Promoting Your Blog

Just like your Web site, once you have a blog, you want to maximize its exposure; you want to have as much of your target market reading or reviewing your blog on a regular basis as possible.

There are many ways to get your blog noticed. The most obvious place to start is your own Web site. However, there are many other ways to promote your blog:

  • Use your blog to feed or update your social media accounts. Make sure you provide links from your blog to your social media accounts to grow your friends, fans, and followers.
  • Generate links to your blog from other, related sites.
  • Promote your blog in your email signature file, on your Web site, in your newsletter or e-zine.
  • Submit your blog to all of the major search engines.

Another way to promote your blog is to register it with all the major blog directories such as Blogarama (http://www.blogarama.com) and Blogcatalog (http://www.blogcatalog.com).

Get your blog listed and high in the search results for your important keyword phrases in Technorati (http://www.technorati.com), Google Blog Search (http://blogsearch.google.com), Blog Search Engine (http://www.blogsearchengine.com), and other popular blog search engines.

Avoiding Classic Blog Mistakes

While blogs can be an easy way to communicate with your target audience, there are many common mistakes that people make when taking on such an endeavor.

Underestimating the Time Commitment

One of the biggest mistakes people make when deciding to start a blog is underestimating the time commitment. While it’s convenient to know that blogs can be updated from anywhere, it is more important to know that they have to be updated.

Blogs should be updated at least two or three times per week, and you need to have the discipline to keep it current. That means at least two or three times every week you have to research your topic or put your thoughts into words in a way that is interesting to read (both very time-consuming tasks), and post them online.

Overestimating the Marketing Impact

The second biggest mistake people make when deciding to start a blog is overestimating the marketing impact. It takes time and effort to build an audience for a blog—again, when was the last time you bookmarked a blog and went back to it on a regular basis? And if you did, did it influence you to make a purchase?

Irregular or Infrequent Updating

Users must be able to anticipate when and how often updates to your blog will occur. People are busy and they do not have the time to keep checking your blog to see if it has been updated—always provide an RSS feed.

Your readers need to know that everyday, or every two days, or whatever the case may be, there is going to be a new post they can read. Otherwise you will lose many of your readers. Pick a posting schedule and stick to it—a blog that isn’t updated regularly will simply be ignored.

Writing for the Search Engines and Not for the Blog

There is the growing tendency by many bloggers to write for search engines rather than focusing on the needs of their “human” readers. Putting search engines first rather than putting your readers first will almost certainly lead to bad decisions that will make your blog less usable, even if it is optimized for search spiders.

While blogs can be a great way to speak to your target market and keep them up to date on all the latest news on your business products and services, you must determine if there is a more effective, time-efficient way to communicate.

 

Pros and Cons of Blogging

Some pros of blogging are:

  • Blogs are an easy way to add new content, thus keeping your Web site current.
  • Blogs can be used to provide your potential and existing customers with the latest news on your products and services, industry news, updates, tips, or other relevant content.
  • Using keyword-rich content can help your search engine placement.
  • Blogs can be updated from anywhere. You can even send camera phone photos or videos straight to your blog while you’re on the go with Blogger Mobile.
  • You can create an RSS feed to syndicate your blog, giving you instant access to your subscribers and the opportunity to have your blog content appear on your social media and relevant partner sites.

Some cons of blogging are:

  • Blogs need to be constantly updated, a minimum of three times per week. You need to have the discipline to keep it current.
  • You have to have enough news or new content to make it worthwhile for both you and your readers.
  • Updates usually get done on your own personal time.
  • The time spent updating blogs could be used toward something more productive.
  • The time commitment needed to update is often underestimated.
  • The marketing impact is often overestimated—how many times have you bookmarked a blog and gone back on a regular basis?

Again, it is important to be cautious when considering whether or not a blog is right for you. Don’t jump on the blog bandwagon—just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s right.

To Blog or Not to Blog?

Blogs were the rage in Internet marketing several years ago. Because of this, there was a lot of buzz created around them, and just about everyone jumped on the bandwagon. Since then about 82 percent of blogs have been abandoned.

As with everything related to your Web site content, you must go back to your objectives and your target markets when trying to determine whether a blog is right for your business.

What are you hoping to accomplish with your Web site content? Whom are you hoping to interact with on your site? Is a blog the most effective technique to “speak to” your target market and get them to do what you want them to do? Is there a more-effective mechanism? How much work is involved? Is this time well spent, or are there other techniques that would be more effective given the time commitment?

You don’t add Web site content just because it is the latest trend or because you can. Always go back to your objectives and your target market to see if this type of content is the most effective and most efficient way to accomplish what you want to do online.

