Tag Archives: Landing page

Facebook’s Advertising Is Starting To Spiral Out Of Control

Two weeks ago, Facebook FB -0.99%announced that it hit one million advertisers using the site for the first time ever.

And boy does it show.

Something has changed with Facebook in recent months, and it’s not just another redesign that has people up in arms writing chain letters and staging online sit-ins in the hopes of a reversion. Rather, the switch has been a dramatic increase in the volume of ads on Facebook, so much so that the site sometimes looks like a domain squatter landing page.

A common question asked of Facebook is whether it will be around five years from now, ten years from now, and so on. Though it’s seemingly a staple of life these days, the internet is fickle, and what once was popular can fall out of favor just as quickly. And Facebook appears to be trying its hardest to make that happen.

We can debate the functionality of the site another day. Facebook has tried to wear many masks in order to stay relevant over the past few years. It believes its chat and message systems can compete with Gmail. It was letting people upload videos and pictures before Vine and Instagram were cool, yet both are now more trendy than the site itself. You can follow celebrity or public figure posts now the way you would on Google GOOG -0.27% Plus. The site has even added Twitter’s hash tags now, so you can see what hundreds of other people who don’t understand their privacy settings are doing on #friday.

But this isn’t the topic of the day. Rather, it needs to be shown just how bad the advertising angle of Facebook is getting, particularly compared to its competition. All sites on the internet are in direct competition with each other, after all, and if one suddenly becomes overloaded with ads to the point of absurdity, the others will see their fortunes rise.

We’ll start out slow here with a few sites that are going after Facebook specifically. Here’s what the 100% ad free home page of Google Plus looks like.

Google can of course afford to do this because they make so much from advertising elsewhere, and truthfully, not that many people use G+ to make it worth their while to advertise. I’ve never been Google Plus’s biggest fan, but the lack of ads makes for a very clean, friendly homepage.

Then we have Pinterest (my fiancée’s homepage), also ad free:

Pinterest is still relatively new, and if it maintains its popularity, I imagine that one or two of these images may turn into ads someday. But still, it’s not much, and for now, there’s nothing intrusive at all.

Moving down the list, we have Twitter. Just like Facebook, there are sponsored Tweets in your view immediately when you pull up your homepage, but usually only one, and it takes up a tiny amount of real estate.

Then we have a site like Reddit, time-wasting capital of the internet. It too has a “sponsored” link across the top, and also a box ad on the side, though this time it’s advertising itself.

Here is Cracked, which I pulled to represent the millions of ad-supported internet blogs which do have banner ads, but again, they’re not taking over most of the screen.

And now we have Facebook:

The ad on my homepage is a “suggested post” from “JackThreads,” an outlet I’ve never heard of, nor one that Facebook claims is even liked by any of my friends to at least make it tangentially relevant to me. Perhaps I’m being shown it simply because I’m an 18-30 year old male in their target demographic, but that’s the only loose connection to me I can think of. Yet there it is, my number one news feed story, joining the fixed column of other ads on the right hand side of the page. As you can see, when I pull up my news feed, the amount of actual content I can see because of the ad is shockingly low.

I will admit it’s not always the case that an ad is my lead story when I pull up Facebook, but I’d say I see one a solid 40-50% of the time. And if it isn’t there immediately, it’s only a scroll or two down the list.

But it doesn’t stop there. Facebook has a secondary tier of ads based on pages you’ve dared to “like” over the years. Way back when, I listed some of my favorite TV shows on my profile so others could see what I was watching. Eventually, Facebook forced these “likes” to be linked to the actual brand pages of the show or product you were talking about, and as a result, any of their postings would not appear in your news feed. It’s what’s led to situations like this:

Yes, that’s right. My entire visible Facebook news feed is now 100% ads the moment I arrive on the site. I assure you this isn’t photoshopped. You could argue that it’s my fault for liking Parks and Recreation and Dexter publicly on my profile, and I could take them off if I wanted to, but I’ve hidden so many of these days “opt-out” ads at this point, I’ve just given up. I’m tempted to simply erase my interests from my profile altogether. And before you bring it up, I’m morally opposed to AdBlock as I make my living through (hopefully non-intrusive) internet ads. But I understand the appeal because of situations like this.

You see the point here. Facebook is going to start losing market share to sites that don’t treat their userbase like they’re products to be bought and sold. Advertising is absolutely a part of the internet, we all understand and accept that, but Facebook is starting to feel like it’s adopted ads as its primary purpose, losing functionality as a welcoming social network in the process.

