All posts by Ashley Lichty

Yahoo corporate headquarters

The Yahoo Search Marketing Desktop: Thanks for Discriminating Against Mac Users!

I’m not gonna lie – I used to dread the days I dedicated to managing my PPC campaigns in Yahoo Search Marketing. When you’re used to editing campaigns in Adwords Editor, switching to the slow, cumbersome Yahoo Search Marketing interface (whether you use bulk editing or not) is a nightmare.

So needless to say I was pretty excited to get an email a while ago about the new Yahoo Search Marketing Desktop tool.

I just downloaded it today and have only played with it a bit, but so far I’m pretty happy with it. I think what I like most about it is that its layout and interface is pretty similar to AdWords Editor in a lot of ways – unlike MS’s AdCenter Desktop tool, which confused the crap out me at first (and to be honest, still does sometimes).

Editing keyword bids and ad text will certainly be much easier now, allowing me to get more work done for a client per month than I used to be able to. And, I was happy to note, they seem to have features similar to AdWords Editor’s “advanced keyword bid and ad changes,” which I find INCREDIBLY useful and time saving.

BUT – I will reserve further praise until I use it more in depth.

Are Yahoo & Microsoft Teaming Up Against Mac?

Now that Yahoo and Microsoft have formed their “search alliance” I can’t help but wonder what that means for us Mac users. I already know I can’t use AdCenter Desktop on the Mac without setting up parallels or special programs, which I leave up to my tech guys.

And now on the FAQs page about Yahoo’s Desktop Editor, I read “The tool has been officially certified by Yahoo! to work on the Windows platform only. Using the tool on another platform, such as Mac, that is capable of running Adobe AIR applications will work, but issues found will not be supported by Yahoo!.”

So basically you can use it on a Mac (as I have) but there’s no guarantee that something won’t go wrong…and you can’t rely on Yahoo to help you if it does.

Now obviously Microsoft’s not trying to produce Mac compatible downloads…but now Yahoo too? Look’s like their search alliance is against more than just Google….

I will of course, qualify that by saying that I’m not sure if any of Yahoo’s other tools or downloads were built to be Mac compatible – I’m not typically a big fan of Yahoo tools.

Bottom line: Support Macs Yahoo! I don’t care if you’re in bed with Microsoft, Macs need love too!

SEO Notebook

SEO Content Writing Part 2

As promised, here’s Part 2 of my SEO Content Writing series…check out part one here: SEO Content Writing Part 1.

SEO Content Is Under Appreciated…

Typically, most clients don’t understand just how much SEO content can help their rankings. It’s really all about the terms you want to rank for. SEO’d content helps you rank for more long tail terms. And typically, long tail keywords send more relevant traffic to your website. By relevant I mean people who need what you offer and are more likely to convert to leads, sales, etc.

We’ve seen time and time again how many long tail keywords a site can rank well for just by having the right keywords sprinkled throughout their content.

Of course, I’m in NO way saying that SEO’d content is all you need to rank. There are tons of other factors that go into getting your site ranked for various keywords…SEO content writing is just one aspect of it, but an important one when it comes to long tail rankings.

A Few More Tips For SEO Content

I did promise a few additional tips, didn’t I? To get the first few, go back and read my other post (it’s fairly quick and painless, I promise.)

A few other things to keep in mind when writing content for SEO:

  • Use your main keywords in your <h1>, <h2> and <h3> tags…and even <h4> if you got ‘em. Google sees this as a headings, and will usually see them first – they hold a bit more emphasis then body text.
  • Bold the use of your keywords once or twice through out your copy.
  • Include keywords in the file names and alt tags of any images.
  • ABOVE ALL: make sure your content is genuinely useful and relevant information – that’s really what Google is looking for!

Cool SEO Content Tools & Resources

When I first started writing optimized content for clients, I used a very cool tool from SEOmoz called Term SEO Content Writing ToolTarget, that would basically give you a letter grade on how well you optimized your content for a chosen keyword. You basically put in the url of your content, enter the keyword you were targeting, and hit the button to run.

Within seconds you get a “grade” and suggestions on how to improve your grade. Once you’ve run this enough times, you basically memorize what your pages should include to get a good grade, but it’s an awesome tool if your still learning the ropes.

