YouTube Optimization

Author: Matt Commins & Alan Rothstein

As with most people in the Search Marketing industry, I’ve watched many of Matt Cutts’ whiteboard sessions. Not only does he cover an array of different topics, the content is easy to consume. The breath of unique content and the ease of how that content is consumed is the primary reason why YouTube has become the second-largest search engine. As YouTube continues to grow it’s becoming more important

YouTube’s Individual Video Ranking Algorithm exposed

Based on our experiences, testing and observations we ranked (below) the top 32 variables that are most correlated to achieving higher rankings in YouTube. The variables are ranked on a Factor of 100 where 100 is the highest correlation.

Engagement is the Key

Two weeks ago the Official YouTube Partners and Creators Blog announced watch time or how long users watch a video replaced view count in the YouTube algorithm. Surprised is not a response an internet marketer should have after learning this news. Google’s primary concern is creating the best user experience possible and what’s the best way to measure that? Through engagement metrics. The takeaway is mapping the most appropriate keywords to your videos.

A couple of weeks ago I bought a board called Bang!. Upon reading the rules I was confused by some ambiguities so I went online to look for clarification. I clicked on the fourth result because the description best matched my search query. After watching 2 minutes the video discussed one rule and proceeded to be about the players playing the game so I stopped watching and searched again.

Channel Creation

Like the home page of a website, the channel for your videos is extremely important to creating/sustaining a brand image and therefore, should not be taken lightly. Similar to watch time being an important ranking factor for individual videos, overall channel watch times plays an important role in establishing the credibility of the channel, allowing the channel a bigger opportunity to rank higher in the SERPs.

Playlist Creation

Creating a playlist of multiple videos on the same topic is another way to present your videos and videos that are similar. It’s important to create a playlists people will find useful. Lastly, your video should always be located in the first position to increase engagement.

Video Replies

Another way to signal YouTube about the theme of your content is to post a “video reply” to other related videos. Like a blog comment, a video reply offers a response to the primary video. Unlike a blog comment, the video reply contains a full version of your video for the viewer to watch. Video replies give YouTube context as to what your video is about, and helps to get increased traffic. To do this, search YouTube for the exact keyword you want to rank on. Click on each video that comes up and post your new video as a “video reply” to the most relevant videos. Click on “ad comment” and choose “Create a video response.”


Best Practices for Restructuring a Paid Search Account

Author: Matt Commins

My heart was sinking as I was listening to the last and final episode of the Up and In Podcast when my phone rang. (This was [sigh, it pains me to use the past tense] the best baseball podcast).  A friend of mine, who recently joined a new company wanted to discuss the viability of restructuring their paid search account and the best way to accomplish that. Restructuring an account consists of a large scale rearrangement of keywords and placing them into new ad groups. We spoke about the pros and cons and my friend decided to go forth with restructuring based on the best practices I will shortly outline.

Performing a restructure is a time consuming, tedious and meticulous task. Deciding to go down this path requires, depending on the size of the account at least 100 hours of work. If performed properly the long term benefits can be enormous. The account will be more efficient and most importantly, easily adaptable to accomplish the widest variety of goals. However, like with most things in life, there will be short term losses manifested as increased cost per clicks (CPCs) and costs. By following my best practices you can mitigate the short term losses.

When a marketer is given the keys to an existing paid search account the first inclination is to say the account is bereft of best practices; the ad copy isn’t optimized, specific match types are underrepresented, keywords are in incorrect ad groups, and the list goes on. It’s human nature to be overly critical of something new we’re potentially going to be spending a great deal of time with. We do this a lot on first dates when we hold people up standards we do not come close to living up to.

After reviewing the account certitude takes over and the conclusion is to tear down the account and rebuild it. It’s natural to have this feeling. If given the chance, everyone wants to live in a structure constructed to suit their own personal tastes. However, tearing something down and building something new can bring about more trouble than expected. It is impossible to provide one size fits all recommendations because every account is unique and has its own challenges. However, I will cover the most common strategies to employ when restructuring a paid search account. Enough shenanigans, let’s get the ball rolling.

