How to Save $100,000 a Year on AdWords in Ten Minutes or Less

Google makes it really easy to start running PPC campaigns on AdWords. Running a well-optimized campaign, however, is another story altogether. Without knowledge of the nuances of AdWords, a novice can end up losing a ton of money very quickly on their SEM campaigns.

Here are five things you can do immediately to your AdWords account to save you a lot of money in just a few minutes.

  1. Don’t Heed Google’s “recommended settings”. Google wants to run your ads as broadly as possible. They want you to run on Google, Google’s search partners, Google Display Network, and on mobile phones. When you launch a campaign, you are opted-in to all these areas. While there is value to running on all of these different areas of the Google AdWords system, you don’t want to run them all from the same campaign – doing that usually results in getting you lots of over-priced clicks from lower-quality parts of the network (usually content and mobile) and not enough right-priced clicks on AdWords. My advice is to start by targeting Google only, or at most, Google and Search Partners. Google has comprehensive help resources that explain how to properly set your campaign settings.
  2. Move away from broad match as quickly as possible. Google has four match-types – broad, broad modified, phrase, and exact. Broad match means that Google can (and often will) match your keyword to other words that are semantically similar – or that Google’s algorithm just thinks are related. For example, I have a client that bought the keyword “electronic signature” and got match on “sign language” and “e coli.” Go figure. The easiest way to avoid this sort of bad broad matching is to place all of your keywords on one of the other match types. Again, if you search Google’s help guide you’ll find detailed explanations of the various match types.
  3. Add lots of negative keywords. Negative keywords are the opposite of a normal keyword. For example, if you added the negative keyword “complaint” if someone typed in “Nikon camera” and you purchased this word on broad match, your ad would show up, but if they typed in “Nikon camera complaint” you would not. The point here is to exclude words or phrases that indicate that a user does not have “purchase intent” for whatever you are selling. You can discover negative keywords by looking at your “search query” report in Google, or by just brainstorming words that are unlikely to result in conversions.
  4. Set up tracking. You can’t manage what you can’t measure. Google offers very easy and useful conversion tracking – anyone with basic knowledge of HTML should be able to install this on your site. Tracking will help you determine which keywords, ad text, and landing pages work for you, and which you should either bid down or exclude. Don’t bid on keywords because intuition tells you they ‘should’ work or because the boss wants to show up #1 so he can brag to his friends. Bidding should be done scientifically – gather the data from the conversion tracking and adjust bids based on actual performance.
  5. Check your geographic targeting. Do you sell your product or service across the entire world, or perhaps just the U.S., or perhaps just within a five mile radius of your office? Google will default you to the U.S. and Canada (if you are based in the U.S. at any rate) when your campaign begins. If you are a local business such as a law firm or a dentist, you are unlikely to be able to fulfill requests from clients across the continent. Similarly, if you primarily sell overseas, you don’t want your ads showing up in the U.S. Adjust your geographic settings to attract the right customers. Read the help guide to learn about all the different targeting options you have in AdWords.

I admit that I wrote the headline of this article as an attempt at “link bait” – i.e., to pique peoples’ interest and hopefully get some good links/tweets from the blogosphere – but the truth is that simple optimizations like those I described above can really save you tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars based on the size of your AdWords account! The difference between success and failure on Google is often one of little tweaks here and there, so start tweaking today!

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David Rodnitzky is Founder of PPC Associates, a leading SEM agency in San Francisco. To learn more about full service AdWords management from PPC Associates, contact David at david@ppcassociates.com.

Posted by admin in Google AdWords, Internet Marketing, Paid Search, Pay Per Click, Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, keyword research on October 28,2010

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Closing the Attribution Gap with AdWords Search Funnels

Google AdWords recently fully launched a reporting feature called Search Funnels. For advertisers that utilize AdWords Conversion Tracking, Search Funnels reports are now available to provide critical insights in to the search ‘funnel’ that searchers travel down before ultimately performing a conversion action. This is a huge win for marketers, who will now have more insight in to the attribution of their paid search campaigns.

