Happy Birthday To PPC Ian!

Oct. 30

Hey Everyone,
Today’s an exciting day! Today marks PPC Ian’s 1 year birthday. It all started one year ago when Unique Blog Designs completed my slick custom blog design and I went live! My first post highlighted my passion for PPC and SEM. Now, 94 posts and 683 comments later, PPC Ian is growing quicker than ever! I wanted to take this opportunity to sincerely thank YOU for your support. It’s my readers like you that have made PPC Ian such a success. Today, I’ll be going through some of my favorite highlights from the past year. I hope you enjoy!
Ian Lopuch (PPC Ian)

It’s All About The Online Marketing Community

Birthday Cake

When I look back on the past year, I’m extremely excited about the friendships I have developed with other bloggers and the online marketing community in general. How did I do it? Well, it honestly all came down to my blog commenting strategy. I got out there and commented on all the great online marketing blogs. Upon doing so, I met a lot of talented individuals and also ended up driving some serious traffic and quality comments on PPC Ian.

I even decided to launch my own blog commenting contest and the winners Profit Addiction, Dino Vedo, and My 4 Hour Workweek ended up getting their blogs reviewed for free as the prize! Even after the contest, Jeremy, Dino, and Eric have continued to comment like crazy on PPC Ian, I am truly thankful for that!

I also feel blessed that PPC Ian got serious press coverage on some of the top online marketing blogs around! Some of my favorite instances of PPC Ian in the press include: Super Affiliate Jonathan Volk, Celebrity Blogger John Chow, Teen Domainer, ZK’s Web Traffic ROI, Morgan Linton, and most recently my buddy D3so. A HUGE thank you to everyone out there in the online marketing community, I sincerely appreciate your support.

My Sponsors Rock!

I’d also like this opportunity to sincerely thank my sponsors, Marin Software, Acquisio, and WordStream. I have taken a truly unique approach to sponsorship on PPC Ian. Basically, I’m extremely picky and only include sponsors that offer products I personally champion. That’s right: I only include sponsorship from companies that offer killer products, the types of products that search marketers can’t live without! After all, I’m here to empower the search marketing industry. I’m proud to say that I can’t think of better products and companies than these three!

Want to learn more about Marin Software? I highly recommend checking out my exclusive interview with Marin’s Matt Lawson. How about WordStream? You just have to check out their free Quality Score Toolkit that I just reviewed in my last post. How about Acquisio? Stay tuned for my next post, I’m going to review their unparalleled display advertising whitepaper! Sponsors, my sincere thank you for partnering with me in making PPC Ian a big hit! My success wouldn’t have been possible without you!

Some of My Favorite PPC Ian Posts

I’d like to close out by highlighting three of my favorite PPC Ian blog posts from the last year. First and foremost, it was one of my 2010 goals to speak at a major event this year. That opportunity came up and I jumped all over it! What am I talking about? My two hour presentation about PPC, SEO, and Social Media at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.

As you may know, another one of my big goals for 2010 is domaining and developing websites that drive passive income. I’m excited to announce that I’ve totally killed that goal. Along the way, I quickly learned that it’s super critical to scale your Bluehost and Host Gator accounts with add on domains. It’s no surprise that others have the exact same goals and are finding my post all about BlueHost Add On Domains extremely helpful. It’s actually the most visited post on my entire blog!

Last but not least, this just wouldn’t be PPC Ian if I didn’t mention my passion for PPC automation. I’m extremely proud of my SEM Automation Buyer’s Guide, my FREE 12 page whitepaper. I’m looking forward to writing more of these in the future!

To close out, I wanted to share a screenshot with you. Take a look below, PPC Ian’s organic listing on Google now has site links. This is a new development, one that I’m quite proud of. It basically means that Google is acknowledging PPC Ian as a blog that has authority. Sweet! Thanks again and here’s to another year of hockey stick growth!

PPC Ian Site Links

Image of Birthday Cake © iStockPhoto – skodonnell

WordStream’s Free Quality Score Toolkit

Oct. 23

I’m very excited about today’s post! I’m going to discuss one of my all time favorite Internet marketing systems, WordStream Moreover, I’m going to discuss their amazing quality score toolkit which can be yours absolutely free! It seems like more and more companies are giving away free whitepapers and eBooks these days (and I can’t get enough of it). Well, WordStream takes it a step further and offers an entire quality score toolkit – comprised of a whitepaper, cheat sheet, video, and quality score worksheet – all for free!

What Is WordStream?

WordStream Internet Marketing Software

If you’ve been following PPC Ian for a while there’s no doubt you’re aware of my SEM automation obsession. I have discussed a multitude of SEM tools in past posts and even wrote a free whitepaper about evaluating SEM applications for your organization. What is WordStream? WordStream is an Internet marketing application that automates and adds immense process to keyword generation, keyword review, keyword grouping, ad copy writing, and much more.

