank your reader for his/her constructive criticism. If you’re unable to understand their perspective, just write it off.

4. Keep Your Ego in Check

It might be your first instinct to say, “It’s my blog, and I’ll say whatever I want to!” and storm off in a huff. But keep this in mind: it’s a free world. Your readers have all the right in the world to leave negative comments on your forum or blog. It’s your duty to respond to these comments as maturely as possible.

Handling bad comments

5. Own Up to Your Error

It happens to the best bloggers and writers in the world. Mistakes are made. If a reader’s negative comment is calling you out on an error, and upon double-checking you see that the reader is correct, then it’s time to own up to your mistake. Acknowledge the mistake you made and apologize for the error in either your comments section or as an addendum to the body text.

6. Be Positive

If all else fails, try to be Sunny Sally or Optimistic Owen about the situation. If the reader claims that a fact is incorrect when you know it’s correct, prove your accuracy…but do it nicely! Do your best to see past the negative comment, and do not let it ruin your day.

7. Agree to Disagree

If a reader leaves a particularly nasty comment disagreeing with your view or what you posted, the best you can do is agree to disagree and try to get the discussion onto a more productive topic. Acknowledge the reader’s opinion and thank them for commenting, then ask them something else about their experience. Chances are that they’ll grasp at the opportunity to talk about their opinions some more.

While it’s never fun receiving negative comments on your public forum, it’s something that you’ll most likely have to deal with at one time or another. By following these seven tips, you can ensure that you’re responding with the utmost grace, class, and maturity.

6 Tips For Writing Blog Articles Faster

If you are a blogger who wants to make a living from your blog, then the skill of writing is one of the most instrumental assets you can have in terms of the growth and success of your site.

Regularly published quality content is king when it comes to building your blog, so with this in mind you have probably already surmised that writing will be something that you will need to do in some capacity and for an ongoing period of time.

You can of course hire a writer to do your article writing for you, but for most people starting out online or doing it on the side, the best cost-effective option is to get into the habit of writing the articles yourself to begin with.

Apart from not having to pay writers, the other benefits are that your writing skills will improve and you will learn a lot more about the topic you are writing about and you will also hone your research skills.

When you are able to write well and fairly quickly, you will find that this single skill can pave the path to your online success very rapidly. Good and fast writing skills will enable you to consistently churn out many quality articles for your blog but it will also give you the skills to produce numerous eBooks and scripts for video presentations or audio podcasts.

Below are 6 steps which will help you to increase the speed of your writing:

1. Allocate a suitable time during your day which is devoted unconditionally to writing
  • Choose a portion of your day where you usually feel most energized and focused and when you will not be interrupted. Set aside this period for your writing.If you’re not sure which time of the day is optimal for you, then try out a few different periods and see which is most effective for you.
2. Put some thoughts or ideas down in a blank text document irrespective of how useful you think they might be
  • This will help you to quickly get a rough sense of direction in which you want to go with your article.
  • It will also help you to administer a possible final topic category for the article in case you were struggling to settle on what you want to write about.For example, let’s say you think you want to write an article about making money online but you’re still not sure what to write. In your blank document you might start brainstorming whatever pops in your head,eg:making money online
    affiliate marketing
    adsense
    eBooks
    freelancing
    social media
    traffic
    backlinks

