Writing Great PPC Blogs

This week Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) came up with yet another great question set titled “Writing Great PPC Blogs.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: How do you define a great PPC blog post?

  • It either teaches me something new, or makes me think about something differently (or both!) – Jonathan Maltz (@MaltzPPC)
  • For me, “great” is typically given to posts that have amazing in depth analysis or a new, out of the box strategy. – Michelle Morehouse (@michellemsem)
  • One where valuable info is shared/received. Everyone learns, the person writing and the person reading. – Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
  • If I even learn one new tip I consider the blog post great. – Matt Umbro
  • Takes a viewpoint on an issue, shares info/details, and is fun to read. – Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
  • 1st & foremost accuracy and then if it teaches me something new or makes me think differently about a topic. – Julie Bacchini (@NeptuneMoon)
  • Solid data & insights. Includes a perspective on conversions. And has visual elements (images) and not just text copy. – James Svoboda (@Realicity)
  • When I learn a new way to examine the same old data. – Sarah Peduzzi (@sduzy496)
  • Actionable insights. – Josh Devlin (@JayPeeDevlin)
  • I’ll tell you what isn’t great – reading about a topic that has been written about 50 million times with the same view point! ie: Why negative keywords are good for your account. – Matt Umbro
    • Most definitely, I now scan read articles to see if it’s new or insightful before reading in detail for this reason. – Josh Devlin
  • Well-written, informative (data and out-of-the box insight), w/ actionable steps for the reader to take home and implement! – Margo da Cunha (@ChappyMargot)
  • To expand, quality posts about basic PPC are important too, just not for pros. – Julie Bacchini
  • The devils advocate to his is of course that you might want to produce content for people at all levels or that you can write a better post on the topic than has been posted previously. – Josh Devlin
  • Interesting to read, doesn’t make a meal out of a snack of information. – Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)

Q2: Do you write for different blog audiences? If so, how does your approach change?

  • It can be hard to write about really advanced stuff when you can’t use actual client data. – Julie Bacchini
  • A little. Depends on what I know about the audience: skill level, vertical, etc. Need to give each audience what’s relevant to them. – Michelle Morehouse
  • I do, basic posts speak more to lists and clearly highlight acronyms and defintions. My advanced posts generally contain more data and assume the reader knows the basic concepts. – Matt Umbro
  • I write for different audiences based on where I’m writing: SEW, Web Marketing Today, or my blog. My blog tends to be intermediate to advanced / experienced readers so I tailor to that audience. – Melissa Mackey
    • It’s kind of fun writing for different audiences…makes you analyze your work from different knowledge angles. – Matt Umbro
  • I don’t necessarily write to a specific audience, more to solve a specific problem I’ve seen. Could be advanced or basic. – Luke Alley
    • Good point, though, based upon the topic I know which blog I’ll be posting on. – Matt Umbro
    • Definitely, not so much thinking of an audience but just focusing on interesting topics/issues as they come up. – ScriptiLabs (@scriptilabs)
      • And that the data/test is sound, and not just theory. Good point. Should take things with a grain of salt. Still, data > no data. – Luke Alley
  • I would like to see the bigger blogs tag their articles with [easy/moderate/advanced] – Josh Devlin
  • Sometimes. Frequently a different approach means defining/not defining terms. Or adding context. – Theresa Zook
  • Blogs supported by data and case studies will always appeal larger audiences. Give us more tests! – Disruptive (@DiscruptiveAds)
    • Also shows that the author has invested more time in writing the blog. – Matt Umbro
    • Well said! Data rich posts always tend to perform better because there is research to back-up insight. – Marhgot da Cunha
  • We certainly do! For beginner geared posts we try not use terms that would require the reader to head over to Google. – WhatRunsWhere (@WhatRunsWhere)
    • Just spitballing ideas, but maybe you could have hover-over definitions for jargon terms in beginner articles? – Josh Devlin
  • I try…but usually ending up nerding out more towards advanced/PPC practitioners. – Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
  • We must be careful not to dumb down the information. The blog should dictate the audience, not the other way around, surely. – Steve Cameron (@adventcom)
    • That depends. You can’t teach someone calculus if they don’t know algebra. – Jonathan Maltz
      • But there are some who need advanced calculus & can’t read through addition & subtraction every time. Horses for courses. – Steve Cameron
        • Of course – the basic posts should stick to basic topics, and advanced posts should assume knowledge. – Jonathan Maltz
  • And data-rich posts tend to be very popular – get shared / read a lot. But they’re hard to write. – Melissa Mackey

Q3: How do you determine what topics are worth writing about?

