2013 was a pivotal year in paid search for retailers. Some experts estimate over 1,000 changes in AdWords alone! From a complete platform upgrade on AdWords to tons of new features on Bing, ecommerce retailers can easily lose track of all the changes. However, with each of these changes came lessons on how to adjust for improved profits in 2014.
"Success always comes when preparation meets opportunity" -Henry Hartman
Google has had no shortage of announcements and new features as they prepare to roll out Enhanced Campaigns. In our June AdWords Round Up we will highlight some of the changes, announcements, and new features from Google. June has been a dynamic month for retailers using AdWords including new reports, more changes to extensions, and new bidding strategies.
As enhanced campaigns continue to roll out over the next couple of months, Google is quietly making some changes to the availability of certain ad extensions - Product extensions & Social extensions. One extension has been consumed by the almighty Google Shopping machine and the other has become automated for those using the Google+ social platform. So, what does this mean for retailers using AdWords?
Arguably one of the most powerful upgrades with Google's new AdWords platform, Enhanced Campaigns, is the ability to target locations more granularly within a single campaign. Under the old structure, retailers looking to target a specific geo-region would have to duplicate a campaign then target the copied campaign to the specific state, city, or zip code. This was tedious and cumbersome - especially for large accounts.
Enhanced Campaigns have magnified the impact of mobile on paid search. Advertisers are seriously evaluating how profitable mobile searches are to their industry. Those who once opted out of targeting mobile devices must now decide what percent (if any) of their budget to allocate to mobile searches. Some may even opt out completely because mobile doesn't convert well for them.
"The Year of Big Changes" is one way to describe e-commerce in 2012. Social media networks, like Pinterest and Google+, gave retailers more ways to become visible to consumers while edifying consumer relevance in search. The shift to Google Shopping really changed the rules of the game and brought us Google Trusted Stores, which proves to be of great benefit to participating retailers. Plus, new strategies for remarketing are extending seasonality for retailers. All of these changes to paid search in the last 12 months are affecting how retailers approach and optimize their paid search campaigns.
Since the announcement of Google Shopping, online retailers have been scrambling to make sense of the changes and adapt for a successful Q4. On October 17th, Adwords' Product Listing Ads officially power all of Google Shopping. As the rollout has happened over the last few months, Google has been adding features to their system to help retailers get an added lift for this year's holiday season. One program in particular is Google Trusted Stores.
Online retailers know that shoppers are always looking for a stellar deal. The 2012 holiday season is no different. With the lines of offline and online blurring, the undiscerning consumer is using all methods to compare prices and find a bargain. As online shoppers flock to Google looking for money saving deals on their holiday shopping lists, Google is introducing a new way for retailers to incorporate trackable promotional codes in ads across various Google properties - Google Shopping, Google Maps, and the Google Offers app.
Mobile has quickly become one of the most versatile marketing channels. As mobile usage continues to rise, so do mobile product searches. Consumers are researching products, performing in-store shopping comparisons, and making purchases from their mobile devices. A recent survey from IBM estimates that mobile sales for the 2012 holiday season will reach 20% of total online shopping sales.
Google Trusted Stores is designed to help customers easily find merchants who offer a superior online shopping experience.
Google is making an extra push to expand their Trusted Stores program with the roll out of Google Shopping. This badge will be shown next to your listings across Google properties, including the new Google Shopping.
Google also provides $1,000 purchase protection for all Google Trusted Stores as reassurance to shoppers.
Google Shopping changes the game for online retailers. Your ads - including Product Listing Ads - should receive daily analysis and hands-on attention. This is the only way to take full advantage of potential growth opportunities to achieve maximum account performance.
In July, Google launched a pilot program for their new Search As You Type search bar for retail advertisers. Employing the power of Google instant search results, retailers can use this feature to enhance their current website's search functionality for free up to 25 million searches annually.
Having better search capabilities on your site can often equate to an uplift in sales - making this new feature worth testing for online retailers. It provides instant search results by matching your onsite user searches to relevant products.
While there's seldom one simple problem that defines under-performing AdWords campaigns, the following 3 PPC failure points are among the more common we uncover when performing AdWords account reviews:
Clients of ours have recently found success with Pinterest - an online pinboard that allows users to organize and share products that they find online.
The site allows users to "pin" a picture onto their Pinterest "board." From there, users that are following their boards can view the items and "re-pin" it onto their board. When a user pins a product picture, it has the potential to go viral and the exposure can increase exponentially.
If you have an AdWords account, chances are by now you have heard about Google's changes to the ad rotation settings. The news came out a few weeks ago that Google is phasing out the "rotate: show ads more evenly" setting that many advertisers rely on for ad testing. There has been a TON of negative feedback about this change, but if handled properly it can actually be a chance to reevaluate your ad testing and make some positive changes to your AdWords account.
Here are our recommendations to ensure this change does not negatively affect your account's performance, and more importantly, your bottom line.
It's hard to miss the cynicism associated with Google+, Google's social network. With all the commotion about its rivalry with Facebook, don't miss out on its integral role in your business and paid search ads.
Google+ Business Pages are a must for online advertisers.
With the new interaction Google+ has with paid search results, creating and maintaining a Google+ Business Page can give your company additional credibility with searchers. By taking a few extra steps after creating your page, you can link your Google+ Page with your website and your Google ads.
Why would you want to link your Google+ Business Page to your ads and website you ask?
Well, Google now aggregates the total of all the +1's you have received across all platforms. By linking them, a +1 from someone who visited your website can now show up when your ad is triggered on the Google Search Network. This allows your +1 total to grow quicker while giving your ads more authority.
Remarketing can extend your busy season by giving you access to your past website visitors after they leave your site. However, without a thoughtful implementation, your remarketing effectiveness is severely crippled.
1. Providing users with more intuitive functionality across Google properties (Search, Gmail, YouTube, etc.), and
2. Providing advertisers with more relevant targeting options across Google properties.
The key distinction here is "across Google properties."
In November 2011, MSN began supporting exact match negatives. It was a long time coming since Google has supported the match type for years. Although MSN differs a bit from Google in other match types such as their use of broad match, exact match negatives work the same in both MSN and Google.
Using exact match negatives gives you the ability to exclude very general search terms while maintaining the high volume search traffic that comes with broad and phrase match.
I've managed paid search accounts here at ROI Revolution since 2005, and 99% of the time when I look at a new account there is room to improve results through ad testing. Over the years much has changed in paid search, but the need to continually test and optimize ad text has stayed constant.
Ask yourself if any of the following top 4 pitfalls are currently hurting your paid search performance.
YouTube has launched a new ad format out of beta: TrueView Video Ads. The basic concept is that the user has a choice whether or not to continue watching the ad. The advertisers only pays when the user watches at least 30 seconds of the ad (or to completion, whichever comes first).
This new format is referred to as a TrueView in-stream ad. Long-form YouTube videos are eligible for the TrueView in-slate ad format. With in-slate, the user is given a choice to either watch a longer commercial video ad before the primary video begins, or see regular commercial breaks during the video.
According to Google's onesheet on TrueView (pdf), in-stream ad viewers choose to watch an ad 15-45% of the time. Some advertisers have seen 3-4x higher CTR's with TrueView than with other video ad formats.
YouTube Promoted Video Ads are being renamed "TrueView in-search" and "TrueView in-display" depending on where they show.
Such a shift in video ad delivery is sure to start affecting how video ads are composed. Advertisers need to front-end-load the "interesting" parts to entice the viewer to watch. Also, given that you only pay when someone chooses to watch the video, the proportion viewers from your ideal target audience will be higher.
Name-brand keywords are some of the best performing you can find. In competitive markets, searching for trademarked terms usually reveals a dogfight, with the rightful owner at the top of the pile. Although bidding on competitors' trademarked terms will often lead to poor quality scores (and thus a large bid surcharge), those low quality scores can be offset by the high conversion rate of these ready-to-buy visitors.
This situation is common because Google's US trademark policy only applies to trademarks in ad copy; it doesn't prohibit bidding on trademarked terms. While Burger King wouldn't appreciate a McDonald's representative standing outside their establishment holding the sign "Come to McDonald's Instead", there's no trademark law against this, trespassing notwithstanding.
What companies can't do is misrepresent themselves. It would be a trademark violation for McDonald's to put a Burger King sign outside their own establishment. Are competitors using your trademarked terms in their ads? Google can help you - but you must take the initiative.
In July 2011, Microsoft adCenter rolled out a new feature allowing advertisers to target their campaigns within a 100 mile radius around a particular location.
With "radius targeting," advertisers can select to target the area around an address, zip code or latitude/longitude coordinate, giving them extremely precise control over where their ads will be displayed. After entering a location, advertisers choose how large of a radius they want to target (from 5-100 miles) from a drop down menu. The feature, which takes only minutes to set up in the adCenter interface, increases relevancy for users and allows advertisers to be more meticulous with their ad delivery and product offerings.
There are many ways to use radius targeting to your advantage. Here are five big ones:
Whether you manage paid search accounts or are an overseeing business executive, it is important to have an easily accessible way of viewing overall account performance.
Google Automated Reports are great, but often the downloading, filtering, and drilling down turns this bird's-eye-view into a 15-minute project. What you need is a completely customizable tool; one that automatically imports only the performance metrics you want, from the date range you set, instantly into tables with only the columns you require.
How do you get this flexibility in reporting without hiring a Web Analytics Engineer with Google API experience? Use the New Google Home Tab!
The Google Home Tab allows you to easily view your most profitable keywords, identify opportunities for growth based on your target CPA, find areas of unprofitability to optimize, and more. It's an easy way for management to identify core keywords, as well as review the trending of performance metrics.
All of these are the result of simple to set up filters that you are likely already using in your account. In fact, if you have saved any filters, they are already there!
If you've ever advertised on Google's Display Network (formerly called the content network), then your story probably sounds something like this: you launch a campaign with high hopes, it burns through enough cash to buy a used car, and you reel in horror at the dismal ROI it brought in and you pause it in disgust, refusing to spend another dime there ever again.
But guess what? Your competitors are making it profitable; with ease, no less.
This is why it's absolutely crucial that you have a solid strategy for advertising on the Display Network. After all, people spend 95% of their time browsing websites, not scrolling through the Google search results.
An entire book could be written on how to most efficiently launch and optimize various Display Network campaigns, but we'll focus on a few tools and strategies that will help you succeed.
We're sometimes asked "why should I bid on my own branded keywords?" In most cases, the asker wants to know if they can save money (or improve ROI) by not bidding on their brand keywords. It's an interesting question, with a not-so-simple answer. Each click costs money, so yes, theoretically, you can save money by not bidding on your own branded searches. But with that same logic, can't you also save money by keeping it under your mattress instead of in a 401k?
It's understandable to initially focus more on the cost of branded keywords, rather than the value. Cost is a measurable, absolute number that's seen in paid search accounts and credit card statements. The value is usually less-measurable, with some shades of gray in the calculations.
Sometimes it can be tough to quantify the effect of branded exposure, especially in dollars and cents. Our experience shows that branded keywords almost always convert at pennies on the dollar, with very high profitability. That's only for the immediate, measurable traffic though. What about the long-term effects in customers' minds or residual traffic that may come later on? In my opinion, the harder-to-measure effects of "bidding on your own branded keywords" are almost always a reason to spend more on them, not less.
Here are eight reasons why bidding on branded keywords can be a good idea (and a good investment):
In your Paid Search Advertising, account growth is vital to maintaining profitability and staying ahead of your competition.