    As you brainstorm, you will get your thoughts and ideas out of your head and onto paper (or computer screen), and the reason why this is good is because once you have these thoughts written down you will have negated the possibility that your mind will wander and cause you to either forget them or persuade you that it isn’t a good idea. Remember it doesn’t matter at this stage whether you think something is a good idea or not. Just write it down.
  • Now go through the rough list from the above and see if you can link any of the items together or drill down into sub-topics. For example, affiliate marketing may be further broken down into: affiliate marketing -> amazon products, digital products (clickbank). By doing this you will eventually see a topic which stands out that you could write about.
3. Go online and find 3 to 5 articles or pieces of information pertaining to your topic
  • This is the research part of the writing process.
    This is also where quick (speed) reading skills come in handy. At this stage what you want to do is not read each article you find in depth but simply scan it quickly with your eyes to determine if it contains portions which will be useful for your article topic.
  • After you’ve found a handful of articles, open another blank text document and paste relevant paragraphs or bits of info (verbatim) that you think will be useful for your article into the blank text document.
    This should only take around 10-15 minutes and by the end of this step you should have a notepad document with plenty of snippets of information from your research and a separate notepad document with your own brainstormed notes.
4. Before writing, eliminate any potential distractions
This step includes closing all browser windows including email and chat programs and turning off cell phones (if possible).
You should only have the two documents you created from steps 2 and 3 opened in front of you.
5. Start writing and don’t worry about editing
  • Now you are ready to start writing your article’s initial draft.
    In order to maximize your focus on the task at hand use a timer or set some kind of an alarm to ring after 40 to 50 minutes.Spend the 40 to 50 minutes focused only on your article writing and nothing else, ie, no emails, or reading the news or other time-wasting activity.Take a 15 minute break after the timer sounds and resume your focus again for 40-50 minutes.
  • Firstly read through each of the snippets of researched information you pasted into one of the text documents and then start to write in your words your interpretation of what you have read for each snippet.Write directly underneath your brainstormed notes and do not fall into the temptation of editing as you go along.At this stage you don’t want to get bogged down into worrying about the order of paragraphs or grammar and spelling because the act of editing so early in the life of your article will slow down your train of thought and creativity. (You will get to edit and re-order your paragraphs and sentences at a later stage)
  • As you write, you will find that you will naturally begin to expand on your sentences and words will quite often begin to flow more easily.Keep writing until you feel you have written enough to express what you wanted to say about the whole topic.
6. Edit your final version
  • Once you have written enough, spend some time editing your draft with a critical eye. For instance delete your brainstorming notes and if required, chop and change the order of paragraphs or fix up spelling mistakes, or change words and etc.
  • If you don’t feel confident about grammar or spelling at least use a spell checker or ask a friend to quickly proof read for you.
Try out the above techniques for the next month and you’ll be rolling out your articles much more quickly and it’s quite likely they’ll be better than ever.


Writing your own articles even on topics which have been very widely covered need not discourage you. As you improve your writing skills and speed up the rate at which you write, you will quickly build the content and authority of your blog, but just as importantly you will stamp your own fresh perspective on the topics which you write about.

How to Add a Contact Form to WordPress

It’s important to provide options for people to contact you from your web site. Using a plain email on the page is prone to spam. Using a contact form is a better choice. So let’s do that.

This morning I had a request from a client to setup a contact form on his WordPress site. For some strange reason I didn’t flip on the cam (i.e. the screencast software) to record the process. However…
After I was done adding the form which took about 5 minutes, I started to do some research in Google Suggest to see what I would discuss today for a tutorial that I aim to have published on Tips & Tricks.

Well, the long tail “how to add a contact form to wordpress” jumped out at me. It’s a safe assumption that if one person wants to know how to do something, many others do as well. It is of the same level of safety for the assumption that if Google “suggests” a phrase in auto-complete, people have searched for it in the past.

Therefore, I present this tutorial to you.

Using a Template File or a Plugin for a WordPress Contact Form

I am a fan of using plugins for WordPress functionality, and of leaving the aesthetics to a theme. However, your theme may already have a contact form Template attached to it. If so, you can just create a new page and change the Template to “contact” or something similar and voila you have a contact form.

For this tutorial I will be using the Contact Form 7 plugin. It is available at contactform7.com or in the WordPress.org plugin repository.

To add it you go to the add new plugin screen, do a search for “contact form 7″ then get it downloaded, installed and activated like you would any other plugin.

From there you will create the form. In this tutorial we will just give the form a name and then use all the defaults. This however only scratches the surface of what Contact Form 7 is capable of. I encourage you to explore the possibilities if you need more complex forms.

Creating a Contact Form for WordPress Using the Contact Form 7 Plugin

Once the plugin is installed and activated, follow the steps below to create a contact form.
  1. In the left hand menu, click Contact >> Add New.
  2. Click the Add New button. This extra step is there to allow you to change the language of your contact form if need be.
  3. Give it a title and click the Save button.
This will create a contact form that sends email to your admin email address. It will also use the main fields: name, email, subject, and message for the form. You can add extra stuff in there but we won’t in this tutorial. We are creating just a basic contact form here.

Adding the Contact Form 7 Shortcode to a WordPress Page

The form that we created in the previous steps will have generated a shortcode. To get it, follow the steps below.
  1. In the left hand menu, click Contact >> Contact Forms.
  2. You will see the shortcode next to the form that you created. Right-click it and click copy.
Now you just need to paste the shortcode into a new page. Simply go to Pages >> Add New, give the page a name, then paste in the shortcode into the body area. Then Publish the page, view it, fill out the form and test it out.

You should get an email post haste.


From here you can add the Contact Page to the WordPress menu if it isn’t displayed by default on your site.