  • I have an editorial calendar where I keep ideas/thoughts. But I try to write about what’s hot in the PPCChat community. You guys are usually the inspiration for the posts I write! – Melissa Mackey
  • Identify a need that hasn’t been addressed yet. Those are the best. – Luke Alley
  • If I want to learn more about it, then it’s probably worth reading to others as well. – John Budzynski (@Budzynski)
  • Has the topic been written 1,000+ times already? 2. Do I have something new to add? 3. Will it be good enough for. – James Svoboda
  • Whatever is most interesting that other people haven’t already covered… getting the scoop is always fun. – Paolo Vidali (@PaoloRobot)
  • Providing insightful answers to common prospect or customer questions. – Margot da Cunha
  • I tend to write about issues I’m seeing or clients are asking about – I like to help solve problems or shed light. – Julie Bacchini
  • Depends on how much time I have…cough…don’t have. Though stuff I’m excited about goes fast and writes itself. – Elizabeth Marsten
  • A good indication for me is if I haven’t found it satisfactorily covered somewhere else. – Amy Middleton (@amyxmiddleton)
  • My posts originate from client successes/issues and tests I’m running – if I’m seeing it I’m sure the community is as well. – Matthew Umbro
  • Ask your audience! We commonly leave CTA’s at the end of our posts asking readers to suggest topics. – WhatRunsWhere
  • I think “Have I seen blog posts on this topic a million times before? Am I adding anything new?” – Tamsin Mehew (@TamsinMehew)
  • Always try to write posts that are interesting for someone to read even if they aren’t involved with online marketing. – Disruptive
  • It really depends on who/what you’re writing for. PPC Community/prospective clients etc. – Josh Devlin
  • Google provide me a lot of inspiration with their whacked out policies & gen craziness in support calls. – Julie Bacchini
    • I know where to go when Google makes business decisions! – Matt Umbro
  • My best posts come to me quickly from a convo on Twitter/IRL, and I write them then and there. Easier for me that way. – Luke Alley
  • When looking at data in posts be weary of how it came to be – in other words, ask if brand terms were included, etc. – Matt Umbro
  • For basic articles “What would I have wanted to know when I started? What do beginners’ guides always miss out?” – Tamsin Mehew
  • ideas come from client convos or from posts that I want to respond to that I’ve got more than 140 chars to say. – Stephanie Cockerl (@StephCockerl)

Q4: How do you weed out the irrelevant or poorly written PPC blog posts?