Brief Description of Quality Score

Every keyword and its ad have a symbiotic relationship. The strength of that relationship is reflected numerically on a one to 10 scale with 10 representing the strongest relationship. The term for this relationship is called quality score.

Indulge me for moment and think of quality score as the tether (bond) between the paid search account and the search engine. I’ll call the search engine Google. The stronger the tether, the higher the quality score Google will assign. The Google AdWords algorithm not only prefers, but loves remnant tethers rather than new ones. This is contradictory to the “always be testing” motto Google has been saying for years.

Expected click through rates (CTRs) is the most important variable in the quality score calculation. If you take a step backwards you’ll notice this makes perfect sense. Google wants to provide the best user experience possible. And how is the best user experience reflected statistically? Click through rates. If Google expects a specific CTR, they’re going to give the remnant ad more priority and charge new advertisers a higher CPC. This is why the barrier to entry into paid search can be so difficult. It’s important to note this does not apply to Bing. Bing’s algorithm does not negatively impact new ads.

Restructuring Best Practices

When restructuring an account you’re essentially wiping away all of the history (removing the tether) of the keyword and expected history Google relies on. Without any history the quality scores are going to decrease. This brings me to the first best practice: never move exact match keywords, especially branded keywords. The CTR of the exact match version of a keyword is used when calculating quality score for every subsequent match type of that particular keyword. Therefore, maintaining the tether of the exact match keyword will help reduce the impact of the restructure.

When moving keywords the migration of the existing ads, even if they are not written with best practices is critical. The reason for doing this is to try to achieve the same CTR the keyword once had. You’re probably thinking I’m contradicting myself because I just said the exact match version of a keyword determines the quality score. Yes and no. There are many variables that go into the quality score calculation. The CTR an ad receives is another metric that is fed into the quality score algorithm. By using the same ad the CTR should be the same before the restructure. Creating new ads should also be written. Depending on the amount of expected traffic I recommend creating 1-3 new ads for every ad group. Try to make the ads reflect the ad group theme as closely as possible. Over time the new ads should have a higher CTR, which should improve the quality score, lower CPCs and drive more conversions.

Do a slow rollout. Suppose ten campaigns need to be restructured. I suggest doing one campaign per 3-4 weeks. This will allow the account to slowly adjust to the increased costs and minimize the impact of the increased CPCs. Suppose an entire account was restructured and went live on the same day; Google’s algorithm is going to freak out. Not to the level of my Mother at Journey concert but close enough. Under this scenario the entire account will encounter a substantial increase in CPCs which will increase your conversion metrics and lower the overall margin. When your boss or client sees this at the end of the month you will most likely lose your credibility and will have to continually prove you know what you’re doing. I’ve been in situations like that before and those are situations you do not want to be a part of.

To conclude, it will take time to recapture the quality score after an account is restructured. It takes roughly 10,000 clicks before an account has regained its quality score. If the restructure is done correctly, the account will be more efficient, easily scalable and more agile allowing for easy modifications to accomplish any goal.

Search Engine Marketing Glossary

Author: Matt Commins

Bounce Rate – The percent of people who enter a website but leave without visiting any other page.

Clicks – When a listing (paid or free) is clicked in a SERP

Click-Through rate (CTR) – The number of impressions divided by the number of clicks

Conversion – A desired action on a website

Cost-per-Click (CPC) – Total cost divided by the number of clicks

Cost-per-lead (CPL) – Total cost divided by the number of leads

Cost per thousand impressions (CPM) – The maximum bid amount for every one thousand impressions received.

Head Term – Keywords that are usually 1-2 words that drive a lot of traffic within a specific vertical

Impressions – The number of times an ad was shown in the SERPs

Keyword – A word or phrase advertisers bid on in the auction

Lead – Similar to a conversion, but more specific in that results in a website gathering users information

Long Tail Keywords – A keyword of any length that drives a low number of impressions but is very targeted and specific

Match Type – A way to control how many related keywords a keyword will show up for

My Client Center (MCC) – Tool normally used by companies to easily manage a large amount of campaigns.