Top 12 Reasons Your Website Needs to be Responsive to grow Your Business

Have you been outside lately? You know how you are seeing more people using tablets and smartphones? Well, it’s not a trend as much as the norm any more. Walking around, we are plugged in to our mobile device. At some restaurants, the waiter or waitress takes our order. Mobile is ubiquitous. So why, why, why are there still so many businesses that have not yet adapted? I don’t know, and the good news is that you have a way to take advantage of the new reality.

As smartphones and tablets are ever more capable of performing tasks that used to be only capable on desktop, one thing is crystal clear: Internet surfing, connecting on social media, checking emails and online shopping is being taken over by mobile.

Naturally, because mobile Internet usage is steadily increasing, you can see that it’s extremely important that your website is mobile friendly. In the past, you had a website designed for desktop users and another site specifically developed for mobile users. But, now we need a website optimized for desktop, tablet and, mobile. Are you really gonna build multiple unique sites to accommodate the various screen sizes?

There actually is a method to satisfy many types of users. It’s called responsive web design. According to a report by Morgan Stanley, Mobile Devices will overtake Desktop usage this year. 2013 may have been hailed as “The Year of Responsive Design”, but RWD is far from last year’s news. Put simply, having responsive design means a website adjusts depending on which device they are being displayed on, ensuring that whether the content is viewed on a phone, tablet, or desktop computer, the website will remain user-friendly, which is ultimately the most important feature of any website or blog. So as though you really needed them, here are the Top 12 Reasons to convert to Responsive Web Design.

responsive-design-infographic

1. Recommended By Google

Since Google is the primary search engine to impress with your website, it is smart to follow what Google loves. Google not only recommends Responsive Web Design (RWD) as the best way to target mobile and tablet users, and also favors mobile-optimized sites when presenting results for searches made on a mobile device. This is especially true when mobile users search for local services. It’s important to note more searches are originated on mobile devices.

Of course there is still debate whether a separate mobile website or a single, responsive site is the best route to take. From an SEO perspective, a single site is the better option (More on this later). Separate mobile websites have their own URL and different code, whereas responsive sites use one URL and one set of pages and files, making it simpler for Google more efficient for Google to crawl, index, and organize content and avoids issues of duplicate content.

With 67 percent search market share, when Google speaks, search marketing professionals listen. Google now states that responsive web design is the industry best practice.

When you think about it, it’s also easier and less confusing for users to share, interact with, and link to than content on a stripped down mobile site.

For instance, a mobile user who shares content from a mobile site with a friend on the Facebook app who then accesses that content using a desktop, which results in that user viewing a stripped down mobile site on their desktop. This creates a less than optimal user-experience, and because of the large emphasis Google is now placing on user-experience as a ranking factor, this is essential to take into account with regards to SEO.
search-on-mobile-devices

2. One Website, Multiple Devices

Providing a great user-experience across multiple devices and screen sizes is the most appealing and most critical aspects of responsive web design for today’s uber mobile world. Take the following example. I search for a birthday gift on my smartphone during a break at work. I then continue researching this product on the same site on my MAC when I get home.

Because the site is responsive, won’t be frustrated with the extra steps to locate the desktop version of the site, and find the product all over again.

3. Easier to Manage

Having a separate desktop and mobile site requires having separate Google Adwords campaigns, SEO campaigns and separate Google Analytics reports. Managing one site is of course, far easier than managing two sites.

There can be an argument made for multiple sites though, such as having a mobile-specific Adwards and SEO strategy, such as optimizing for keywords that are more likely to be searched when someone is on their smartphone.

4. Positive User Experience Is Key

If a user lands on your mobile website and is frustrated or doesn’t see what they are looking for, according to Google’s Think Insights on Mobile, there’s a 61% chance they will leave and go to a different website. Data shows a positive experience with your responsive website a user is 67% more likely to buy a product or use a service.

5. Blogging and Social Activities Bring Mobile Visitors

If you’re like most smart Inbound Marketers and incorporate blogging and social media in your strategy, you have most likely been seeing increased mobile traffic. A recent study by ComScore cites that 55% of social media consumption happens on a mobile device. SHOCKER!

6. Responsive Design is Preferred for SEO

Typically, Responsive Websites perform better and are easier to maintain. One thing not mentioned above is that a challenge of having a separate mobile site is that you will need to build the authority of this site from scratch, and who wants to go to that extra trouble?

