Making an SEO & PPC Program Work Together

It can be amusing seeing SEO and paid search specialists sitting in a room together, talking about work.  There’s this slightly faked interest in the other person’s work, while they each know deep down that their specialty kicks butt and that the other person can go kick rocks.

Truth of the matter is that nothing beats just a good ol’ partnership.  SEO & PPC are both great in their own ways, but together they can be the most important part of a marketing strategy.  An integrated program between search engine optimization and paid search can be tricky, but it can be an awesome asset to a marketing program that properly meshes the two together.  Often times, marketers think that simply having both an SEO and paid search program is the most they need to do.  There are things that you could be missing out on, however, if you view the two as completely separate entities.

There are two ways that SEO & PPC can work together: as an indicator for opportunity or an alert for issues.

Indicator for Opportunity

An important issue in the search marketing world is when a website is designed to go after the search phrase X-Y-Z, but when people search for the product, they type Y-X-Z or just Z-Y.   When running a PPC program, you can enter in those key phrases as a broad match so you show up for multiple variations of that key phrase.  After getting some traffic, you can see the exact phrases being entered to get your ad to appear.  From this information, you may see some discrepancies between how people search and the way your target SEO phrases are written. Using your PPC program as a form of keyword research can help ID the best keywords to target at the beginning of an SEO program.  The worst thing you can do for an SEO program is make a website rank well for keywords that don’t get searched.  It’s kind of like beating your high score in Solitaire.  I mean…that’s cool and everything, but so what?!

Alert for Issues

So you have a client that wants to show up #1 organically and in paid for the phrase “laser beam”.  You believe that this term is too generic, and therefore, for PPC, really expensive, and for SEO, really competitive.  What’s more is that you also know that ‘laser beam’ won’t bring in the type of visitors that will lead to conversions.  Since this client won’t let up, you add it as an exact match in their paid search program.  As you expected, the key phrase is getting a lot of traffic, costing a lot of money, but not converting!  You can take this information back to your client, and show them why going after the term ‘laser beam’ wasn’t a good idea to begin with…and they are now in the hole for a lot of money because they didn’t trust your internet marketing genius. (well, maybe not that last part.)

So besides the fast that you’re more likely to get clicked on if you’re in both paid and organic search results, there are other reasons why SEO and PPC work well together.  What’s more is that, as shown here, there are ways to integrate your SEO and PPC programs, not just treat them as separate entities.

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Post-College 101: Saving Money on the Necessities

One thing that we, recent college graduates, need to learn…and learn fairly quickly is how to save money.  Whether we are out in our own place, back at home with the family, or sharing a space with a roommate, it will be a struggle to save money while living the life we feel we deserve after college.

Here are some tips to help you figure out where to save a few dollars here and there.  What’s great about these tips is that they are not special tips only applicable to recent college graduates.  These tips can apply to anyone.

Money saving tips:

1. Quantity Sales – Often times, a grocery or clothing store will have a sale that reads something like “4 for $12″…where they make it seem like you only get a discount if you buy a certain Check to see if you have to buy the quantity to get the discount.

2. Thrift Stores/Consignment Shops – A good thrift store should be a part of your shopping rounds.  Gifts, clothing, accessories, jewelry and often times just a plain old good time is available at a lot of thrift stores.  If you do some research in for your local area, there may be some stores that carry fairly current things.  Thrift stores are no longer only limited to things from the 1950’s.

3. Go to the clearance section 1st. – There’s a reason clearance sections are usually in the back. They hope that you’ll have your hands full with the expensive stuff before you make it back to the clearance section.  When my sister and I go shopping, we make a habit of going straight to the clearance section.  Clearance sections are great because sometimes it gets you to try new colors and styles that you wouldn’t have thought about.  Yes you won’t have the latest trends, but guaranteed, the fact that you’ll walk out of a store with a full bag of clearance things, instead of a small bag with one shirt, will make you feel like a diva fashionista anyway!