The Issue of Attribution

Attribution is the measurement of the marketing touch-points which have influenced or resulted in an end action. Marketers can use this measure to then attribute value from that end action across touch points. To illustrate, a consumer might see a TV commercial for a product, be reminded of that product by an online banner ad, and then finally perform a search on Google clicking on an AdWords ad before buying the product that is being marketed. So should the last touch – the click on the AdWords ad – get all of the credit? No, in a perfect world some of that credit is also due to the TV commercial and banner ad. Unfortunately for marketers, attribution is famously difficult to accurately track.

Paid Search measurement comes with its own host of attribution dilemmas – users typically perform multiple searches in the process of researching and narrowing down to an end purchase. For example, Betty knows she wants a new washing machine – she searches “washing machine”. After researching based on those results, she narrows her search down to “front-loading washing machine”. Then after researching even further narrows it down to a “red Kenmore Elite front-loading washing machine” – Betty searches, finds the best price, and buys online (home delivery? Yes please.). Betty’s last click was on “red Kenmore Elite front-loading washing machine”. As in the first example, just because the last click immediately preceded the sale, it doesn’t mean that there’s no value in the previous searches Betty performed.

This is an important concept for AdWords advertisers because in many industries, the very general terms related to our industries (“washing machine”) are relatively expensive and we don’t see them convert well enough to justify the cost of bidding on them. But we’re not seeing the whole picture – if we’re generating awareness for our brand and products via those general terms, this can result in a sale via a longer-tail or branded query. With Search Funnels, we can now see this via the keyword funnel that the searcher traveled down before ultimately converting. And, AdWords factors both impressions and clicks in to Search Funnel reporting! Meaning, if Betty searched on “washing machine” and your ad showed, but Betty didn’t click on it, it would still appear in the Search Funnel report if she later clicked on your ad for “red Kenmore Elite front-loading washing machine” and made a purchase. Such information can help us to lend more value to terms that would have otherwise gone un-credited, allowing us to justify spending on that visibility because we know it is driving sales.

The Basics of Search Funnel Reporting

Search Funnels can be found in your AdWords account if you are currently using AdWords Conversion Tracking. In the Reporting & Tools tab, navigate to Conversions and then Search Funnels.

The new Search Funnels reporting interface consists of seven reports including Assisted Conversions, First and Last Click Analysis, Time Lag, and Path Length. The Assisted Conversions report is one report which shows the keyword funnel, but also allows segmentation by campaign or ad group

For companies with stronger brands, note the potential impact for your branded keyword campaigns versus non-branded in the Assisted Conversion report– frequently the last search is on a branded term, which is why ROI on branded typically looks so phenomenal. This, as you’ll see, can often mean that a user knows about your brand because they found out it via a more general non-branded search first.

Path Length and Time Lag provide insights in to how many searches and how long it takes from first search to ultimately drive a conversion. One way to leverage the Time Lag information would be to understand the cycle of budgets, spend and sales. For example, if you double your spend in October to drive more sales, and know that there is typically a 30 day lag in conversion, you would know not to start judging the merits of that increased spend on day 2 of the campaign, but instead waiting until the time lag has closed.

For any AdWords advertiser, Search Funnels can become a new integral element in your campaign performance reporting. Start sifting through the data now to become comfortable with the meaning it has for your business. Then use it all you can! By applying learnings from Search Funnels, we can begin to close the gap on the challenge that is attribution and even increase the success of our AdWords campaigns along the way.

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Leisa Hall is an Account Director at Anvil Media, Inc., a search engine marketing agency located in sunny Portland, Oregon. Leisa directs paid media strategy for the agency and works with primarily B2C/ecommerce clients ranging in size from start-up to Fortune 500.