7. Responsive Helps Combat a High Bounce Rate

Even if your regular website is sitting pretty in search results, if it looks and performs like crap on my tablet or smartphone, bounce rate will be a big problem. Non responsive websites will suffer from a high bounce rate if the content is too stripped down, or just plain clunky and too challenging to work with compared to the content offered on the main/desktop site. Google will naturally interpret this high bounce rate as a sign that a website irrelevant, which will lead to your drop in rankings, which is why we don’t see mobile versions of sites ranked high.

RWD means that there is no more compromising on the content you choose to display!

8. A Speedy Responsive Website is Key

The content per page on a mobile or tablet device should load in under 1 – 2 seconds according to the Google PageSpeed Developers standards. I’m not sure how possible that is when loading a desktop website on a mobile device. I haven’t timed it, and I can tell you that I don’t wait long before I close the window.

9. Responsive Adapts to Future Devices

As alluded to earlier, the benefit of responsive design is that the size of the template is designed based on screen size not device. Obviously, regardless of what size screen someone is viewing your website it will display properly for that screen size.  Unless, there will be a worldwide movement to standardize on one screen size, responsive design is here to stay. Having a mobile website is no longer just a nice feature or after thought. Fully functional websites for all screen sizes are mission critical for the growth of your business. What’s the ROI? check out is this “Full Value of Mobile” calculator by Google. Input your different business and marketing variables to learn how your metrics can be increased with proper responsive mobile design.

10. Responsive Design allows you to keep track of who visits your site

The great thing about online assets is that you can see who visits them, which allows you to increasingly improve your targeting. It should go without saying that with multiple versions of your site, it is more challenging to track analytics. This is the same logic against multiple business listings on various directories like Yelp, Manta, Merchant Circle, Kudzu, etc. because traffic is diluted between the various versions of your site. As a user, it can be extremely frustrating when searching for a site and then needing to find the most current and accurate site listed on the SERPs. Just sayin.

11. Responsive Design saves you money.

Have you ever heard the saying: You get what you pay for? There is a reason that saying still lives today and applies to Responsive design. Sure, a complicated, well crafted, responsive design could be expensive to develop or implement (Unless you select one of the 1000 options available for WordPress websites), but once published, you can maintain it quite easily. This is much more economical to maintain one site rather than multiple sites, wouldn’t you agree?

12. Responsive Design has Pay-Per-Click benefits.


Google AdWords has now converted the web to “enhanced campaigns”. What this means for you is the targeting of various devices is the treated the same. The benefit for you is that a website using Responsive Design makes it a whole lot easier to manage your PPC. Businesses have much more flexibility and control in how they reach consumers which are, you guessed it, using more mobile devices. “Google’s enhanced campaigns represent the biggest single change in the past 10 years to the basic structure of AdWords campaigns,” says Larry Kim, founder and CTO of WordStream.

Top 15 Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Techniques I Forget to do

Search Engine Optimization is a very hot topic in the World Wide Web. After all, everybody wants to rank higher and come up on the first page of Google search and get more traffic. I have identified and made a list of top 15 SEO practices that I tend to forget quite often. These simple SEO techniques if practiced properly can make a significant difference as to how my pages are ranked in the Search Engine Queries.
  1. Use rel=”nofollow” tag on low value links to not pass the page rank juice. For example ‘Read the rest of the entry’, ‘About’, ‘Contact’ etc.
  2. Use proper anchor text for interlinks. Don’t use ‘here’, ‘there’ etc for the anchor text (if you can avoid it).
  3. Optimize the images, always create alt tags and write description in the alt tag.
  4. Use search engine friendly permalinks. Try not to have ‘&’, ‘?’, ‘!’ etc characters in the URL. Sometimes it is unavoidable but try to keep it to a minimum.
  5. Use hyphens (-) between words to improve readability.
  6. Do not use underscores (_) in URLs, use hyphens (-) instead.
  7. Do not use session id in URLs.
  8. Use sticky posts.
  9. Use tag clouds (if it applies).
  10. Have a category description paragraph.
  11. Let the visitors subscribe to category specific RSS feed. (Use category specific RSS plugin for WordPress)
  12. Use internal linking when possible and appropriate.
  13. Use sub-directories rather than sub-domains when possible. Sub-domains do not share link love from the main domain as it is treated as a different domain.
  14. Research the target audience and aim the site content appropriately.
  15. Keep the content up to date. Visitors don’t like outdated content. Updating the content frequently also attracts the Search engines spiders to index the web pages frequently.
Going forward I will try to use this list to optimize my web pages for search engines.
Here is a list of articles you should read to learn more SEO techniques:

Have you identified any SEO mistakes that you commonly make?

