Sometimes, the determining factor in whether your work for a client will have a happy ending or not is simply how strong your relationship is with that client. By effectively communicating, making sure you understand their goals and using the right language, you give yourself the best chance to succeed.

Purma Virji has, what she calls, “5 amazing tactics” to build that strong client-consultant relationship. Check out her in-depth look at Search Enging Watch.

1. Learn from each other

In order to successfully fulfill the client’s needs, you need to be on the same page. Understand what they want out of the project. When you pitch ideas to them, back them up with reasoning and a cause-and-effect approach. Set realistic timelines that you both can live with. Be sure that they understand your language. Educate them so they know what’s possible and how valuable your work is.

2. Lines of communication open, not flooded

Your client wants to feel that their voice is being heard and they want to have access to you. However, allowing anyone involved in the process to contact you at all times will be too time consuming. Instead, set a communication schedule and stick to it.

Set a weekly meeting time where everyone involved has a chance to voice concerns and you have an opportunity go over timelines, new ideas and progress.

You should also send out regular updates to keep your client involved. Ideally, these short reports will answer any questions they might have before they come to you with them.

3. Be prepared when asking for buy-in

Do your homework and have metrics ready when asking for an increase in budget. You should know exactly how much time and funding will be needed for a specific project. Then, be sure to articulate why it will be worth it.

4. Prioritize

When first starting out on a project, your to-do list will probably seem pretty daunting. You want to knock out as much as possible and show your client that you are making quick, effective progress.

To do so, tackle the tasks that are short and simple but could yield big results first. Anything that involves a simple adjustment without weeks of testing should be at the top of the list.

5. Be honest and upfront about bad news

Mistakes will happen. Goals will be missed. You will not meet every expectation. If you handle bad news correctly, however, you can and will overcome it.

Send out a detailed email as soon as the problem is discovered. Set up a meeting if warranted.

When discussing it with your client, summarize the problem while including how much it is costing. Talk about what you’ve done to fix it, what is needed and when you expect to overcome it. Also, try to find the good that has come out of it. Maybe you’ve avoided potential lost time or discovered a new method of doing things or just gained some valuable knowledge.


New research from Compete.com is suggesting being the first result on a SERP can make a huge difference from being second.

The analysis comes from “tens of millions” of consumer-generated search engine results pages from the last quarter of 2011. It also had some really interesting findings. 85 percent of all listings shown are organic, with only 15 percent paid search listings.

Out of the organic listings, 53 percent of clicks are going to the very first result, with the second result only seeing 15 percent, and all others getting even less.

Analysts from Compete.com summarize “since the vast majority of listings on a SERP are organic, and the majority of clicks are on the first listing, it’s imperative that brands strategy including constantly monitoring results due to the ongoing evolution of search engine algorithms.”

The paid results are also getting a large amount of clicks. Most specifically, ads in the top of the page perform very well, with between 59 percent and 9 percent of all paid results clicks. Ads on the right hand of the page however, get at most 4 percent of paid results clicks.

Overall, it is important to get your listings in the top position, if you want your page to be getting attention. For graphs and analysis of the results, read Miranda Miller’s article at Search Engine Watch.



Chances are that your company doesn’t have piles of money to throw at advertising in order to get results. Most likely, you’re wondering how to get a big ROI from a modest to meager ad budget. Jeremy Decker has five tips for you, which you can read more about at Search Engine Journal.

1. Utilize lower ad positions

When you search for a specific topic or product, do you always click the first result that appears? I’m assuming you answered ‘no’ because I don’t know anyone who does.

With that in mind, you can take advantage of ad placements below the top three on Google and still see results, often at a lower cost-per-click.

2. Specific targets

Using general, one-word keyword will allow your ads to pop up more often. However, your audience in that scenario will rarely be searching for exactly what you offer.

Instead, use keywords that pinpoint what your business is. These ideally would be phrases of three or more words, which will probably include your location. Fewer users will enter those search terms, but the ones who do will be hoping to find a business just like yours.

3. High-converting keywords need their own campaign

Be sure to check out how each of your keywords are performing. When some separate themselves as ‘high-converting’, consider creating a campaign that includes only those keywords. This way, the most effective keywords will have a budget to themselves. Otherwise, less effective keywords could show up more and you’ll reach your cap without the heavy hitter getting a chance.