Posted by admin in Google AdWords, Internet Marketing, Paid Search, Pay Per Click, Pay Per Click Tools, Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, keyword research on October 28,2010

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7 Tips for Designing Paid Search for Sustainability

Although paid search is typically associated with quick wins and guaranteed conversions there is still an element of doing things right (the first time) from a long term sustainability approach that needs to be followed. Designing paid search programs for sustainability takes time and patience but it is well worth the effort. In doing so you are building efficiency into your program, setting yourself up to pay a lower average cost per click, and helping grow your business. Otherwise, not designing paid search for sustainability affects all paid search programs, frustrates parties involved, and fails to move the industry forward.

And finding the right instructions for designing paid search for sustainability is not hard to come by. Google makes it painfully clear how to design and manage paid search programs to ensure that you are paying the lowest possible amount for a click. And I would say that 95% of Google’s advice and policies are valid. I know that Google and the other platforms are in this business to make money, but I also know that Google and the others will reward you, over time, for doing the right things when it comes to well planned and designed paid search programs.

Paid Search Design for Sustainability

So how does one go about designing a paid search program for sustainability? First, I want to clarify that we are discussing mostly pre-click and traffic related tactics of a paid search program. Obviously, there are post-click analytics that influence pre-click actions. Also, from a systems thinking perspective, there is a broader scope of how a paid search program fits into the mix with other online marketing channels, but for now let us just focus on the task at hand - paid search design for sustainability.

1. Plan. And plan again. Based on the problem solving process P-D-C-A (plan-do-check-act) made popular by W. Edwards Deming, planning is the most important and critical step. If starting from scratch, map out your campaign structure by using something as simple as your website navigation or site-map. For more advanced planning, use mental model or affinity diagram methods. While mapping out your campaign structure,  think about what you have to offer and how it provides a solution for your customers.

2. Campaign naming. This is often over looked, but assuming you are running a paid search program on multiple platforms, you will want to name your campaigns and ad groups accordingly. This does not tie into Quality Score directly, but it does help when managing and reporting on the program performance. For example, if you are running a paid search program in Google, MSN, and Facebook and you have the same campaigns with the same name in each account, third party tools may roll-up all three campaigns into one view. Naming your campaigns and ad groups specific to the engine in which they live reduces the time wasted in guess work and work-arounds to solve the problem otherwise.

3. Develop highly targeted keyword sets. Once you have thoroughly mapped out your campaign structure, you should now have a foundation to bucket your keywords in a way that each ad group is unique. Beyond advanced match type tactics, each ad group should contain keywords highly relevant to each other. The number of keywords in an ad group is irrelevant. At a certain point you will know when enough is enough.

4. Create relevant and persuasive ad ad creative text. Text within an ad creative should in some way reflect the keywords being targeted. When possible make sure that at least one keyword (phrase) in your ad group is in the ad creative title and in the body of the ad. Three to four ad creatives is recommended unless you are multivariate testing.

5. Landing page relevancy. Technically, the landing page comes into play post-click, but it is a component of a paid search program that ties into Quality Score. Just as keywords and ad creatives are required to be relevant to each other, the landing page also is required to be relevant to the preceding components. Landing pages should be as relevant as possible to what the ad creative messaging is about.

6. Negative keywords. Use them and use them deliberately. At a minimum they should be used at the campaign level and when required they should be added at the ad group level.

7. Search Queries. This is really what it’s all about – matching your keywords to the search queries users are actually typing. If you are not analyzing search queries for keyword expansion and negative keyword implementation, you are missing out on conversion and cost reduction opportunities.

This is not an exhaustive list of paid search design for sustainability tactics, but it is a good starting point. Besides aligning your program with Quality Score requirements, following these steps has implications outside of the components of a paid search program. When you do this part right, you have more time to analyze the post-click data. You will also spend less time reorganizing mega lists of keywords from one ad group to multiple ad groups and spend more time ad creative testing. Following the Quality Score requirements and designing for sustainability also allows for more accurate bid testing.

Overall, if you do things right and design for sustainability there is less time being spent on the things that do not add value and your program has much better chance of out lasting the competition while continuing to maximize its return.

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Matt LeVeque is the Founder & President of SEM Science Consulting, LLC and Senior Member of the American Society for Quality (ASQ).

