SEO Versus PPC Keyword Quality Score Optimization
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SEO Versus PPC Keyword Quality Score Optimization. Fight!

One of the great things about collaborating with fellow digital marketers is the variety of perspectives you encounter. When competing opinions arise in the process of creating successful programs for a client it forces you to really think about why you are making a recommendation and to defend your position with facts and reason.

This very thing happened recently regarding a client that hired us to create and manage their paid search marketing campaign, while a second company was hired to build a new web site and handle the search engine optimization efforts.

The discussion boiled down to the following case for using native web site product pages as paid search landing pages.

  • We believe that building quality pages is the key to a proper web site.
  • We will optimize the site to rank for relevant keywords and optimize the product pages to be the best they can be.
  • We believe that paid search marketing is a temporary strategy and that landing pages are not necessary as our product pages will be awesome.
  • A couple of the paid search landing pages have 85% duplicate content and we believe that will hurt our SEO efforts.
  • We should instead take the time and effort to improve quality score using the native product pages instead of using landing pages.

Are They Wrong?

No, and yes. Certainly we agree that the sites product pages should be optimized for keywords the client wants to rank for organically. And of course they should be the most usable, awesome pages anyone has ever seen (defined by their success in converting visitors of course). And yes too much duplicate content can get you penalized by the search engines. The problem is the web company, being specialists in SEO, were looking at paid search marketing through SEO colored lenses.

Paid Search Marketing is a Temporary Strategy, You Say?

Let’s start with the premise that paid search marketing is a temporary marketing strategy, presumably because your goal is to get ranked organically for your keywords in the search engines.

The short response to this is that if your paid search marketing program is profitable, why would you ever turn it off? With such a tractable, repeatable marketing channel you can plan for and rely on every year, why on earth would you every abandon it? I suspect some believe that if you can get ranked for your keywords organically, you shouldn’t need to run redundant paid search marketing campaigns. Here is why I believe this is wrong.

  • Organic rankings take time to achieve. A lot of time. And they can be wiped out in a second during a search engine algorithm update.
  • It’s hard to rank organically for hundreds, or even thousands of keywords depending on your goals. It’s also very time consuming to generate the content needed to achieve top rank for high volumes of keywords.
  • Even if you were to rank organically for all your desired keywords, with paid search ads you can double or triple the amount of search engine results page real estate you ‘own’, making it more likely you will win the click.
  • With paid ads you can control your messaging, even testing variations of your ads in real time. Organic results might draw from your meta tags or match up on-page content with a prospects search phrase. And by the way, consumers will search in many different ways that rarely match your targeted keywords exactly.
  • Paid search is tractable and linear. We can draw a line from cost to results in a way you cannot with SEO.

In addition to these important points, Wordstream reports that “Sponsored results earn about twice as many clicks as the organic results” and “Searchers looking to buy a specific product are much more likely to click the sponsored ads.” The notion that searchers click on organic listings in higher volumes, or don’t trust paid ads is simply not true. (Source: Wordstream’sCompete in Adwords eBook)

SEO Versus PPC. Two Different Animals.

Let’s take a step back for some perspective about optimization in regards to organic rankings versus paid search marketing. On one hand, with SEO, you are working to get your keywords ranked in the search engines. On the other hand, with paid search marketing, you are optimizing to improve keyword quality score. If you aren’t familiar, keyword quality score is used by the search engines to determine how much you will pay, and for what position, in each online ‘auction’ (i.e. search). (We go into depth about quality score in our Ultimate Guide to Google Adwords)

These are two very different, and in some ways competing goals. And here is the major rub, you simply cannot optimize one product page to rank all the variations of keywords you will want to rank for organically and all the keyword variations you are targeting in paid search. 

Let me give you an example. If I have am a company that only sells a handful of products I may have 5 product pages at our online store. Realistically I can target 25 or so keywords to rank for organically for each page and will optimize the page for that goal. But what if searchers use a variety of variations and slang to search for my product? What if I also want to target groups of keywords in various stages of the buyer’s journey? I’m looking at a few hundred or more keywords we want to target, and there is no way we will get one page optimized for them all.