6 SEO Strategies That Can Generate Highly Targeted Traffic

Developing SEO strategies that can drive an immense amount of traffic to your site within a month is not an easy task, especially if you want your site’s visitors to convert into profits. Generating highly targeted traffic or visitors that have the intent of availing the services or products that you are offering is the best way to really earn from your website.

The good news is that there are many ways that you can do to hasten the process of having your site noticed by people who are in need of the information, services or products that you provide. Here are some of the ways that you can do to generate specifically targeted online visitors in under a month.

1. Target easy to rank long-tail keywords through blog posts

If your site has no blog section yet, then you better start including one. Blogs can benefit your business in so many ways, and consistently driving traffic to your site is one of them. Using long-tail keywords in your blog posts’ titles (eg. How to learn SEO), can extremely help your site’s performance in terms of traffic generation, seeing as this strategy can very much take your blog posts on top of SERPs without further improving them through off-page optimization or link building.

Blog posts can naturally rank on their own basing on its topical relevance as seen by search engines, and taking advantage of low competition keywords will make your pages rank on the top page of SERPs in no time, which means more organic traffic to your site.

2. Targeting 3 -5 keywords for each page on your site

Creating your pages or blog posts with the intent of ranking for more than 2 keywords is always a smart move, since it will allow your site to draw more relevant traffic along the process. Say, if your site has 15 blog posts or pages on its first month, and each page are targeting 3 different keywords. Doing the math will give you a result of 45 keywords giving you constant traffic within a month.

Doing this strategy is very simple, wherein you just have to use or combine your targeted keywords on your page or post’s title, URL and on the body copy (eg. Top 10 advanced on-page SEO strategies). With the given example of a post title you are able to target 7 keywords that you can use within the body of the content, including:
  • Advanced on-page SEO strategies
  • On-page SEO strategies
  • On-page SEO
  • Advanced SEO
  • Advanced SEO strategies
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3. Dofollow blog commenting

Commenting on blogs with the same theme as your site – particularly blogs that allow dofollow attributed links on their comment section – is one of the most effective ways to promoting your site as well as in improving your keywords’ search rankings. This technique has a lot of advantages and can certainly take your campaign a long way, given that this method allows you to acquire relevant backlinks and can possibly build relationships with other bloggers related to your niche.

Networking with other bloggers is extremely beneficial, especially with higher value link placements such as special mentions, in-content links (used as a resource), guest blogging opportunities and sponsored reviews. Anyway, leaving comments on blogs with the use of your keywords as anchor texts can help improve its search rankings in just weeks, particularly if the links that you’ve built are from topically relevant pages and are dofollow attributed.

4. Guest blog posting

Guest blogging has been known to be a link building method that’s really advantageous in terms of driving relevant traffic, acquiring high quality links, passing through Pagerank and in improving SERP rankings. It’s best to choose blogs that are relevant to your site, have high page ranks and receives a lot of traffic on their site (can be based through Alexa traffic rank).

In choosing the topic to write for guest postings, writing topics that are strictly about the keywords you are aiming at is the most effective way to get most out of this technique, since the link that you’ll be able to build through your author bio will have higher scores basing on its relevance as well as in targeting the audience that will be able to read it.

5. Forum participation

Forum posting is a good start for any campaign, especially if you choose to participate on high PR and high traffic forum sites. The best way to benefit from this method is to establish an expert or knowledgeable image through this channel, and not just focusing on building links through your signature.

Establishing yourself through forum sites and being genuinely active in participating with the community can bring you targeted visitors and interested clients within a month, so spending 30 minutes a day on 1 or 2 authority forums around your site’s industry is certainly worth it.

6. Article submission and converting your articles

This link building method has proven its worth over the past decade and is still known to be one of the most effective ways in generating consistent traffic as well as highly relevant links that can boost your search rankings.  The best thing about article marketing is that it’s capable of building solid links as it gets syndicated naturally, particularly if you have written a solid and informative article. Submitting an exceptionally written article to several highly trusted article directories (such as Ezinearticles, Articlesbase, Goarticles, Amazines, and many more) can enhance its chances of getting scraped or used by other sites that are seeking for quality content to be posted, which gives you more extra links and of course, more traffic.


But there’s more to this method than just the traditional article marketing, you can as well convert your articles to other formats for more exposure and external links pointing to your site. Converting your articles to PDF, podcasts, slide/powerpoint presentation and videos, and then submitting them to their respective directories can extremely amplify your site’s traffic in a short period of time, given that these formats have higher chances of ranking high on search engine result pages.