 

The Many Uses of Blogs

Before you decide to blog, you should go back to your objectives. Why do you want to blog? What do you hope to accomplish? Is this the fastest, easiest, cheapest way to achieve that objective?

There are different reasons businesses decide to blog or use a blog platform:

  • To have another vehicle to reach their target market—if you have a hard time finding time to update your existing Web site, realize that you will have a hard time finding the time to blog.
  • To give key company officials a voice online
  • To improve their search engine ranking
  • To replace their traditional Web site—a Web site template on a blog engine makes it easy for the small-business person to update and maintain the Web site without outside help.
  • To feed their social media.

Go back to your objectives first to determine if a blog is the best solution to achieve your objectives.

Blog marketing can take several forms:

  • You can have your blog in addition to your Web site.
  • You can have the blog as your Web site or Web presence.
  • You can post on others’ blogs.

What Are Blogs?

Wikipedia defines a blog as “A blog (a contraction of the term ‘web log’) is a type of Web site, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. ‘Blog’ can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.”

Sometimes blogs look like an ongoing diary or a journal on a site. Sometimes they look just like a traditional Web site. Traditional blogs have one author and are usually written in more conversational or informal style than most business materials and can include text, images, and links to other content such as podcasts, video files, or even Web sites. Web sites that are built on a blog engine have the look and feel of a traditional Web site, as well as the typical text, photos, and videos that you would find there.

Writing the actual content for your blog is referred to as blogging. Each article that you add to your blog is called a blog post, a post, or an entry in your blog. You are a blogger if you write and add entries or posts to your blog.

Blogs usually focus on one topic or area of interest, or at least they should focus on one type or area of interest. For example:

  • A person might have a personal blog about his or her trip through South Africa.
  • A market analyst might have a blog on his or her findings in the finance and investment industry—what’s happening in the industry, or news or articles on his or her latest research.

When setting up your blog, you have several options:

  1. There are a number of free blogging platforms. WordPress (http://wordpress.org) and Blogger.com (Figure 18.1) are the most popular. Both are very easy to use and have wizards to get your blog up and running in short order.
  2. You can also create your own blog using HTML.
Figure 18.1. Blogger is a free blog publishing tool owned by Google.
Figure 18.1. Blogger is a free blog publishing tool owned by Google.

Killer Keyword Marketing Research

Everyone wants more traffic. But most do not know how to excel at the one thing that will insure their site is jammed with traffic like a Los Angeles freeway at rush hour. That is, they fail to do anywhere near enough keyword marketing research.

Granted reading one article will not you an expert make. But I can at least begin to bring you up to speed when it comes to finding visitor laden top search terms. To do so I will reveal four of my sacred keyword research rules of thumb.My first rule of thumb is simple. Do not settle for the obvious keyword phrases. I know. Sounds obvious. But apparently isn’t.

For example the term “easter baskets” gets 120 searches/day. While going up against 420,00 other pages.

Not insurmountable. But I like less of a challenge. Especially when “personalized easter baskets” gets 109 searches/day and only has 615 competitors.See the difference one word makes? Similar to the difference between lightning and a lightning bug, no? Since you get nearly the same number of searches with no where near the same number of competing pages.The next secret rule of thumb is to compare the plural verses singular forms to see which is better. Since when it comes to this most webmasters tend to pile onto the wrong choice.Take the term “gold earrings” It gets 168 daily searches in all engines, and has 1,540,000 competing pages in Google. While “gold earring” gets 84 daily searches and faces 440,000 competitors. In other words it has less than a third of the competition for half the searches. So we’re on the right track. Best of all “italian gold earrings” is used by 52 searchers daily. And only has to fend off 514 pesky competitors. Or what you might call a slam dunk.

Your third keyword research tactic involves grabbing the low hanging fruit. Or what I call “orphan keywords”.Ideally you’re looking search terms with less than 1000 competing pages in Google when searching for the EXACT phrase. 500 or less is better still.

Of course the closer to 10 competing pages you get for a search term, the more likely it is your page will be to stumble into the top 10. These are true “orphan keywords”. So named due to neglect by your competitors.Then don’t forget to think outside the box. Just like your potential customers do.Say you had a law practice in California. One term you might consider is “criminal defense attorney”. That gets 131 searches but faces 1,450,000 competing pages. I’m not wild about those odds. Plus the term really isn’t very targeted.