In this particular example the product is used to maintain a snow mobile. Also known as a sled, or a snow machine. And the part the product works on? It’s known as a runner, or carbide runner, or ski, or skeg. And for those that aren’t looking for this specific product but want to improve their snow mobile’s handling or traction or are looking for a new part, but we want them to know they can repair the part they have with our product instead? Now we can add traction and handling plus snowmobile, snow machine and sled plus runner and ski etc. Plus every brand of manufacturer of the part they are looking to replace. I suppose we could replicate the product page, but then we’d have multiple product pages for the same product in our online store. Doesn’t sound like a solid usability strategy to me.

But What About the Duplicate Content Penalties?

First let’s talk about the concept of a winning ‘pitch’. Once you’ve found a page content formula that converts like a champion why would you abandon that just to be sure you don’t have duplicate content? In fact, landing pages tend to have duplicate content by design. Keeping the main formula in place, but micro optimizing for the subtle variations in the keywords you are targeting. Think snow mobile versus snow machine. Or equipment financing versus equipment loan versus equipment lease. Or retirement home versus retirement community. The message will stay the same, but the variations of the keywords you are optimizing for will change.

Yes, the search engines are on the lookout for sites using duplicate content to rank for keywords organically. But does this mean they don’t believe there is ever a use for duplicate content? Of course not. In fact, Google addresses this in their support documentation. While you can instruct the search engines not to index your landing pages if there is duplicate content, Google provides the following preferred solution.

“Google does not recommend blocking crawler access to duplicate content on your website, whether with a robots.txt file or other methods. If search engines can’t crawl pages with duplicate content, they can’t automatically detect that these URLs point to the same content and will therefore effectively have to treat them as separate, unique pages. A better solution is to allow search engines to crawl these URLs, but mark them as duplicates by using the rel=”canonical” link element, the URL parameter handling tool, or 301 redirects. In cases where duplicate content leads to us crawling too much of your website, you can also adjust the crawl rate setting in Search Console.” (Get the full details at

If duplicate content penalties are holding you back from creating highly optimized landing pages for your paid search marketing campaigns you can now put that aside and create the pages you need to optimize for keyword quality scores.

Paid Search is Also More Fluid

Another reason that landing pages provide us with the tools we need for success in paid search is due to higher frequency in optimization. What does this mean? Quite simply, a search engine optimized landing page is generally edited very little once the main keywords are selected and the initial optimization is complete. Perhaps a small tweak here and there is necessary based on ranking results.

With paid search landing pages, we might have a group of keywords we are optimizing for and once data starts coming in we realize we need to break some of the keywords out into their own campaign. We’ll start that new campaign with a new landing page and re-optimize both for the narrower set of keywords.

There are many instances where the campaign structure or keyword grouping in paid search will change and we need to be diligent in creating or adjusting the assets we need to optimize for keyword quality scores. If we were to edit the main site product page every time we needed to optimize for keyword quality scores we would end up affecting the SEO efforts in unintended, and often destructive ways. Since we don’t care if our PPC landing pages are organically ranked, we are freed from that constraint and can optimize for quality score to our heart’s delight.

But What if the Native Web Site Product Page Performs Better?

Great question. I believe in letting the data drive your decisions and highly recommend split testing your landing page format against the native product page format. However, even if the native landing page wins the day I still recommend duplicating the format using an individual landing page for your paid search campaigns for all the reasons we’ve reviewed in this article.

In closing let me be clear on one thing. Both agencies are talented and looking to create success for our client. So I view these conversations as positive and constructive so long as we can reach a mutually beneficial resolution. And that is what happened here.

So what do you think of this discussion between SEO and PPC agencies? Have you had experience in the debate between SEO and paid search landing pages? How did you solve the challenge? We want to know, so feel free to share in the comments below!