It’s simply a turn off to arrive on the landing page of a supposedly “social” site and see a screen that’s anywhere from 60% to 100% ads. Facebook needs to do some soul searching and figure out whether it needs to be serving the needs of its million advertisers or its billion users first.

I’ve reached out for comment to see if they agree.

Update: At my editor’s request, we’re getting meta with it.

Not so bad, huh?

But our homepage needs some work, if I can be self-critical.

And that autoplaying video ad needs to go. Welp, hopefully I still have a job here…



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Make Your Google PPC Campaign Count: From The Right Ad Words To Perfect Landing Pages

Google-AdWordsOne of the most common mistakes in any international or local internet marketing campaign is that the campaign does not make sense to most potential customers.  Within a few seconds of glancing at your PPC ad or landing page, customers should know exactly who you are, what you do, and what you do not do.  Below are a few tips for how to make your Google PPC campaign thrive, from picking the right Google Ad Words to creating the best landing page.

How to pick the right Google Ad Words

First and foremost, make sure that your Google Ad Words are relevant to your business or product.  Often, being more specific is better.  For example, instead of choosing the word “coffee” for your business that ships green coffee beans that individuals can roast at home, choose the keyword phrase “green coffee beans.”  Chances are, few people looking to find other things associated with coffee—coffee shops, coffee flavored ice cream, coffee pots, coffee gift baskets—are interested in purchasing green coffee beans to roast at home.  Reach out to the right customer for your business.

Have a landing page that is easy to understand

After having an ad that clearly states what you offer, make sure that your landing page is easy to understand.  Within a few seconds, potential customers should be able to know who you are and what you offer.  One problem with many landing pages is that site visitors cannot readily figure out what site they are visiting.  You need to ensure that your landing page shows the following, regardless of whether your focus is local internet marketing or international sales:

  • In a few sentences, say who you are and what you do
  • Like all other businesses, online businesses need to have a mission statement and statement of purpose
  • This information should be easy to see on your landing page and easy to understand

Creative web design is great.   Similarly, having a landing page that looks expensive is important.  However, your landing page will only hurt you if you cannot clearly articulate who you are and what you do on it.  Remember that potential customers do not owe you anything.  It is your responsibility to make sure your message gets across, not their civic duty to try to decode your landing page.  Come up with a solid identity and clearly state it in a few simple sentences.  If you still question your company’s identity, it’s time to go back to your business plan and figure it out.

Optimizing any Google Ad Words campaign

Always focus on being clear and concise throughout the entire campaign.  You don’t want to attract all customers; you want to attract the right kind of customer by clearly articulating what you have to offer.  In addition, working with local marketing experts can help guide you through the system to make your internet marketing campaign count.  By connecting with the right customers through popular online advertising techniques, you can build a brand for your business to thrive.

Chris Marentis is the founder and CEO of Surefire Social.  He has a marked history of branding expertise in the e-commerce and internet marketing industires.  For more information, visit


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Crafting SEO Landing Pages

The landing page, in terms of SEO, went out of fashion.

Landing pages, which tended to be mass-generated, near identical pages pointing to one money page, became a target for the search engine spam filters.

However, the type of landing page we should take a closer look at is the type of landing page used in PPC – a page carefully crafted to lead a visitor to desired action. SEOs can benefit from applying the same techniques used for creating effective PPC landing pages to their organic pages. After all, we all want visitors to arrive at our pages, and take a desired action.

All Search Is About Connecting With People

Our pages may rank well, but if the visitor doesn’t do something that ultimately leads to more money in our pockets, our sites won’t last long.

In the past, ranking well has led to a pre-occupation with factors like keyword density i.e. repeating keyword phrases often.

However, the search engine algorithm’s are no longer quite so stupid. The need to slavishly repeat keyword phrases in order to rank pales in comparison to other factors. It’s no longer necessary to forsake good copy writing in order to please machine algorithms.

To make our rankings work for us, we must connect with people. This means our pages must talk their language and focus on solving their problems.

A fail in SEO is not missing out on the #1 ranking. A fail in SEO is a visitor clicking back. Do everything to avoid the back click.

Talking People’s Language

People couldn’t care less about you or your company.

People care about themselves.

Take a look at your pages. Do they talk about you, or do they talk about your audience? For a page to work well, it must connect with your audience, and the easiest way to do this is to talk about their wants and desires. If a page doesn’t grab a visitors attention, they won’t persevere, they will click back. What’s a #1 ranking worth if visitors click back?