Posted by admin in Customer Conversions, Facebook, Google AdWords, Internet Marketing, Landing Page Optimization, Paid Search, Pay Per Click, Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, keyword research on October 21,2010

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Achieving Paid Search Efficiency with Value Added Flow Analysis

As Paid Search advertising continues to grow and the industry continues to expand, its processes are becoming overly complex and complicated. With added keyword competition, seemingly endless enhancements to Google AdWords, the merger of Yahoo! Search and MSN adCenter and other platforms like Facebook Ads and Linkedin getting into the mix, it has become increasingly difficult to effectively manage the paid search suite of products in a way that consistently produce desired results.

Producing consistent ‘up-and-to-the-right’ results takes time and when you add to the mix countless blogs, tweets, diggs and sphinns you read to keep yourself updated on paid search, affiliate marketing, SEO and other channels to your list of daily responsibilities, there is less time to focus on doing things that add value and, ultimately, that the customer really cares about.

So how can you become more time efficient and take time out of processes so your daily routine becomes more balanced with the things that add value for the customer? One proven approach is performing a value added flow analysis of your processes to understand what value is and what waste is.

But how do you know what adds value? According to Ed Hay and John Guaspari in their video “Time: The Next Dimension of Quality” there are three basic questions you can ask to validate whether or not value is being added at each step of the paid search advertising process:

1. Does the customer care? If the customer doesn’t care then there is no point in proceeding with whatever it is you are doing.

2. Does the process step physically change the thing you are working on? If the thing, in this case say your Google AdWords campaign, does not physically change then everything you do up until you add or remove new keywords, ad group or text ads to the campaign is considered a form waste.

3. Is the thing you are doing completed right the first time? If you implement a task but it requires review before launching or rework afterward, you are not adding value to the process.

By asking these questions it is possible to take as much as 75% of time out of any process. Taking time out of any process adds quality to what you are doing. Beyond that, taking time out of a process allows you the ability and flexibility to add value to your clients in ways you may not have even begun to imagine. It helps you to be more responsive, innovative, build better team collaboration and be more competitive.

Value Added Flow Analysis of Paid Search

So how do you do a value added flow analysis of a paid search process? The first thing you need to do is to get rid of the old mind set of ‘this is how it’s always been done’. Because people are busy does not mean the process is efficient. If nothing is happening to the thing in the process then you are wasting time. You need to change the way you think about a process or you’ll never perform at the level that keeps you competitive and your customer satisfied. Changing the mindset is the hard part.

The easy part is actually doing a value added flow analysis. The trick to doing the value added flow analysis is that you need to it as the thing going through the process. If you do the analysis from your perspective you may have a biased view of the entire process. If you work on a team you may only truly understand your part of the process but since the thing going through the process is touched by many people it is better to do the analysis from the things point of view.

For example, say you’ve been tasked with adding a promotional campaign to your customer’s AdWords account. Think about all the steps involved to complete this one seemingly simple task. Consider everything from the initial meeting with the customer, to the internal discussions, to the layout of the campaign and its ad groups, the keyword research, the ad creative writing, the URL tagging, the bidding strategy all the way up to the launch of the campaign and ask yourself, as the thing going through the process, Does the customer care? Does the thing change? And was it done right the first time? As you do this and put time against each step in the process you may begin to see an ugly picture unfold. Typically only 10-15% of all steps in a process actually add value which translates into 1% of the time you are actually doing work that matters!

When all is said and done, all of these steps I’ve mentioned will have multiple sub-steps most of which may be necessary but do not add value to the process. The reality is, of the multiple steps there are to adding a new campaign there are only two the customer should truly care about – taking their ‘request’ for the new campaign and launching the campaign in active status. The customer cares, the account physically changes – hopefully for the better, and the launch was completed right the first time. Everything else to the customer is non-value added and takes valuable time away from doing things that matter.

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Matt LeVeque is the Founder & President of SEM Science Consulting, LLC and Senior Member of the American Society for Quality (ASQ).

