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November 2011

Lisa Barone on Authenticity

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“Authenticy in marketing is telling a story people want to hear.” – Seth Godin

Lisa Barone’s session at BlogWorld LA 2011, “Creating Your Blogging Superhero,” covered the topic that seems to have become a buzzword in the new media world lately: authenticity. Authentic scares some people because they think it means airing their dirty laundry, but as Lisa teaches, you can be authentic in a really smart way to become a blogging superhero to your readers.

It reminds me of something Brian Clark said at BlogWorld 2010 – I’m paraphrasing, but basically, what he said is that you need to be the best “you” possible online. I think it’s really smart advice. Here are Lisa’s four tips to creating your blogging superhero:

1. Identify your place in the market.

What makes you different? What do you want your audience to know about you – and more importantly, what do you want your audience to remember about you? Says Lisa, “We live in a crowded complex world. Your audience is only going to be able to remember a few things about you.” Before you can create your blogging superhero, you need to identify your place in the reader’s world.

2. Identify the traits and experiences that help you epitomize that.

What traits do you have as a blogger that help you show that you’re perfect for that place in the market? Those are the traits that you’re going to what to show online. According to Lisa, “Being a successful marketer doesn’t mean letting all the nasty bits hang out.” The traits you display should relate back to your core goal as a blogger.

3. Build a story that ties it together, emphasizing the traits that allow you to be the best version of yourself.

“That’s what marketing is – using yourself to show people their desired outcome,” says Lisa

You don’t have to lie to your readers – you just should be selective about how much you want to reveal about yourself. It isn’t inauthentic to want to show your best traits. You act differently around “the boys” or “the girls” than you do around your children, and you act differently around your children than you do around your boss. Tell a story using the pieces of you that make sense for your readers.

4. Lose everything that does not relate back to what you want to show. It’s a distraction.

Lastly, remember that you don’t have to share anything that doesn’t relate back to your goal, even if it isn’t necessarily bad information about yourself. Remember, people can only remember a few things about you, so think about how you want to be known in your niche or industry. Says Lisa, “Too much irrelevant information distracts from your core goal.”

If you missed BlogWorld LA 2011 or were in another session when Lisa talked, check out the virtual ticket. You can listen to her entire presentation there, as well as see sessions with other speakers.

BlogWorld is Over, But Your Work is Not Yet Done.

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Run the checklist, is your life anything like mine at the moment: Tired limbs, sore heads, great memories and a box full of business cards, notes and scrawled twitter handles…

Yes, the LA Blog World Expo is over, but that doesn’t mean you can start planning #bweny for 2012 just yet. To get the most from your conference, it’s time to do some follow-up, and make sure that the connections you made at the Convention Centre continue to work for you. Here are three easy steps to keeping the Blog World Expo moments alive for the rest of the year, and beyond.

First up, decide who you are going to reconnect with. I know the temptation is to go through all the collected business cards and say “Hi I met you at Blog World”, but I’ve always sent emails that either finish a discussion with an action point, or have some content that needs auctioned.

By all means send the personal ones out (especially if you can’t find them on Twitter or Facebook!), but there is nothing wrong in not following up with someone if there is no fit with you away from the exhibition hall floor – the exception being if you couldn’t give them details and you need to give them your details.

Go through the cards, file the ones that need to be filed, and action the rest.

Keep those first emails short and snappy – everyone is recovering from the Conference, so a quick one line reminder as to who you are, and what you’d like to do next. Be it a guest blog post, explore some licensing opportunities, or asking for a price list, make a clear action point.

Chances are, with all these follow-ups going around, you’ll have some yourself to answer. In which case answer them with the same focus, but place a deadline on it. For example, “thanks for getting back to me to ask for the pricing, here’s the PDF and I’ll be back in touch at the end of next week“.

You worked hard to get to BlogWorld (and the team putting on the conference worked even harder), but don’t stop now. Just a little bit more work and you can make sure you get the best results out of your time in LA.

Use the Google+ Community Guide to Help Your Organization Thrive

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Have you created a page for your business on Google+ yet? They launched on November 7th and it sounds like companies, groups, politicians, sports teams and more ran over there and snagged their page quickly. (Be sure and add the BlogWorld & New Media Expo Google+ page to your circles.)