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Landing Page Optimization for Mobile Devices
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Is Your Web Site Mobile Responsive, or Mobile Optimized?

Nothing thrusts a topic into the main stream consciousness like a good old fashioned Google algorithm update. This time it was their announcement in 2015 that websites that weren’t responsive would be penalized in mobile search results. The increasing amounts of users searching on mobile devices continues to explode, and so the race was on for you to make sure your web site could be viewed on them. Great. But…

Responsive Does Not Equal Usable

Are you aware that ‘responsive’ does not mean ‘optimized’? In other words, just because your web site re-formats content by re-sizing, re-stacking or moving menu items around does not mean that it is easy and intuitive to navigate and digest information. The core focus of your digital assets for Inbound Marketing is to be sure they move visitors and prospects forward in your conversion funnel. A web page that re-formats for a smart phone, but becomes ten miles long will suddenly become a liability instead of an asset. That’s why mobile optimization efforts are critical for your lead generation and product sales.

To help put this into context, imagine you were running a lead generation campaign via email marketing, driving prospects to a customized landing page. As a prospect, I am out of the office and receive your email on my cell phone. I’m interested so I click through and open your landing page in my mobile browser. Instead of a shorter version of your page with the contact form quickly available, I run into a very long page requiring excessive scrolling, with the form hidden way down at the bottom. Chances are I don’t read and digest your pitch, nor fill out your form and convert. Instead, I just give up and move on with my day.

What Can You Do?

The first step is to analyze how your responsive instructions render your web pages, and decide if you need to take action. When it comes to lead generation landing pages, it might be worth the effort to develop mobile specific pages instead of using responsive coding to re-work the existing desktop web page.

This might mean using less information per page, offering quick navigation to the next page, refining your message dramatically, removing images or saving the form for a page of it’s own. It truly depends on how much information you need to ‘close the deal’ with your visiting prospect.

Remember, we only have seconds to reassure a visitor they are in the right place, and you are the right solution for them. Overwhelming a mobile visitor in those critical seconds can throw away any chance you have to convert them.

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Paid Search Marketing Reports
Bing Ad Center - Facebook Marketing - Google Adwords - LinkedIn Advertising - Paid Search Marketing - Remarketing - Social Media Marketing

3 Sales & Marketing Reports You Need to Support Your Paid Search Marketing Program

As marketing and sales managers we are increasingly responsible for the performance of our lead generation efforts. Our digital & inbound marketing agency is no different. Being able to draw the line from spend to return on investment is a critical activity not only for gauging current success but also for planning future activity and investment.  With that in mind I offer you three reports you should create, and monitor, right now.

Open Leads with No Activity Set and Not in a Sales Reps Name

Lead leakage is real, even if you have a sophisticated system of importing leads into your CRM, some will fall through the cracks. What better way to increase your ROI then by making sure you are getting the most out of the leads you have today. This report will offer you a way to manage leads that, for whatever reason, are not being worked. Hence they are open but not tagged to any sales rep, and have no future activity set.

In one organization with high lead flow from our Paid Search Marketing campaign, we caught 25 to 40ish leads per day that had fallen off the radar for a variety of reasons. Imagine how much we would have lost without this valuable report. Whether it was a failure to import, sales rep sloppiness, or employee turnover, we were able to identify potential issues in our sales process while at the same time ensuring each lead was worked and nothing went to waste.

Pro Tip: A report for open leads with no activity set that are in a sales reps name is also important for making sure leads that are claimed are being worked.

Sales Rep Performance by Lead Channel

Testing your way into new lead sources? Great. But you have an important decision to make. Distribute them evenly to your team, or put them in the hands of your most trusted sales reps? Either way, you need to identify the top performing sales people in every channel. Our solution, create a report showing performance by lead source by sales rep. Anyone that drifts below the average channel performance is removed and a new rep that is hungry for an opportunity is added to the lead flow. This will help ensure you are getting the most out of your lead sources, and giving each new lead source the best chance of success. Bonus benefit, keeping your sales team honest. ; )

Pro Tip: In my experience sales people are better at some lead channels than others. As odd as that sounds, it makes it very important to play to their strengths, and provide them with leads they are good at closing.