Bids, position, and ads are the lifeblood of your account. Without detailed management, you will begin to offset the increase in revenue with wasted spend and missed opportunities. But what do you do if you simply do not have the time?
That is where AdWords Automated Rules come in.
Automated Rules, released by Google in November 2010, is a tool that can help you effectively manage your account at the most granular level you need. The triggers you set up, using your own parameters, can help you quickly identify poor and strong performers, freeing up time for you to perform the analysis needed to make the right decision.
If you are advertising on the Google Display Network there is a good chance you know what a "view-through conversion" is. In case you don't, a view-through conversion (referred to as a VTC) occurs when a user views an image or rich media ad (but doesn't click on it) and later completes a conversion. Way back in 2009, Google introduced the VTC reporting feature to help better measure the value of display advertising.
Last year Google took this a step further, and released a couple of improvements to VTC reporting including a customizable view-through conversion window and de-duplication of search conversion reporting.
What these settings do Customizable view-through conversion window
Previously the VTC window was set to 30 days, meaning Google reported on the number of VTCs that occurred up to 30 days after a user saw the ad. Now, you're able to customize this time-frame.
De-duplication of search conversion reporting:
If this setting is disabled (the default) your VTC report will include conversions from users that viewed a display ad and later clicked on a search ad. Essentially, these conversions are reported twice - in the VTC report for the display network image or media rich ad and the conversion report for the search network ad.
If you enable this setting, Google will exclude from the VTC report conversions from users who have also clicked on your search ads. These conversions will only be attributed to your search ads.
Google recently announced the launch of their latest social initiative: Google +1 (Plus One). Still in beta, Google +1 consists of a tiny icon next to each and every organic and paid search listing that, when clicked, communicates your stamp of approval for others to see.
Google +1 has strong implications for all AdWords campaigns -- the number of "+1's" will show alongside each ad, which is sure to increase the clicks. Yet there is one important nuance to this that is sure to leave many advertisers unprepared...
We all know that Facebook is "where it's at", but the problem from an online marketing standpoint is learning how to tackle this growing source of traffic in the most appropriate and profitable way for your business.
Facebook's advertising platform allows for extremely targeted ad campaigns, and you can pay per click (like Google); however, when learning how to measure & profitably create an ad campaign the playing field is vastly different from other pay per click advertising platforms. The biggest difference is that Facebook is all about relationships. Anything that is not fostering or developing some sort of relationship on Facebook is deemed inauthentic.
Here are four ways to successfully grow & measure your Facebook presence authentically:
The smart paid search advertiser is consistently testing their ads, seeking the most effective language that can turn clicks into the desired action - conversion. However, the smarter advertiser knows that there are different ways to define what makes a 'winning' ad. The click is not the endgame for most advertisers, action taken after that click is often the most important.
In the past, AdWords has been limited to either rotating ads based on click through rates (where the ad with the most clicks leads to more visibility for that ad) or splitting traffic evenly on each ad. The issue with the click-based rotation route is that it's not uncommon to find ads with less clicks converting much more frequently than the more popular ad. For a long time, advertisers have been vocal about this less-than-accurate definition that 'high click through' equals a 'successful' ad.
The advertisers have spoken, and Google has answered the call by introducing a new type of ad rotation.
If you have ever used Google's AdWords Editor you know that it can save you a tremendous amount of time in making changes both big and small to your AdWords account. While most features of AdWords Editor are highly visible throughout the various menus and tabs, there is one hidden feature that can save you a tremendous amount of time and headache. This hidden feature is called Formula Words.
Formula Words are a great short cut in AdWords Editor that allow you to quickly find and replace the text of one editable field with the text of another editable field via the Replace Text tool. There are Formula Words available for the majority of editable fields in Editor including: campaigns, ad groups, keywords, and all fields associated with a text ad. The fields that can be edited with Formula Words vary based on the tab that is currently selected.
Remarketing is perhaps the hottest online marketing topic of 2010, especially since it is now "available to the masses" as a feature of Google AdWords.
The concept isn't too difficult to understand -- with remarketing you can tag anyone who visits a page on your site and then show them your ads when they are browsing the Internet. Since they have already been to your site, these ads usually have some extra pull.
While you can set up and launch a remarketing campaign within Google AdWords with relative ease, there are definitely some strategies you'll want to employ.
Search has now entered warp-like speeds. Google Instant, the latest search feature launched last week, aims to eliminate 2 to 5 seconds of the everyday user's search equation, delivering immediate results as the query is being typed. Simply enter a phrase in the search box and the results appear without needing confirmation from the enter key or search button.
As you type, Google Instant will even attempt to complete your query with a top predicted search phrase (in a light gray font) and automatically display the results for that suggestion. Predicted results will often be localized, depending on your IP address or location settings. At the time of this post, Google Instant is open to seven countries (US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Russia) and favors more recent browser versions (Chrome v5 and v6, Firefox v3, Safari v5, and Internet Explorer v8).
Instant is only available on Google.com, and does not run directly from iGoogle, search field boxes built into web browsers, or other applications; however instant results for mobile search is currently in the works. If a user's connection is running slowly, Google can detect this and automatically disable the feature.
Where pay-per-click advertisers are concerned, this does affect how impressions are calculated for search campaigns.
Google released their latest addition to the bidding features family - Enhanced CPC. It's been in beta since March, but Enhanced CPC officially launched yesterday, August 16th.
The premise of the tool, much like Conversion Optimizer, is to "boost your ROI with an easy to use, automated bidding tool." Enhanced CPC will automatically adjust your max CPC bid based on the likelihood your ad will convert.
If you've used Google Image Search at all recently, you've probably noticed that things are looking a bit different thanks to a redesign launched by Google last week. The images are grouped closely together, which allows more results to be displayed on the page. If you mouse over a specific image, the image expands out to a larger size with its source displayed below it. After you click an image, you are sent directly to the destination page with the image overlaid at full size. Most exciting for us with the new Google Image Search redesign is the introduction of a new ad format - Image Search Ads!
Image Search Ads allow you to target the millions of users searching Google images. The ads combine text with basic images, which creates more relevant ads that grab the user's attention. I did a quick search for shoes, and this is what showed up:
Notice the Image Search Ads from Sears.com and Skechers.com, with simple images of shoes that are very similar to the search results.
So, why should you use the new Image Search Ad format?
Google's latest targeting feature is the release of the new modified broad match. This new match type gives targeting results that are in between phrase match and the original broad match, but is more closely related to phrase match.
A few months ago I posted a mini case study on a lead generation client for whom we've been able to find success on Facebook over time. Of course we have also seen less-than-stellar advertising performance (i.e. compared to Google/Yahoo/MSN) on Facebook for clients in other spaces.
So, the question that's often been on my mind since we started managing Facebook advertising, is whether or not a certain kind of business is a good fit for the Facebook ad platform.
So, my Facebook PPC client experiences usually translate into recommendations for clients, but I've always known that those answers are a bit linear in nature and I have yet to find someone with a few more Facebook battle scars to provide more insights.
That was until yesterday, when I discovered a 10-question quiz for the business owner or PPC manager that may be wondering "Is Facebook for me" @ Perry Marshall's new website/tool www.isfacebookforme.com - catchy URL. Here you will find a series of 10 "Yes or No" style business model questions that "provide instant feedback on whether Facebook could be a main traffic source for your business."
I completed the survey for the client that we've had success with on Facebook, and it gave me a 6/10, meaning that "Facebook will probably be a significant way for you to get more customers affordably" - and I can say that it has!
So, if you're considering Facebook now, consider checking out this new tool and getting a heads up on these 3 questions that it can help answer:
- Can I advertise on Facebook and make a profit?
- Will my products appeal to Facebook users?
- How much time should I devote to understanding how to advertise on Facebook?
In Part 1 of this series, I showed how to launch YouTube promoted videos through Google AdWords. When you promote one of your videos, you are paying YouTube to funnel more traffic to the video... but the traffic still stays on YouTube. (Of course, you can include a call-to-action link in your video that goes to your website, but that is more a feature of the video than a specific advertising strategy.)
You probably want to do more than just get people to watch one of your videos in an environment controlled by YouTube. You want to get people to come to your website where they can take a desired action and you can make money.
There are multiple ways you can get your ads to show on YouTube searches, inside and alongside other people's videos. With the right targeting, this can be a very profitable way to take advantage of YouTube's enormous amount of traffic.
In search volume alone, YouTube is the #2 search engine behind Google itself. Yet even with its gigantic size, it is easy for YouTube to get passed up by online advertisers. Many advertisers ignore the opportunity due to the convoluted process required to explicitly target YouTube with ads. This means there is less competition for ad space on YouTube and great rewards for those who can crack the code.
In this post I hope to clear up the confusion and tell you exactly how to get your ads showing on YouTube.
I'd like to share with you a way to save money in your Yahoo Search Marketing account that is not as obvious as the regular optimization strategies. As you probably know, when you advertise on Yahoo's search network, your ads don't just show on Yahoo's search results page. They are also displayed on countless search partners that Yahoo has agreements with. This new optimization strategy is centered around the search partners.
Here at ROI Revolution we are always students of the best practices and the smartest strategies in the world of data driven paid search. Brad Geddes, founder of the Internet marketing training firm bgTheory (pictured right), has some of the most powerful pay per click insights around.
Brad is a long time internet marketing veteran who regularly speaks at search marketing conferences throughout the country and is the only Google AdWords Seminar Leader in the world who teaches, under Google's authorization, AdWords 301 and 302.
I've personally used Brad's techniques to come up with powerful new ad text for my clients, find new keyword opportunities, and find areas where my bids were limiting exposure on profitable keywords.
Brad has recently written a new book, Advanced Google AdWords, and we've already purchased five copies for our office.
We've got a unique opportunity to join us for a live webinar with Brad Geddes. Brad will shed light on the 6 most important AdWords reports that will give you all of the actionable insights you need to make some powerful changes within your AdWords account.
The AdWords report center is a powerful tool that should be leveraged by every advertiser, but without knowing what data to focus on it's easy to waste time running useless reports.
The webinar will be on Thursday, April 22nd at 2pm ET.
When PPC Hero first pulled the tarp off Google's newest AdWords extension beta, we got a lot of juicy details about the lead generation mechanism coming down the pipe, but few ideas of how this might impact advertisers on the whole.
Corey Trent over at Marketing Experiments recently published an article on Google's new lead capture extension where he and I discuss the impact that a feature like this will have on AdWords, businesses and PPC in general.
If you're running AdWords to generate leads, check it out. You just might catch a glimpse of the future of your online advertising!
One "mistake" that we consistently see when conducting one of our AdWords account audit and strategy sessions or when beginning work with a new client is that the AdWords report center is not used effectively, or maybe even not at all. In order to know what is working, what is not working and how to make your account better you need to make use of this feature.
You can access the report center by clicking the "Reporting" tab found at the top of the AdWords user interface and selecting reports.
Once the next screen loads you will find reports ranging from individual keyword performance to ad performance - even discovering the exact search queries that are being made on Google.com that then show your ad and delivered a visitor to your site.
There are 11 reports in all.
At the very least, we recommend running an Account Performance report for the past few months at a week-by-week basis to spot major trends.
Stay abreast of what your competitors are up to on a weekly basis through regular research. This research should include searching on key terms, checking out your competitor's ad text, and visiting competitor sites regularly.
Questions you should ask yourself:
Are their ads more compelling? Do they have a sale going on or a new product that is a better version of yours? Does their headline standout more? If you want your company to be able to compete online, regular competitive research is essential.
