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Book Review: Hot Text, Web Writing that Works

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hot textI picked up a copy of Hot Text over a year ago but it sat on my shelf until recently.  I’m currently leading a CPA program which includes writing copy for SEM ad text, landing pages, a microsite and editing copy for a content site.  Hot Text is a solid end to end solution for web writing tips but at nearly 500 pages not the type of book that you’ll read cover to cover.  However, I’ve found it incredibly useful to skip and scan the ideas that are most important to my current project.

Some random highlights from Hot Text include:

  • Case studies on FAQs, Help, and Privacy Policies
  • Tips for making your keywords stand out in text as readers scan your page
  • Recommendations for removing unnecessary copy with lots of before and after examples
  • Step by Step guidelines for press releases, email responses, and email newsletters

Pick up a copy of Hot Text: Web Writing that Works for your next copy writing assignment


Written by Greg M

August 25, 2009 at 11:38 pm

Posted in Books

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SEM Ad Text, What to Test First?

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ad text

I’m starting work on develop an SEM campaign and in the process of writing copy started wrestling with some different testing options for the ad text.  My testing options are limited in two ways.  First, we’ll also be conducting an A/B landing page test for each ad group shortly as soon as possible once the campaign launches.  Secondly, since it’s a new campaign we intend to ramp up slowly so the initial focus will be on the long tail, greatly limiting our volume and quest for statistical significance.

It’s imperative that we start of with an ad text test but it will need to be small.  The options seem to be a 3×1 or 2×2 test matrix – 3 headlines and 1 body copy for 3 total combinations or 2 headlines mixed with 2 sets of body copy for a total of 4 combinations.  Best practices suggest that the headline copy tends to be much more effective than body copy so I’m leaning toward the 3×1 option.  With fewer combinations than the 2×2 test we’ll be able to roll into the landing page test more quickly as well.winning results with google ad words

Another short cut I’m considering is combing the ad text results across the engines.  No doubt Google, bing and Ask would have some performance nuances with regard to ad text click through rate but I’m willing to assume they’re constant for the sake of speed.  Yet another example of the digital marketer balancing speed and accuracy!

To learn more pick up a copy of Winning Results with Google AdWords, Second Edition at

Written by Greg M

August 25, 2009 at 11:27 pm

Posted in Tips

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Bing and Microsoft/Yahoo! Deal: Answers from Office Hours

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So big time news on the search front over the past couple of weeks.

First, Microsoft launches Bing – but haven’t we seen this movie before?  New algorithm, rebranded site, Google still rules – The End.  bingMicrosoft’s search strategy has been about as original as another Friday the 13th sequel.  But in a shocking plot twist the latest move seems to have forced the hand of Yahoo! to join up with Microsoft in a long term search deal.  Given the public courtship between Microsoft and Yahoo! maybe I should have seen it coming.

I’ve started listening to a new podcast on Webmaster Radio – Office Hours.  The SEO and SEM implications of the new Bing/Yahoo! Deal are far reaching.  Vanessa Fox breaks it down on the July 30th episode of Office Hours.

To learn more grab a copy of Search Engine Optimization: An Hour a Day!

Written by Greg M

August 8, 2009 at 11:07 pm

Posted in Podcasts

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Is Branded SEM Worth It?

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branded searchBack when I was client side our SEM agency looooved branded paid search terms.  They did wonders for the overall CPA of our search campaigns.  But for the very generic phrases (e.g. no specific product mentioned) I questioned if there was any additive lift to the overall leads the site was generating – especially given the expanded search results that Google started to show on the SERPs.

We did a couple of on/off tests with the paid search campaigns’ top 3 phrases and compared leads generated from SEM and leads generated from the organic listings in Google.  What we found is that there was lift – but not much.  We found that only about 5% of the leads were actually incremental.  In other words, for every 20 leads generated we would have landed 19 of them.  So if our original CPA for generic branded search phrases was $7, the true CPA ballooned to $140.  Subsequently we used our funds for terms with under $100 CPA that had little to no SEO traffic – the result was an overall lift in total leads generated by the site.

If you’re spending a lot on generic branded search campaigns, try some on/off testing to try and determine your true ROI – you’re online marketing funds may be better used elsewhere.

To pick up some other search marketing tips try reading Search Engine Marketing, Inc.: Driving Search Traffic to Your Company’s Web Site (2nd Edition)search engine marketing inc

Written by Greg M

August 8, 2009 at 6:10 pm

Posted in Tips

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Day Parting Can Boost Your SEM Efficiency

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red arrowA few years back I was experimenting with day parting for one of my paid search campaigns with Google and came across something totally unexpected.  Normally the idea behind day parting is that people are more apt to convert for your product or service so pull the ads during the low points and heavy up the ad spend during your prime time.  However, we found that the later in the day we started our SEM spend the more efficient (lower CPA) the campaign became.

Why?  I theorized that most campaigns have daily budgets and at 12:01 AM most campaigns come back online.  It turns out that the wee hours of the morning are the most competitive of the day.  Gradually advertisers deplete their daily search budget – meaning less competition later in the day.  As a result cost per click for search marketing is much lower, generally speaking, at the end of the day than in the late evening.  In other words, if you’re the last advertiser with money you’ll get the cheapest clicks.

There are several different ways to experiment with this SEM technique but if you haven’t started to work with day parting yet give it a try!  The results weren’t staggering but the reduction in CPA was typically in the 5%-10% range.

You can learn more about search marketing by reading Winning Results with Google AdWords, Second Edition

winning results with google ad words

Written by Greg M

August 1, 2009 at 12:32 pm

Posted in Tips

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SEM Optimization, Dynamic Ad Text with Dynamic Landing Pages

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google simpsonsFor years Google and other pay per click search programs have offered dynamic keyword insertion for ad text as a way to promote click through rate and improve campaign performance. The closer your ad text matches the ‘semantic map’ the potential paid search visitor has in mind the more likely they’ll be drawn to your ad and click. This can be an especially helpful technique for long tailed phrases that can be virtually impossible to manage on an individual basis.

But most search marketers stop there – what happens when the searcher reaches your landing page? Most testing tools offer personalization capabilities that will customize the landing page based on behavioral criteria such as referring search phrase. This entails setting up a site side campaign and defining what elements to customize. I think a good place to start is in the page header as the eyes will tend to check there first.

Having both your ad text and landing page header personalized to match your site visitor’s specific search phrase will create greater continuity for your SEM campaign. By consistently matching a searchers ‘semantic map’ you’ll increase engagement and bottom line marketing results.

To learn more, try reading The Ultimate Guide to Search Engine Marketing: Pay Per Click Advertising Secrets Revealed

Written by Greg M

July 22, 2009 at 12:54 am