Negative keywords – Keywords that block an advertisers ads from showing

Quality Score – A ranking system to judge the relevance of an advertiser as well as its keywords and ads

Return on Investment (ROI) – Ratio of money gained or lost based on the amount investment.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Free traffic to a website through listings in search engines

Search Query – A search a user performs on a search engine

Search Engine Results Page (SERP) – The results that are shown after a search query.

Quality Score Tip: Display URLs

Author: Matt Commins

If you read my column, the Definition of Quality Score you learned how the Display URL is one of many factors used in the quality score calculation. This quick tip is a display URL strategy you could employ on your account to achieve higher quality scores.

Basically, use one display URL for all the branded keywords and apply the same display URL to the ads for the top five non-branded head terms. Branded keywords and its ads usually have CTRs in the 20-40% range, which is vastly higher compared to non-branded keywords. By applying the display URL from the branded ads to the head terms will allow the head terms to have a competitive advantage in the paid search landscape.

Today’s video choice is the Bernie Lean music video with the Oakland Athletics.

Introduction of Shared Budgets on Google AdWords

Author: Matt Commins, Co-Founder of Fish Tank Media

A week ago Google launched Shared Budgets, allowing advertisers to use one campaign budget instead of individual budgets. The primary benefactor of this tool is smaller advertisers who are not that paid search savvy. This upgrade reinforces the “set it and forget it” mentality a lot of advertisers have. I personally do not recommending utilizing this upgrade because advertisers should maximize every marketing dollar and this upgrade can prohibit that. However, if you are interested in how to launch this please read the directions below:

  1. Go to the Shared Library
  2. Click on Budgets
  3. Click the +New Budget button
  4. Enter the new budget
  5. Choose which campaigns will use the new budget
  6. Enter the Shared Budget amount
  7. Save the new shared budget
  8. Advertisers can apply the new budget to any campaign in the Setting section

Google AdWords Shared Budgets

If you implement Shared Budgets and see better results please reach out to us. I love to be proven wrong! Or if I learn something I will make addendum(s) to this post.


Definition of Quality Score

Author: Matt Commins, Co-Founder of Fish Tank Media

Last night I saw AJ Griffin get lit up by the Detroit Tigers. Saw is the wrong verb. Listened is the actual verb. I would have watched the game but, MLB TV does not allow me to watch local games until the next day. Prior to the game he had a 1.94 ERA, which was insanely low and unsustainable. Some of my buddies have been giving me a hard time for my initial “scouting report” on him. If you want to read the full report go here. Basically I wrote that he is a fringe #5 starter with average (50s) pitches and possibly above average control (60). As I was listening to game I had mixed feelings because I wanted the A’s to win but like most people I have an ego, whose fragility level depends on the eye of the beholder, but it feels good to be proven correct too.

It has been awhile since any one on the Fish Tank Team has posted a new article (frankly too long). All of us have been extremely busy working business development, potentially partnering ourselves with paid search and SEO platforms, servicing our client base and the list goes on. On the bus ride to the office I was thinking of potential article ideas to write about. I couldn’t think of anything, but I did remember the article I recently submitted to Search Engine Journal (I got my fingers crossed that this one will get approved), which talked about how to minimize the impact on quality score during a paid search restructure. Then I had my Eureka moment. I could describe my definition of quality score. You may be asking yourself “What does AJ Griffin have to do with quality score?” It doesn’t. I just wanted to inflate my fragile baseball ego some more.

What is Quality Score? It is a numerical representation of how relevant advertiser’s ads are. The range is from 1 to 10 with 10 being the most relevant and one meaning you shouldn’t be advertising anymore. Quality score is made up of several factors not visible to advertisers. The common version of quality score is the one that is visible to advertisers. The visible quality score represents the symbiotic relationship between the keyword and the ad(s) in the ad group. However, the visible quality score metric is only one factor in the true quality score calculation. The quality score I will elaborate on is the one not seen by advertisers and is responsible for the costs advertisers pay. Quality score is an aggregated blend of several factors, which are bucketed into two categories: Performance and Relevancy factors.