Benefits of regular competitive research:
You'll be happily surprised when you see your traffic and sales increasing, if you regularly pay attention to these details to set yourself apart.
You may also be surprised how little most of your competitors update their own ad text---this will give you the advantage.
Plus, you will immediately notice when new competitors enter your market---something a company should always know.
Well, I don't have the answer to that question, but I can tell you what it now means to some of our clients for whom we've recently started advertising on Facebook --> more qualified customer leads + a desirable cost =more $$$ for them.
The following story is about a lead generation client (Client A, for anonymity), but Facebook would certainly be worth testing if you're in an e-commerce space too.
Do you remember way back when the Internet was new and it seemed scary to buy things online? The fear of identity fraud and other security violations was very real, especially when horror stories were broadcast all over the news and spreading like wildfire.
If you're already selling products on the Net, then you are probably well aware that credibility is KING with consumers in the information age. People (whether consciously or unconsciously) are constantly looking for little security checkpoints in a site that tell them "Not to worry...your money is safe being spent here."
How can you be sure that your visitors feel safe buying from your site? That's a multiple answer question, but some of the lowest hanging fruit in terms of establishing your online checkout credibility is using common identifiers that people can recognize, like PayPal, VeriSign, and especially a trustworthy checkout process like Google Checkout.
Insights for Search will show you when a search phrase is most popular during the year. If you are an advertiser with a seasonal product, it is very beneficial to be able to see when the peaks in your search traffic usually start and when you should turn your seasonal campaigns on.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
- George Santayana
Previously tucked away under the tools menu in the old AdWords user interface, the "My Change History" tool is an account manager's best friend and as such, has been moved to a more prominent place within the account under the reporting tab.
Why has this tool been granted such a prominent position in the new interface, alongside such heavy hitting account management tools as Google Analytics, Conversion Tracker and the Report Center? Well, sure it's a reporting tool like the others, but it's unique ability to track changes to your account, coupled with its performance metric graphs and visual timeline overlay make it a key weapon in any AdWords account manager's arsenal. It's placement under the Reporting tab is a testament to its usefulness.
While managing any AdWords account, it is common to make tens or even hundreds of changes to your account in one sitting in an effort to optimize traffic for better return on investment. Periodic tweaking of your account is essential to long-term growth and greater ROI. However, these changes are only beneficial to you if you can account for which ones resulted in performance improvements, and which ones didn't. In fact, it is the accountability of PPC optimization that affords us confidence in the power of split testing to boost profits.
And so, AdWords has given account managers the "My Change History" tool which records all changes made to an account for 2 years prior to a given date, then categorizes those changes for easy access.
January is a fresh start, a time for resolutions, and a time for cleaning up the mess made from the holiday season. The same should apply to your Pay-Per-Click campaigns. Breathe new life into them with fresh keywords, ad text, and competitive research.
Here is a 5 step plan to give your PPC accounts a (much needed) winter makeover:
1. Read Blog Articles For New Keyword Ideas: Read your industry blogs to keep up with the latest buzz words. Reading the latest and greatest articles may help you think of new ways people will be searching for your products. Setting up a Google blog reader to follow blogs from your industry can help make this task much more time efficient.
Often times our clients want to get as much traffic as possible, yet their campaign settings are not set up appropriately to accomplish their goal and that's where we come in.
There are two different types of budget delivery standard and accelerated.
Standard Delivery: Selecting this option can potentially limit the number of times your ads show throughout the course of the day. This option designates the campaign to spend the daily budget allocated steadily throughout each day.
Accelerated Delivery: Selecting this option guarantees that your ad will show as much as possible throughout the course of each day except in the event that the budget you allocated for that campaign is depleted before day's end.
As an AdWords advertiser you must decide which of the two settings is a better fit for you and your overall account budget.
To switch between Standard Delivery and Accelerated Delivery, follow these steps:
When it comes to ad text "Always Be Testing" is the motto that we hold in high esteem here at ROI Revolution. If you continually test your ads (to beat the current best performer) you will constantly improve the performance of your campaigns.
It is important to remember that there are a few strategies and tips you pretty much always need to implement as you are writing and testing ads. I"ve come up with an "ad recipe" that I keep on my desk to ensure all necessary elements are included in the new ads I write.
With PPC advertising, the best use of ad copy is not just to attract prospects, but sometimes to filter out searchers who are unlikely to become your customers.
Since you pay for each click to your site, when a click-happy searcher pops into your site just to browse or to do a little price comparison, you're probably wasting some of your precious ad spend.
One way to effectively ward off some of these searchers is by including the price of your product or service in your ad. You obviously can't eliminate clicks from these users entirely - if they want to click through, they're going to. But adding the price makes them less likely on average to want to click.
For searchers who sincerely think they might be interested in your product or service, your price acts as a great filter, keeping out prospects that don't want to pay or can't afford your price point. And if the searcher has zero interest in spending money, your price makes it loud-and-clear that they won't be getting any freebies by clicking your ad.
Here at ROI Revolution we've enjoyed reviewing our most popular posts of the past year. There have been a lot of changes in the Pay-Per-Click world over the last twelve months, and it's been exciting to watch them unfold.
To wrap up the year we've ranked our top 7 PPC blog posts of 2009:
1. The One vs. Many-Per-Click Breakdown--Turn to this article for a breakdown of the One Vs. Many-Per-Click conversion change that happened in Google AdWords this past year. Since conversions are a reflection of your bottom line, understanding this change is crucial!
2. Top 5 Free PPC Tools --There are tons of FREE PPC tools on the web. Some of them are great, some are alright, and some are just OK. Here are ROI we've had experience with almost all of them, and have compiled a list of the top 5 for you to reference.
You don't get a second chance to make a good first impression. The moment you upload your new campaigns & ad groups, even if paused, Google gives you an initial quality score. If it's below average you'll be paying more per click until Google has enough data for your actual performance to determine your quality score.
If you don't come out of the gate with your best foot forward, you'll pay a premium on your first 100+ clicks. Worse, you may be tempted to give up on a keyword prematurely based on astronomical bid prices. Pay attention to the checklist below when launching new campaigns, ad groups or keywords into your AdWords account.
The good news is that all these suggestions won't just help your initial quality score, but should actually increase the long-term quality of your AdWords campaigns.
Here's how to get the best possible initial quality scores in Google:
A "mistake" that we consistently see when conducting our AdWords account audit and strategy sessions, or when beginning work with a new client is that there are no negative keywords throughout the entire account. The use of negative keywords can save you hundreds of dollars every month by preventing your ads from displaying for irrelevant Google.com searches.
The addition of negative keywords to your account should be made in order to have your ads show only when it is relevant to your product offering or service. The easiest (and quickest) way to find negative keywords is to use the Google AdWords Keyword Tool.
This tool can be found by clicking on "Opportunities" at the top of the new AdWords user interface...
...and selecting "Keyword tool" found on the left hand side of the following page.
Google's search and content networks are both great sources of profitable traffic, but they are very different from one another. And in the same way that you wouldn't want unrelated keywords grouped together in your account, you're going to want to keep search and content in their own distinct campaigns.
But what is it that makes them so different?
Traffic from the search network is coming from an active group of prospects. This is exactly what makes paid search advertising so unique: you get to show your ad to a prospect at the precise moment that they are seeking your product or service (depending on your keyword list of course).
On the other hand, traffic from the content network is much more passive. You're getting your ad served at a moment when their attention is elsewhere, focused on the content of the site they're on.
Determining where you want to have your ads show is, surprisingly, often neglected. We often times see when conducting our AdWords account audit and strategy sessions, or when beginning work with a new client that geographic targeting is set up incorrectly. This is primarily due to new Google AdWords campaigns automatically adding Canada as a target country.
If your product or service is not available in Canada, be sure to remove it from your geo-targeting list once your campaign is uploaded.
Now, moving beyond this quick tip, there are a number of slightly more advanced geographic targeting features that are very helpful for advertisers.
In order to focus on specific cities, states, regions, etc you must select which campaign you would like to work on.
Every company wants to be at the front of the pack, leaving their competitors in the dust.
To beat the competition in PPC advertising, your first instinct might be to outbid competitors and get your ad into the top few positions, often located directly above the organic results.
With your ad gloriously perched atop the search results, surely you're at a competitive advantage compared to all those lowly ads on the right side of the page...right?
Well, not necessarily.
With PPC, you don't always get the gold for being in first place. While having your ad in higher positions tends to yield more clicks and therefore more conversions than lower spots, it doesn't always ensure the best return on investment.
If you have to pay twice as much per click to get your ad to the top position but find that it only gets you a few more sales and ultimately cuts into your profits, then you probably wouldn't want to continue that strategy.
One pattern we often see when conducting an AdWords account audit and strategy session for an advertiser, or when beginning work with a new client is that there are only broad match keywords throughout the AdWords account.
Ideally, you should bid on all three match types of every keyword you decide to include in your account for Google Search. To see why, read on....
To quickly review:
Using broad match keywords allows your ad to show on similar phrases and relevant variations. If you are bidding on the keyword: buy flowers, your ad may show on searches such as: flowers, purchase flowers, buy daisy flowers.
Using phrase match keywords allows your ad to show for searches that match the exact phrase. You are bidding on the keyword: "buy flowers", your ad may show for: I need to buy flowers, buy flowers online, buy flowers for my wife.
Using exact match allows your ad to show for searches that match the exact phrase exclusively. You are bidding on the keyword: [buy flowers], your ad will only show when someone searches for: buy flowers.
Have you ever driven to a store in the evening to make a purchase, only to discover this sign hanging in the window?
Frustrated, weren't you? As a consumer, you just wasted your time and gas money, and now you have to come back the next day during business hours, go to a different store that's open, or just forget about it altogether and go home and watch some primetime television.
And as for the store that was closed at the time, they probably just lost out on your sale. Everyone loses.
So let's say you're shopping online in the evening instead, you click on an enticing ad and then decide that you'd like to speak with a customer service rep to make the purchase because you've got some questions and order specifications. You pick up the phone and dial the business number, only to hear the following automated message:
"Thank you for calling (insert company name here). Unfortunately we are closed at this time. You can reach us during our store hours which are Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm Eastern. Thank you."
Everything in this scenario is the same as the first brick-and-mortar example except for one major thing: the online business just wasted valuable advertising spend on a click that didn't result in a conversion.
Similar scenarios involving PPC advertising occur online every day, especially with businesses who carry out most of their transactions through the phone. Examples of businesses where this is common include ones who sell in bulk, have customizable products, or simply require all transactions be made over the phone.
If your business operates "9 to 5" and most transactions happen over the phone, you might test saving money by using Ad Scheduling to only show your ads during this time frame.
If you're not familiar with Ad Scheduling, it's an AdWords feature that lets you specify certain hours or days of the week when you want your ads to appear.
ROI Revolution is now offering a 3-session training series for PPC beginners ONLY.
Our goal with this course is to really take you step-by-step through the process of creating and managing campaigns in Google AdWords.
Each session goes for 90 minutes including 20 minutes of Q&A.
The course will teach beginners how to use the AdWords interface to build your Google campaigns from the ground up. You'll learn the essential structures, terminology and all of the many handy facets that can help you better manage, understand and utilize your account's data.
You will learn and gain an understanding of:
The Google Networks
Features & Benefits of AdWords
A Proper Account Structure
The new AdWords Interface
How to Create a Campaign
Language & Location Targeting
Writing Ad Creatives
Building a Keyword List
How to Edit Campaign Settings
How to Optimize Your Campaigns
How to Create Reports & Understand Them
How to Use the Many Tools in AdWords
Other Advertising Options on Google
If you have just started using Google AdWords or would like to grow your business online, but have yet to try, this is just the course for you to get you started.