4. Spread major expenditures over a long period of time. – I know that we’re excited about getting furniture for our new place or feel like we need a new professional wardrobe for our jobs, but major spending should be spread out over a period of time.  The way I do it is assign each check to 1 major expenditure. (This works best with salaried jobs)  I know this kinda breaks the ‘don’t spend money that you don’t have’ rule, but the thought process of planning, allocating and budgeting outweights following that rule as long as you want to have the money to pay with, and not put it on credit.

5. The dollar store – The dollar store can be a great way to save on things that you need.  It’s true that the quality of some of these things may be a little lacking, but there are some things that can be bought at the dollar store without for-going quality. Things such as cleaning supplies and snacks can be purchased at the dollar store, and they’ll work just as well as the ones you would pay more money for.  The best way to figure out what can and can’t be purchased at the dollar store is to go to the dollar store on a day where you would just want to look, no spending.  Then, on shopping days, go to the typical stores, but then make a note of what you saw at the dollar store.  After you hit up the usual spots, go back to the dollar store and buy your remaining items.

Do you have any other tips?  I would love to hear them!

Pep Boys Almost Ruined My Saturday

Yesterday, I went to a Pep Boys in Houston to get the brakes changed on my car.  I figured that they would be busy so I called in the morning to ask if I needed to make an appointment.  The guy that answered said he could put me in at 11am.  That was cool with me.  He told me that since they accept walk-ins that there may be a car in front of me, but they would be in the next available spot.

Once I get there, the woman at the counter was nice.  She was helpful and got the paperwork done quickly, but then this chick dropped the bomb on me: the wait was going to be 2.5 hours.  “2.5 hours…to finish it?” I asked.  “No, 2.5 hours just to get it looked at.”

Now, I’m pretty sure she caught the dirty look I made, so she looked a little surprised, when I said “Ok, just call me as soon as it’s been looked at.”  I’m think she was already getting ready to get a manager.  I was upset because I had an appointment and really didn’t see why Pep Boys took appointments if they were going to make you wait anyway.  I decided to just hold my tongue because Pep Boys is viewed as low cost and in this economy, low cost competitors get slammed with business.  I decided to be a good citizen and try to be patient.

Sure enough, 2.5 hours later someone calls me and tells me that I need to change my front brakes and resurface the back brakes.  The price fell in the exact range I expected I told them to go ahead and do the work. I asked how much longer and I think he wanted to say an hour, but he finally said 1.5 hours.  Fine.

I get back to Pep Boys 1.5 hours later and some dude looks as me and says “Honda?”  I need about 45 more minutes.  Alright, now I’m getting more pissed off.  Why isn’t my car ready?  I’ve been already waiting 4 hours to get it done and it’s still not ready.

An hour later, I’m still waiting around the store.  That’s when I notice that there is a TV that shows what’s going on in the shop.  I find my car on the screen and NO ONE IS WORKING ON IT!  Why the hell are people standing around and no one is working on my car!?!

I was debating as to whether I wanted to say something, but the assistant manager comes up to me first.  He apologizes because he knows I’ve been waiting for a long time.  He explains something to me that something unique about my brakes is the reason why it’s taking so long.  He lets me grab a drink from the fridge while I continue to wait and he also offers me 10% off.  Now, I’m not easily impressed with salesman pitches and things of that nature, but I was impressed with his professionalism and seemingly genuine concern for having me wait.

In the end, I was happy with my new brakes, the price that I paid for them, and the level of customer service at this Pep Boys.  I think they may be my new car shop preference.  As long as the prices stay resonaable and the customer service stays high, I’ll be happy, and so will my car!

Singing Talent Trumps Song Lyrics Any day

For anyone that’s been through a bad relationship and/or is currently in a good relationship, Beyonce’s “Halo” is a nice serenade for the boo.  Yeah…Beyonce’s voice is too pop-sounding for this ballad, but the instrumental and lyrics more than compensate for the mismatch in voice and song style.  I’ll have to admit that I’ve borrowed this song to sing to my boyfriend a few times.