After you created your page, you might be asking “What now?”. It doesn’t do you any good if you have a page and have no idea how to promote it, interact on it or what in the world to say on your stream.

Google+ is here to help. In a blog post titled Connect with your community on Google+, they outline some groups who have created a page, are participating in hangouts and tell us about their new community guide.

On the site, you can find out how to get your organization started on Google+, and learn how other groups like yours—universities, political organizations, nonprofits, sports, media companies and celebrities—are using the platform. You’ll find case studies and ideas for how organizations or individuals in each of these communities have used Google+ effectively. For example, you’ll see how NBC’s Breaking News Google+ page is using the platform to deliver breaking news; or how the Dallas Cowboys are using hangouts to connect with fans; or how celebrities like Conan O’Brien are announcing their Google+ pages to the world.

The Google+ Community Guide is broken down into sections which include celebs, media, non-profits, politics, sports and universities. When you click on Google+ for Media for example, it gives you ideas on how to target your audience with Google+ Circles, Hangouts, how to share breaking news and more.

Have you created a Google+ Page? If so, what are some tips you have to offer to make it succeed?

 

Why SOPA Scares the You-Know-What Out of Me

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For the past few weeks, and especially over the past few days, everyone is talking about the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), new legislation in the United States that seeks to punish people for posting pirated content. I didn’t pay much attention at first. The name sounds nice, after all. I don’t support illegal downloading, and I certainly don’t want people illegally distributing the content I create. So my first impression, when I started seeing people tweeting about it, was that people were mad that they’d have to pay for things they should have been buying in the first place.

Today, I had coffee with Thursday Bram. She was in town (I live in the Washington, D.C. area) to hear Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit, speak to the Young Entrepreneur Council – and he was in town first and foremost to speak out against SOPA. So I thought I better come home and actually read about the legislation, to see what the big deal was.

Holy cannoli. I almost had to change my pants. This video does a good job, in my opinion, of outlining the legislation and its problems:

[vimeo]http://www.vimeo.com/31100268[/vimeo]

Let me preface what I’m about to say with this: I’m not a lawyer and I normally don’t get super political. So if you believe I’m thinking about this the wrong way or don’t correctly understand what I’ve read about SOPA, please leave a comment telling me that. This is just how I’m interpreting things, and it is giving me an upset stomach, so I’d love to be wrong.

If passed, this legislation will scare people from sharing any link or user-created content at all because if the government (and those controlling the government though lobbyists) doesn’t like it, you can be shut down. I’m reminded of futuristic dystopian works of fiction like V for Vendetta and 1984, where government controls the message at all times. That might sound a little dramatic, but those type of imagined futures don’t happen overnight. They happen bit by bit, starting with legislation that seems like it’s meant to protect us (or so we’re led to believe). Legislation like SOPA.

Basically, what SOPA does is create a way for content creators (anyone from a large movie studio to an individual artist) to fight piracy, which is a good thing. But it also creates tons of loopholes for content creators to shut down anything they don’t like or understand that they feel infringes on their rights. We’re trusting people – people who have a lot of money at stake – to ignore these loopholes. It’s like putting a big chocolate chip cookie and some carrots in front of a three-year-old and saying, “Honey, we trust you to only eat the carrots while I’m in the other room.” Yeah right.

The loopholes in this legislation will get abused. That’s a guarantee. They’re too tempting.

And not just that, but frankly, a lot of the people in charge of the government and even businesses don’t really use the Internet. They have interns who answer their emails and support staff who update their websites. We’re putting our faith to make good decisions about our industry in the hands of people who have no clue what this industry is about. That’s terrifying.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is supposed to protect us. Its “safe harbor” clauses give websites the chance to fix problems before being sued. Websites who make an effort to discourage copyright shenanigans don’t have to worry about getting being blacklisted. Essentially, if you try to do the right thing, you’re given the benefit of the doubt.