Performance factors sound like the name implies, how well does an account perform against the competition. The primary performance factor is click through rate (CTR), which makes a lot of sense because this is the easiest and simplest way to gauge how much users “like” something. Before I go on, I want to establish the CTR metric is only from and not any of their search partners. Also, no one knows for sure how each factor (performance or relevancy factor) is weighted. I’ve ordered both lists from the most important to least important.

  • Exact match CTR: Calculation of CTR for every keyword is based on the exact version of the keyword, even if the exact match version is not in the account. For example, if “red shoes” has a CTR of 5%, but the exact version has a CTR of 2%; Google will use the 2% CTR in its quality score calculation.
  • Display URL CTR: The display URL is treated as a unique entity when calculating quality score. I use the display URL to add another iteration of the keyword, thereby making the ad more keyword dense. In upcoming article we will provide a few quality score tips using the display URL.
  • Account CTR: As the name sounds. Think of this as a way of rewarding advertisers who follow all of the paid search best practices and work the hardest (#WANT).
  • Bounce Rate: Bounce rate is how often visitors enter and leave (bounce) a website from a particular page. This is the most underrated and least talked about factor. Suppose an advertiser has 50% bounce rate compared to another advertiser with 10% bounce rate. Based on that data, which advertiser would you feel provides the best customer experience? You may be asking how does Google know this? Does your website use Google Analytics? If not, Google can track bounce rates from the users who are logged into Gmail accounts.
  • Geographic CTR: Google shows different search results pages (SERPs) based on geographic location. A search for “pizza” in San Francisco will look completely different than someone in Chicago. If a campaign is targeting the United States, the CPC for one keyword could be higher or lower depending on the geographic region.
  • Historical CTR: Knowing the past gives you a better likelihood of predicting the future. This factor is similar to Account CTR, but this is calculated from an historical perspective. Of all the performance factors this factor carries the least amount of weight.

Unlike performance factors, relevancy factors are subjective and cannot be quantified, which inherently makes it more difficult to evaluate.

  • Domain Authority/Page Rank: The most intriguing factor is domain authority. Another common name is Page Rank (not the number you see in the Google Toolbar), either word works. Working in the industry for eight years has allowed me to become privy to data of clients of all budget sizes. Normally clients who spend more tend to have better quality scores compared to advertisers with smaller budgets. Critics are quick to point out this creates an unfair advantage and creates barrier to entry for the smaller advertisers. That opinion is extremely reductive and doesn’t seek to explain why this behavior is happening. Advertisers who spend more usually have more brand recognition and probably have higher link value, which is the biggest contributor to the Page Rank calculation. Suppose an advertiser has a lower quality score. That will lead to lower costs and a better ROI, which allows the advertiser to spend more. And the cycle continues.
  • Keyword Relevance: How well does a keyword relate to the other keywords in the ad group? Best practice states having tightly themed ad groups with keywords that are very similar. If this best practice is followed correctly you’re good to go.
  • Landing Page Quality: This is the simplest to describe and the hardest to evaluate. A current trend I’m seeing is the application of the SEO keyword density best practice to paid search. For reference, we recommend 5% keyword density.  Paid search landing pages should be treated differently than SEO pages. I advocate creating pages that guide visitors to take the action you want them to take.

Too much is made about quality score. More should be made about improving the user experience and making sure every click is maximized. One of the most common questions I hear from advisers is what strategies would I implement to maximize quality score? Advertisers are consumed by quality score because there is tangible with a number associated to it. This hubbub about quality score is very similar to all the attention SEOs are giving to the Penguin and Panda updates. SEOs are asking how do we avoid penalties for these algorithm changes. Instead they should be asking how do we provide the best user experience possible. Do we have great content? Is the content easy to consume? How do we maximize ROI?

If a paid search advertiser follows paid search best practices ad groups will be tightly themed and hopefully your ad reflect the keyword theme, which will increase the CTR and if your landing page is appropriate, visitors will stay on the website and will be more likely to do the action you want them to take.

Also, at the end of all my posts I will share a band I like. The inaugural band is The Bear Coat. If you like mid 60s Beach Boys and the lyrical harmony of The Beatles, this is the band for you.

Are You Testing Ad Copy Correctly?