The tool has taken the industry by storm! From my perspective (someone who has used the vast majority of the SEM tools out there), WordStream tackles a truly unique and exciting problem, one which few other tools properly handle. Said another way, I recommend coupling WordStream with your other SEM bidding/management solution if you have one. Below are just a few of my favorite aspects of WordStream (definitely not a comprehensive list, just a few highlights):

  • Adding structure and workflow to keyword review and grouping, WordStream ensures you always have the right keywords in the best possible ad groups. In turn, this translates to optimal click through rates and therefore lower CPCs.
  • WordStream is all about workflow. It conveniently organizes the manual activities of keyword review, keyword grouping, and ad copy writing into prioritized queues. You can work through the queues yourself or easily delegate/outsource. Once you’re done, WordStream works wih search engine APIs to upload your work.
  • WordStream ensures you continuously improve your search engine accouts. Are you adding new, relevant keywords to your account daily? Are they in the right adgroups with the right ad copy? How about custom ads?
  • It seamlessly integrates with your site, leveraging organic traffic to generate PPC keywords.
What’s In WordStream’s Free Quality Score Toolkit?

As you can tell, I’m a huge fan of WordStream! I’m also a huge fan of their free quality score toolkit. So, what exactly do you get in the toolkit?

  1. First and foremost, you get an amazing 18 page whitepaper all about Google’s quality score. The whitepaper explains the importance of quality score, how you can improve your quality score, and how you can leverage WordStream to improve your quality score. I recommend reading this first as a great introduction to WordStream.
  2. Second, you get a one page quality score cheat sheet. This is a super one pager that you can pass around your organization. Its a great way to educate your management team, should they have any questions about quality score.
  3. Third, you get an amazing mastering quality score video.
  4. Last, you get a sophisticated quality score worksheet that analyzes your Google AdWords account.

I highly recommend downloading WordStream’s free quality score toolkit and learning all about how WordStream can take your SEM team’s game to the next level.

Image in this post © WordStream

Search Alliance Snail Mail

Oct. 19

The Yahoo! Microsoft Search Alliance is upon us! It’s October and the Alliance is happening, right on plan. I couldn’t be more excited and impressed with the Alliance happening on schedule (it’s one of the biggest events in the history of search engine marketing, after all). As you may remember, I wrote about preparing for the Yahoo! Microsoft Search Alliance. I also wrote about Marin Software’s amazing search alliance whitepaper. Today, I wanted to share an interesting story and a few last minute tips about the Alliance.

Are You Ready For The Yahoo! Microsoft Search Alliance?

Are you ready for the Search Alliance? If not, don’t worry, you’re not alone. PPC Ian is in the same boat as you, not all of my Yahoo! accounts have a transition plan. As you may know, I’m a huge fan of leverage. I work on the most important stuff and don’t give much time to the lower leverage activities. As such, I have a few smaller personal YSM accounts that I haven’t logged into for a while and I have absolutely no transition plan in place. It’s actually really crazy! About a month ago, Yahoo! started calling me and leaving messages on my phone to remind me about the Alliance! Most recently, they started sending me snail mail. Check out the images of the postcard at the bottom of this post. Click on them to view the full sized pictures. Can you believe it?

I’m Impressed With The Calls and Snail Mail

I’m actually really impressed with it all. Just think about it: These smaller accounts are ideal accounts for Yahoo! and Microsoft. I rarely log in, I let it spend money month after month, and I’m not really measuring the results. Again, it’s all about leverage for me and this stuff is just too small to look at regularly. These types of autopilot accounts are really like a dream come true for search engines. The money just keeps flowing in. When I think about it all through that lens, it totally makes sense why Yahoo! and Microsoft are going to such great lengths to move my smaller accounts over. I’m sure when you add up all the folks in the same bucket as me, we’re talking about some serious profit that could be lost for Yahoo! and Microsoft.

Last Minute Search Alliance Tips

Let’s say you have larger search engine accounts that aren’t yet prepared for the Alliance. I’d like to close out by offering a few tips. First and foremost, let’s start out and look at the root of the issue. Did you know about the Alliance and, if so, why did you wait? If you knew about the Alliance, I’m betting you’re just too strapped for time. You need more leverage.

How do you get more leverage? First, I highly recommend working closely with your Yahoo! reps to see how they can help. You’d be really surprised how much they can get done quickly. My Yahoo! reps have been truly invaluable in the entire process, they are working overtime to make sure the Alliance goes smoothly. Second, I recommend evaluating ppc management software such as Acquisio. I’m just about the biggest fan of SEM software around and can guarantee it will give you more leverage. PPC software will ensure that you’re always on top of your game, one step ahead of everyone else. Best of luck!

My Yahoo! Microsoft Search Alliance Postcard – Click To View Full Sized Images In New Window

Yahoo! Microsoft Search Alliance Mail

Yahoo! Microsoft Search Alliance Mail 2

Is Google Becoming Feature Rich?

Oct. 11

It seems like I’m finding a new feature on Google every other week! About a month ago, Google launched Google Instant, the algorithm that predicts your search query as you’re typing it in and serves up results in real time. Just in the last week, I noticed two other new features that are quite interesting. Today, I’d like to talk about my thoughts on Google Instant and also these two new features. It’s really crazy. I’d venture to say that the once minimalist Google experience is starting to become feature rich!