SOPA doesn’t give you a second chance. I’m not advocating that a piracy site should get one, but I am advocating that a social sharing site, including forums, blogs that allow comments, social media networks, bookmarking sites, and so forth be given the chance to rectify any infringement problems, rather than just being shut down because a reader/user/member/etc. posted something that a content creator doesn’t like. This is the kind of government blacklisting we’re seeing in places like China. That scares me.

Worse yet is the vast amount of gray area when it comes to infringement. SOPA will squash creativity like song mash-ups, spoofs, covers by amateurs, and more. Even stuff that is technically allowed by law could be at risk because people will be scared. Today, they’re taking down videos of someone covering a pop song. Tomorrow, they’re showing up at the small-town bar we’re you’re singing karaoke. Like I said, complete government control doesn’t happen overnight. Baby steps lead us down that path, a path where free speech is no longer allowed as we know it.

And to take things a step further…what about opinion pieces like I’m writing right now? It’s a leap, but if SOPA passes, could someone in the future read this post and categorize it as content that promotes piracy just because I disagree with an anti-piracy bill? Okay, yes, that’s quite a leap, but when writing this, I’ve been very careful to say multiple times that I don’t support piracy, just in case. Baby steps.

Let me not forget to mention how ridiculous the penalties are for someone suspected of promoting piracy in any way. A content creator can completely cut you off financially in as little as five days, which is not enough time for most people to defend themselves. You could even go to jail.

That’s right – jail. Up to five years. Because I posted a link to a YouTube video that uses background music without permission. Because that seems much more reasonable than just asking that the video be removed. Cue the black hood and handcuffs as I’m being dragged away by men in suits and sunglasses.

He's probably not a *real* pirate, right? Let's send him to jail just in case.

SOPA means that anyone who owns a website or creates any kind of online profile has to walk on eggshells. Part of the problem is that this legislation is so open to interpretation, that even if you aren’t doing anything wrong but just look like you might be doing something wrong, you could be at risk. Guilty until proven innocent is not okay in my book. There are a lot of innocent people out there who could get unjustly accused.

This legislation could even affect what you send via email, from what I understand. That requires a heck of a lot more email monitoring than I’m comfortable with. I’m not naive enough to think that something I send via email has no chance of getting read by anyone else, but I am un-paranoid-y (that’s a technical term because I can’t think of a better word) enough to think that right now, people don’t have a reason to care about my emails, so they probably don’t get read by “the man.” Under SOPA, email providers will have to care, and if you’re sending something that looks like an illegal link, the black hoods will come out again.

Up until now, I’ve been pretty outlandish with some of my what-ifs, but something that is very real and that absolutely will happen if SOPA is passed is that really cool start-ups won’t have a chance to succeed simply because they don’t have the manpower to fight lawsuits or police what users are creating to the high standards that will be legally required. Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, GOOGLE for crying out loud – these are all companies that couldn’t have happened if SOPA had passed before they were founded. People out there are wondrously creative and smart, and we’re going to miss out on a lot of really cool stuff because it will be too hard for these companies to gain any traction under SOPA. Take a moment to think of the crazy number of jobs that won’t be created. Sounds really awesome for the economy, right? Even some big-name companies might call it quits if it because too cost-intensive to comply.

A world without Twitter? I think I have to change my pants again.

And you know what? SOPA has all these bad effects WITHOUT STOPPING PIRATES. Even if every single pirate safe haven online gets shut down, people will find a way to get what they want if they don’t have the money for it. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to stop piracy, plagiarism, and general mean-spirited mischief online. It just means what we need to do so in a way that doesn’t blanket-punish all the good kids in class because one student was talking during nap time.

Get out there and write to your congressmen and women. Blog about it. Support companies speaking out against it. Educate people who are, like me, in need of education about the topic. Let it be known, even if it passes, that you don’t agree.

My name is Allison Boyer, and while I don’t speak for the rest of the staff here at BlogWorld, personally, I don’t agree.

I think I’ve ranted long enough, so now I want to hear your opinions. Has SOPA made you soil your undergarments? What are you doing about it? What do you think would be a better answer to online piracy?