Author: Jeff Un, Co-Founder of Fish Tank Media

Ad copy testing is extremely important for the success of a Paid Search campaign. Ad copy testing allows a company to better understand what engages and compels its visitors the most. Before we run through the process of ad copy testing let’s discuss the Best Practices for ad copy creation.

  • Incorporate the ad group keyword theme
  • Highlight unique value propositions (UVPs)
  • Have a call to action

Ad copy testing should be conducted in four phases:

Phase 1 (Planning Phase): Define which metrics are the most important way to judge the success of the account. Is CTR, ROAS, conversion rate, top line revenue or a combination of these most important? Learning this will become your blueprint or roadmap for the rest of the campaign.

Before testing begins, set the campaign ad rotation setting to rotate ads evenly.  This will ensure that all ads in the adgroup receive an even share of impressions.  Beginning June 11th 2012, Google made a change to the way ads are rotated. Instead of rotating ads for an indefinite period of time, ads will only rotate evenly for a period of 90 days. After that, Google will show the ad which will generate more clicks. We recommend to opt out of the Google optimize for clicks.  The ad with the highest CTR may not be the best ad for your business if you have other success metrics such as conversion rates or ROI.

Phase 2 (Discovery Phase): Test different ad copy themes such as benefit driven ads compared to descriptive ads. For example, are visitors more interested in price or free shipping? Other examples include: customer service, fast delivery, wide selection, free download, and so. It’s important to not test ads that are too similar.

To determine a winner when comparing performance of ads in an adgroup, you should use a G-test calculator to get conclusive results.  The tool calculates the mathematical probability that one ad is statistically outperforming another ad in the adgroup.  Look for at least a 90% confidence level.

Phase 3 (Optimization Phase): After finding the “best” UVP, it’s time to make small changes and retest. For example, suppose cost and price is the best UVP – one test could be to place the UVP in the headline vs the second description line. Another example could be the use of semantics such as affordable, low cost, cheap, lowest price and so on.

Phase 4 (Repeat Phase): Go back to Phase 1 and start the process all over again. As time goes on customer expectations change, so you will need to retest ads that previously underperformed. Just because visitors preferred one UVP a year ago does not necessarily mean the same UVP will still resonate. It’s important to test ad copy without sacrificing current performance. This could be accomplished in two ways:

  1. Duplicate the current (control) ad. This will ensure the new ad is only showed 33% of the time.
  2. Create an experiment (AdWords only) and specify the percentage of impressions that should be allocated to the new ad.

We all have different goals with Paid Search. Getting the highest CTR, the most conversions, the largest ROAS, or anything in between could be the goal. Whatever the goals we‘re trying to attain, ad copy testing is at the forefront of achieving those goals.

Is Paid Search A One Month Job?

Author: Matt Commins, Co-Founder of Fish Tank Media

Since I’ve been doing business development I hear the phrase “is paid search a month job” or close variations to that. By the way, if you told me three years ago I would be doing anything related to business development I would have laughed and ran away because you’re obviously crazy.

This question came to me as I was driving to the meth den known as Stockton to watch the Ports play. I like driving long distances; it helps me think and reevaluate whatever is going on in my life such as how to keep growing Fish Tank Media.

I will admit this could be due to small sample size, but a lot of business owners and marketing directors think paid search is simply gathering a list of keywords and giving them to Google. Not to sound reductive, but let’s look at paid search from a high level, a keyword generates an ad to show in the SERP, user clicks on the ad and goes to a landing page. Or if you’re like most people on the internet, you can jump straight to the image which expresses my point. You thinking what I’m thinking? If you thought Mega Man, then you get a gold star.

If paid search was that simple, I would agree paid search is a one month task. However, just like scouting minor league baseball players, paid search has so many complexities that need to be evaluated before making a decision.