My Mixed Thoughts On Google Instant

From a user’s perspective, I have mixed feelings on the topic of Google instant. I’m a quick typist so it doesn’t save me too much time. Moreover, I’m really missing the search box at the bottom of the search results page. I like scrolling through all the search results and entering my next search query at the bottom of the page, but I now need to scroll back to the top before entering my next query.

From a search marketing perspective, it’s possible that Google Instant will shift more traffic to head terms while taking away from tail terms. This is something I am monitoring closely and only time will tell if this hypothesis materializes.

Google New Feature # 1: Annoying Arrow

So, now the fun part – Following are some new features you may have not heard about yet. Check out the screenshot below. You see that little arrow on the left of the search results? This arrow started appearing for me last week. When I move the down arrow on my keyboard, it goes down to the next result on the page. It starts in the premium sponsored results, then goes to organic, then goes to the right rail of paid ads if you keep going down. When you hit enter, it actually clicks the result and goes to that website!

Here’s why I think the new feature is annoying: I’m a big fan of scrolling up and down with my arrow keys. Now, when I scroll down, everything is slower because the rate at which the Google arrow goes down is slower than the normal scrolling of the page. Also, if you scroll back up after going down, the arrow disappears at the top of the page, the cursor goes in the search box, and now you’re prevented from scrolling up and down at all! In short, I find this new feature annoying.

Google New Feature # 2: Promotional Ads That Reference The User’s Search Query

I’m going to close out with a feature that I really like. In the screenshot below, you will notice that I search for site:www.ppcian.com. Basically, I’m trying to see how many pages of my site have been indexed by Google. Check out the Google promotion ad at the top. It references the exact search query I’m buying!

Now, you may argue, "It’s not referencing your search query, Ian. Google is buying your URL and using keyword insertion." I’ll argue back, that’s simply not true. How do I know this? If I type in site:www.ppcian.com/* the trailing slash and star are also included in Google’s promotional ad. If I do it without the star, but with the slash, my exact query gets inserted again.

I’m really excited about this technology. It would really open up a world of opportunity if I could leverage dynamic insertion of the user’s raw query in my search ads. You may be thinking, what does the second query above mean (the one with the trailing slash and star)? Whereas the first one shows how many pages are in Google’s index, the second one shows how many pages are in the "real" index (and not the supplemental one). Definitely useful stuff in the world of SEO. What do you think about Google’s new feature rich approach?

New Google Features

My Volatile eBay Partner Network Earnings

Oct. 04

I’m a big fan of SEO web publishing and have developed over 30 sites that drive pure margin to my bottom line. It’s refreshing as a pay per click professional to have SEO margins of nearly 100 percent in my personal portfolio of websites. I’m also a big fan of the eBay Partner Network. I’ve been in eBay’s affiliate program back since the days it was on Commission Junction and it’s always played an important part in my affiliate marketing strategy (although less so over time). Today, I wanted to take a moment to share my September earnings on the eBay Partner Network and in particular the very volatile nature of eBay’s affiliate program.

eBay Quality Click Pricing: Then and Now

Back in November, 2009 I wrote about eBay’s brand new quality click pricing. It has been almost a year now since eBay migrated from its old model of paying affiliates based on sales and leads to paying for each and every click.

Early on, I was a fan of eBay’s new model because my earnings skyrocketed and became much more consistent. While I’m still a fan of eBay, I have changed my opinion on quality click pricing. I like the old model better. Why? My earnings have trended down sharply in recent months and volatility has skyrocketed.

In addition to trending down, my earnings have been very volatile as of late. Case in point: The snapshot at the end of this article is from my eBay partner account. While my clicks are somewhat consistent, the chart shows my earnings per day coming in at only a few bucks per day and they skyrocketing at the end of the month.

I Have Been Diversifying My SEO Affiliate Business

Over time, my Google AdSense earnings have been trending up like crazy! They have been doing especially well since Google’s new leaderboard format. I have been doing well on Comission Junction as well. In August, I had a record month on Commission Junction with nearly $1,000 in pure SEO earnings. Excitingly, I exceeded my August earnings in September. I’m also not doing too bad on ClickBank these days. I’m now trying to make Amazon Associates work, but I have a long way to go.

In addition to diversifying my affiliate earnings by program, I have also been diversifying my portfolio of domain names. I’m proud to announce that I launched five new sites in September and am on track to do the same in October.

All of this diversification is really important in terms of risk mitigation and sustainability. It’s because of diversification that my decline in eBay earnings and volatility really doesn’t impact me. The two takeaways that I wanted to leave you with:

  • eBay’s partner network is great, but be prepared for some volatility.
  • Whether you’re managing corporate SEM campaigns, your affiliate marketing business, or your investment portfolio, diversification is key. The graph below is first hand proof that volatility exists even in a program that’s designed to pay you per click, in a relatively consistent fashion.

eBay Partner Network Earnings