Importance of Ethics for Your Online Success

The internet offers a huge amount of benefits to those who wish to take the time to build a business or offer something creative to share with the rest of the world.

The qualities about online businesses which attracts the most people is the flexibility of lifestyle and the prospect of making a very good living because of the huge global exposure and reach which you potentially have by being connected online.

Unfortunately due to this wide potential market base there will always be those who will try to exploit this in ways considered to be unethical. I guess this shouldn’t come as a surprise because unethical business practices happen all the time and have been happening since man first started to trade in ancient times.

The only difference is, now with the interconnectedness of the world wide web and the huge internet technological advancements, the unethical side of business and marketing has been magnified.

For instance before the internet really started to take off in the late nineties, people were hardly ever confronted with ads, spam or junk mail about “acai berries” or “penis enlargement”. I mean when was the last time you got a flyer in your regular letterbox about “Adding 3 inches” to your you-know-what?

The peculiarity of today’s internet marketing is solely due to the nature of the technology itself and for all of the advantages and benefits the internet has brought us, the same advantages and benefits are unfortunately exploitable for those intent on using unethical means.

There are probably a few qualities about the online environment which are unique to it compared to other mediums and which therefore make the unethical marketing seem so much more pronounced.
For instance we already mentioned the grand scale of reach which people have when using the internet. You could potentially spam millions of people daily on the internet with little or no cost to you, whereas doing the same thing using snail mail would take you years and probably send you broke.
Also, the faceless nature of the internet makes it seem easier for people to fall into unethical practices because they don’t ever have to face the people they’re trying to scam.

The current global economic turmoil and job uncertainty is no doubt also playing a role in increasing peoples’ fear and desperation and so some are willing to try anything to make a few extra bucks.

But in the long haul you will find those trying to cheat the system and other people, eventually get found out and their money-making strategies come crashing down. Quite often these same types of people quickly try to think up new schemes and the process starts all over again.

The point is that from the perspective of building a stable income online, unethical schemes and scams are definitely not the way to go.

I know it’s a cliche but it’s also very true when people say: “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t”. This cliche has never been more apt than what has been happening on the internet now for over a decade.

Google and How It’s Leveling the Playing Field

Google is by far the most popular search engine, taking something like over 80% of the internet search pie followed by Bing and Yahoo who share less than 10% each (according to  2011/2012 statistics).

You may also probably know that Google is a huge business globally, making most of its money either directly or indirectly from search activities. Therefore as the biggest search engine provider, Google is also most exposed to the unethical activities of people trying to cheat the system. Due to this exposure, they are also constantly tweaking and refining their search engines to combat the low quality, low value, high spam sites being displayed in their search results.

The latest announcement by Google’s Matt Cutts (who is the head of the Webspam team) was that they are increasingly targeting sites which are “over-optimized” – meaning those sites which might have an overabundance of unnatural backlinks and stuffed with keywords which make them almost unreadable and uninformative.

After all it’s in Google’s and everybody else’s interest that they provide a quality service to its clients by way of offering relevant search results. This means reducing the number of bounces caused by sites which are low quality and spammy in nature.

The way Google usually targets low quality spammy sites is that it gives them a lower weighting and ranking in the search results. The effect of this is that such sites are demoted from say the top one hundred search results to something further down the rankings.

Changes in Google’s core search algorithm and rankings methods shouldn’t come as a surprise when you consider that Google apparently make hundreds of code and algorithm modifications per year. But what is becoming more and more surprising is the increasing intelligence being built into the Google algorithms which are making them smarter in identifying a “good” versus a “bad” site.

So what does this have to do with you and your online ambitions?


Quite simply, if you dedicate your time and work smart to offer quality products/services/information to people and in doing so you also instill ethical practices in your online business ventures, then you will more likely reap the rewards from your hard work; quite often simply from the benefits gained from Google’s smarter search algorithm.

How the Latest Google Algorithm Penguin Update will Affect You

On April 24th 2012 Matt Cutts, the head of the webspam team at Google announced that there will be another algorithm change to the Google search engine.

This latest update has been named “Penguin” and the main objective of the change is to specifically target webspam.

To quote Matt’s words:

“The change will decrease rankings for sites that we believe are violating Google’s existing quality guidelines. We’ve always targeted webspam in our rankings, and this algorithm represents another improvement in our efforts to reduce webspam and promote high quality content.”

If your site’s search engine traffic went down significantly since that date then your site is most likely being penalized by Google for not following the quality guideline.