I manage pay-per-click campaigns on AdWords all day long, every day-of-the-week, so I made sure to cover all of the essentials and give you insider tips to build a well-structured campaign and manage it smoothly.
Learn how to set up your Google AdWords account step by step from the very beginning. We'll go through each step of campaign creation from keyword research to match types, account structure and setting bids. Each one of these steps done correctly results in saved money and time.
The best part is that this course is for the true AdWords beginner; we'll practically be showing you every button you need to click to get the job done. If you've been putting off starting your own Google AdWords account or have paused it because it was losing money, you'll want to be sure to attend this course and learn to do it the right way.
Pay-Per-Click advertising is the most cost-effective way to get your products or services in front of your prospects at the precise moment when their interest is at its peak. Over 60% of all US paid search advertising comes from Google AdWords.
Beginner Google AdWords Academy Online Course dates and times:
Tuesday, October 27th, 1:30pm ET (This date has passed): Introduction to Google AdWords
Thursday, October 29th, 1:30pm ET (This date has passed): Properly Setting Up an AdWords Account
Tuesday, November 3rd, 1:30pm ET (This date has passed). Advanced AdWords Features
Each training session lasts approximately 90 minutes, including 20 minutes of Q&A at the end of each session.
Strategy: Using Google Analytics, you can see which cities and states are performing well, and you can create separate PPC campaigns for those areas with higher bids. Conversely, you can see which cities and states underperform, and you can isolate and bid them down or eliminate them altogether.
Google Analytics can reveal so much invaluable information about your online (and offline) marketing efforts, and uncovering where the majority of your traffic and customers come from is just one of the many important pieces of the marketing pie. Using different reports and segmentations in Google Analytics can shed light on where you should be focusing your marketing.
Wouldn't you like to know how to optimize your product listings on shopping engines? With today's economy every little bit helps. If you're not already listed on comparison shopping engines such as Amazon and Shopping.com, we'll cover the basics and for those of you who are listed, wouldn't you like to get more out of it?
On Thursday, September 10th, 2009 at 4:00 pm Eastern (1:00 pm Pacific)
Timothy Seward, CEO of ROI Revolution, Inc. will host with guest presenters John Kleven, CEO of Versafeed.com (pictured left with his Senior Feed Engineer, Andy Hund) a 45 minute presentation detailing how to get your products optimized and listed on comparison shopping engines and marketplaces.
This webinar is ideal for online retailers looking to expand sales. Every day, thousands of consumers visit these popular shopping portals to search for products. Don't miss out on this source of income.
There's an old saying that goes something like: "Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer". While PPC marketing is a highly competitive industry by nature, keeping your competitors close to you may be easier than you think. Performing a simple competitive analysis on a routine basis will help you uncover your competitors' deepest secrets and provide you with insights into your own marketing efforts as well.
Paid search offers a wealth of opportunity to monitor your competition's every move. With traditional media, such as print, you may have had to scour through thousands of pages in magazines to find one competitor's ad. With PPC marketing, you simply have to perform a search on one of your keywords to see exactly who is in your space and determine how aggressively they are competing.
Follow these three simple steps and you will reveal more about your competitors than you ever thought possible.
Investing money in online advertising always carries some level of risk. Whenever you increase a bid price, it is a calculated risk that the additional spend will produce more profitable sales.
Of any form of advertising, PPC carries the least risk since success metrics are available almost immediately. Even so, there is a temptation to minimize all risk.
Even though the following 5 tips are all low-risk & high reward, they are often considered too risky by weak-kneed advertisers.
These are the exact risks you should be taking if you want to strengthen your profits.
1. Be liberal with your daily budget
Are you making direct sales through PPC advertising? If so, what use do you have for a campaign budget? Keywords often have seasonal and/or news-related spikes in traffic. When setting a conservative budget, you risk missing out on the revenue this additional traffic would generate.
The potential sales loss of a constrained budget poses more risk to your bottom line than some crazy clicking event of unqualified traffic. You can always scale back your bids if the traffic decreases in profitability. An unexpected surge in profitable traffic, on the other hand, is usually hidden in historical reports of lost impression share. Your budget should probably be at least double your average daily spend.
Back in February of this year, Google announced a change to their AdWords policy regarding multiple display URL domains per ad group. The change basically prohibits advertisers from running ads in the same ad group that send users to multiple domains.
When I learned of the update, I (mistakenly) assumed that the policy referred to active ads only. Lately, I have started finding out that my initial assumption was very wrong.
I'm in the process of working with a client who has dozens of different domains in their AdWords account to migrate those domains down to one central domain. To implement the migration, I started pausing their ads to preserve the history, duplicating those ads, and changing the display and destination URLs before taking them active.
I posted phase one of our domain migration yesterday, and all of my new ads were immediately disapproved.
Let me reiterate that all of the active ads in each ad group were sending traffic to one domain. However, there were multiple paused ads in the same ad group sending traffic to old, outdated URLs.
All active ads in all of the affected ad groups were disapproved, because essentially, the ad group was violating the updated URL policy for containing ads, active or paused, that sent traffic to multiple domains.
If you're currently using Conversion Optimizer in your AdWords campaigns or have been thinking about giving it a try, we have some great news! The Inside AdWords crew announced yesterday that Conversion Optimizer, a free AdWords CPA bidding feature, is now available to more campaigns.
Any campaign with at least 15 conversions in the last 30 days is now eligible to use Conversion Optimizer, whereas previously it required that a campaign needed at least 30 conversions in the last 30 days.
In case you're not familiar with Conversion Optimizer, it's a multi-dimensional bid management tool that uses your AdWords Conversion Tracking data to get you more conversions at a lower cost. You enter in your maximum cost per acquisition (max CPA), and the tool takes into consideration many factors including user location, time of day, and the search query to automatically calculate the equivalent cost-per-click (CPC) bid for your ad each time it's eligible to appear.
You still pay per click, but you no longer need to adjust your bids manually to reach your CPA goals. Sweet!
There's a lot of confusion regarding Google's recent change to conversion metrics with the AdWords conversion tracker. Previously a "1" in the "Conversion" column would tell you there was at least one conversion that happened within 30 days of that date. You were happy with this limited knowledge.
Messy and/or complex data was disguised as clean & simple data. The "1" was all you knew. If the user clicked an ad and purchased something, you'd see a "1." If the user bookmarked the page with the conversion tracking script and went back to it a week later, you'd still see a "1." If another purchase was made two weeks later, you'd still see a "1." Simple, right?
In early April, Google exposed some of the potential mess to be more in line with the way conversions and transactions are tabulated in DoubleClick and other online ad platforms. They changed the name of "Conversions" to "Conversions (1-per-click)" and added a new metric called "Conversions (many-per-click)". While the 1-per-click conversion spot can only be filled once, the many-per-click conversions are incremented whenever any of your conversion scripts run within 30 days after a click.
Under the new system, consider the following scenarios and what conversions would be tracked for each:
If you are new to advertising with Google AdWords and want some additional help setting up your campaigns, but cannot yet afford agency services, read Step by Step---a help guide to getting started with AdWords .
This workbook is a simple, easy-to-understand, 35-page guide that maps out the process of setting up your very own AdWords campaign from start to finish.
The book lays out in 3 fast chapters the processes of organizing your account, picking the right keywords, and writing targeted ads---all essential components to a successful AdWords campaign.
Each chapter is then broken down into simple steps that any beginner would be able to understand, along with a section of key terms and a helpful worksheet at the end to guide you through the setup process of your account.
First, let's start with the section on Organizing Your Account. This section really focuses on helping you, the advertiser, organize your campaign around your personal business goals, concentrating on one goal per campaign. After all, how could you hone in on a specific cost per conversion or certain ROI level for a campaign, if it had more than one goal?
Isn't it annoying when you have to click back and forth between your Google AdWords account and your Google Analytics account to see which campaigns, ad groups, and keywords are bringing the most profit bearing conversions for you? Well I have good news... You don't have put up with that headache any longer!
We've seen it in our client accounts for some time now, but Google has just announced that it is now possible to import your goals and transactions from Google Analytics into your AdWords account.
To be able to do this, you must first have your Google AdWords account linked with your Google Analytics account. Once that is set up, you just have to make a few clicks, and you're done.
In the new user interface, you can find conversion tracking under the tools tab.
A few weeks ago our agency received an update that Google released a new tool called Wonder Wheel. I could not help but conjure up all these funny images related to wheel of fortune. After a training session with our Google team, I realized that even with a funny name, this was a very powerful keyword tool.
Here's how to find Google's new Wonder Wheel:
When a searcher types a query into Google a new Show Options link now appears
I covered in depth how the Search Query Report (SQR) could be used to capitalize on new keyword opportunities, previously hidden in the depths of the report center.
I also covered how the new interface's integrated SQR makes finding money-hemorrhaging search queries you're matching on easier than ever to identify and exclude from your account.
Today, I'll be covering the other advertising power tool provided to advertisers in the new interface, the Integrated Placement Performance Report (PPR).
The SQR is only half of the equation for successful micromanagement of your AdWords account since it is only used on the search network.
While most advertisers start their AdWords campaigns on the search network, many continue to neglect the content network. The AdWords content network can be the biggest and most profitable source of traffic for many accounts. As such, using the Placement Performance Report has given us the ability to see which content network websites (placements) our ads are showing on, as well as how they are performing.
While we've had the ability to run PPRs in the AdWords report center for some time now, like the Search Query Report, Google has recognized its usefulness and integrated it into the interface for easier use.
If you manage an AdWords account, you're most likely familiar with the Search Query Performance Report, which allows you to view the exact search queries users have typed when they clicked your ad.
Being able to see these actual queries for your broad and phrase match keywords gives you the opportunity to add the queries that perform well as keywords to increase granularity, and find queries that are not converting and add them as negatives to cut the fat.
The only catch was that some queries with very low volume were pooled together in a line item called, "other unique queries." The main issue was that although the queries contained in this grouping had low volume, some advertisers saw that collectively, "other unique queries" accounted for a significant portion of overall traffic.
Needless to say, it's a bit frustrating to run a report for the sole purpose of gaining insight towards what users are typing when they click your ads, only to find that a decent percentage of the data is still hidden behind the curtain.
In short, a few categories of advertisers who were previously unable to use a trademarked term in their ad text will be allowed to do so - even if they don't own the trademark or have explicit approval from the trademark owner to use it.
These lucky advertisers include the following:
Resellers of the trademarked goods or services
Sellers of components, replacement parts or compatible products corresponding to a trademark
Informational/review sites that provide non-competitive and informative details about the goods or services corresponding to the trademarked term.
Google wants you to find the information you're looking for fast, without having to search multiple times to get what you want.
While I won't bore you with all the details of what's changed, I'll briefly summarize the main changes: Google has added AdWords ads to the Google Suggest box, tries to point searchers of "navigational queries" directly to the website, and makes suggestions not just on the homepage of Google.com, but on the search results page as well.
An example of a search suggestion box showing a navigational link and an AdWords ad is below:
Pretty cool, huh?
Well, I'll give you some ideas on how you can use this new tool to research variations of major keywords, observe what customers are saying about you and your brand, and see what people think of your competitors.
There's an awesome new Display Ad Builder available in AdWords!