Posted by admin in Facebook, Google AdWords, Internet Marketing, Paid Search, Pay Per Click, Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Twitter, keyword research, social media on October 7,2010

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Whose Conversion is it Anyways?

Paid search marketers love to track everything – sales, geography, demographics, time of day – if we can measure it, we want the data! Data, however, can sometimes lead us to make wrong decisions, especially if that data is easy to misunderstand. To quote Mark Twain, “there are lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

I’ve recently noticed an alarming trend whereby marketing partners are stretching the truth in an effort to give themselves too much credit for my conversions. The primary culprit of this “conversion land grab” is the concept of “view-through” conversions. Most people are familiar with “click-through” conversions – when someone clicks on your PPC ad and converts on your Web site, you count that user (and the keyword they rode in on) as a conversion.

A view-through, on the other hand, occurs when a user simply lands on a page where your ad was served. They never actually click on your ad, but – the theory goes – because they saw your ad, if they later convert on your site, the ad should get some credit for this conversion.

In theory, this isn’t an absolutely ridiculous metric, because we know that people respond to brand advertising on TV or billboards, and that this sort of advertising can drive sales. The problem with view-through conversions, however, is two-fold. First, most paid search advertisers don’t know the difference between a view-through and a click-through and thus don’t know how to value each. For example, did you know that your view-through conversions on Google include “views” of ads that are below the fold (require scrolling), whether a user actually scrolled below the first page or not? That’s like having a billboard facing one way on a highway but counting all the cars that go by in both directions!

Second, the reporting from many marketing partners completely muddles the distinction between a view-through and a click-through. Facebook’s reporting, for example, gives users a high level “Advertising Performance Report” but makes no mention of the fact that the conversions listed in this report are both view-through and click-through data. And Facebook’s misleading reporting pales in comparison to standard practices in the display (banner ad) space. As PPC and display ads become more and more intertwined, search marketers will need to tread cautiously into this new category.

Josh McFarland, CEO of TellApart, recently provided a scathing critique of rampant view-through counting in the display space, in particular with respect to “retargeting” (which Google AdWords calls “remarketing”):

“We all agree online advertising needs a more comprehensive metric than the click.  But the view-through (or post-impression) conversion is not it — especially for your retargeting campaigns.  In fact, if you’re being billed for view-through conversions from your current provider, you are massively overpaying for events which were going to happen anyway.”

My advice – at least for now – is simple: ignore the view-through, the multiple-conversions-per-click, and anything else that looks like an attempt by a search engine to give itself more credit. Over time, we’ll all figure out a way to give some credit to these non-click-through metrics, but until there are established standards and clearer explanations, it’s best to err on the side of caution!

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David Rodnitzky is Founder of PPC Associates, a leading SEM agency in San Francisco. To learn more about full service AdWords management from PPC Associates, contact David at david@ppcassociates.com.

Posted by admin in Customer Conversions, Facebook, Google AdWords, Internet Marketing, Paid Search, Pay Per Click, Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, social media on October 7,2010

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Impact of ‘Google Instant’ on Your Online Marketing Campaigns

On the 8th of September 2010, Google launched its Instant Search interface, which shows results as you type, in real time. Searchers, particularly from the Search Engine Marketing (SEM) industry, have reacted sharply to the new interface. Many users find the new interface distracting, even annoying.

Google Instant is being sold as a faster and better User Interface

Matt Cutts from Google says that the change is more about rolling out a new User Interface (UI) rather than an algorithmic change. Matt attempted to allay the fears of the SEM industry by suggesting “SEO is not dead” but may change due to instant search query feedback to users, which in turn, may change their search behaviour. He believes that the searchers will diversify their queries within the scope of the original intent.

The effect of predicted query suggestions on user behavior

While Google claims that the Search Ranking Algorithm remains unchanged, the new feature will surely change search behaviour of users due to instant feedback mechanism. A lot of users are likely to select the predictive results, which fulfil their original intent, and stop typing further. Some users may get distracted from their original intent as ‘irrelevant but interesting’ results may lead to unintended searches. For example a user may digress into “home improvement loans” after typing “home improvement” instead of following his original intent of searching for “home improvement ideas.”