It’s About the Response: C.C. Chapman Talks Content at BlogWorld

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One of the track keynotes I had the pleasure to attend at BlogWorld 2011 was “Content Rules, but Common Sense Rocks!” by C.C. Chapman. One of the biggest take-away lessons from his session was this:

“It’s human nature to screw up and there’s nothing wrong with that… it’s how you respond.”

It’s a good lesson for bloggers and business owners alike. When you live online, you’re constantly scrutinized by others…and hey, no one is perfect! But when mistakes happen, you have two choices: you can ignore it/play the blame game OR you can own up to your mistakes and turn the situation around!

I especially liked a story C.C. told about one of the social media managers for the American Red Cross. One night, while having fun with friends, she tweeted out that she was “getting slizzard” from the official ARC account! It could have been a PR nightmare, but they turned the situation around by making light of the goof and they even worked with an alcohol company to turn it into a campaign drive. She got to keep her job, they got to raise money, and the alcohol company in question got some free promotion. They turned that mistake into and awesome opportunity.

C.C.’s full session is available with the BlogWorld LA 2011 virtual ticket, but here are a few other take-away quotes from his keynote:

  • “If you’re a jerk, no one cares how nice your blog post is.”
  • “Embrace that you are a publisher. Start thinking like a publisher.”
  • “Retweets cannot be cashed in to pay your mortgage.”
  • “You have to work really hard because this stuff does not come magically.”
  • “If you’re online and you’re not expecting a conversation, get off line.”
  • “If you do not know how you’re approaching, if you do not know who you’re reaching, good luck with that.”
  • “If you make the customer the hero…whatever content you create is going to do very well.”

He also ended the presentation with three final take-away messages for bloggers and business owners:

  1. You have to know where you’re going
  2. Have respect
  3. Have fun

Goo messages for us all to live by…don’t you think? Remember, you can hear the whole session, as well as all of the other great sessions at BlogWorld with the virtual ticket!

About the Speaker

C.C. Chapman is the Co-Author of the best selling book Content Rules and the Founder of DigitalDads.com. He also consults with companies of all sizes to develop engaging marketing programs and has worked with companies like American Eagle Outfitters, HBO, and Verizon FiOS. You can find him on Twitter @CC_Chapman.

Google Music is Live!

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Google Music is no longer in beta. It has been officially released to the public and was announced at its Android event in Los Angeles this afternoon.

Google Music’s competitors are the well known iTunes and Amazon. It works the same way as iTunes Match and the Amazon Cloud Player where users store their purchases and upload them to their devices.

You can visit their site to take a tour, as well as shop at the Google Music store. Some of the features include:

  • Discover – Find the music you love, as well as check out staff-picked rising artists
  • Shop – The music you purchase is automatically stored in your Google Music library
  • Listen – You can access your library anywhere at anytime
  • Organize – Nicely store your music all in one place
  • Share – You can share the music you purchased through the Android Market on Google+

To access Google Music, just enter your Google email and password. Once you’re in, download the music manager and then start shopping! The dashboard looks super clean and easy to use. At the top, it integrates all of your Google products including Gmail and Google+.

Do you think Google Music will be a fierce competitor for iTunes and Amazon?

Google Re-Releases Gmail App for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch Users

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When Google first released the Gmail app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch on November 2nd, there were some unfortunate glitches. The app kept crashing, was giving error messages and was over all a big huge mess.

They have re-released the app today. The problems have been fixed but users still aren’t happy with the outcome. Some say the notifications are super slow and that it’s still basically the same app that was originally pulled.

Google does plan on enhancing some of the features, which they mentioned in a blog post from today:

In the short time the app was public we received a lot of helpful feedback and feature requests. This included requests for everything from bigger features like multiple account support to customizations like improved notifications and mobile specific signatures.

We’re just getting started with the Gmail app for iOS and will be iterating rapidly to bring you more features, including all the ones listed above plus many more. Based on your comments we have already improved our handling of image HTML messages – they are now sized to fit to the screen and you can pinch to zoom in.