Digging deeper I found that “criminal defense attorney LA” gets 85 daily searches. And only has 11,1100 pages to beat out. Not bad.Digging deeper still “criminal defense attorney la county” gets 84 daily searches. But only has 575 competing pages. Paydirt!Once again I turned up a search term with total searches at least in the same ball park as the generic term I started with. Yet with just a handful of competing pages to deal with. Rarely do I fail to do this. In fact you’ll discover dozens of such gems by thoroughly researching your keyword universe.

Never forget that keyword marketing research is THE factor that determines the success or failure of your niche site. Applying rules of thumb like these can help you do smarter optimised keyword marketing. Which in turn will help you attract more traffic from search engines more easily. And traffic is something we could all use more of, right?

Friday: Setting Keyword Bids

After you’ve estimated your initial bids, it’s time to actually put those bids in motion!

Here’s the basic process for setting bids for your new campaign from the web interface:

  1. Create and name a new campaign and ad group.
  2. Compose your first ad.
  3. Add keywords.
  4. Set your keyword bids.

In AdWords Editor, the option to set your maximum bid for a new ad group appears on the very first screens. As illustrated in Figure 4.37, you have the option to set bids—with a variety of specific bid types—before naming campaigns or ad groups,
or composing ads.

Figure 4.37 This ad group has no name, but three potential bid categories: Max.CPC Bid, Max.CPC Content Bid, and Placement Max.CPC Bid.
Figure 4.37 This ad group has no name, but three potential bid categories: Max.CPC Bid, Max.CPC Content Bid, and Placement Max.CPC Bid.

Take a breath. You’re doing great. Next month, you’ll begin what we consider possibly the most rewarding part of PPC marketing: the creative—yet strangely scientific—process of ad copywriting!

Thursday: Determining Your Starting Keyword Bids

How much should you bid on each ad group? Should you start with low bids and go high later, or vice versa? When should you change your bids? What’s more important: ad rank, CTR, click volume, or conversion rates? There aren’t easy answers for questions like these because, as in all marketing efforts, there are different valid strategies. Which ones are “best” depends on your company’s budget, timing, market position, and business objectives.

Determining optimal bidding strategy shouldn’t be viewed as a choice between the “right way” and the “wrong way.” The best bidding strategy is the one that’s most appropriate for your company’s situation (in other words, how much can you
afford to spend?) and your objectives, including brand awareness, revenue growth, or profitability.

The ultimate objective of most advertising campaigns, including PPC advertising, is to maximize conversions. And one of the main reasons that PPC advertising is so attractive and efficient is because measuring conversions and ROI is easy. In order to serve larger marketing and company goals, it makes sense to continually decrease the average cost per conversion so that your campaigns are increasingly profitable and maximize ROI.

Deciding how much to spend per click at the beginning of a new campaign needn’t be pure guesswork. You can “back into” the starting bid price by doing some easy calculations. Although the math is simple, the concepts are powerful. Your ability to calculate and track the following metrics will be largely responsible for the success of your advertising efforts.

Let’s start with one of the most important calculations: conversion rate, which is simply the percentage of clicks that result in conversions. For example, if one of your ad groups results in 200 clicks, and 40 of those clicks result in conversions, then the ad group’s conversion rate is 20 percent, as shown in the following calculation:

40 ÷ 200 = 20%

Cost per conversion is easily calculated, too. Simply divide the total spent on clicks by the number of conversions. In the previous example, if each click cost $1.50, the cost per conversion is (200 × $1.50) / 40 = $7.50.

Step 1 in this exercise is for you to estimate what you’re willing to pay for a sale or sales lead, which is the maximum cost per conversion (also known as cost per action, or CPA). Then you can calculate the maximum click price you can afford (also known as cost per click, or CPC). Before even starting a campaign, you need to determine (or even just estimate) your maximum acceptable cost per conversion. This should be the maximum you’re willing to pay for a sale, a lead, or whatever constitutes a conversion for your company.

If you sell only one item, this calculation is easy. If your product price is $35.00, and your gross profit on a sale is $20.00, you might set your maximum cost per conversion to be $10.00 to allow for a net profit of $10.00. This is calculated as follows:

$35 – $15 = $20 gross profit ÷ 2 = $10 CPA (cost per acquisition)

It gets a little trickier if you sell more than one product, or if your primary objective is to obtain sales leads, and you do not yet have enough data to estimate revenue stream or gross profit. But you need to start somewhere—so use average transaction revenue, or calculate the value of a lead based on your historical ability to convert leads to sales.

Armed with the maximum cost per conversion, you’re now on track to calculate the maximum click price (the CPC) you can afford. First, you need to calculate the number of site visitors it will take to obtain one sale or action.