Then I heard “Already Gone” by Kelly Clarkson.  Now…I’ve been a fan of Kelly since she won American Idol.  I guess you can kind of say that I decided that I was going to like this song before I even finished it.

Kelly Clarkson's "Already Gone" vs. Beyonce's "Halo"

Kelly Clarkson's "Already Gone" vs. Beyonce's "Halo"

After hearing both songs, it’s true that the songs are very similar, especially the intro and the use of the strings and piano.  I also think that Kelly’s outspoken frustrations came from a justified concern that her song wouldn’t make the impact she had hoped for because of Beyonce’s track.

Personally though, I think there are major differences between the two that not only put them in separate fields, but puts Kelly’s “Already Gone” a couple levels higher than Beyonce’s “Halo”.  First, Kelly Clarkson sings better than Beyonce. Period.  That’s pretty much a general fact.  Second, the combo of lyrics & singing in “Already Gone” reaches much deeper into a person’s emotions than “Halo”.  The lyrics alone are arguably better in “Already Gone”…they really don’t need Kelly’s voice to outshine “Halo”.

The link for the Story of Inspiration below is a great article to read because it also includes the music video for both songs.  That way, you can decide for yourself the winner of this battle.

Story of Inspiration: Are Beyonce and Kelly Clarkson Singing the Same Tune?

Dieting is full of POOP!

That’s right…good diets are full of poop!

I’m no expert with training in the field of health sciences, but I am a person in the middle of her 1st SUCCESSFUL weight loss attempt who wants to share her little knowledge tidbits with anyone willing to listen.

No matter what diet you are trying out or what workout regiment you’re on, there’s one basic principle that stays constant: you lose weight by releasing more calories than you take in.  Now, all diets seem to focus on the last part of that statement, the “calories you take in” part. No one really talks about the “releasing more calories part”.  Sure you burn calories and all that chemistry/biological stuff, but here’s my tip: the more you do to poop, the more likely you’re losing weight.

Now, I know by now, you might be a little disgusted that I’m talking about this, but if you talk to anyone that’s lost a significant amount of weight, they’ll tell you that during the weight loss period, they probably never pooped so much in their life.

Going “#2” is a sign that your body is digesting the food you give it, and its getting rid of whatever it doesn’t need.  A sure sign that you’re losing weight in a healthy way is if you have to use the bathroom within the the 1st three hours of waking up, before you’ve eaten anything.  That way, you know that you’re letting go of waste from what you’ve eaten the day before.  If you’re trying to lose weight, and you’re not pooping, that may be a sign that your body really isn’t losing much.  Pooping is really the only way to get rid of the salads, turkey on wheat, and fruit you’ve been eating.  More importantly, that’s the only way to get rid of the excess fat that your body is holding onto.

Convinced? Great!  Here’s some tips to get your system going.  If not, it wouldn’t hurt to try one or two things to see how it works. Remember, this is not a diet plan, just a few things to work into whatever HEALTHY diet/workout plan you’re already using.

  • Drink a glass of water before you eat anything in the morning and before you go to bed at night.  Water does wonders on your digestive system.  It’s almost like a lubricant for your insides.
  • If you’re feeling a little backed up, take some fiber supplements before you go to bed.  I would only recommend doing this on days where you know you were good on your diet, but for some reason you feel a little clogged up.  Fiber will not stop your body from absorbing bad food you ate, so don’t try and use it as corrective measures for a bad dieting day.
  • Right before going to bed, do a series of core exercises.  I do 3 sets of the following: 20-25 crunches, 15 slow leg lifts & 20-25 bicycle crunches.  Rotate between these exercises with minimal break time in between.  The effectiveness of this step is highly dependent on intensity so you should feel slightly out of breath and tired after doing this.  Hence why you do it right before hitting the pillow.
  • Eat foods with fiber.  FiberOne bars, whole wheat bread with added fiber, and apples are things that I eat that keep me regular.
  • Focus on eating many healthy, smaller snacks throughout the day, rather than a few large meals.  Now this doesn’t directly make you poop, but it does speed up your metabolism.  People with fast metabolism digest their food faster and more thoroughly, and therefore, poop regularly.

