Search Marketing Toolbox was a weekly spotlight for news about the tools search engine marketing professionals use in daily management of SEO and SEM campaigns. This column highlighted new tools, how-to tips and tricks to simplify use of existing tools search marketing tools, in-depth reviews and interviews with tool creators, and general tips to better utilize tool features. This column was discontinued as of May 2013, but you can still access the archived columns below. You may be interested in some of our other columns.

Golden Nuggets From SMX Toronto

So, another SMX is in the books! After uncovering so many great nuggets from last year's SMX Analytics here in Toronto, I was looking forward to this year's content. The good news is that there were two tracks, PPC and SEO, so the chance to catch good content was very high. The keynote was delivered by Google's Avinash Kaushik, the well-known analytics evangalist, blogger, author, and speaker. He spoke for over an hour on the merge of social and search using a good mix of hard-core data insight whimsical humor. It was a great way to kick off the conference and many presenters referred to so [...]

Are You Overwhelming Your Visitors?

Are you overwhelming your visitors? Generally in this column, I offer step by step instructions to figure out a part of Search Engine Marketing on your own from the comfort of your favorite chair. This week's column may deviate from that just a bit (maybe even a borderline rant) because I'm currently being bombarded by a plethora of blinky, scrolling text and poorly designed and non-functional banner ads on websites - and I'm not going to take it anymore... Okay, well maybe I am. But the reality is,  providing every single idea or item to your visitors on each page of your site (or [...]

Managing PPC Accounts: Improving Bounce Rates

Paid advertising has morphed into so much more than buying some traffic until your SEO can sustain  your site. There are now software programs that can create a unique landing page for (thousands of) keywords on the fly, specifically designed to address the keyword phrase the user typed into the query box and the ad they selected and clicked. Although worth the money, the investment in these programs sometimes escapes the marketing budgets of smaller companies. The argument for better conversion rates is sometimes enough to convince you, or your client, to make the leap. I find that the hi [...]

20 Tips To Search Conference Success

Attending search conferences should be part of every SEM pro’s yearly routine.  Whether it’s to network within the industry, learn new tips or tricks, find new business opportunities, or even just have a good time with like-minded folks, it’s important to get the most out of your conference attendance. The last thing you want to do is blow thousands of dollars and days away from the office unless you’re going to find it worthwhile to do so. Although there are some good posts out there on conference strategy, I’d like to share my top twenty tips for making your conference investme [...]

Solving Website Indexing Problems

Crawling and indexing issues can really put a damper on your efforts to rank well for a variety of competitive and non-competitive terms.  Solving indexing issues is definitely an important step towards increasing your keyword ranking footprint. And, the more real estate you own by solving those issues, means you're taking the next steps in realizing your long-tail efforts. Before I start with a problem site, I take a few measurements.  Whenever you're trying to solve a problem, you need to figure out where you're starting from to make sure you're helping and not hurting your efforts. I s [...]

What Do I Look At First? Analytics Beyond Revenue Tracking

Over the years, I’ve gone through many iterations of focus as a search marketer.  In my first years in SEO, traffic seemed to be the primary focus all of online marketing. Increasing the client’s online visits was the number one goal. That thinking evolved into a multi-pronged approach to looking at data – from lowering bounce rate, to comparing visits versus unique visits. With the evolution of tracking software – what we know, and what we can track has become much more sophisticated. With that ability,comes the onset of confusion. What should you be looking at in your analy [...]

A Guide To Choosing Your Paid Search Management Tool

For SEM pros, a search management tool is one of the most important pieces of technologies they own, so it’s obviously critical to have the best tool for the job. I’ve referenced Bonnie Jo Davis’s list of the ten capabilities a PPC management tool must have before in this column, but let’s review again. Paid search management tool basics Allows you to manage your campaigns from anywhere in the world at any time. A simple and intuitive interface that does not require a degree in engineering. The ability to manage the most popular PPC advertising vehicles: Googl [...]

Two Simple Rules For Fixing High Bounce Rate Pages

Of all the metrics that I struggle and fight with, probably the easiest one I've found to correct is a high bounce rate. The reality of website design lies in the fact that many choices are made in page layout, color and image choice based on what the graphic designer or website owner like—not what the customer wants. Testing on the web has come such a long way in recent years. Once upon a time you had to make a change, and then watch metrics to see if things were better or worse. Now you can make educated choices to determine why people aren't clicking on a button, or why they're d [...]

Know Where You Are…To See Where You’re Going

I test a lot. Different ideas and techniques pour out of my brain; to be honest, some of them are utter crap. I learned the hard way not to take leaps without testing the takeoff and landing first. One step that seems to be overlooked when people are starting to test their own websites is developing a benchmark or baseline.  Knowing where the starting line is makes the finish line visible, if you don’t know where you started – how do you know where you’re finishing? Benchmarking data is definitely a subjective practice. Back in the day, the baseline was Google backlinks and Pagera [...]

It’s A Great Time To Be A Search Marketer…It’s About To Get Better

Recently, my agency has been putting a lot of time and resources into the ad exchange space. For those of you paid search folks with SEM blinders on, let me elaborate because the opportunity here for those with paid search experience is about to open up tremendously in the next few years. Ad exchanges are marketplaces for online display [banner] inventory that have been creeping up on us for the last several years. These technology platforms create major efficiencies for both the buyers and the sellers of online display. Effectively cutting out the sales team and the middle men (i.e. ad [...]