Acquisition and Retention Contribution of a Lead Channel

As a performance-based marketing agency, you can be sure we are always looking at ROI as the key metric to any marketing program’s success. Problem is, most reports only use your immediate ROI based off of the profits from customers first purchase in the calculation. Smart marketers know that it’s less expensive to keep a current customer (and keep them buying) than it is to find new ones. This means that all retention purchases are an important part of the puzzle and need to be accounted for when evaluating the overall performance of a channel. It just might be OK to break even, or even manage a small loss, on the first sale if we know that repeat business will be profitable down the line. It also allows us to track a lead channel’s performance based on overall profitability, in addition to immediate profitability, as a second method of evaluating where to invest marketing dollars in the future. Since digital & inbound marketing agency is digital, we all need to pay. so get instant loans no guarantor needed and improve the profit of the business.

Pro Tip: The importance of a lead doesn’t end at your first sale. Managing your leads once they hit the retention phase of your business can pay huge dividends.

Put these three reports in place and be sure to manage your efforts to them. I guarantee you will become a more profitable business going forward.

Have any questions or don’t know where to start? Contact me to schedule a free consultation and I’ll get you pointed in the right direction.


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Paid Search Marketing Lead Management Salesforce Tips
Bing Ad Center - Facebook Marketing - Google Adwords - LinkedIn Advertising - Paid Search Marketing - Remarketing - Social Media Marketing

5 Tips to Get More Out of Salesforce

Using Salesforce to support you paid search marketing lead generation efforts? Great! Salesforce is an incredibly powerful customer relationship management platform, not only for managing your contact database but for employing full prospect and customer life cycle activities, lead generation, nurturing & management and a whole host of related business and marketing activities.

This also means it can be an incredibly large and complex system to manage and run. That’s why Salesforce users get together throughout the year to share and learn tips & tricks from fellow professional Salesforce users.

A major focus of our paid search marketing advice is to be sure you are using a CRM system to manage your lead conversion process. This month we were eager to see what nuggets of Salesforce wisdom our community would teach the group. There was a lot of great information, and here we highlight five takeaways to help you with your own Salesforce programs.

1) Reporting a Negative

Ever had to prove a negative or quantify something that isn’t there? This example came in the form of finding out what accounts in your CRM have never had an opportunity. A great segment to study and target with different approaches in order to generate more leads.

The solution is to use Cross Filters. Located in reports>accounts>filters this solution allows you to add rules around the qualifier “without”. You can also expand this to include various types of information including opportunities closed lost, opportunities closed won etc. to further segment the data for targeting.

2) Where Your Opportunities Come From

Most of us are tracking where our opportunities originate from. It’s a critical part of Inbound marketing and for guiding budget allocation. It can also be a messy report to look at if you have a large amount of channels to track.

This tip will make it easier for you to get a fast look at where the action is happening. In your leads header drop down there is an option to “show grid”. Think of it as a summary. You can add and format charts in a way that groups the data and presents it in an easily digestible format. Bonus tip, add the charts to various dashboards so internal stakeholders get the information they need to guide their efforts.

3) Grouping Data for Easier Analysis

Let’s face it. Although Salesforce is a great tool, some base reports can be downright ugly to view in their standard format. Try grouping data to save the day.

In this example we were looking at a report that provided deal close dates. From this report you can select a drop down to summarize data for easier viewing and consumption. Take it one step further by clicking on the matrix view icon to provide yourself a feature akin to Excel pivot tables.

4) Using Formulas in Reports

As marketers and salespeople we are always looking at our sales pipeline and how prospects are moving through the buying cycle. But sometimes we need to be tracking ratios and not individual figures. For example, what is my close ratio?

To help answer this question you can go to Opportunities>Group by Owner. Summarize the amount field. Then do a Lookup>Closed Deals and filter by your chosen time frames. When you group data this way to can easily create formulas to display in your reports.

