AdWords bids getting too costly?

I had two clients ask me what to do about this in two days. Here’s what I told them:

“Ramp up your bid per click every couple days until you’re comfortable, keeping in mind you might run out of comfort before you get good clicks. In that case, the market has bid those terms to a level above what you’re willing or able to pay.”

The market in AdWords for your term might be so small that a) some newbie idiot is bidding up the term for everyone, or b) the term might not be small, but people are willing to spend more than you per click and make a profit with their services. Probably their site converts better than yours, so for instance they make more money out of 100 clicks than you do.

My AdWords Bidding Advice is to

  1. Use misspellings and see if you can poach terms for cheap… for instance I bid on “vovlo” for my Volvo site.
  2. Try another text ad marketplace (sorry, no recommendations).
  3. Increase your site’s conversion rate so you CAN spend a couple dollars per click and still eat… put another way, make your site a better salesperson.
  4. Or lastly, forget AdWords and simply improve your site’s visibility and relevance to search engines.

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The Best Thing You Can Do for Your Site…

is this. That is to say, the Best Thing You Can Do For Your Site™ is get a nice writeup in a major daily. (Well, barring a nice writeup in a national outlet.)

The only thing Mona Lucero could have done better is cajole the Denver Post into adding her web site URL to the article, but those requests are difficult. If the reporter okays it, the editor may not.

I’d also like to qualify my point by adding getting in print like this is the best single thing you can do. I’d take six solid months of regular on-topic, useful blog posts over one newspaper writeup. In other words, if you’re going to go out and do one thing like get some press, don’t go to the church newsletter lady, get in your major daily paper like Mona did, or speak at your city’s annual business leadership forum or something.

(I’ve consulted with Mona on how to make photographs of her designs “in house”, so she can save money.)


Fast Server = Happy Users = Better Statistics

Visits +9.88%
Pageviews +46.19%
Pages/Visit +33.05%
Bounce Rate -9.29% (less is more with this metric)
Avg. Time on Site +3.14%
% New Visits -1.33%

Digest those numbers for a second. Did I start posting about John & Kate suddenly? No! I moved my Volvo site to a very fast server.

Those numbers represent yesterday (Friday, August 14th 2009) vs. the Friday before. That’s all. No magic or tricks, just a faster server. This may fall into the “No Duh” Department of Internet Research, but people are more likely to click around your site if pages get served quickly.

Search engines may send more traffic (Visits +9.88%), I’ll report on that soon when I have more data to make that call.

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Improve a Stock WordPress Install

A client asked me — now that his new site is working well and he’s comfortable running it — what improvements (tweaks, plugins, whatever) would I suggest to make it better? Here’s what I said:

  1. His site is not served from the “root“, so I recommended he serve it from the root. Example: don’t do instead do! If it’s not possible to serve from the root, it’s not a showstopper. SEO will actually not suffer if you don’t act. Your content is generally judged on how relevant it is + how many link to it + how often it’s freshened. The depth of the URL — at only 1 directory — shouldn’t matter. Do it for human readability reasons.
  2. A nice touch/eyecandy is a Javascript called Lightbox (link to WordPress plugin). You can see it here by clicking on the images. It can also act as a dumb gallery for sets of images. Works automatically — nothing for you to do.
  3. Your traffic may already be tracked by a server-side app like AWstats. Whether it is or not I suggest the free Google Analytics. Warning: Google will know your site’s traffic from the inside. I feel that using Analytics isn’t giving up my sites to the Dark Side, and that getting the (very, very powerful) traffic analysis is worth the trade. I use GA on all my sites.
  4. Many Twitter plugins like this one are available to display (presumably your) Tweets if you’re interested.
  5. Sitemap plugin improves SEO by writing to an industry-standard xml file at site root that search engines bots read and digest. I use sitemaps on all my sites. Highly recommended and nothing for you to do.
  6. Social bookmark plugins like this one add a “Share This” link on each blog post. I’m not crazy about these but there is no downside that I can think of. Helps SEO if the links are used.

Blog Post Indexed Within 30 Minutes

I almost coughed coffee out of my nose when I noticed Google had indexed a blog post on my Volvo site in 28 minutes. Maybe less, I wasn’t checking for this specifically.

Why? There is probably a myriad of reasons why Google pays close attention to my site, but the biggest are these:

  1. MVS has been up for years — it’s trusted as a Volvo authority and thus gets Google attention.
  2. It has a site map. A site map is a simple text file that sits on the server and is meant for search bots, not humans. It tells search bots what’s where, and what’s new.
  3. I publish content constantly. The more frequent your posts, the quicker search bots come around to see what’s happening at your site.

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How Can I Get More Website Traffic?

Traffic levels are all about content. People ask me about SEO… should they do some SEO basics to their site? Well yea! Do the basics of SEO and promote your site.

I’ve never asked a webmaster if he’s doing everything he can to promote his site and gotten a “yes”.

Real world, online, whatever. If you don’t have your URL in your signature, get it in there! If you don’t hold your website in high regard, nobody else will.

But most importantly, write good content as frequently as possible and users will come. If you can do only one thing do this.

That’s why it’s important to have a site where you can write without noodling with HTML. This is where WordPress comes in, and it’s why I’ve recommended WordPress for probably 19 out of the last 20 websites I’ve consulted on.

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Put Your Domain in your Signature

This one’s easy: add your domain(s) to your email signature. You can do this with every email type under the sun, whether it’s Gmail, Yahoo Mail, MSN, Hotmail or an email client like Outlook or Apple’s Mail app.

Here’s mine It goes out on every email I send.