Below are the factors paid search managers need to evaluate in order to be successful:

  • Everything starts with keyword discovery. Once the keyword list is generated, they must be grouped into tightly themed ad groups and assigned the proper match type(s). Negative keywords have to be added daily to remove as many unwanted clicks as possible.
  • Brief Overview of Match Types: think of match types in terms of a net on a boat. Broad match casts the biggest net and therefore will allow you to catch more fish. However, a lot of the fish will be bad and unusable (i.e. a lot of wasted clicks and ad spend). Exact match casts the smallest net and therefore allows you catch less fish BUT the quality of the fish will be the best. Phrase and broad modifier are somewhere in between exact and broad with phrase casting a slightly larger net than exact and broad modifier casting a slightly larger net than phrase.
  • Ads have to be created to reflect the keyword theme for every ad group. Ad creation is the most tedious task for paid search managers, especially when creating a new account or relaunching an account. The paid search marketer has to evaluate and find ad copy that compels its target audience to A) click on an ad and B) convert. On top of all that, ads should take advantage of specific ad formats each search engine offers. For example, Google will add the first description to the headline if the description ends with proper punctuation
  • Once an account starts to reach maturity, bidding becomes essential. A paid search account has to incorporate a lot of factors to generate a bid price. Examples include, the lead time it takes before a visitor converts, lifetime value of a customer,assisted conversions, estimated revenue for a keyword and/or keyword theme, bid cap (difference between the bid and CPC), average position, fist page bids, and branding implications.
  • Setting up, understanding and evaluating analytics. Reporting and evaluation of every marketing dollar spent can consume half of a paid search marketer’s time and even more if they happen to work in-house. We have to understand and communicate, which is another skill in itself, performance to various people in an organization.
  • Often the most over-looked aspect of paid search is Landing Page Optimization (LPO) or Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). This is what separates a good paid search manager from a great one. I don’t understand why everyone focuses on increasing quality score and lowering first page bids, while landing page optimization never enters the consciousness. In my experience, it will take at least several weeks to repair quality score, if at all. The biggest ROAS on any account will come from landing page testing because this is where the advertiser has the opportunity to convert more visitors into buyers. Based on our recommendations, some of our clients have seen 5% increase conversion rates and made millions of dollars because they’ve tested different page layouts and/or made changes to their shopping cart.

My Conclusion

When talking to potential clients I explain to them our paid search methodology and I still receive reservations about paid search being a short term engagement. I take some of the blame for the loss in translation because it’s my job as a salesman to effectively communicate my thoughts.

I will admit to feeling frustration when talking to people who A) think they know paid search and B) are adamant about paid search being a quick, simple task. It’s like speaking to Aaron Wall about SEO or Don Welke about scouting and not taking their opinion seriously. (I’m not putting myself in their category but everyone who has worked with me professionally knows I’m extremely knowledgeable.)

Originally, I didn’t mean to go a mini rant. Let’s face it: I’m not exactly concise with my thoughts. I hope you have better understanding of where I’m coming from on about the complexities of paid search.

SEO Keyword Mapping Part Two

Author: Matt Commins, Co-Founder of Fish Tank Media

It’s Sunday August 5 and I’m listening to the Los Angeles Dodger Vin Scully’s mellifluous tones rather than watching the A’s game (who are in the midst of a playoff run), which shows, in my opinion, how good Scully is as a broadcaster.  I live in San Francisco, which is home to the San Francisco Giants. I’m not a Giants or a Dodgers fan and it’s slowly getting to the point where I no longer have authentic emotion for the Athletics , which is unfortunate because my palatial estate is adorned with A’s memorabilia. Rather than having an alliance to a specific team, I’m becoming a fan of Baseball, which is why I mustered up the courage to buy a Mike Trout jersey. But I digress; this will not be the first time I diverge from the point in anything I write. When I talk to Giants fans I often receive criticism for my love of Scully. I take it all in good spirit because the vast majority of them have probably never heard him call a game before. If they have, they would change their tune.

There is no transition. It’s just something I wanted to get off my chest.

In part one, I blathered about the gathering of internal data from Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. Now it’s time to shift over and analyze how competitive it is to increase organic positions.

We prefer to use the SEOmoz Pro tool because it easily provides three of the most important metrics for evaluating domains: Page Authority, Domain Authority and Linking Root Domains. Page Authority, uses a 100 point scale, is a predictive metric to predict the likelihood of a page being able to rank. Domain Authority is relatively the same as Page Authority, but it evaluates the authority of the entire domain. Linking Root Domains provides the unique number of domains linking to a page and/or domain. Usually, the more unique linking root domains a domain has, the higher its domain authority.