As a newbie in the world of web copy (for both SEO and sales/marketing stuff) I lived and breathed CopyBlogger.com. They’ve got a couple great posts about SEO copywriting that really helped me grasp the concept to begin with. While there are other blogs that may have more comprehensive info on the subject, CopyBlogger will always be near and dear to my heart!

New Content Typewriter

Back to the Basics of SEO Content Writing Part 1

Many people don’t realize how important optimizing your content can be for your SEO. While link building with relevant anchor text is one of the major factors, proper on page optimization, including SEO content, is crucial to your organic rankings.

The first question any business owner/CEO/SEO/marketer should ask themselves when entering the wide world of search engine optimization is “what are the best terms my site should rank for and why should I rank?”

In our experience, most people would reply “I want #1 rankings for the keywords that get the most searches because I want tons of site traffic!”

And as an SEO content writer, I would have to humbly disagree. All the traffic in the world isn’t going to help your site if it doesn’t lead to more business.

You see, the key word missing from their reply is “relevant.” What you want are rankings for RELEVANT keywords that send RELEVANT traffic. From there you can actually write RELEVANT SEO content! After all, if you sell Christmas decorations, you’re not going to see much in the way of relevant traffic if you rank #1 for just Christmas or just decorations. People searching those terms individually could be looking for just about anything!

Relevance in SEO Content Writing

seo_content.jpgOnce you understand the importance of relevance, it’s time to gather a list of the MOST relevant keyword searches with the MOST amount of traffic. You should only focus on one keyword silo per page – so for instance, one page would focus on the silo “Christmas decorations” while another could focus on “holiday decorations”.

By keeping these silos on different pages, you can more easily tell the search engines what you think each page should rank for, and plan your content and SEO accordingly.

So using various keyword research tools (I love the Google Adwords Keyword Tool myself, but the Search-Based Tool and Wordtracker tools are good too), you want to collect a list of all keyword terms containing both words “Christmas” and “decorations” and sort by search volume.

Take your top 5-10 most searched terms and voila! You’ve got a list of keywords you want to use in your SEO content.

More to SEO Content Writing Than Meets the Eye

Of course, there’s more to optimizing SEO content then just throwing keywords all over the content. For one, keyword stuffing is definitely a no-no in Google’s eyes, and secondly, it makes content REALLY rough to read. So there’s a balance.

Write enough content (400-600 words is typically ideal) so that you can comfortably use combinations of your top 5 keywords without it looking unnatural or stilted.

There’s certainly some more goodies I can share about writing SEO content, but I think I’ll stop there for now. As you can see, this is only Part 1! Stay tuned for Part 2 in the next couple weeks, and in the meantime, feel free to ask questions and I’ll do my best to answer them in my next post!

SEO Content Writing Recap

  1. Conduct keyword research to find relevant keywords to rank for (think about what prospective customers would search for).
  2. Pick one keyword silo per page of content (or 2 REALLY closely related ones).
  3. Incorporate the top 5 or so most searched for terms in different combinations within your content.
  4. Do NOT keyword stuff – 400-600 words should make it easy to naturally tie in 5+ keyword combinations.
  5. Come back sometime in January to see my follow up post and learn more about optimizing your SEO content.
Autumn Fruit/Gourds

Fun Thanksgiving Facts & Deep Thoughts

Happy ThanksgivingWell, it’s that time of year again, and yes, this is the obligatory “Happy Thanksgiving” post. But in all seriousness, as we enter the holiday season, it’s important to reflect on the past year and all the things you have to be thankful for. Quite frankly, it’s something you should do on a regular basis, but let’s face it, most of us only worry about it from November to January.

Tis the Season for Thanksgiving…

I’d love it if the team and our readers could take some time and just give a shout out about what they’re thankful about. At the risk of sounding like a kiss ass, I am certainly thankful to be in the position I am here at ProspectMX. I work with some great people, I’m constantly learning new things… and I’ve got seniority I can lord over other people… kidding, kidding (sort of).

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For real though, the internet marketing field is not only an exciting one, but incredible in it’s flexibility and need for creative thinking. Where else can you go out for a few drinks with your coworkers and wind up with tons ideas? Some are brilliant, some are hilarious, some are ridiculous, but all useful. Plus, once executed, those ideas can result in thousands of dollars in revenues from traffic, links, media notice, etc.