A lot of you may remember that the last time a high profile and significant algorithm change occurred was around February 2011 and that was given the moniker of “Panda”. Back then the Panda algorithm tweaks were aimed at penalizing sites with poor quality content – especially content associated with content farms like article directories.

Although the Penguin update is believed to chiefly be aimed at webspam, a lot of the general rules of thumb regarding what makes a quality website in the eyes of Google still apply.

The main thing which all website owners and creators should keep in mind is that Google is always tweaking their search algorithms because, as a global multi-billion dollar a year business, it’s in their interests to provide accurate and quality search results to their users.

Matt Cutt’s even says that Google wants to provide search results which will enhance the experience of the user.

How will the Penguin update affect your sites?

For starters if you have created and maintained a solid site with original and quality content which has been organically rising up the rankings, then you won’t have much to worry about.

By “organically” we mean that you have been steadily creating quality content which has been indexed by Google and over time it has naturally risen in the search rankings.

However, if you have tried to take shortcuts and employed what are known as “black hat” techniques to try and fool Google into ranking your site above the higher quality competitors, then you will probably see some significant drops in your rankings and traffic in the coming months.

Examples of “black hat” techniques which may have worked in the past but will, over time, cause more harm than good to your site are things like:
  • Unnatural and excessive back-linking
    You might have noticed by simply checking your spam folder in your WordPress administration panel to see how much garbage your Akismet plugin filters out of your comment area.
  • All of these spam comments are from people (or automated robots) which leave comments with links going back to their site in the hope that they will be able to build a significant number of back-links. A lot of the time the comments are totally irrelevant and out of context to the topic at hand which makes them very unnatural.Another technique spammers employ is to try and leave comments with links going back to their sites in forums. 
  • There is also a variation of this method whereby the spammers create forum profiles and place links in their profile without ever leaving a comment.Whereas previously the technique of building huge numbers of back-links may have been effective in increasing search rankings, this type of tactic is now being targeted more readily by Google and it may be something they are addressing in the Penguin update too.
  • Poorly written articles which don’t make sense because of bad grammar
    In the effort to write as many articles as possible in the shortest amount of time, some people use what are known as article spinners. That is, they will often try to recycle existing articles which they’ve found on the net, by using a spinner to reword the article so that Google doesn’t detect any duplicate content.
  • The end result of sites which are primarily built using such a technique is that they are grammatically illegible and quite useless as far as being informative goes.Google is constantly introducing intelligence into their search engines and crawlers to spot things like this and penalise sites with such qualities by demoting them in the search rankings.
  • Keyword stuffing
    “Keyword stuffing” refers to the unnaturally high frequency of keywords which are placed on a page. The reason why people do this is that they hope to get a better ranking for their chosen keywords by exhibiting a large number of those keywords on their pages.
  • Quite often, when you read a page of a typical spammy website you will find that the content actually doesn’t make any sense because the post was written specifically to contain as many instances of a keyword as possible without any regard to the quality of the content itself.
The above are just some of the “black hat” techniques which spammers and wanna-be Internet millionaires employ in order to short circuit the work needed to succeed online.

However, with algorithm tweaks such as Panda and Penguin and future updates, these techniques will soon be as toxic as kryptonite was for superman in terms of the success of your website.

What to Do if Your Site Got Penalized?

If your site got penalized by the penguin update then you should try the following:

  1. Carefully read Google’s quality guidelines
  2. Make the necessary changes to your site
  3. Log into your Google Webmaster tools account and submit a request for reconsideration

How to Select Keywords For Google AdWords

Few weeks ago I wrote an article on getting the most out of your Adwords account. In this article I will share some tips on how to select keywords for Adwords.

A good place to start with search engine marketing (SEM) is the use of keywords because that is how your customers find you, right?

If there is anything that you remember from this article, remember these 3 things:
  • Think holistically about the different ways that customers could reach you
  • Align your keywords and their management with your overall business outcomes
  • Delete your low search volume keywords
There are a few ways to develop a list of keywords for your AdWords campaign. Think of the words on the website, your services and products that you offer. What terms do you think your customers use to describe or search for you? What terms do your competitors use to be found?

Remember the story of the 3 bears? Goldilocks tried the porridge and one was too hot and another was too cold and one was juuust right. Well, you can think of keywords for AdWords in the same way. Some are too broad and some are too long and some are juuust right. In SEO, we LOVE Long Tail keywords because those are very relevant. They may not be searched as much as a broad term, but when they are, its money in the bank.  Unfortunately, you can’t have a lot of long tail keywords in AdWords because of the low search volume. Compared to shorter keywords (those with two to four words), keywords that contain five words or more drive less than half the volume of clicks and impressions on average. It also hurts your quality score. I’ll explain this a little later.