  • Usually my own experience, or if it totally contradicts what other trusted PPC friends are saying. – Melissa Mackey
  • I always scan initially, and look for errors and at what level the article is written. By errors, I mean fundamental things that are objectively wrong, rather than things I disagree with. – Josh Devlin
  • Generally most posts I read are accurate, but 75% of them aren’t teaching me anything new. – Matt Umbro
  • Skim the subheadings. Usually can get an idea of the post from those. If new, unique, or interesting then I’ll read further. – Michelle Morehouse
  • Experience & testing. You’ll quickly learn what resonates with your audience. – WhatRunsWhere
  • I will say that a great headline will draw me in, even if I read the post and it’s crap. – Matt Umbro
  • 1) Who is the author? 2) What’s the topic/is it another rehash? 3) Skim the content/length of post. – Luke Alley
  • Mostly gut feeling – if contains info that is just wrong, I leave. Or if too basic, not for me either. – Julie Bacchini
  • It’s funny because the most BS posts are generally written by the most reputable names, ie: New York Times, ebay, etc. – Matt Umbro
  • Author is important for me. – Steve Cameron
  • There’s definitely an art to marketing the post though… adding a pic w/ Twitter link, a compelling headline, good intro, etc. – Luke Alley
  • Perfect example, the post earlier this year from the New York Times that said AdWords didn’t work for a particular business. – Matt Umbro
  • Follow the blogs creating quality content consistently. Don’t waste your time with the ones spitting out fodder. – Disruptive
  • Increasing my blog reading in the last few months I’ve discovered that I find posts with (illustrative) images are more engaging. – Josh Devlin
  • For me, smaller, focused entities are generally better. Big guys are usually just wrong or off in too many ways. – Julie Bacchini
    • Agreed, also find those PPC newbies who are passionate about PPC and are looking to make a name! – Matt Umbro
  • I weed out almost everything. I bookmark / save the few that I can use to test or share with others. – Amy Middleton
  • Posts from big players can provide opps to get your blog more traffic if you write about their wrongness. – Julie Bacchini
  • I think we should even add the word “consistently.” If they’re not always up-to-date, how can they ever really keep up?

Q5: What do you believe is the most common misconception about PPC blogging, either writing a post or reading one?

  • That PPC is boring (mostly a perception from outside the industry). – Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
  • That PPC strategy or tactics are somehow universal. We all love “it depends” for a reason! – Julie Bacchini
  • Probably that it’s going to be boring and/or not very useful. – ScriptiLabs
  • Everything needs to work for everyone. Posts saying “Do this to increase sales 100%” are hard to read & write for everyone. – Michelle Morehouse
  • For writing: that regurgitating a google announcement with no insight or application is valuable. – Amy Middleton
  • That it takes a ton of time. I can write a post in 15-20 minutes. Some take longer, but you just have to write! – Melissa Mackey
  • Hard to find posts relevant to you but also hard to write for a wide audience that also doesn’t exclude too many. – Michelle Morehouse
  • Anyone can set up a WordPress blog and start posting. It will help you in so many ways! – Melissa Mackey
  • That every post has to be a home run! If we only posted what we thought was ground breaking stuff, we’d miss out on good info. – Luke Alley
  • For writing, that blogging is a burden more than a passion – I’ve said it before, great PPCers are also great writers! – Matt Umbro
  • That the ability to type and stick in a few acronyms makes you an expert worth listening to? – Theresa Zook
    • My CTR is amazing and CPA and ROI are great FTW. – Matt Umbro
  • That it needs to be boring. Throw new insight and a little bit of your personality into a post! It can go a long way. – Disruptive
  • that people who write a lot necessarily know what they’re talking about. – Michael Medew (@IntelligentPPC)
  • That link bait headlines are the only way to acquire readers. – Leo Sussan (@lsussan)
  • Side question – when you read a post you like, do you comment and/or tweet about it or share some other way? – Julie Bacchini
    • Most of the time I tweet it out – I generally don’t write comments, but I would like to make it more of a priority. – Matt Umbro
    • Usually tweet and share on LinkedIn. I’m not much of a commenter, even though I probably should work on that. – Michelle Morehouse
    • Almost always tweet; will comment if I have a lot to say. – Melissa Mackey
    • If it’s good content, I’ll share. Commenting is good for 1) adding to convo or 2) connecting with the author. – Luke Alley
    • Mostly just tweet great PPC posts. Comment now as often. – Margot da Cunha
    • Usually I retweet (as I’ve probably come across it via Twitter). – Tamsin Mehew
    • Commenting can be a great way to get your name out there in the industry, as long as you add value to the convo. – Luke Alley
    • I find it so interesting how commenting has gen decreased as Twitter use has increased. – Julie Bacchini

Q6: Aesthetically, how should the ideal blog post be laid out?