Here’s a description of the features from the iTunes app store:

With the Gmail app, you can:

  • Receive notification badges for new messages
  • Read your mail with threaded conversations
  • Organize your mail by archiving, labeling, starring, deleting, and reporting spam
  • Keep track of important messages with priority inbox
  • Auto-complete contact names as you type
  • Send and receive attachments
  • Search through all your mail

Have you tried out the new Gmail app for the iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch? Let us know what your experience has been with it.

BlogWorld Los Angeles Kicks Butt, Takes Names

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BlogWorld & New Media Expo in LA two weeks ago was, in a word, awesome.

And sure. That’s exactly the sort of sentiment you’d expect from the official BlogWorld blog.

But the thing is, it was awesome. It always is. And I don’t have to say that. If I hated it, I couldn’t exactly say that I hated it, but I could say that it had 22 tracks and like 300 speakers, that it was held in a big convention center, that many humans attended, and that most of those humans had torsos and were warm-blooded.

So… unsolicited, I say: BlogWorld was awesome.

We here in this internet world sit in our offices, isolated. We read tips and tricks and we email with colleagues, but we can’t often truly pool our collective brainpower and share knowledge. We can’t get to know the others in our field of work and siphon off their brilliance… until BlogWorld time.

What happened in LA doesn’t stay in LA

I didn’t just attend this year’s Los Angeles event. I was in charge of its online version, the Virtual Ticket.

(Which, by the way, is still available at a discount through tomorrow. You can get it through this link for $347 ($150 off)… or, if you attended BWELA live on a 2-day or full access pass, you can get it for only $49! Email us to get it if that’s you.)

Technically speaking, “being in charge of the Virtual Ticket” meant that Jess and I made the whole thing work from end to end (writing, producing, and selling, oh my!). But practically speaking, it boiled down to me interviewing a lot of people on camera.

A LOT of people.

In addition to the 100+ recordings BWE made of the individual conference sessions and the keynotes (that’s almost every single one of them), Jess and I recorded nearly 100 bonus interviews on our own. We also streamed a session (lesson learned: next year, bring a tripod and don’t talk during the presentation) and streamed a tour of the expo floor wherein Srinivas Rao of BlogCastFM embarrassed himself. The Virtual Ticket contains all of it.

Sounds like a lot of work, right? Well, it WAS a lot of work. But it was also crazy amounts of fun.

Here are some highlights of what we captured for the Virtual Ticket:

  • Darren Rowse talks about how he really makes his money (not through Problogger!) and admits to having actually put shrimp on a barbie. And also to mocking Americans for doing the opposite.
  • Michael Margolis not only talks about the importance of “story” and the care of his spectacular hair, but also gives me an on-camera neck massage.
  • Adam Baker from Man vs. Debt claims he’s become so epic in his “vs.” skills that he can now take on Debt in a no-holds-barred cage match. Then he’s possibly hit with a chair.
  • Patti Serrano talks about how older bloggers can be hip and unintimidated, and can totally compete with young whippersnappers.
  • Janice Croze is caught stealing a banana.
  • Chris Garrett talks about blogging as an introvert.
  • Terry Starbucker writes his own epitaph, parties like it’s 1999, and covets an emeritus robe… or possibly a cape.

We got a lot of behind-the-scenes action, and we got a lot of great information out of smart people. We also asked a lot of dumb questions, with results ranging from “entertaining personality showcases” to a few “bizarre” or “surreal” or “I have a restraining order and I’m not afraid to use it.”

We also got this great quotable quote from Chris Brogan: “Rick is never going to hire you guys again.”

Team VT

The Virtual Ticket turned out way, way, way better than I’d hoped. It was also way, way, way more fun than boxing with Donald Duck at Disneyland. But it wasn’t just me in front of the camera, or Jess behind it and managing the whole operation.

Three other rockstars helped make it the amazing virtual event it turned out to be: Tim Gary designed the entire VT membership site. Jett Superior wrangled a lot of the site content and kept Jess from losing her mind. Natalie Piromsuk (why does she have nothing I can link to?) blazed through content assembly and video placement, and got us up and running fast.

And of course there’s all those stellar BlogWorld people.

And I’d also like to thank my mother. And, of course, the Academy.