On Wednesday, May 20th, 2009 at 2:00pm EST (1:00pm CST / 12:00pm MST / 11:00am PST),
Timothy Seward, CEO of ROI Revolution, Inc. and Ben Ronnenberg, PPC Account Manager at ROI Revolution will host a 60 minute presenation on the new Display Ad Builder with Special Guest: Ryan Hayward, Google AdWords Product Marketing Manager.
We've been using it for a few months and wanted you to know how you can use it to increase your profits, just like we've done for our clients. Check out the top new features:
Don't worry about learning the ins and outs of Photoshop. Google now offers pre-made templates of animated, eye-catching display ads that quickly allow you to add your own custom images and text to suit your business' needs.
This feature is so powerful that it allowed us to recently double clickthrough rate and increase conversion rates by 33% for one client.
You can easily differentiate your product or service from competitors by utilizing your company logo, brand colors, and product images in display ads.
The Display Ad Builder gives you the ability to create ads with enhanced user functionality, so you can include coupon codes, user interaction, and navigation between images, tabs, & video within your ads.
It's fast and free! The Display Ad Builder is free to all AdWords advertisers. Within minutes you can have an ad created and running to test various messages, color schemes, and images at no cost.
In summary, you'll see how the new Display Ad Builder can save you time and money all while boosting your profits!
Don't delay -- this webinar is limited to 1,000 attendees.
All of the added features in the new UI are aimed at making the day-to-day work involved with managing an AdWords account faster, simpler, and better integrated. And while the list of changes made from the old AdWords interface is pretty comprehensive, there are 2 new features that warrant special mention: Integrated Search Query Reports and its content network cousin, Integrated Placement Performance Reports.
These two tools work together as a one-two punch that allows you to micro manage your ads' presence on both the AdWords search and content networks. Essentially, they provide you with on the fly insight into how AdWords is matching your keywords to search queries and website content in the interface itself, without forcing you to the reports tab, leaving your work on a separate page. With these updates, Google has taken 2 of the most powerful reports available in the reports center, and integrated them directly into the interface's control bar.
Over the course of this two part series, I'll show you how to use both of these reports in the new UI to increase traffic, decrease wasteful spend, and get you more bang for your AdWords buck.
Search Engine Land just published a new article of mine on AdWords bid management. In the article I put a new spin on tracking conversion values in AdWords. I also touch on the advantage of ad group level bid management.
Have a read if you want to learn more about how lifetime customer value can be recorded in AdWords and how to do "portfolio" bid management to make decisions on groups of low-volume keywords.
Excluded placements, negative sites, blocked domains... call 'em what you want; the point is, sometimes you don't want your ads showing up on certain websites on Google's Content Network because they're costly, they're not converting well, and/or they're just irrelevant to your offer.
Be absolutely sure to exclude unwanted sites.
Just recently, I was analyzing the performance of a Content campaign where I already had "www.myspace.com" blocked as a placement previously, as I found it to be a waste of money. However, the performance of my campaign hadn't improved. After running a domain-level placement performance report, I saw that I was still showing up on MySpace and accruing clicks and ad spend (with no conversions, unsurprisingly). I thought to myself, doth my eyes deceive me?
Only after analyzing the URLs of that particular "blocked" domain and a quick email exchange with my friendly Google rep did I finally find the real reason my ads were still showing. So no, my eyes weren't playing tricks on me—let me explain.
As I was conducting a live webinar recently on Google's New AdWords User Interface it dawned on me that there are thousands of AdWords users that are not using many (or any) of the free time saving tools available on the web.
Working at a ppc agency, we share new tools and techniques on a weekly basis. Individuals managing their own accounts are not as fortunate and do not get these insights.
I wanted to take a few minutes and highlight the top 5 tools (in my opinion) that all AdWords users should be taking advantage of. They are all free and could save you tons of time and money.
After reading the reviews add the links to your toolbar for quick easy access during your AdWords management.
I know we all have busy schedules so I've condensed my descriptions to include only the meat and potatoes of what each tool has to offer and why you would want to use it:
Yesterday, I introduced you to a video released by Google starring their Chief Economist, Hal Varian that explains the Google Ad Auction and Quality Score. In part one of this two part blog series, I reiterated how Google quantifies their formally elusive, Quality Score.
In today's article, I will use the same video and guidance from our Google rep to explain how Google determines your Ad Rank as well as each advertiser's click cost. Some of this post may make you feel like you're back in high school math class, but bear with me. These formulas really do reveal Quality Score's crucial role in the AdWords system and how you can spend less to get more.
AdRank = Max CPC x Quality Score
AdRank is the formula Google uses to assign the position of a keyword targeted ad. It is determined by multiplying the maximum cpc bid that the advertiser is willing to pay by the Quality Score of that advertiser. An ad's position is then determined by the advertiser's AdRank, awarding the highest position to the advertiser with the highest ad rank.
Our example above shows how Quality Score can prohibit advertisers from simply bidding high enough to show in the top position. Even though advertiser Cameron is bidding well above all of his competitors, he will show in the fourth position due to his low Quality Score.
Determining Click Cost:
Actual CPC = (AdRank to beat/Quality Score of Advertiser) + $.01
Each advertiser only pays the minimum amount required to maintain his position.
Last Wednesday our agency's Google rep sent over a video put together by Google's Chief Economist, Hal Varian that very clearly explains Google's Ad Auction and Quality Score. The 9 minute video is definitely worth viewing at least once to get a better understanding of two large parts of the AdWords system that were, until now, pretty hard to quantify.
In this two part blog series, I will explain what Quality Score actually is, how the ad auction works, and how Quality Score determines your ads' positioning and costs per click using the video as my guide. Today's article will cover the ever elusive concept of what Google's Quality Score really is.
Google's reasoning for creating Quality Score is to make sure that the best interests of all parties included in the search experience (the advertiser, the user, and Google themselves) are taken into account when a search is performed on Google.com. Below, I've explained the motivation to appeal to each party's interest:
Advertisers want to show relevant ads so that users will click on their ads and land on their site, hopefully intending to purchase something.
Users want to see relevant ads so they can easily find what they're looking for in the shortest amount of time.
Google wants the best experience for both advertisers and users so that advertisers continue to use the AdWords program and so users continue to use Google.com and Google's other host of products.
Until recently, Google's "Quality Score" was an abstract concept with little to no definition. Advertisers wanted to get the highest Quality Score possible, but didn't really know what they were striving for.
If you advertise on Google AdWords and have not yet become a part of the new AdWords interface beta, you will soon get a chance to use this because eventually it will be available to everyone!
The new interface is laid out much like AdWords Editor with a side panel that appears on the left of the screen where you can expand a campaign name, and it lists all of the ad groups. This makes it much easier for those of you constantly having to click into campaigns to find top ad groups---you can see your entire account's top ad groups, keywords, or placements without having to dig into multiple campaigns, making management much more efficient.
Another great feature of the beta is that there is a graph on the campaigns tab graphing various metrics such as cost, cost/conversion, click-through-rate, clicks----well, you get my point, but it makes it easier to spot account trends like in the account snapshot. With the graph being above all of the campaigns and ad groups and changing with the date range, you can now easily spot positive or negative trends at a glance.
Q: Do Your PPC Search Ads Show Every Time Your Most Important Keywords Are Typed In To Google?
A: A study conducted by the AdGooroo team, led by Richard Stokes, was designed to evaluate the percentage of time that an advertiser's ads actually showed up when their respective keywords were typed into Google. Stunningly, the results across several industries revealed that as much as 98% of Google advertisers' ads were generating impressions less than 20% of the time when their keywords were being searched on!
The AdGooroo team learned that the ads of only a select few advertisers (less than 3%) showed more than 20% of the time when their respective keywords were searched on - and this trend was found in almost every industry they observed.
Ad Coverage In A Nutshell
Ad Coverage is one phrase used to define the percentage of ad impressions that you generate compared to the overall volume of available impressions on the Google Network. Google refers to Ad Coverage as your "Impression Share" and will tell you about it in the Campaign Performance Report, but they currently do not offer coverage data at the keyword level.
Rich Will Be Sharing His Secrets About Ad Coverage - in Our 2-Part Webinar Series
If you put "Negative Keywords" and "Content Network" in the same sentence, even folks with intermediate PPC experience get confused. I felt the same way until a recent conversation with our Google Rep. She helped to clarify the best practices for using negative keywords when creating AdWords campaigns that target Google's content network.
For quite some time, most SEM specialists have known that the best practice is to eliminate phrase and exact match types in content network campaigns, only using broad match terms. Since the keywords are being viewed as a theme, match types do not apply. It is best practice to have no more than 10 to 15 broad match keywords per adgroup in content campaigns.
Negative keywords should be thought of very differently on the content network. Copying the negative keywords you have in your search campaigns to your content campaign could limit the sites your ads are eligible to show on. This could severely restrict a number of relevant impressions being generated (and possible conversions!)
The right way to use negatives on the content network is to:
1.Start off with only negative keywords that are highly irrelevant.
2. Only add your negative keywords in broad match.
To control where your ad shows, run the AdWords Placement Performance report . This report will show you which content sites your ad was shown on. You can view performance (cost, conversions, ect.) for each site. Site's that are highly irrelevant or unprofitable can be added as excluded sites.
So go take a look at your content negative keywords. A few simple changes to your negatives could open up the taps on tons of relevant traffic!
Occasionally, Google will show alerts in our AdWords accounts introducing new products or tools, or notifying us of maxed out budgets or disapproved ads. These are usually very helpful to us. Lately, many account managers in our PPC management agency have noticed the following message in their clients' Google AdWords accounts suggesting that the Ad Serving setting be changed from "Rotate Ad Serving" to "Optimize Ad Serving" in order to 'increase traffic by showing your best ad most often'.
At ROI Revolution, we recommend always setting our campaigns' ads to "Rotate" as part of what we call "AdWords 101" or the most basic and well-known practices for an AdWords account. There are two main reasons why we do this:
More Clicks Does Not Equal More Conversions
Google optimizes your ad serving based on Click-Through-Rate. This works out great for Google, because showing the ad that gets the most clicks more often means more Google revenue. However, optimizing ads based on Click-Through-Rate is not always the best practice for advertisers, because conversion rate is never factored in to the equation. While increasing clicks is a wonderful way to get more visits to your site, conversion rate is equally as important, if not more important, to most advertisers. With the exception of brand awareness, there is not much of a payoff in getting someone to click on your ad and then leave your site without buying anything or submitting any of their information.
Test, Test, Test
It is best practice to run at least two ads in a paid search ad group. If you're not continually testing ad text, headlines, landing pages, basically everything, then you're missing out on new opportunities that could bring in more money for you. If those ads are not rotated evenly, there is no way to tell which one generates the most profitable traffic for your business. Rotating ads evenly will ensure that the data you're seeing in your reports is a fair representation of how they actually perform when given an equal chance.
The moral of this story is DON'T choose this setting if you want to maximize your results through testing and conversions. Leaving your ads set to "Optimize" is a common mistake, but one that you can and should avoid. In order to make the best decision for your AdWords account, it is essential to outline goals, prioritize them, and optimize your ads based on those goals.
For more insider tricks and tips that we use to help our clients in multiple industries, you can register for our 3-part Google AdWords Beginner Online Training course taking place later this month.
If you have a Business.com account, you probably know that they do not offer a conversion tracking feature within their UI. If you're reading this blog and you have a Business.com account, you probably (hopefully!) have your Business.com keywords tagged with Google Analytics tagging.