As more and more search users select “predicted query” suggestions, it would increase the traffic on the “head” keyword terms and lead to keyword aggregation. In essence, they would be searching more of what “other users” are searching. This usage trend would create a loop-back effect and drive out the long-tail keywords from the popular suggestions. Consequently, over a period of time, the long-tail keywords search count may diminish significantly. Where possible, Google is pushing local results for terms having local context like weather, pizza, movies, jobs etc.

The change in usage trend will throw new challenges to SEO & PPC professionals. They will need to focus their campaigns more on lead terms, creating a fiercer battleground.

How will PPC campaigns get impacted?

As per Google the AdWords impressions are counted in the following situations -

  • The user begins to type a query on Google and clicks anywhere on the page (a search result, an ad, a spell correction, a related search).
  • The user chooses a particular query by clicking the Search button, pressing Enter, or selecting one of the predicted queries.
  • The user stops typing, and the results are displayed for a minimum of three seconds.

For PPC campaign managers, this is bad news. The AdWords impressions would unnecessarily increase due to ads display even during partial typing process. Ads would sometimes be displayed for irrelevant or partial keywords. For example, search intent for “Car Insurance” displays ads for “Car Rentals” just after the user has typed the word “car.” This means that the “Car Rentals” PPC campaigns will waste impressions, reducing their CTR.

Predictive query push of popular terms will diminish the long-tail keyword opportunities for PPC managers. Pressure will mount on the “head” terms of their campaigns; pushing up their CPC costs while wasted AdWords impressions will make their CTR poor. Since the CTR is likely to be affected across the board for most users, it is not clear how Google will treat the fall in the “Quality Score” of the ad campaigns.

In any case, PPC campaigns are likely to become costlier to run and the campaign managers will need to make frequent updates in their campaigns to target newer and popular keywords to keep up with the changing trends of search users. Some website owners may even consider diverting part of their PPC funds into SEO campaigns in order to get some traction of natural traffic and mitigate their long term investment risks.

How will SEO landscape change with Google Instant?

Challenges for SEO managers will not be easy. With diminishing long-tail inventory, SEO will need to focus on popular search terms, which, by no means is a mean task. Changes in SEO will also need to be made frequently, in line with the changing keyword trends. Where relevant, optimization for local search terms will help. Due to the instant display of results, fewer users will need to scroll down the page. This means that “above the fold” results will become prime property. Clients would no longer be happy with the top-10 ranking and may demand top-4 rank instead, making the SEO’s job even harder.

Gaming the Google Instant Predictive Search System

It is important to note that the predictive search suggestions of Google Instant is not about suggesting important terms, but suggesting “popular” terms. For search terms, which do not have a high search volume (or for long-tail keywords), it is easy to “game the system” by artificially inflating search terms popularity.

Several years ago, we ran a test on WordTracker keyword research tool. At the time, WordTracker used to fetch search data from only Dogpile & MetaCrawler search engines, which had a miniscule search market share. Since it was easy to game these two ‘low traffic’ search engines, we artificially inflated a ‘test query string’ search in these search engines and discovered that the test search term indeed appeared ‘high’ in WordTracker’s keyword search count, just a few weeks later. Similarly, search terms for low-volume searches can be pushed up in the Google’s predictive suggestions. This manipulation of Google Instant was successfully tried for the term “Nathan Deal Ethics” to highlight the allegations against Nathan for corruptions.

As the dust settles down, the users will get more comfortable by evolving their own techniques of narrowing down their search queries. Perhaps over a period of time, a new usage trend may emerge. How the PPC & SEO landscape will shape up over the next one year may be difficult to predict. However, one thing seems to be clear – with one masterstroke, Google has ensured higher revenues from PPC advertisers; made SEO a lot more difficult and with increased search pattern of distracted searchers, increased their page-views (read market share.)