It’s a remarkable industry, and it’s nice to be a part of something that continues to grow and evolve.

Thanksgiving Fun Facts

I’m a sucker for fun or little known facts that have no practical use… so, here are some I found to add to my repertoire (and which are guaranteed to make you feel fat!):Mmmmm, giblets

  • The average person consumes over 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day. (And we wonder why Americans are overwhelmingly overweight…)
  • Turkeys can drown if they look up while it’s raining.
  • American eat over 530 million pounds of Turkey on Thanksgiving, while more than 45 million turkeys are cooked and eaten on that day.
  • Ripe cranberries of good quality will always bounce. (Um, you may want to wash before eating if you experiment with this…)
  • Domesticated turkeys can’t fly, but wild turkeys can fly over 55mph for short distances.
  • Turkeys can have heart attacks. Apparently when the Air Force conducted test runs and broke the sound barrier, fields of turkeys would drop dead.

Dang… I feel really, really bad for turkeys all of a sudden. But luckily not quite bad enough to go vegetarian this year. I can’t vouch for the validity of some of those facts… credit goes to the 1-800 Flowers website.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving everyone!

Google Advertising Programs

Study Guide for Becoming A Google Adwords Qualified Professional

Adwords Qualified Professional LogoSo I am now officially an Adwords Qualified Professional…woohoo! Just took the test this morning, so I figured it would be helpful to put together a quick study guide for anyone considering taking the exam.

Now, I won’t go into too much detail, since I don’t want to piss Google off, but since I was taken off guard by some of the questions, I think it’s only fair I share my opinion of it.
First off, I did study in the Google Advertising Fundamentals Exam Learning Center – but I basically did a review of the outline, skimmed the info and only read indepth on topics I felt I needed a little extra help in.

That was a mistake. While I am confident in my ability to use and build Adwords campaigns for our client’s benefits, there are still details of the program I could learn more about, and that certainly came up within the test.

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For example, while I am familiar with Adwords’s billing policies, I don’t have the details memorized. I would suggest understanding their billing cycle before you take the test. Actually, my biggest recommendation is to simply study the Learning Center topics and take any example quizzes you can find.

Adwords Qualified Professional Study Guide

But if you’re like me, and your experience is more with the actual management and optimization of campaigns, here’s a particular list of subjects you may want to work on:

  1. Billing details, such as the billing cycle, where to go to change preferences, etc.
  2. The tabs/navigation of the Adwords interface and what each section includes.
  3. The pros and cons of the different keyword match types
  4. Editorial and policy guidelines for trademarks, ad formats, etc.
  5. Different ways of “targeting” your campaign
  6. The difference between Search Network and Content Network, and their individual policies. (Hint: Look into any difference in rules or approval policies in the Google Search Network between Google search results pages and the search results pages of other properties within the search network).

I think that’s enough for now – if I give too much away, Google might revoke my Google Adwords Qualified Professional status and I worked too dang hard to give up my pretty logo now!

Speaking of which, apparently it takes 1-3 days for the passed exam to show up in your Company profile. Guess I’ll just have to be patient.

Rabbit in Tophat

Pulling Blogging Ideas Out Of Your…Hat

As an internet marketing firm, it’s easy to stress to clients the importance of a regularly updated blog. The tough part comes in taking your own advice. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in client work that internal work can fall to the wayside…and I wouldn’t be surprised if most internet marketing agencies run into this problem occasionally.

So when it comes time for me to blog and I have a ton of other work to get done, my biggest stress is coming up with decent ideas for blogging.

Good Blogging Ideas…A Dime A Dozen?

Since I was strapped for time, I figured I’d do a quick blog about this awesome whitepaper I found over at Small Biz Trends called “137 Small Business Twitter Tips” (seriously, check it out). But…it kinda felt like cheating to me. I mean, I could do that for every blog post really if I wanted to, since there’s no lack of awesome resources on the web.

That would certainly take care of the stress of coming up with good blogging ideas anyway….

Ideas for Blogging…In the Eyes of the Beholder

But then I had my “ah-hah” moment, and my blog post involved into one main lesson: the value of a blog post is really in the eyes of the reader! A blog post I felt like I was “cheating on” may be exactly what a particular reader needed!