We have recently taken over PPC account management for a client's Business.com account that was already created but not tagged. We have come up with a way to not only tag the account to find which keywords are worthwhile and which keywords are wasting money, but we can also create some transparency for Business.com's Relevance Match using Google Analytics.
Business.com describes relevance match as keywords that are similar and relevant to the keywords that you are already buying in a particular category, but are not those exact keywords. I would say it's similar to the way that Google uses their broad match feature. Within the listings or categories in your account, you will see the list of keywords you are buying and the phrase "relevance match" at the bottom of the list. Clicks and spend will be assigned to "relevance match," but there is no way to tell in the interface what the search terms were that Business.com deemed relevant enough to show your ad and cost you a click.
A couple of weeks ago Google announced a number of changes to the user interface. One of the changes that is slowly rolling out across all AdWords accounts is the change from 'Minimum Bid' to 'First Page Bid.'
This particular change certainly has its benefits, primarily greater transparency on what you must bid to acquire the maximum number of impressions and clicks available based on your daily budget. Ideally you want to drive as much traffic to your website as possible while remaining profitable. There is no question that if your advertising is not showing on the first page of search results, you are passing up the majority of available traffic for your product or service.
With this increased transparency, advertisers will now be able to determine very easily what they must bid to display their ads on page one and acquire those much desired impressions and clicks. Inevitably, this will produce more competition to display your ad in one of the top 8 positions simply because it is easier for advertisers to manage their AdWords accounts.
Now, of course, one way to continue serving your ads on page one would be to increase your keyword and ad group default bid amounts if you see an increase in competition. However, there are many other ways to remain on page one without increasing your bid amounts and also to maximize customer value.
Ad Creative: The more relevant you can draft your ad headlines, body copy, and display URLs to that of the user's search query, the greater your quality score will increase, which will reward you by driving down your average CPC. By constantly conducting A/B split testing with your ad creative, you become more and more relevant, allowing you to display on page one for less than your competitors who may not be testing ads and are holding onto one of the top 8 spots by constantly increasing their bid amounts
Landing Pages: Again, just like your ad creative, the more relevant your landing page is to what the user has searched for, the greater your Quality Score will increase and therefore lower your average CPC. Relevancy reigns supreme in paid search and this does not just span your AdWords account. From your keyword lists to your ad creative and ultimately where you send your traffic all plays an integral part in the overall performance of your PPC campaigns. Constantly test new landing page formats and content to match as closely as possible what the initial search query was on Google.com in order to maximize relevancy and to keep your ads displaying in those most coveted spots.
Up-Sells and Back-End Offers: For practically all products and services there is potential to drive traffic for not only the immediate desired action, but also for subsequent signups and purchases, sometimes at the exact moment your customer is making their first conversion. Once you have your customer in your sales funnel and they are checking out, offer them another product or service that relates to this initial purchase.
Instead of the usual static per-keyword quality score Google dishes out to advertisers, quality will now be determined in real-time each time a user searches, based on such factors as geographical location and the actual search query.
Gone are the days when your phrase matched term "swiss cheese" is nailed with a $5 minimum for being "irrelevant" due to a low CTR in the US, grinding your traffic to a screeching halt. Now, your keyword will still be active, giving you a chance for searchers in Canada searching for "fine swiss cheese", which you're not directly bidding on, to still see your ad. Since quality is determined in real-time on a per-query basis, the algorithm may determine that users in Canada click your ads more often, and click your ads when searching on specific queries.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Google will also take into account the quality on certain search networks. So while your ad may not pass the quality test to show up on Google.com, you can still show up in the search results for AOL and Ask.com.
Additionally, Google is doing away with the "minimum bid", and replacing it with "first page bid", which guides your bidding strategies a bit more effectively if you want to get on the first page, which is where all the highest quality ads hang out, fighting for that click. This bid is based on the exact match version of the search query, your ad's quality score, and advertiser competition for that query.
These changes can either help or hurt you, depending on how you want to look at it. I can already see the frustration of checking what should be high-volume keywords, and seeing that they're not receiving much traffic. They're not inactive; they're just not generating the volumes of traffic you'd hoped. You've been pegged with low quality. On the flipside, you may notice your clicks and impressions drop slightly, but the quality of that traffic is that much higher, giving you a boost in conversion rate and a drop in your cost per conversion.
According to Google, if you're a high-quality advertiser (and you are a high-quality advertiser, aren't you?) these changes should actually help you:
"Your ads will be more likely to show when they're relevant and less likely to show when they're not. This means that Google users are apt to see better ads while you, as an advertiser, should receive leads which are more highly qualified."
Basically, high-quality advertisers will get shown more for high-quality, relevant searches. That's only fair, right?
A couple months ago, there was an increase in attempts to collect personal account information within AdWords by 3rd parties. The most common term for this is phishing, whereby 3rd parties fraudulently try to acquire sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details, by masquerading as a trustworthy source.
At the time, Google had written that many phishing attempts came from firstname.lastname@example.org. The emails sent by this address asked users to update their billing information, take action on a disapproved ad, edit their account, or accept new AdWords terms and conditions.
In some cases, the links that were included in the email led to websites that install malware (software that attempts to steal sensitive information from your computer, send spam, or commit fraud) onto your computer. While the number of these attempts has decreased, they are still prevalent (we just received another email attempting this today), so you need to keep your eyes open for fraudulent behavior and contact Google of any possible phishing attempts.
During the influx of hacking attempts, one of our clients was affected. Overnight, someone was able to gain access to their account using their login name and password. They created a new campaign with one ad group and allocated a $9000/day budget in order to sell ringtones.
Fortunately, Google caught this suspicious behavior and temporarily suspended the account to investigate. While this phishing attempt was spotted and stopped before it could do some real harm, you may not be so lucky.
By now, most search marketers have at least heard of Google's new Enhanced Campaign option. It was taken out of Beta a few weeks ago, and now is available in all accounts. I wanted to take some time to go over the basics, discuss some misconceptions, and explain exactly how this affects your Google AdWords accounts.
So let's start with the basics.
What is an Enhanced Campaign? It's Google's way of meshing Placement Targeted content campaigns with Keyword Targeted content campaigns. While writing this article, I will assume you have separated out your Search and Content campaigns (AdWords 101.)
What's the big deal?
Many people are not aware that in traditional Placement Targeted campaigns, your ad can show ANWHERE on the sites that you target. This means that your ad is less likely to be shown at the 'moment of relevance.' Keyword Targeted content campaigns do this, but they target the entire content network. Advertisers wanted to do both: use keywords to target certain sites. Voila! Google gave us Enhanced Campaigns. Thank you Google!
If you have ever wanted to pull your hair out over Yahoo's Search Marketing interface--I definitely have--than you know that the interface is not nearly as user-friendly as Google's. For those of you looking for a quick, go-to guide, I have just the one for you: Yahoo Smart Start.
Although Yahoo's blog claims that Yahoo Smart Start is a guide for beginners, I would say that the guide is definitely geared more to those who have some experience with pay-per-click advertising but are not experts. However, the guide would be extremely helpful to show to clients who were curious about the yahoo interface and wanted to understand what they were really getting into with advertising on Yahoo.
The book walks you through the ten helpful chapters below.
Building a Foundation with Strong Keywords
Organizing Ad Groups for Success
Writing Effective Ads
Making Sure Your Ads are High Quality
Matching Your Keywords to Your Customer's Searches
Determining Effective Bids
Targeting Your Ads Geographically
Advertising on Content Sites
Tracking Your Results
Each chapter begins with an opening question from Sharon Goodsense, a character PPC advertiser, such as, "I'm lost on the match type thing. I see there are two options, but I don't understand why I would ever want to use the Standard match type, when the Advanced match type shows my ad for more searches on my keywords. Shouldn't I just always use that option (Yahoo Smart Start 41)?"
Do you pay enough attention to the AdWords Editor Updates? If your answer is no, I recommend that you start. There is usually some really good stuff, that unless you take the time to read the Editor release notes, you probably would not know about.
Each new version of AdWords Editor is accompanied by release notes, which I highly recommend reading. I will save you some time by highlighting the best, most beneficial updates from the latest version(AdWords Editor 6.0.)
Append Keywords : This tool allows you to add a word/phrase to the beginning or end of any text within the account. I have found this VERY useful in creating local campaigns. Simply take a general campaign and append the city name to all keywords (then tweak the ad text of course.) It is also useful for adding offers to headlines, or changing display URLs.
Get Recent Changes: There is a new option to include minimum bid changes. Before you had to re-download the entire account to get this data. This is very useful in accounts that have keywords that often go inactive. Also when you download this, the changes are highlighted so it is easy to spot the keywords that have recently gone inactive.
Duplicate Keywords: Finding duplicate keywords is now easier! You can now quickly select all the duplicates that meet certain criteria. For example, you can choose to select all the duplicates with the lowest CTR, then delete them. This tool was always handy, but you had to delete the duplicates manually in order to keep keywords with the highest CTR.
Are you sure that the conversions you see tracked in the Google AdWords Campaign Summary page are really the conversions you're hoping for? How do you know what types of conversions your AdWords campaigns are generating if you have the AdWords Conversion Tracking script on many of your site's success pages?
It's best practice to send a searcher to a landing page that has one clearly defined action that you would like them to take, say filling out a Contact Us form. But what happens when that Contact Us page links to another page on your site with a completely different desired action, say a newsletter sign up? If the searcher clicks on an ad that takes them to the Contact Us landing page but somehow moves over to the newsletter page and signs up there, you've still got a conversion reported for your Contact Us campaign. The problem is that it's the wrong type!
Now, when you look in your Contact Us campaign, you think you're only generating leads for people raising their hands to be contacted, but you've actually got people who are just interested in reading your newsletter lumped in there as well. It can be very misleading.
In Google Analytics, there are a couple different ways to match up the products you sell with the keywords that brought users to your site.
The first method is already built right in to Google Analytics. All you need to do is look under the Ecommerce section of your Google Analytics profile and expand the Product Performance section. There you'll find a report called Product Overview. In this report, you'll see a list of all the products that were sold for the given date range. You can click on an individual product and segment it by Keyword to see which keywords were responsible for the product sale.
But what about when you want to see things the other way around? In other words, for each keyword, can you see which products were sold? Well, if you use the above method, you'd have to segment each and every product. That's not very efficient.
Luckily, you can use filters to find this information pretty easily. Here's how:
If you've been following this blog, you've likely heard several references to the Google Analytics Keyword Sleuth that Michael Harrison wrote back in April of 2007. This is a tool that anyone in paid search should be using. Basically, it captures and displays an ongoing list of new keywords and phrases straight from your customer's mind. We're often advised to "imagine what your customers are typing before they see your ads, then bid on those keywords." With the Keyword Sleuth in place, you don't have to imagine anything. They've already told you.
For a long time, Google, Yahoo!, MSN and others would not reveal exact search queries, and still don't for the most part. They'll tell you the bid keyword, but not the exact search query. In May 2007, Google stepped up and created the Search Query Performance Report (SQPR), which now shows this data within the Adwords reporting tab. There was a wave of excitement when Google released the SQPR, and it's become a popular report for Adwords users.
Both the Keyword Sleuth and the SQPR were developed to do essentially the same thing, but in reality, they can be worlds apart for the PPC manager. In explaining the Keyword Sleuth to other PPC professionals, I'm often asked how it's different than the Adwords SQPR. There is a lot that is different. A side-by-side comparison between these two tools is long overdue.
First, I'll run Google's SQPR. When that's done, I'll retrieve the same data using Michael's Exact Keyword Sleuth. In summary, I'm gathering the same data from the same Adwords campaign and the same time frame (one month), using two different methods. My teammate Matt will time it from the moment I touch the keyboard to the moment the report is viewable on screen.