Testing In 2010: Tips & Ideas To Get You Started

If you asked some of the best online marketers in the business what one piece of advice they can give you to help make your site better, stronger or more profitable, I bet most would say "test your pages, test your techniques, and test your theories." The one constant in search engine marketing is change. Things that worked a few months or even years ago don't work today. Conversely, things that work today maybe didn't work 2 months ago. Learning what is best for you and your site takes a lot of patience, research and testing. If you're a do-it-yourself website owner—or run your [...]

How To Group Your Keywords; Plus: Q&A With WordStream’s Larry Kim

Organizing your paid search keywords into the right ad groups can be a difficult task for even the best search engine marketers. Many times, a keyword may seem to naturally fall into multiple ad groups. The engines tell us the best practice is to not have the same keyword in different groups, because then the platform determines when each should run so you lose that control. Control is key to great paid search management because if there are too many unknown variables, the data might be unclear and your optimizations may not yield the expected results. Thus, proper keyword grouping is an i [...]

How To Target Your SEO Landing Page’s Demographic Profile

Historically, in the SEM industry, one has mentioned landing pages in conjunction with Paid Advertising and other forms of controlled click traffic. SEO has always been a more nebulous and mysterious practice; and one page, optimized for a few keywords, could show for literally hundreds of different long-tail queries. The plan was to make this page as user-friendly and clear as possible, but have generic enough to appeal to a wide variety of shoppers. Today, I want to challenge you to take this practice and throw it out the window. The reality is, even with pages you use to gain organic ran [...]

Is Display Catching Up To Search?

Historically, paid search has had a major leg over the other online channels in terms of positive ROI performance. But why is that so? Mainly because of two reasons: high relevancy of ads to the user and a major technological efficiency in the actual media buying. Remember, ROI is not just how much you make but includes the costs involved. However, what if display ads could become just as relevant and bought in an equally efficient manner? A three-line, paid search text ad is certainly not as impactful a full color, motion banner three or four times the size. When you include video and [...]

Practical Tips To Prepare For Cyber Monday & Beyond

Cyber Monday is one of the most important (if not the most important) day to paid search professionals in America, and I've got some great tips and tricks to share on how to make the most of it. But first, I thought I'd share some history of the term I found at Wikipedia: The term "Cyber Monday" is a neologism invented by, part of the U.S. trade association National Retail Federation. It was first used within the e-commerce community during the 2005 holiday season. According to Scott Silverman, the head of, the term was coined based on research showing that 77% of online [...]

4 Ways Budgets Get Off Track & Tips For Fixing Pacing

Pacing may be the most important task for the search marketer. Ending an account overspent means you might have blown through money the client just doesn’t have and you could be on the hook for the difference. Ending a campaign under budget can be worse based on the missed opportunity. I remember years ago on one campaign, the client calculated the ROI of the underspend and tried to charge the agency for the loss. Either way, under or over, bad pacing is just unacceptable. It's an amateur mistake, and believe me, you don't want to go down that road with your client or your manager. P [...]

Gems In The Google SEM Toolbox

Already its own specialty of digital marketing and now almost 50% of all online advertising budgets, paid search has fully grown into its own channel. A quick bit of research can quickly uncover a multitude of blogs, books, tools, companies, etc. all focused on the topic and within this channel, there's even more fragmentation and specialization. From account creation to conversion optimization, paid search has a suite of sub-disciplines to master. Not all search marketers have equal strengths in every area of the medium. Some SEM pros are great at keyword expansion, managing bids and ru [...]

Golden Twitter Nuggets & Takeaways From SMX East

I took a lot of notes at SMX Toronto earlier this year and posted them in this column as Golden Nuggets From SMX Search Analytics. Looking back at them now, the evidence undeniably reinforces my memory of how much I learned, and I’m glad to say that three days at SMX East this week was just as fulfilling. Instead of going through my own notes this time, I thought I’d utilize the tool du jour, Twitter, and see what great nuggets I could find marked with the #SMX hashtag. I’ve pulled out tweets that represent some of the hottest topics, tips, and tricks from the show. So, without fur [...]

Query Mining For Gold: Q&A With Craig Danuloff

I don't know about you, but I've recently been hearing more and more buzz about the value of query mining to optimize your search campaigns. Take the following two reports, for example. Over 500 different, unique queries triggered a visit from an ad for "dog remedy" on broad match. Now, look at all of the queries - "itchy", "smelly", "worms" come out in more specific queries. Those are all different problems and should be in their own ad group. Then, there's actual diseases and conditions such as "scabies" and "cysts",  each of which would certainly will require different landing pages. Also, [...]

Why You Can’t Ignore The Google Content Network – AdSense Q&A

Recently, on the Inside AdSense blog, Google announced that it was opening up the Content Network to even more third party publishers and ad networks. I was surprised to see so little blowback from the online community as the title of the post, Getting the most revenue from every impression through AdSense, seems like it would be a huge red flag for search marketing professionals everywhere. Digging deeper into their post: Who are these ad networks? They're ad agencies and companies that partner with advertisers and publishers to buy and sell ads on sites they don't own themselves (much [...]

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