So basically what I’m saying is this: don’t pull out your hair trying to come up with “amazing” blogging ideas…creativity just doesn’t work that way! Next time you don’t come up with a great idea right away, check out some of your resources, share a helpful story, relay a funny work story, whatever.

The whole point of a blog is to connect with your audience…every post you write doesn’t have to win a “Most Resourceful/Amazing/Remarkable Blog Post Of The Year” award (though some certainly should!). Great ideas for blogging will come…you just gotta let it flow sometimes.

Web/Mobile Ads

Google Adsense Open to Third Party Network Bidding

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As the resident PPC player here at PMX, it’s up to me to stay on top of what’s going on in the world of Pay Per Click. So of course it was interesting for me to read about how Google Adsense will now accept ads from qualified third party networks which will “help you generate the most profit for every ad that appears on your site, whether the ads come from AdWords advertisers or Google-certified ad networks,” according to the Google Adsense Blog.

While I suppose that’s great news for Adsense users, as a PPC Specialist, I’m more worried about what it means for my Adwords campaigns, specifically when it comes to the content network. More competition for ad space means higher CPCs obviously…but I’m trying to wrap my head around any other repercussions for my content network campaigns, either good or bad.

If I’m having to mess more with CPC bidding to keep my ads in prominent positions, it’s obviously going to increase some time spent on PPC management initially…if the third-party networks come running to jump on board that is. Supposedly Google will have some pretty high standards in the certification process.

So what does everybody else think? Besides the obvious increase in competition and CPCs, how else will our Adwords campaigns be affected? I’m particularly interested in anyone who can think of some positive changes it could have.

I suppose one pro for us Adword-ers is that if potential revenue earnings for Adsense publishers go up, more and more people might jump on the Adsense bandwagon, which means more sites for us to advertise on and more impressions for our ads- but I dunno, seems like a bit of a stretch for me.

April First Calendar

Review of Google’s Gmail Autopilot by CADIE

I hate having to clean out my inbox every day. Who wants to take time out of their busy schedule to clean out clutter, respond to important emails you don’t care about, and keep in touch with friends and family? Not me!

Introducing:
autopilot.jpg

When I first read about Gmail’s new Autopilot program by CADIE, I was ecstatic! And getting to play with it this morning? Heaven!

Five emails from my boss to respond to? Done! (Curses and insults included!)

An important email from a client? Done, and I didn’t even have to give a crap!

And the relationship manager? LOVE IT! Why would I want to read and respond to my loved ones, when I can let Autopilot decide who is worthy of my time and who isn’t? I’ve already terminated relationships with 3 people this morning – and it’s only 9A!

I don’t know about everyone else, but I am loving this new program. I may never have to look at my inbox again. So thank you Google, for continuing to bring us cutting edge technology so we don’t actually have to deal with people on a personal level.

Hurray for technology!

Also…do I even have to say it? Happy April Fool’s Day!

Chalk Feedback

Blog Commenting Etiquette: To Approve or Not To Approve…?

Hands down, my favorite part of blogging is seeing people respond to my writing and actually leave comments. Whether good or bad, I’m not too picky. Comments just give me that warm fuzzy feeling when I realize people actually read what I write, and what’s better, have something to say about it!

Nowadays though, it’s vital to any blogger’s sanity to set up some kind of comment spam filter or approval process on their blog. Comment spam has risen to ridiculous levels (I’ve lost count of how many I’ve gotten on my personal blog) and without the multiple plugins for comment spam made for WordPress, I don’t know what I’d do.

After reading a couple of good posts on blog comment etiquette (“The Blogger’s Guide To Comment Etiquette” and “Internetiquette – Anonymous Commenting”), I realized that it’s also important for a blog (especially a company blog) to decide and make known their own personal comment policy. The posts I read are older, but still pretty dang relevant today.

I Delete You Spam!For example, should you approve comments that are an obvious attempt at leaving a link, and add nothing at all to the conversation? (You know the, “Great post, you rock,” comments). What about anonymous commenting? Do you let people post comments, either positive or negative, if they’re not willing to stand behind what they say and actually leave a real name, email or website?