One of the biggest challenges in Pay-Per-Click advertising is trying to capitalize on the Content network. Search Engine Marketers know there is qualified traffic out there, but reaching it is the biggest obstacle.
Did you know Google offers a report that details exactly which Content sites your ads are placed on? Yes it's true! Google will not only tell you what sites your ads were placed on, but also which sites brought in conversions for your business. In order for the report to show conversion data you must have Conversion Tracking properly set-up on your sites success/thank-you pages.
The report is called Placement Performance and it is an invaluable tool to help you get the most out of the content network. It reveals which sites are making you money and which sites are costing you money. The AdWords Help Center outlines exactly how to create this report. You should create a Report Template so it's easy to run again .
There are two main objectives when analyzing this report;
1) Exclude sites that are not profitable. To do this, sort by cost. Are there certain sites that are not relevant that you are getting clicks from? If yes, add them as excluded sites. By doing this, you are telling Google you do NOT want your ad to show on these sites.
2) Capitalize on sites that are making you money. If there are certain sites that your ads are showing on where conversion rate is through the roof, then you should think about creating a placement-targeted campaign. This will allow you to target specific sites giving you more control over bidding, ad text, and budgets.
The Google AdWords help center offers a great article on more ways to benefit from this report. If you are not currently using this report, I recommend that you run it at least twice per month. The money it will save you will definitely be worth your time.
If you are into PPC advertising in any way, shape or form, then very seriously consider attending the PPC Summit.
Like I've said before, this conference is arguably the most valuable conference for anyone in search marketing, as it's focus is 100% PPC advertising. The variety of tracks and presentations at any given time makes it easy to find something that you both need to learn and want to learn. Within each session, you can choose between keynote speeches, clinics, panel discussions and workshops, on three simultaneous levels: fundamental, advanced or advertiser-specific. Everyone is covered.
Attendees also have several opportunities to strike hands and hob-knob with industry experts from all sorts of companies and agencies. Historically, PPC Summit has brought in reps and marketers ranging from big-name companies (Google, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, eBay, Amazon) to independent entrepreneurs to agency team members. Either way, you'll be surrounded by expertise, ideas and experience to draw upon from passionate PPC marketers.
The rules: Read the ads and post a quick comment to declare your winners for the top 3 funniest Adwords Ads. You can just put the ad numbers in your comments, but clearly label each ad 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. If you enjoyed this post, forward the link to people you know and encourage them to vote too. The more votes we get, the more indisputable the winners are.
The point system will be as follows:
1st place vote = 3 points
2nd place vote = 2 points
3rd place vote = 1 point
#18 Selling a keyword online?
The more votes we get, the better, so pass it on. Later on, we'll announce the winners, losers, whatever. The funniest.
What do replacement grandmas, weed, new brains and vacations to Hell have in common? If you just said "They're all being advertised with Google Adwords" then you are correct!
I'm sure we've all seen some strange stuff out there in PPC land. There have been so many wacky things in Adwords that I decided it's time to have a little contest before these weird little ads disappear. So, I Introduce to you ROI Revolution's First Annual Funny Adwords Contest.
The weeks between Halloween & Thanksgiving fly by so start preparing your paid search campaigns now to maximize on the biggest retail season of the year. According to comScore last year during the Holiday season consumers spent $24.4 billion online! That number alone should motivate you.
During October and early November you should flesh out holiday keywords and ad creative and load them into your Google AdWords account. This will give your ads time to gain history, and since part of your quality score is based on history, this is a must. It will also give you time to sort out any disapproved keywords or ad text.
Also, in December keep a close eye on your bids and positioning. Obviously competition will be higher than normal, so you will need to be more aggressive. Google is expecting ad approval delays on the following dates in November: 1,5,6,7,8,9 & in December: 17,18,19,20,21.
It is important to ensure your ads are showing up through all stages of the buying cycle. Google suggests that you target general holiday gift terms to reach potential customers early in the buying cycle. But this can be a challenge! How do advertisers with niche products make money off of general terms? Qualify, qualify, qualify. Use your ad text to weed out people who wouldn't be interested in your product, and get your potential customers to click! For example, let's say your company sells leather laptop cases and you wanted to target the keyword "gifts for dad."
If you're serious about making your Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC) campaigns really shine, then don't waste time or money attending generic, dime-a-dozen "online marketing" conferences.
Here's why: Most conferences offer a more general online marketing theme all bundled into one "jack of all trades" conference, with a few general PPC tracks if you're lucky. "Okay, PPC people, go into that room over there. We'll see you again in about an hour for an ice cream break." Sound familiar?
It's great that many marketing conferences offer break-outs or alternate tracks for PPC. Really. But it's almost always to cater to general marketing professionals who either want to know what PPC is or are still deciding whether to use it in their marketing mix.
So hold on, what about the PPC gurus who sit at their desk polishing PPC accounts all day? What if I don't give a rat's behind about SEO or affiliate programs? I don't know about you, but I'm tired of sitting through "Intro to Adwords" and "definition of CTR" slides for 3 hours. Especially after slapping down $1,000 to attend. My order: Less milk & honey, more steak & potatoes...with A1 sauce.
That's why I'm so pumped about the upcoming PPC Summit in San Francisco (Thursday & Friday November 15-16). No matter what hour of the day, no matter which room I wander into, it's PPC-focused and designed for enlightening the PPC die hards. This is the ONLY conference that can boast that.
I recently attended the PPC Summit in Los Angeles where I interacted with online marketers from around the country. To my surprise, many of the presenters at the conference referenced MSN adCenter Labs. This is Microsoft's website for testing new prototypes of tools they are currently developing.
After returning from the conference, I decided to check it out for myself. Below is an overview of the tools I found most useful for optimizing your paid search campaigns:
From left to right: Shawn Purtell, Meredith Smith (back), Erin Skinner, Mark Curtis, Page Christenbury, Michael Harrison, Timothy Seward, Katherine Anderson
I recently returned from a trip to the famous Googleplex for the GAAC (Google Analytics Authorized Consultants) conference. Besides the conference itself, the best part about Google (other than the food!) was experiencing the sense of community on the Google campus.
As I walked around the campus, I was greeted with smiles from resident Googlers buzzing all around. It was clear that I was a newbie to the campus by my orange name tag and by my obvious look of confusion, and everyone around me noticed me and took the time to welcome me.
I was given a tour by a Googler named Laura, who all the other Googlers called a "Noogler" because she had just started - a recent Princeton graduate.
In the lobby where they gave me my name tag and where we started our tour, there was a screen with live searches that appeared on it from all over the world in different languages. Laura said that they "tried" to filter out some of the searches, but some of them were pretty random and slightly inappropriate. It was actually entertaining to see that some people really haven't yet learned how to best search on the internet.
As Laura led my team on our tour, dozens and dozens of Googlers passed by on beach cruiser style bicycles with kid-like orange flags on poles rising out of them. She told us that you can just pick up a bike and ride it wherever you want on the Google campus and just drop it off wherever. My teammate Mark took her up on this opportunity as you can see in the picture.
Continuing on our tour, we saw that Google basically offered everything you could ever dream of in a work environment. Jars full of candy. Refrigerators full of free drinks. A massage room. An herb garden. A gym. A Laundromat. A swim station. Even a volleyball court. Oh yes, and how could I forget, the endless cafeterias.
2 years ago, NOBODY was a bigger dummy than I was when I first began fiddling with Google AdWords. For me, it was an overwhelming mix of internet articles here, a free eBook there, some trial and error and a pinch of "how hard can it be" that got me started (if you're one of my clients, please stop crying. This is long before I worked here). My first Adwords recipe wasn't a complete disaster, but it certainly wasn't anything delicious either. It was like pulling the dish out of the oven, waving off the smoke, and then scrambling to read every cookbook I could find to figure out what went wrong. Times have changed, and I definitely have a newfound appreciation for the words WARNING: Read the instructions first!
So, I just finished reading Adwords for Dummies by Howie Jacobson. First things first, congratulations to Mr. Jacobson. This is the first "For Dummies" book that I finished, cover-to-cover, every single word (except the index). Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the other Dummy books, but I typically treat them more like dictionaries than books. Yes, it's a reference book. But regardless, I read it straight through and it still kept my interest. That's certainly no small feat.
Howie explains things very well, evenly balancing casual tones with occasional (and necessary) tech talk. His steady use of examples, analogies, humor, tips, pictures and additional resources will no doubt engage readers, whether they seek the "techy" stuff or just a casual read on Adwords. With so many best practices, business blessings, warnings, and parables, one could rightfully call this the Bible of Adwords and feel somewhat justified. There's even a Revelation-esque chapter at the end called "The Ten Most Serious Adwords Beginner's Mistakes," crammed with stories of woe and all manner of marketing budget destruction. Regardless, there is still a happy ending.
Heather Lutze, of Lutze Consulting, sat down with me to record a podcast at the New York Pay Per Click Summit about why Google Analytics is such an important part of the Pay Per Click process to learn what happens (in detail) after the click.
I'm super impressed with how Heather produced this Google Analytics podcast; she didn't just take our interview and slap it up on her blog, she actually took some serious time to record a detailed intro to the topic, added music in the intro and in the close, and wrote up a nice piece on the blog.
I don't know where Heather gets her direct, pull-no-punches-style interviewing experience but I felt a little like I was being interviewed by an experienced network-level journalist. Katie Couric look out!!!
We talked about the biggest challenges with Google Analytics, specifically how improper configuration/setup can affect the data that an advertiser has access to (or not) .
From Heather's blog: "This invaluable tool, configured correctly, can help you bridge the gap between a paid search click and what happens after the click."
Heather outlines how we can help companies configure Google Analytics correctly through our many services, including the free Google Analytics webinar and newsletter, as well as training packages.
All pay-per-click advertisers listen up. I want to tell you about the one-stop-shop for PPC education. Finally we are getting exactly what we have needed & wanted - an internet marketing conference focused exclusively on PPC---and it does not just cover Google AdWords, but Yahoo Search Marketing, Microsoft adCenter, and all of the other smaller PPC Engines at one event, the PPC Summit in Los Angeles!
It is being held at the Omni Los Angeles Hotel at the California Plaza on September 24th & 25th, and I could not be more excited to attend. If you want to be an expert in PPC in all search engines then this is the event for you because it will be the most comprehensive PPC conference to date. Plus, the knowledge you'll gain will help kick your PPC campaigns into overdrive, giving you a serious edge over your competitors.
At this interactive two-day summit, you will get insider tips and strategies from expert speakers---one being Mary O'Brien, the chairman of the PPC Summits. She has optimized high level accounts such as Expedia and Amazon, and was formerly the Senior Director of Sales for Overture Services (Yahoo! Search Marketing). This woman knows everything there is to know about PPC, and I cannot wait to hear her secrets.
Learn How To Kick Your PPC Advertising Into OVERDRIVE with Google Analytics In This New Webinar Being Hosted LIVE from The Googleplex in Mountain View, California!
Featuring special Google guest (and highly respected author, speaker, blogger and practitioner of web analytics) Avinash Kaushik!
On Tuesday, July 31st at 4pm ET (1 pm PT) ROI Revolution is hosting a *no charge* live Webinar presentation on how to use Google Analytics to kick your pay-per-click advertising into overdrive. I'll be at the Googleplex in Mountain View, CA *web/telecasting live* seated right beside Avinash for this rare event.