With the launch of Penguin a few months ago, the most important metric is Domain Authority (of the three) because it provides the gauge on how relevant search engines view a domain. Also, Domain Authority has the highest correlation to higher rankings. To learn more about the Penguin update feel free to check out our article.

I saved the data from the screenshot above and placed it in Excel. The yellow cells represent rankings belonging to two domains. Suppose I was the domain owner in position 9 and 10, with the second largest Domain Authority, I’d try to identify why my position is lower than my competitors. My first guess would be there are some “bad” links linking to the domain. Also, I would try to increase the number of unique domains linking to the domain because it would increase the relevance (social proof) of the domain.

Now suppose I’m the domain owner in position 6. With domains below me having larger Domain Authorities, my days in position 5 could be numbered. It would take a lot of work to maintain my current position and even more to supersede my competitors. However, supposing I look at the data I gathered in part one; I see this keywords provides the highest click and ROAS potential.  Therefore, I should focus a lot of my SEO efforts on this keyword.

To Conclude

To quote Vin Scully, “like real estate, location is everything.” The same is true for keyword positions in SERPs. Most of the time, ranking higher in the SERP increases the amount of clicks a page will earn. I’ve walked through a simple case on how to evaluate the competitive landscape of a SERP and the potential actions I would take. I used Domain Authority as the primary determining factor for rankings, which is inaccurate because Google uses over 200 variables when evaluating the relevancy of a website.  If you’re interested in learning more, feel free to reach out to us.


Penguin Update & Changes to SEO Best Practices

Author: Alan Rothstein, Co-Founder of Fish Tank Media

On April 24th, Google unveiled the Penguin algorithm update aimed at on-page over optimization and external link manipulation. Along with the algorithm change comes changes to some SEO tasks. Below are a few of the SEO best practices that are impacted by the Penguin update to date. Visit SEOmoz Google Algorithm Change to learn about Penguin & Panda algorithm updates as they happen.

Link Building


Anchor Text Request

The first thing most SEO professionals contemplate when doing link building is: we have a bunch of links but most have either the domain name or an image externally linked. Can’t we just contact the person with the external link and ask them to use the right anchor text? With the Penguin update, this task is no longer best practice. With Google’s algorithm looking for an un-natural density of external link anchor text, you should go back to building links instead of link anchor text sculpting.

Link Remediation

Many SEO professionals in the past pushed link remediation to the back burner thinking that a handful of bad links will not cause any penalties, and they would have been right until Penguin came around. Fortunately, Google has utilized Google Webmaster Tools to report bad links that may or may not be causing penalties to organic rankings. Keep an eye on the warnings section and remediate any links that get flagged by Google.

On-Page Optimization








Title Tag Best Practices

An important variable to achieving better organic rankings is the optimization of the Title Tag. Pre-Penguin the best practice was to have the primary keyword in the first position followed by secondary and tertiary keywords that echoed the primary keyword. In addition to a 70 character limit, we recommend using the primary and secondary keyword that share a similar keyword theme. However, if you have additional characters available we recommend adding a third keyword that provides a new, different keyword theme.

Pre-Penguin Best Practices
Social Media, Social Media Marketing & Social Marketing Media | FTM

Post Penguin Best Practice
Social Media, Social Media Marketing & Facebook Marketing | FTM

Keyword Density in Body Content

The best practice up until the Penguin update was 5% keyword density. For now, we recommend having 3%-4% keyword density until Penguin is researched further. Also consider repetitions of the primary keyword in conjunction with keyword density. The more content you have on the page, the more repetitions of the primary keyword you will need to add.

The Bottom Line

SEO is a long term ranking strategy. Participating in Black Hat SEO will eventually catch up with you. The lost rankings, time and money spent to clean up a website is not worth the short term gain. Further, if your main domain gets banned from Google you may have to start a brand new domain, hurting your brand in the process. Staying on top of the Google algorithm shifts and the use of White Hat SEO best practices is the best SEO strategy.