  • If you are talking stats, graphs & charts will really help. Images help too – I need to use them more! – Melissa Mackey
  • Headline, leading pic, intro paragraph, subheadings with supporting paragraphs, pics where relevant. – Michelle Morehouse
  • I know people love images, but I just don’t often have time to great them AND write quality stuff! – Julie Bacchini
  • IMO, like a research article. Abstract (summary of what you’ll see if you continue reading), Specifics, Conclusion. – Leo Sussan
  • Anything but poorly made movie reference memes. – Andrew Bethel (@AndrewPPC)
  • Start at the end–lay out your conclusion, then lay out your “proofs.” I know the world is picture-mad, but images only if they’re relevant. – Theresa Zook
  • Never go more than 2 paragraphs without a headline or image – break up the text! – Matt Umbro
  • I have a pet peeve about not having well defined subheadings. Makes it really hard to read otherwise. – Michelle Morehouse
    • I totally agree about subheads. Aids in easy skimming which is critical for web copy in general. – Julie Bacchini
  • Compelling headlines, relevant images that add further context. Bullets and lists also make content more readable. – Margot da Cunha
  • I find that for more novice audiences, list posts are good, ie: 5 Tips for Google Shopping. – Matt Umbro
  • Diagrams (as opposide to photographs/screenshots/charts) are underutilised IMO. – Josh Devlin
  • Yes. Number posts are very popular. My 26 Free Tools post was thru the roof in both SEW and my blog. People love it! – Melissa Mackey
  • Screenshots are helpful, esp when talking about specific tactics or examples. – Julie Bacchini
  • Images are powerful and boost social sharing and credibility to posts. Always consider them important, if not necessary. – James Svoboda

Q7: What should be someone’s immediate thought(s) after reading a great PPC blog post?

  • I gotta go try/look at that now! – Theresa Zook
  • Ermahgerd! Why am I not doing this already?! – Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
  • Can’t wait to try this! – ScriptiLabs
  • “I can’t wait to try that” or “I never thought of it like that”. – Julie Bacchini
  • Where can I apply this? How can I take advantage? – Michelle Morehouse
  • I can’t wait to get back to work! – Matt Lukens (@mmlukens)
  • I never thought of that! Or, God, that’s a great rant! – Melissa Mackey

PPCChat Sponsored by

CallRail is a call tracking platform that brings enterprise-level call analytics to businesses and agencies. CallRail makes it easy to track which marketing sources and keywords make your phone ring. We provide call tracking, recording, and analytics for PPC, SEO, web, and offline marketing campaigns. With CallRail, you can create tracking phone numbers instantly, get reports in real time, and increase your advertising ROI by learning which campaigns and keywords deliver valuable phone leads.

Resources

More PPCChats

Don’t forget to stay tuned for the next #PPCchat on Tuesday at 12 noon Eastern, 9 am Pacific and 5pm in the UK. Same Chat time, same Chat channel.

Participants

Check out the PPCChat Twitter list to see and connect with all current and prior participants.

• Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
• James Svoboda (@Realicity)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Amy Middleton (@amyxmiddleton)
• Andrew Bethel (@AndrewPPC)
• Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
• John Budzynski (@Budzynski)
• Jonathan Maltz (@MaltzPPC)
• Josh Devlin (@JayPeeDevlin)
• Julie Bacchini (@NeptuneMoon)
• Leo Sussan (@lsussan)
• Luke Alley (@LukeAlley)
• Margo da Cunha (@ChappyMargot)
• Matt Lukens (@mmlukens)
• Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
• Michael Medew (@IntelligentPPC)
• Michelle Morehouse (@michellemsem)
• Paolo Vidali (@PaoloRobot)
• Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
• Sarah Peduzzi (@sduzy496)
• ScriptiLabs (@scriptilabs)
• Stephanie Cockerl (@StephCockerl)
• Steve Cameron (@adventcom)
• Tamsin Mehew (@TamsinMehew)
• Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
• WhatRunsWhere (@WhatRunsWhere)
 

Writing Great Streamcaps

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; WebRanking SEM Manager in Minneapolis, Minnesota, #PPCChat Streamcap Grabber, SEO Blog Author. Connect with me @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

Be Sociable, Share!

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Sponsored By

Recent Tweets



I am speaking at SMX East
PPCChat.co was rated one of the Best PPC Blogs by Boost CTR