Here are a few guidelines on how to grab a visitors attention:

Title Tag Text Should Match Your First Headline Or if not matching the phrase exactly, it should be close to it in terms of topic. This reassures to the searcher they are in the right place.

A Search Is Invariably A Question Keyword terms often aren’t phrased as questions, but they are all questions. When people type “buy DVD online”, they’re really saying “where can I buy a DVD online”. Try to determine searcher intent. Decide what the visitors question is, repeat it, then answer it.

Create A Clear Call To Action – what is it you want the searcher to do next? Sign-up? Buy something? Click on Adsense? Make that action clear and obvious.

People Scan – Use big headings. Often. If you’re vague about visitor intent, you can use a number of different headlines, or images, that grab people’s attention in case your lead hook fails.

Use The Word “You” A Lot – it’s all about them. Their problems, their sense of self, their language, their wants and needs. Relegate all the stuff about you, unless they specifically ask for it, or you’re using testimonials.

Every Page On Your Site Is A Landing Page

Every page on your site has potential to pull in visitors.

Even if a page only receives one visit a month, it’s still a landing page. Given that SEO strategy involves building a lot of content, it’s easy to think of “junk” pages low down in your domain structure as unimportant.

However, if people land on those pages, then that’s half the battle won. Those pages will be winners if they lead people to the pages you want them to see. Therefore, every page on your site should contain a clear call to action – leading visitors to the one thing you want people to do.

The Difference Between SEO Landing Pages & PPC Landing Pages

In PPC, the page must be tightly controlled, stay on message and lead a visitor to desired action. Failure to do so means blowing through money.

With SEO, we have more leeway. We can include a variety of text content on pages, as it increases the likelihood of catching long tail phrases. This casts a wider net, and at negligible cost. However, we still need to structure the page well enough so people a) won’t click back and b) will take the desired action.

It’s a good idea to structure a page so – rather obviously – the most important stuff comes first. Make the call to action, wherever it is placed, clear. Relegate superfluous text, which targets long tail variations, below the fold and/or into side links.

Most likely, a few pages on your domain will be doing the gruntwork. Most of your visitors will come in on your home page, or a small collection of well linked pages on your site. Pay careful attention to these pages. They should be as crafted as tightly as a PPC landing page in terms of language and call to action.

Test these pages. Are they converting? What is the abandonment rate? Whilst it can take a while to test and alter SEO pages, it’s worth doing, as incremental gains on a few pages can lead to huge changes when rolled out over an entire site.

What happens if you make a heading bigger? Paragraphs shorter? Reposition page elements? Change the language and pitch? You can also test these variables using a short PPC campaign, of course, and then roll your findings into your SEO strategy. Once you’ve got a winning formula, you can roll it out to every page (landing) page you create.


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PPC Ad Writing Tips from the Experts

By Elisa Gabbert

What qualities make for a great PPC ad?

JS: First, great PPC ads match the intention of the searcher – they have outstanding relevancy to both their search terms and the prospective customer motivations that caused the prosp

ect to type those terms into Google in the first place. This one seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many ads get this wrong, or don’t get it completely right.

Second, great ads quickly convey a unique and engaging sales proposition for the searcher. In other words, those ads answer the “Why do business with us” question in a compelling and credible manner.

Third, great ads are specific and credible. They use numbers and facts instead of superlatives and hype-filled adjectives.

There’s obviously more to that, but those three attributes go a long way. Plus, we can’t give all our secrets away ; )

Ryan Healy: Every week I write a column called the “Win of the Week” on the BoostCTR blog, and one of the things I’ve noticed is that great PPC ads are always clear. There’s no confusion, no big words, no awkward phrases. Just plain, clear language.

Probably one of the easiest ways to boost CTR and conversions is to make your PPC ad as clear as you possibly can in the space you have.

What are the most common ad writing mistakes?

JS: Well, this doesn’t have to do so much with the ad itself, but probably the most common ad-writing mistake is allowing a mismatch between what’s promised in the ad, and what’s promoted on the landing page. Quite a few PPC ads say one thing, and then point the prospect to a page that doesn’t immediately reiterate the claims and promise from the ad. This is a sure way to get PPC traffic to bounce off your landing page. Of course, getting solid match-up between ad and landing page may require the advertiser to build additional landing pages, but it’s usually well worth the effort.