Let’s say you are David Bouley, the owner and chef of Bouley’s French Restaurant in New York City and you want to have a campaign to sell more gift certificates to your restaurant. Using the term Gift Card is too broad because it will trigger all kind of searches that are irrelevant. He doesn’t want people seeing his ads when searching for Harry & David Gift Baskets. Using Restaurant Gift Certificates is a little better because it triggers those searching for that more specific gift certificate, yet it can still be a problem because it can show up for Olive Garden gift certificate, or Chili’s, which target totally different diners with a different price and dining experience expectation in mind. A good keyword phrase could be french fine dining gift card or french fine dining gift certificate. This targets diners who are interested in a French Fine Dining Experience. Another possibility could be Bouley’s Gift Certificates, however I bet the search volume would be very low.

Keyword Tools

There are many software tools available to assist you in finding the best keywords for your campaign or website. One of them is the Google Keyword Planner. What I have found though, is that these tools are not as accurate as you may think. The search volume has been off and the bids weren’t as accurate as what I saw when my campaigns went live.

I was told once by a very successful online marketing professional, Matt Trainer, who has made a good living by helping major brands with getting massive targeted traffic and customers into their sales funnels, to take 10 – 15 minutes and step away from the computer and actually think how I, as a potential client would search for that product or service. I’m sure you can think of the right terms just as well as any software can. Heck, you can even think of what terms your competitors are using. Like many things in life, you just gotta take action and step out in faith. Give it a try yourself and, you may start to realize that this practice will work better for you too if you try it and practice it. Maybe you have already seen the same things that I have experienced.

Grouping Keywords

Google LOVES tightly themed, related and relevant content. You want to match keywords to a user’s search terms and to the ads as well as the landing page you are sending them to visit. I arrange keywords within the adgroups. It also makes it easier for you to manage and maintain your account.  If you are on a tight budget, keywords are often grouped at the campaign level for greater budgetary control.

Stay Clear of Low Searched Keywords

Watch out for low search volume keywords. As Stated earlier, SEM doesn’t like long tail keywords. These terms often haven’t driven a single impression in months or even years because people aren’t performing searches on them (not because your bid isn’t winning any auctions). While you want them on your page for SEO, Delete them in SEM campaign if you have other keywords that could potentially cover that traffic. My personal preference is to have 2 – 3 long tail keywords that are super relevant even though they don’t perform well because when people do search for example: Buy Bouley’s NYC Gift Certificates, His ad will show up and the person looking for that and ready to buy a $500 gift certificate for a 5 course French Fine Dining luxury experience will have found exactly what they want.

Let’s Get Negative

Just as important as the keywords people use to find you; Negative keywords are an essential part of a well-rounded keyword strategy. In order to increase the profitability and improve control over the flow of traffic in your account, use negative keywords to the fullest. On the most basic level, negative keywords prevent you from showing ads to people who are less interested in what you have to offer, even though their queries may be syntactically related to the keywords in your account.

So, let’s go back to the example of David Bouley’s French Restaurant. He doesn’t want to show up for searches of gift cards from Pizza Hut, or Chili’s or Applebee’s, etc. So a sure fire way to assure we are targeting the most relevant audience is to add these restaurants to the negative keyword list along with gift baskets and Harry. Once the campaign is running, you will see in the keyword details reports what terms are triggering your ads and then you can add the appropriate ones to the negative keyword list.

Having a strong negative keyword list will be valuable as it improves the performance of your campaign and improves the quality scores of your ads.

Scoring High Marks on Quality

You know how you have those warning or indicator lights on the dash of your car? They turn on when you need to check your engine, or if your oil or gas is running low? Well, you can think of the Quality Score of your keywords as a warning light: something that alerts you to potential problems which need to be checked. A lot of advertisers spend a lot of time on this. A good rule of thumb I go by is a score under 6 is a stronger indicator that I need to check the relevance of the term and how it’s performing and if I need to tweak my landing page or ad or both.

Attempting to use tricks, shortcuts or short-term solutions to force the quality score up isn’t the way to go. Rather, you’re better off to focus on your long-term performance outcomes and look for ways to reach them by improving your user experience. Google is ALL about the user experience and so should you.

That should be enough for now to get ya started. I’d love to read your thoughts on this.


Check out the how to start a blog article series for more tips like this.

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