Learn "The Most Important Lesson" -- a critical success element we have found to be true after helping dozens of people implement Google Analytics and improve their pay-per-click (PPC) performance.
Hear case studies that showcase three companies that went from good to great with their PPC advertising. We'll go over what was the problem that held them back, what they did differently, and the results.
Discover the 7 most common Google Analytics mistakes people make and what you need to know to fix them
Walk away with 7 Actionable Tips to help you go from good to great and kick your PPC advertising into overdrive
Get several great resources to help you jump-start your pay-per-click advertising performance with Google Analytics
And...learn from the insight of special Google guest Avinash Kaushik! If you've heard Avinash present in person you know you are in for quite a treat. If you haven't, now's the time to capture his amazing insight on a live call.
So register today for this *totally free* live session. Space is limited to 200 participants.
Deciding which search engines to develop paid search campaigns on can be a bit overwhelming. How does a company know when and where to expand their paid search campaigns? Most online marketers realize that Google accounts for at least 49.7% of all US searches, so it makes sense to start their paid search campaigns in Google AdWords. When it comes to expanding beyond Google, this area gets grey quickly.
Questions arise like:
When should I advertise on new search engines?
Which keywords should I bid on?
What should my budget be?
Should I use the same ad text?
The questions don't stop. Below are a few recommendations that I offer to get you moving in the right direction:
Many people wait too long before really delving into Negative Keyword research for their Google AdWords campaigns. This is a mistake!
Negative Keywords have more of an impact than most people realize.
Not only do Negative Keywords save you money by minimizing clicks from visitors who really are not interested in your product or service, but they increase your Clickthrough Rate (CTR) and Quality Score! This decrease in 'bad' impression will automatically give you higher quality clicks that can have a real impact on your conversion rate.
Negative Keywords can be hard to find, but the search is worth it.
Here are eight tips and tricks to getting the most out of your Negative Keyword research:
Ahhhh, the glory days of late spring are here in the Carolinas: sunny skies with longer days, bright green leaves filling the trees and warm breezes. You can feel the excitement in the air as summer is almost upon us.
In the next few weeks, kids will finish school for the summer and parents will send many of their offspring to summer camps...some will be recreational: swimming, hiking, crafting...while others will focus on skill development: soccer, basketball, cheerleading, etc.
Mom and Dad may need a little help this summer, too, if they are one of several thousand Google AdWords customers who successfully use PPC advertising and spend at least $1,000/month with Google.
If you've been using Google AdWords for any length of time, you know the fundamental Google AdWords and Internet Marketing strategies:
* Uncovering your market's hidden desires through comprehensive keyword research
* Getting Google Conversion Tracker and Google Analytics correctly configured to leverage the ultimate in free website tracking and ROI analysis
* Constantly split testing and improving Ad copy and landing page conversion
* Focusing your ad groups tightly around keywords and targeted landing pages
* Building comprehensive autoresponder sequences to increase conversion and visitor value
And every year a whole bunch of people make huge amounts of money just by doing these basic things consistently.
And these things aren't that hard...
And yet I'm guessing that you aren't doing them all. Maybe not even most... Maybe not even half...
For almost everyone, there's a GIANT GAP between knowing what to do and actually doing it. And that gap is the biggest obstacle to success in the world.
Michael Mattis from the Yahoo! Search Marketing Blog just announced a very cool conversion tracking feature I'd love to see in a future edition of Google Analytics: conversion analytics designed to help track your "conversion assists".
What on earth is a "conversion assist"?
While a "conversion" occurs when someone completes an action of value on your website, such as a purchase, a lead submission or subscription transaction, a "conversion assist" occurs when a PPC keyword phrase has contributed to a conversion that was credited to the keyword phrase used by the searcher just prior to their conversion.
Here's an example to illustrate this Michael offers:
Let's say that a user came to your Sci-Fi collectibles site and bought a "tribble" plush toy. He or she might actually have been searching on "United Federation of Planets". The user might have viewed the ad with the keyword, "United Federation of Planets" first, then later viewed the ad with the keyword, "quadro-triticale" and then finally converted on the ad displaying the keyword, "tribble." The system records this trail of clicks, or "lead events," crediting both "United Federation of Planets" and "quadro-triticale" with an assist and "tribble" with the conversion. This way you'll know that your keywords are leading to conversions, even if the relationship is not a direct one.
Michael notes that the system will show up to 30 lead events per conversion over a 45 day period provided the user has cookies enabled.
You can get more help with the new Yahoo! conversion-only analytics option here.
Finally the Yahoo! Search Marketing upgrade has brought some well-needed changes to their Sponsored Search program with its new ranking model. This revised model will help advertisers spend much less time on bidding wars, leaving time to create more relevant ads. It is replacing the current method for ad ranking which is based on bid amounts alone.
Beginning February 5, 2007 bid amount and ad quality will determine an ad's rank in the search results. What exactly determines 'ad quality'? Well, there are two factors to this new feature-one being the ad's historical performance which consists of the click-through rate in comparison to that of the competitor's and the normal click-through rate for that position.
YSM's (Yahoo! Search Marketing) "Project Panama" has begun it's long awaited roll-out! I received an e-mail this morning with the headline: "The New Sponsored Search is Now Live!" I went running through the office with the news. I logged into my account awaiting the new interface, and was disappointed to find out it was not there! They are sending invitations in stages to U.S advertisers.
We received a helpful hint at a Yahoo! Advertisers Workshop that I attended a few weeks ago and blogged about. If you do not have your keywords separated into categories, do this now! If you have any unassigned keywords then Yahoo will automatically put then in categories for you once the new interface is launched. It will be much better for you to do this yourself since you have a better understanding of your business model & the categories that they need to be separated into.
The upgrade center is available for all advertisers to help make the transition smooth. There are flash tutorials & PDF guides to get you up to par with the new interface.
This article discusses the tendency to lean on pay-per-click advertising just a little too heavily. Sure, it can work wonders, but there are a lot of other aspects to online advertising that all work together to create a truly great campaign.
Here's a short excerpt:
Thomas Jefferson said "I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it." With a little "luck" maybe you can turn that PPC campaign into a magic wand, after all.
Good luck to all the contestants! I've certainly enjoyed reading everybody's articles, and I've learned a thing or two in the process.
The ROI team recently attended a Yahoo Search Marketing(YSM!) workshop in Alexandria, VA. The conference was extremely helpful in gaining new insight on creative ways to manage and optimize campaigns. The presenter, Heather Lutze, did a fantastic job balancing Yahoo's affiliation with the workshop and relating the knowledge to all PPC campaigns.
We were ecstatic when Heather announced that after the lunch break we would get a glimpse of the new Yahoo advertising interface known as "Project Panama." As all of us know this project has taken longer than foreseen, but after the brief slide show outlining the interface I believe it is safe to say that it will be worth the wait.
I received a very interesting telephone call early yesterday afternoon from a business owner of a lead generation website who had seen his PPC (Pay Per Click) ad spend on Google escalate in the last month or so from $4,000/month to $6,000/month with no detectible, corresponding 50% increase in business.
From beginning to end of the conversation his entire focus was on his concern that he was the victim of invalid clicks (a.k.a. click fraud).
Not coincidentally yesterday, Marketing Pilgrim's Andy Beal pointed out a lengthy Business Week cover story which was breaking yesterday about the very same topic.
It's plausible that the business owner's (I spoke with) issue is not invalid clicks at all (or if so, perhaps less than suspected) but a less-than-analytics approach to his online marketing coupled with a surge of interest in his hot field. First clue: he had long ago opted *out* of the Google Content network. Further, he had Google's AdWords conversion tracker in place, but *not* Google Analytics.
Perhaps other real issues include a recent spike in competitive activity (driving his bid prices up) compounded by untested PPC ads, poorly performing landing pages, etc--all which could be analyzed in Google Analytics and then corrective action taken.
Further, he could also use Google Analytics to check on the click activity of potentially over-zealous competitors using the "Domains" or "Network Location" Visitor Segment Performance reports, had he suspected that problem.
The well spoken business owner wanted to know his options.
Peanut butter and jelly, a picnic and ants, a dinner and a movie... some things just go better together. Google Analytics and pay-per-click advertising are definitely on the list of things that naturally pair well!
A famous quote by John Wanamaker helps to illustrate just why they go together so well: "I know half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, but I can never find out which half."
Well, Google Analytics helps you to break down just how well your pay-per-click advertising is working and literally tells you where you are wasting money, and making money! Here's a run-down of some of the reports to keep handy as you optimize your pay-per-click campaigns:
Asked to name their list-growth tactics, almost two-thirds of the e-mail marketers surveyed cited offline advertising and direct marketing. More than half mentioned trade shows or online marketing and search. Viral marketing was third.
This proves "some of the most successful channels are the traditional ones [including catalogs and direct mail]," said Elaine O'Gorman, Silverpop's vice president of strategy.
But isn't direct mail, the workhorse of the direct marketing world, largely a dead/dying medium?
Not according to an article on B-to-B customer acquisition strategies written Ruth P. Stevens (in the same issue of Direct Magazine) where she says "Reports of direct mail's demise are greatly exaggerated. The ol' reliable medium still delivers."
Marketing copywriter/agitator/guru Dan Kennedy says that the one commonality in his highest earning clients (spanning 156 product, service, business and profession categories) is their "constant, frequent, aggressive, innovative and masterful use of direct mail. Neglect it at your peril."
But how to track the success or failure of your next direct mail campaign on your website using Google Analytics?
Actually, it's quite easy.
Either purchase an unique URL, and have it redirect to a specific page on your site and insert the Google Analytics tracking codes, or write a redirect script from a sub-directory on your site.
Fast forward over the last 30-some days and we've really grown to appreciate this report as one of the most useful and practical reports ever devised by the Analytics team at Google expressly for Google AdWords advertisers. Make no mistake about it, for the granularity Google advertisers need (and often crave), the new "AdWords Analysis" report is huge.
Here's why: once our clients get started on a Google AdWords program, and start really making some money, the next request we get from them is to continue ramping their CPC (cost per click) program up so that they have a larger and larger amount of profitable (ecommerce or lead gen) revenue. Why be satisfied with $10,000/month in CPC-driven revenue when $20,000/month is obtainable?
Here's what Eileen had to say about ROI Revolution:
This is a site rich with all things Google Analytics. They offer a complimentary Webinar that will get you started with Google Analytics, which includes a Q&A session with the consultants, plus an email newsletter which publishes their consultants' tips and hints on a regular basis. And within their blog devoted to Google Analytics you will find a font of information on everything from basics to filters, tracking, reporting and a list of the other blogs you can visit to learn more about Google Analytics. All these resources and tools are gratis. How do they make money? The company is a certified Google Analytics consultancy.
Eileen also wrote a nice review of Google Analytics, Inceptor (PPC bid management tool), Optimost (advanced multivariable testing for landing/website pages), and 8 other companies/tools which help magnify your online marketing efforts.
If you have not subscribed to Larry's weekly marketing digest you should consider it today.
In the previous article, 'Continual Conversion Rate Improvement Part I', I talked about how optimizing a website's conversion rate can have a huge impact on the bottom line. Improving your conversion rate is an on-going process, not a quick fix. Every little thing matters, and so it pays to pay attention to the details. Discount Tire found out just how true this is.
Discount Tire used Google Analytics to determine, for example, the most effective language to use in its checkout process. By replacing the note on its checkout button from "Purchase and make a reservation" to "Check out and make a reservation," it led to a 14% increase in sales in a single week, says e-business supervisor Mike Bolland.