4. Display network doesn’t get conversions

Using the display network option in addition to, or instead of, search results will potentially spread awareness about your company to a gigantic audience, it usually doesn’t yield conversions at a high rate. If your ad budget is limited, it’s best to put all of your investment into search traffic rather than limiting yourself in order to invest partially in such a risky venture.

5. Location, location, location

It’s not just a key for real estate. AdWords allows you to track what cities your traffic and conversions are coming from. With this information, you can get the most of your budget by omitting your ads in locations where conversions are low. You can also create new campaigns specifically for your top performing areas.

In the past 18 months, Google has waged war against spammers. It began with their attempts to purify organic search rankings by introducing the Panda and Penguin updates. Now, with an AdWords policy update this week, Google has targeted those evil doers of the PPC game.

Ali Harris has an in-depth look at the changes at ClickThrough Marketing, but here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know.

Google’s goal is to improve the ad experience across the board, meaning only those with ill intent will object and most users and campaign managers will applaud.

By weeding out the spam, your Quality Score will likely rise and your cost-per-click will likely drop. But, you have to know the rules and follow them.

  • Your ads and keywords must be easily relatable to the landing page they point to.
  • If you mention a specific promotion or product in an ad, the landing page must feature it too.
  • No more throw-away lines like “Click Here Now!”
  • Just like in English class, poor grammar will be punished.
  • Keyword campaigns must be relevant and clear.
  • If your landing page has ads, they must be clearly discernable from original content.
  • No phone numbers
  • No email inbox look-alike ads

Essentially, you are expected to use common sense and be sincere in your advertising. If your goal is to trick users into clicking your ads, you will be punished.

Those punishments start modest but can become severe.

Campaigns that are flagged as not in compliance won’t run the disapproved ads until they are changed. If advertisers feel they were judged unfairly, they are able to submit their ad for review again.

Suspensions could be doled out to domains to temporarily stop their use of AdWords.

For repeat or serious offenders, accounts could be banned along with any related or future accounts.

Most likely, you’re already keeping tabs on AdWords metrics, particularly Quality Score. But now would be a good time to go through your campaigns with a fine-toothed comb in order to be sure you’re in compliance.


The ‘Rotate Indefinitely’ option in Google AdWords is back after a short hiatus. But, it’s a little unclear why the option was resurrected.

Straight from the AdWords blog:

If you select “Rotate indefinitely” option for your campaign, we will show lower-performing ads about as often as higher-performing ads. For most advertisers, this may result in fewer, more expensive clicks and your ad appearing in a lower position. So we generally don’t recommend“Rotate indefinitely”

Also, as Pamela Parker reports for Search Engine Land, less than 1-percent of AdWords users asked for ‘Rotate indefinitely’ to be brought back.

Be warned though. In the coming weeks, campaigns that are set to ‘Rotate evenly’ will automatically change to ‘Rotate indefinitely’.

AdWords is also adding options to their impression share metrics to better track and manage ads. It comes at a price, however, as Google will be phasing out impression share data in AdWords existing columns. In order to preserve historical impression share data from these columns, you’ll need to download the reports before November 1st, when they will be wiped out.

Most designers are aware of Dieter Rams’ Ten Principles of Good Design, and, if you aren’t, you should definitely check it out. Rams created the entire visual language Apple is still using, and products he designed over fifty years ago are still being made today. He made the ten principles in 1970, when he decided he needed an objective way to criticize his own designs.

The list was originally made to critique physical products, but lately web designers have been using the principles for interactive design. While the list works wonderfully with interactive design, there is one issue stemming from how long ago the principles were established. In Rams’ time, there was no interaction design, UI, or UX. It doesn’t take into consideration the constantly changing software out today.

Fourty years ago, when Rams created the ten principles, designs were mostly for print or physical products, which rarely were updated. This is as far from true now as imaginable. That’s why Wells Riley, designer for Kicksend, has proposed an eleventh principle of design. 

Good Design is Iterative

Iterative design is flexible, and reduces the friction created from growth and change. It is common to think of every project with an “end date.” Designers usually consider themselves finished when they hand in a design, and get their money. Unfortunately, that manner of working will usually result in a total breakdown when it comes time to integrate new features.