If you have historical data on how well your site visitors convert, this calculation is a snap. The number of visitors you need to receive in order to make one sale is 100 divided by the conversion rate (represented as a whole number rather than a percentage). For example, if your conversion rate is 4 percent, your site gains a sale for every 25 visitors, as shown in the following calculation:

100 ÷ 4 = 25

Second, you need to use the previous two calculations to determine the maximum click price: the maximum conversion price divided by the number of visitors needed for one sale.

Continuing this example, if your maximum cost per conversion is $10, and your conversion rate is 4 percent, your maximum CPC is $10 multiplied by .04, or $0.40 (40 cents). Here’s the equation:

max CPC = max cost per conversion × conversion rate

This final calculation of maximum CPC is not simply a dry mathematical exercise—it’s crucial to the success of your PPC campaign. If you bid higher than the maximum CPC, you risk losing money. If you bid at or below the calculated maximum CPC, your campaign should remain profitable (assuming sufficient conversions).

What should you do if you don’t have historical data that lets you calculate the conversion rate, as in the case of a new product launch? There is no need to bid blindly. Start with your best guess. Be conservative or optimistic, but guess.

Assume these typical results:

  • For most PPC campaigns, the minimum conversion rate should be 1 to 1.5 percent.
  • Good conversion rates range from 2 to 4 percent.
  • 5 percent and above is a very good to excellent conversion rate.
  • Anything in the double-digit percentages is extraordinary.

For example, if you’re launching a new product and have determined the maximum cost per conversion to be $32, a conservative approach would be to assume a conversion rate of 1 percent. Thus, the starting maximum CPC bid would be $0.48 CPC or:

$32 × .01 = 32 cents per click

Another factor in determining initial click pricing is whether you want to reach maximum profitable conversion volume sooner or later. To help you with that decision, we’ll describe two different bidding strategies: aggressive and conservative.

Advertisers who use an aggressive strategy start bid prices at a high level— sometimes as much as twice the amount expected to achieve profitability. Then bids are lowered as data accumulates, eventually settling in at CPC levels that ensure profitable conversions. Obviously, this strategy risks burning ad dollars on the way to profitability. However, it enables advertisers to accumulate data quickly and test ads and landing pages in a relatively short period of time.

So the aggressive strategy is appropriate for advertisers who want or need to minimize the time necessary to attain maximum profitable sales volume or market share. It might be used, for example, by a retailer who wants to conduct conversionoptimization testing in time for the holiday buying season.

The conservative strategy suits advertisers who are more risk-averse, are working with low ad budgets, or have little experience with PPC advertising. As you might expect, this strategy calls for starting bid prices at a low level, and increasing them gradually over time, as ads and landing pages are tested and CTR and conversion rates improve. Conservative PPC advertisers minimize unprofitable conversions, but the amount of time between starting the campaign and achieving maximum profitable conversions can be much longer than if the aggressive strategy is pursued.

If you want to estimate how much time it will take to “test the waters” and get your ads on the first page of search results, Google provides a data point called First Page Bid Estimate.

How much does Google anticipate it will cost to show your ad on the first page of search results? First Page Bid Estimates can give you an idea of how much it will cost to appear on the first page of Google’s SERPs, as shown on the AdWords Editor interface in Figure 4.36.

Figure 4.36 First Page Bid Estimates help advertisers determine baseline bids for a conservative bidding strategy.
Figure 4.36 First Page Bid Estimates help advertisers determine baseline bids for a conservative bidding strategy.

 

 

Wednesday: Testing Conversion Tracking

Testing your conversion tracking is not simply a matter of going to your website and completing a test conversion. You need to click on a PPC ad in order for the PPC tracking cookie to be installed on your computer, and when you convert, a conversion will be registered in AdWords.

Here is the step-by-step process to make sure that your conversion tracking code has been installed correctly:

  1. Within any active campaign, create an ad group called Conversion Test.
  2. Within this ad group, insert one keyword that is nonsensical (for example, xxxyyyzzz or abcd1234). Use exact match for this keyword.
  3. Run a query on Google for this nonsense keyword, and your ad should appear.
  4. Click on your ad and complete a test conversion.

There is a reporting lag within the AdWords interface, so you can’t convert and check your account a few minutes later. You should allow at least three hours for processing. If you don’t see your conversion then, you may want to give it 5 hours. If after this you don’t see your conversion, your conversion tracking code may not be properly installed. However, if a conversion registers, you’re finished!

There are a couple of reasons we want you to make your dummy purchase from a dummy keyword in an irrelevant ad group. One of them is that you will spend less money for the click. One click probably doesn’t mean very much in the grand scheme of things, but you’re almost certain to spend less money than clicking a “live” keyword. Additionally, you don’t want to pollute your conversion-tracking data.