As a business, do you choose to be totally transparent and post the bad along with the good? Do you try and hide the fact that, like any business, you’ll have people who may not like you? I know that personally, when I’m commenting on blogs, I only leave my comment if it actually adds to the discussion, and if it’s something I’m willing to put my name behind. If I wanna be anonymous about it, that’s usually a good indication that I may not be living up to my own personal morals and ethics.

I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer to these questions, just what you think is best for your blog. I’d love to hear other bloggers’ take on this topic, or any basic rules of comment etiquette you follow, either when commenting, or for comments on your blog.

So what do you think? How do you make the call on what comments to allow, and which to delete?

Female Writer Ideas

10 Steps For Overcoming Writer’s Block

It’s pretty pathetic when the “content manager” of an internet marketing company has very few posts on said company’s blog. So, I’m trying to rectify the situation. It’s time to step up, put my blogging hat on, and get to work. I’ve been told by many different people that I’m a good writer…but I personally don’t feel as though I’ve actually proven it. Sure, I’ve written some articles, posts, website copy and even ebooks, but a lot of the stuff I write that I really like never winds up seeing the light of day.

So I’m making 2009 my “year of blogging.” Get ready to start seeing me crank out more content, both on this site and hopefully as a guest poster for several other sites.

Of course, we can’t all be rockstars and write rockstar posts like David Brown. Mainly because if all of us were as confident (read:cocky) as Brown here in the office, our heads wouldn’t actually fit through our doors. (Sorry Brown, you know I love you!). Besides, when you’ve reached a certain level of success and made connections the way he has, you deserve to be a bit cocky.

That being said, I wanted to set out and make my first post of 2009 an awesome one. So I sat down to think about what I wanted to write about. And I sat. And I sat. And then I ate something. And then I sat some more.

Ahh, Writer’s Block 2009

Image of Writer’s BlockAnd, just my luck, I got smacked in the face with a big bag of writer’s block. As a writer, especially in the SEO world, it often feels like everything has been said before. And it has, with the exception of when you’re lucky enough to be the first on top of a breaking news story.

For instance – there are THOUSANDS of articles on writing and writer’s block, but here I am, writing the 54,873rd post on it. Because when it comes down to it, it’s not so much about what you’re saying, but how you’re saying it. It’s about engaging your readers and keeping them interested.

It’s about your writing voice – does yours flow? Is it fun to read? Or are you a big bore? I don’t have a magic answer that will instantly make your writing more interesting. However, I do have one big suggestion, one that not only got me over my writer’s block but has helped me to develop my own voice and style as I grew up.

And the 10 Steps Are…

But before I give you my suggestion, I would take a peek at Brian Clark’s “10 Steps to Becoming A Better Writer,” a short post he did on Copyblogger back in 2007. I agree with his post, but I think he could add 10 more steps:

  1. Read.
  2. Read more.
  3. Read even more.
  4. Read even more than that.
  5. Read when you don’t want to.
  6. Read when you do.
  7. Read when you have something to learn.
  8. Read when you don’t.
  9. Read every day.
  10. Keep reading.

I read. A lot. Blogs, articles, magazines, the occasional newspaper, you name it, I’ve read it. But I believe it is my love for fiction, both quality AND trashy fiction, that has really given me my writing skills. I probably read at least 1-2 novels a week, sometimes short, sometimes long. Shoot, I’ve banged out 4 this week alone (I don’t get much sleep). Literary novels. Romance novels. Fantasy and Sci-Fi. Christian Fic. Mysteries and horror. You name it, I read it.

I gained a large vocabulary from reading (nevermind that I can’t pronounce half of it). I gained an instinctive feel for grammar and spelling (not that I am anywhere near perfect, grammatically speaking). Most importantly, I’ve developed a style all my own by voraciously consuming other authors’ styles.

Keep It Short, Sweet and To The Point

So how did I overcome my writer’s block? I read. Mostly blogs this time around. And suddenly, I felt the urge to write. Granted this blog post is unnecessarily long but hey…it’s the first of 2009. Cut me some slack.

Perhaps next time I’ll write on the importance of keeping blog posts short and sweet. That is definitely something I need to work on. New Year’s resolution: Keep blog posts under 500 words, unless it’s really, really important.