So these are the tips that I have.  Try and see how the fit into your current workout/dieting plan.  Hopefully, these tips get you on your way to healthy weight loss.

Happy Pooping! 🙂

Is the Title Attribute Important for SEO?

Someone asked me the other day about the importance of the title attribute for SEO purposes.  I never did research on this question, but from a SEO logic standpoint, the answer should be yes.  The title attribute is another way to include important keywords on a website.  Be aware of the duplicate content issue too.  Duplicate content is a major SEO no-no and therefore, I would use the title attribute to include keywords that I don’t have appear as often in the body copy, or better yet, variations of key phrases that don’t fit nicely into the rest of the page.

If it’s not good for SEO, then it’s definitely important from a usability standpoint.  It give the person on your page additional information about the link they’re about to click on or the picture they’re looking at.  A lot of people I talk to don’t know what alt text is and therefore definitely don’t know how to find it.  A title tag appears when you hover over the object, making it easy for users to find.  I think that this feature would have a significant impact on CTR and usability.

Just to be clear, I am talking about title tag usage for both images and links.  For images, the title tag let’s the user know what the heck he/she is looking at.  Any short description of whatever is in the picture (person, place, thing, event, etc…) would give a lot of insight to the viewer as to what the site is about.  For links, the title attribute serves as an extra clue as to where the link takes them.  It can give clues as to whether the viewer is leaving the site or going someplace else for a little while.  If your site is meant to entertain, than the title attribute can also be a way to sneak in some humor without sacrificing the flow of what you’re writing.  I would give you an example, but I’m just not that funny….sorry. 😦

In conclusion, the title attribute if often ignored because of its tedious nature.  Even though there is no proof that it hurts rankings, taking the time to optimize link tags has double the benefits in both SEO and usability.  These two together, can contribute to more visitors….which usually leads to more conversions…which is the ultimate goal, right? Right.

Story of Inspiration: Link Title Attribute & It’s SEO Benefit

A New Mission for Good – Locks of Love

The hair styling businesses is a great industry to be in.  How many times would a customer actually pay you to take something away?  Sure you give them ‘beauty’ and ‘confidence’ and a ‘new look’, but in the end, you’re getting paid to take something away from them…their hair.  In fact, according to Forbes Magazine, people will pay, on average $46 for a new do. (Crazy celebrities can pay $800 for a trim…but we’re not talking about them right now)

Now…if anyone knows me you know that I lloovvee my hair.

mary peng's awesome hair!

Exhibit A

See? Any chance I take to show off my hair. I take it! lol.

Anyways…that’s not the reason I’m writing.  The reason why I’m writing is to promote Locks of Love.  Locks of Love is this awesome organization that takes donated hair and turns them into hairpieces for children who experience hair loss due to an illness or treatment for an illness.

I’ve been wanting to donate my hair for years, but I keep hitting roadblocks.   I hope that others look into becoming Locks of Love Donors.  There are a bunch of directions, but here are the main things that take the most time and planning.

1. Locks of Love cannot take bleached hair.  Colored or permed hair is okay, but bleaching is a no no.

2.  The minimum length of the ponytail that you can donate is 10 inches.  Not every strand of hair needs to be 10 inches, just the longest layer.

Like I said, there are many other rules and guidelines, those are just two that require some planning.  Check the website out for a full list.  While you’re there, there are a whole lot of pictures of the cutest kids!  It’ll be a huge motivator to get involved.

Look out for updates…I think the haircut is going to happen before the end of the summer! 🙂


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