Every time I go to BlogWorld, I meet new amazing people and make new friends, and this time was no exception. The cool thing? Making new friends was what I was hired to do. After all, I was there on behalf of all of the Virtual Ticket participants. Our job was to make them feel as much like they were there as possible.

Jess and I can’t wait to meet even more of you, either via the Virtual Ticket or next June in New York.

See you there?

(Not if you see me first.)

—–
NOTE: The BlogWorld & New Media Virtual Ticket is on sale until tomorrow night. Until then, you can still get it for $347 ($150 off) by clicking here, or for only $49 if you attended BWELA live on a 2-day or full-access pass by emailing us.

Is the Kindle Fire Truly an iPad Competitor?

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Amazon’s Kindle Fire was officially released yesterday (November 15th) and pre-orders started shipping out on the 14th. I was tempted to buy one, but decided to wait and see what people’s initial thoughts of it were.

When it was first announced, some were saying it was definitely going to be a competitor for the iPad because of its features and the $199 price point. But is it really? Can it compare to the Apple iPad?

Here are a few early reviews:

Kindle Fire, a Grown-Up E-Reader With Tablet Spark – [WSJ] “To be clear, the Kindle Fire is much less capable and versatile than the entry-level $499 iPad 2….But the Fire has some big things going for it.”

Kindle Fire Review: New Tablet Sacrifices To Get Under $200 – [Huffington Post] “So the Fire does justice to fiction and movies, but the iPad does better in almost every way, particularly in the selection of apps, which is about 50 times greater than the Fire’s.”

Amazon Kindle Fire review – [Engadget] “When stacked up against other popular tablets, the Fire can’t compete. Its performance is a occasionally sluggish, its interface often clunky, its storage too slight, its functionality a bit restricted and its 7-inch screen too limiting if you were hoping to convert all your paper magazine subscriptions into the digital ones. Other, bigger tablets do it better — usually at two or three times the cost.”

Kindle Fire review: Yes, it’s that good – [MSNBC] “So while we’re on the subject of iPad, let’s have the talk. No, the Kindle Fire is not anywhere close to being the precision machine that the iPad 2 is. There are no cameras and no microphone. The Fire’s screen is half the size of the iPad’s, and the Fire’s battery life isn’t as good, yet the Fire is still a hair thicker. The Fire interface, while seductively simple, lacks the nuances — the futuristic animations and fades — that keep Apple on top. ”

Kindle Fire Review: The iPad Finally Has Serious Competition – [Gizmodo] “The Kindle Fire is stuck between e-ink minimalism and gleaming iPad decadence. That could either make it the goofy middle child in the tablet family, or a singular wunderkind. But the Fire will not be overlooked. Apple: Be afraid.”

Amazon Kindle Fire, iPad’s First True Competitor [REVIEW] – [Mashable] “The $199 Amazon Kindle Fire is a worthy device. It’s not an iPad slayer, but it could be the first tablet to ably stand atop Mount Tabulous (or at least on a rock ledge just a few dozen feet lower) with Apple’s industry-dominating slab computer.”

After reading through dozens of reviews, some says it’s definitely an Apple iPad competitor and some say it’s no where close. Interesting.

Did you purchase the Kindle Fire? If so, let us know what your thoughts on it are.

It also should be noted that today is the release of Barnes and Noble’s new NOOK tablet, which is pricier than the Kindle Fire at $249.

Infographic: What is Google AdWords?

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I’ve experimented with Google AdWords over the 8+ years I’ve been working online and it has definitely seemed like a little bit of a mystery to me. I remember receiving a bill a time or two and thinking “Wow, did this help my ranking or web traffic at all?”

If you’re new to the world of AdWords (or even if you’ve been around for awhile), you might be wondering how it all works and how you can get the best bang for your buck.

WordStream has put together an infographic titled “What Is Google AdWords? How the AdWords Auction Works”. It’s a good resource for companies who would like to know how to cut costs and get better rankings.

It walks you through how Google decides what ads to show and how much you pay, as well as some alternative bidding methods. (Click on the picture to see it in its entirety.)

What is Google AdWords? [ infographic ]

© 2011 WordStream – a certified AdWords partner.

Have you used Google AdWords successfully before? If yes, what’s your secret?

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