RH: A big mistake I see is focusing too much on features and not enough on benefits. In most cases, it’s better to omit features from your ad and list a primary benefit instead.

Another big mistake is not investigating what competitors are saying. You might have a good idea for your ad — but if all your competitors are already using your idea, then you might want to go a different direction. Unique ads get more clicks.

How many ads do you recommend testing at once? Do you ever stop testing for certain keywords/ad groups?

JS: We test one ad per ad group that the customer has asked us to optimize, and we do a straight A/B split test, which means we only test one PPC challenger against the original per test. Now, we might run 3-4 tests against the original if the first few challengers don’t produce a winner for the client, but it’s only one ad at a time.

Are you ever surprised by which ad “wins” a round of testing?

JS: A fair amount of the time the winner is foreseeable. Other times the winner may not be the ad you expected, but the results make sense in retrospect. But I think everyone involved in optimization testing of any kind — or at least anyone who is any good at it — has had the experience of having a dramatically different result in a test that was supposed to be a sure-fire win. It may be relatively infrequent, but it happens, and those are really golden learning opportunities.

Those surprise tests are where you can gain new insight into the customer. Perhaps an upset tells you that perhaps the buying motivation that you assumed on the part of the customer was a faulty assumption. Or that a supposed competitive advantage wasn’t nearly as important to the customer as to the business. Or a given trigger word has different connotations to you than to your prospect. And so on.

But most people don’t do the hard thinking that they ought to when they get a surprise result. See, what too many people do is just randomly throw stuff against the testing wall to see what sticks. And in those cases, either they’re never surprised because they never bothered to anticipate which variant would win or why, or they’re surprised but totally unable to squeeze any learning out of the surprising result because they didn’t start the test with a sound hypothesis. So while split testing may not be rocket science, it should follow a scientific method.

If you could only change one element of a PPC ad to boost CTR, what would it be? The title? The call to action? The number of times you use the keyword? The URL?

JS: Well, all of those elements are very important, and I’ve seen tests where any one of them have driven astounding increases in CTR. And in such a tight space as a PPC ad, everything really works together, so it’s tough to isolate this or that part and say: this one thing is the most important element. But that said, I think the title plus call to action are really a hugely powerful combination; you can get a lot done by changing those two things.

RH: It really depends on the ad I’m trying to beat. What I do first is look for the untapped opportunity. Sometimes I find it by looking at competitors’ ads. Sometimes I find it by looking at the landing page. But whenever there’s an untapped opportunity, you should take advantage of it — whether that means changing the title, body copy, URL, etc.

Aside from awesome ad writing, what elements are most important to an effective PPC campaign?

RH: Keywords, campaign structure, bidding strategy, landing page, conversion and follow-up process. That’ll keep you busy for a while. 😉

How does the keyword research process differ for PPC versus SEO?

RH: It actually depends on your business model. Let’s assume for a moment that you’re actually in business to sell products or services…

When you’re investigating keywords for a PPC campaign, you’re usually looking for keywords where the searcher has a strong intent to buy. This is because you must demonstrate positive ROI in a relatively short time frame (1-2 months for most people).

With SEO, you might look for keywords with less competition where the searcher is not quite ready to buy yet, but is moving in that direction. That way, you can get the searcher onto your email list, nurture that relationship, and move him/her closer to a sale.

But let’s look at a different business model: selling ad space.

If you’re in the business of selling ad space, you might be more interested in getting as much traffic as possible to justify higher rates. In which case, you’d bid on high-volume search phrases with low CPC. And for SEO, you’d target high-volume search phrases with low competition.

So your business model really determines your strategy for PPC and SEO.

What are your favorite, must-have tools – for PPC, SEO and otherwise – that you use every day?

JS: Well, for PPC, I think split testing is simply a must-have. As I mentioned earlier, it’s not uncommon to get surprise results, and one of the biggest elements of your ad’s quality score is your CTR. If you’re not optimizing for that, you’re volunteering for Google’s Stupid Tax, whereby they let lower performing advertisers pay more for their ads. Of course, I do work for BoostCTR, but don’t let that bias fool you. If you’re not split testing your PPC ads, you ought to be.

RH: For PPC, I use what’s usually referred to as an “AdWords Wrapper.” You type in one or more keywords; the AdWords Wrapper then provides you with a list that includes broad match, phrase match, and exact match formatting. Here’s a good example.

For SEO, I use a number of different tools. I use the Google Keyword Tool plus a number of paid tools for building backlinks to my website.


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