Fixed, complex designs lead to complete disasters when it is time to update. Big companies have the money to invest to overcome this issue. Small companies, which normally need to update at a much quicker rate than huge corporations, can’t afford to not iterate on design just as quickly as engineers can code.

So how do you make an interative design from day one?

  1. Responsive Web – Responsive layouts allow pages to respond to different mobile and desktop browsers, which makes for much easier design changes. Sites using responsive layouts can make small changes constantly to continuously mold their entire product and brand image.
  2. Less is More – Designers love to build complex and interesting sites, but aside from possibly confusing visitors, these intricacies are also blocking fast updates from happening. Instead, stick with only what is essential. Minimalistic approaches to design allow for innovation. Think about Google’s front page. It is simple and clean, which makes it spectacular when Google Doodles show up to highlight an important day in history. If the page was cluttered with extra nonsense, the doodles would be harder to implement, and their effect would be severely diminished.
  3. Ship Every Day – Don’t ever let your design go stagnant. As any art student knows, there is always room for improvement in a design, and you should always be working on improving it. Use customer feedback and research, as well as your constantly growing knowledge of what is new, so that your designs grow at the same rate you grow as a designer.

The Ten Principles Rams set down 40 years ago are still an important way to critique your own designs, but, as with any list 40 years old, it needed an update. By adding a focus on iterant design, you will be able to criticize your own work objectively while making sure it works for the constantly changing field of web design.


[INFOGRAPHIC] Quality Score

The quality score of your site is extremely important. If you’ve got a high score, Google makes it easy for your page to prosper. You’ll appear higher in search results, your ads can appear in the top, shaded region of results and it will cost you less per click of your ads.

As Neil Spencer reports for Business2Community, in order to ensure you get these advantages, you need to know how Google judges your site and how you can improve it.

Your ads should be specific and highly targeted. Google is looking for the relevance of the keywords you’ve chosen to your landing page and your ads. Also, make sure your landing page contains relevant, original content that’s updated often and is easy to navigate.

The included infographic is courtesy of DigitalNetAgency

While we’ve been talking about how to optimize content quite a bit, there really are no guidelines out there for more broad questions you should be asking when going through the process of optimization. Jenny Halasz from Search Engine Land realized this, and created a flow chart for the optimization process, complete with what questions you should be asking yourself.

Optimization Flow Chart

“What is the page about?” – This is a really simple question, and if you can’t answer it, you probably shouldn’t be building the site. For your page to have any value, you have to know what it is about, obviously.

“What is the purpose of this page?” – Are you trying to create a blog post? Or maybe a sales pitch? How about a press release? No matter what the purpose is, you certainly need to have one, and be able to identify it while working on the page. Thinking about this before hand will help you put your content into context.

“How long will this content remain relevant?” – Educational pieces stay relevant until more information is found. Depending on the field, this could be years or just a few months. Product pitches on the other hand, stay relevant until your next line is due to be released, which can last as much as a year or two. Either way, adapt your content to the time frame it will still be important.

“What makes sense for optimization?” – The previous questions should be considered when creating the page, but now we’re at optimizing the site for search. Are the keywords you’re using relevant? How are you handling linking? Make sure you actually consider these factors rather than “going through the motions.”

The flow chart and questions should help you focus your process to reflect your client’s needs. Every step needs to be planned, and every question should be answered. If you’re optimizing right, the answers should come to mind pretty quickly.


Implementing tags to measure traffic and visitor behavior on your site is a great way to learn about your audience and improve your site. But, managing those tags can be cumbersome and time-consuming. As Joab Jackson reports for ComputerWorld, that’s why Google recently launched ‘Tag Manager’ to streamline and simplify the process.

Much like AdWords and Analytics, Google Tag Manager is easy to use and it’s completely free. After embedding a small section of code to your site, Google will take care of providing appropriate tags for each page.

Tags that overlap can slow down your site’s load time and potentially lose you visitors. Google employs a way to eliminate that possibility and, of course, offers many ways for you to customize your experience.

Though Google is not the first to offer a tag management system, the number of websites that use one is expected to skyrocket in the coming months.