5) Cut Through the Clutter by Using Dynamic Dashboards

Internal company stakeholders need access to different information that matches their responsibilities. Creating one report that can be easily filtered for these individual user needs is a great way to maximize information dissemination while reducing the number of reports that need to be created.

Using dynamic dashboards allows you to create one reporting dashboard and customize it so the information that displays is dependent on who is opening the dashboard, and which role is assigned to them in Salesforce. One more reason why it’s so important to define and administer user management throughout your Salesforce CRM.

Have fun implementing these tips into your Salesforce strategy. Don’t forget to share them with peers that will find them helpful, and share your tips with our community.

**Special thank you and hat tip to our bank partner for providing loans and then our Salesforce user group host Scribe, organizing company Silvertech and sponsorship by Cloudbit, as well as all the presenters and attendees.

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Paid Search Marketing Landing Page Conversion Tips
Bing Ad Center - Facebook Marketing - Google Adwords - LinkedIn Advertising - Paid Search Marketing - Remarketing - Social Media Marketing

5 Tips to Increase Landing Page Conversion

All too often we end up spending more time and money on driving a prospect to a landing page, and not enough effort and focus on what it takes to convert that prospect into a lead. Imagine the increase in sales and revenue your company could attain if you could bump up your conversion rate while keeping to your fixed marketing budget.

Here are 5 handy suggestions for you to employ on your lead generation landing pages right away.

  1. Don’t Talk Too Much – In the digital world attention spans are short. Visitors take less than 10 seconds to determine if they are in the right place. If you can accomplish that first task, you have ten more seconds or so to try to convert them into a lead. If your landing page has paragraph upon paragraph of content in an un-scanable format then you are losing opportunities. Review your content, see where you can trim, reword and reformat into something that gets the point across quickly and in an easily digestible way.
  2. Talk Directly to Your Visitor – The adage that people do business with people is as true today as it’s ever been. Be sure you aren’t speaking to some generic somebody. Knowing clients reach out to you for something is nice, telling me how you will help me is what I’m looking for. Treat me like I am the only one visiting this page, that is was written just for me, and watch me convert in higher numbers.
  3. Solve My Problem – We’ve established that I need to know I’m in the right place within 10 seconds. Now that we have gone past that step in the process, don’t throw your services up all over me. I am here because I have a problem that needs solving. Address it and tell me how we can work together to get that done. And keep that theme going in your calls to action.
  4. Employ Icons – What you say is important, but can be augmented by providing visual cues. Icons will help your prospect travel your landing page while adding subtle context to your content. Ultimately this reduces the amount of time a prospect spends by boosting the comprehension process. These are especially useful in bullet lists.
  5. Use a Two Step Form – Are you battling over how many fields of information you need versus the friction each additional field adds to the conversion process? Try a two step form instead. Gather your critical information on the first step to keep it as short as possible. Then deliver a second page once the first is completed to gather the follow-on information that is helpful. Bonus tip: the mere fact that a prospect fills out the second step tells you they are a more serious lead. Double bonus tip: You can also employ a similar strategy with fields that only show up when prior fields are filled out should you need additional information.

We hope you learned something that will help improve your lead generation programs. Share it with any marketer you think it will help!

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Paid Search Marketing Reports
Bing Ad Center - Facebook Marketing - Google Adwords - LinkedIn Advertising - Paid Search Marketing - Remarketing - Social Media Marketing

How Do You Define Marketing Success?

Chris Haddad at HubSpot believes there are two kinds of marketers in the world – “those who get things done, and those who can prove they got things done.”

I’m not sure reality is that simple but his point has meaning for online marketing professionals. Not every program can be measured but we must do our best to tie our actions to outcomes. After all, our earnings often rely on it! Get familiar with your ROIs. Define what the life time value of a customer is worth. And visit this post at the HubSpot Blog for more information.

Tip > Dive into the comments. Chris didn’t get all the important metrics listed in his article.

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