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Atul Gupta is the Co-Founder & CEO of RedAlkemi.com, a company specializing in Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Marketing. Atul is a thought-leader in Online Marketing industry and has been working in this field since 1996. His company has helped over a thousand clients succeed in their online businesses. Atul is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and has published several articles about SEM industry.

Posted by admin in Google AdWords, Internet Marketing, Paid Search, Pay Per Click, Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, keyword research, social media on October 7,2010

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How Social Media – Facebook & Twitter – Impact Search Marketing Results

Are your web statistics revealing that more people are finding your site via social media channels? It’s no secret that social sites – Facebook and Twitter – are now significant players when it comes to search market share. Marketers are finding themselves investing more time and resources into social media marketing and with good reason–your potential customers could be among the Facebook and Twitter masses. Now more than ever, consumer decision making patterns are based on the correlation between search and brand discovery through social media.

A search and social media industry study revealed that searchers exposed to a brand via both Social Media and Paid Search are more willing to take action. These findings are proof  that consumers exposed to social media are more likely to click on a brand’s paid search ad compared to those exposed to the brand’s paid search alone. When users searched a brand’s product name, the CTR nearly tripled (from 4.5% up to 11.8%) from being exposed to a brand in social media and paid search.

Search and Social Media Survey Shows Consumers are Taking Action:
>   2.8x more likely to search for a brand’s products compared to users who only saw paid search
>   50% increase click thru rate (CTR) in paid search when exposed to both social media and paid search
>   42-point lift in searcher penetration for brand terms when consumers were exposed to social media and paid search
*Source: Research study by comScore, GroupM Search & M80.

Delivering Effective Social Media Marketing Communications on Facebook & Twitter
There is no question the interplay between search and social media will impact your search marketing ROI. And more importantly, how you  communicate your message via social media makes the difference.

>   Do: Approach social media marketing with the mindset of “sharing quality content” to inform and to offer relevant information.
>   Don’t: Use “push-marketing” tactics–avoid direct and blatant sales messages around your products or services.

An essential component in helping your customers find you in search and social media is about creating and sharing quality content. Providing relevant information, keeping content fresh, and making it easily accessible to your potential customers is key in increasing your online marketing results. Since just about everythig begins in search, an important element in both disciplines – search and social media marketing - is offering your customers relevant information to help them answer questions and address their needs.

For example, in Facebook, people ”like” content–and the more compelling your content is, the more potential there is for your message to be read and shared across unlimited social networks. Did you know a Facebook ‘liker’ clicks on 5x more links to external sites than typical Facebook users? This is great news if you are looking to increase your social media click thru rates! The same goes for Twitter–the new sharing of content capabilities on Twitter allow for more creative marketing. The chances of your message going viral is even greater as Twitter becomes more of an information channel.

With over 500 million Facebook users and 160 million Twitterers, the customer outreach potential is unlimited. Social Media’s upside over Google is the ability to take your message viral. The more ‘likes’ or ‘retweets’ your message has, the more visibility you gain, thus increasing your viral chances. New search mindsets are evolving with ‘Facebook Likes’ being compared to page rank due to the direct connection between likes and search. The search and social possibilities are endless as people turn to Facebook as a more common place to search and people use Twitter for more than just tweeting.

It boils down to helping your customers find you across both search and social media channels–and how you gain their attention is key! How are social networks (Twitter and Facebook) impacting your search marketing results? Share your thoughts.

Posted by admin in Facebook, Google AdWords, Internet Marketing, Paid Search, Pay Per Click, Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Twitter, social media on October 7,2010

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Book Interview: Pay-Per-Click Search Engine Marketing An Hour A Day

Interview by Kelly Larsen, PPC Summit Director of Marketing

Pay-Per-Click Search Engine Marketing An Hour A Day
Authors: David Szetela and Joseph Kerschbaum, with Michael Flores

We recently had the opportunity to talk with David Szetela about his new book 
Pay-Per-Click Search Engine Marketing An Hour a Day and learned some exclusive insights into how Search Marketers can better leverage Pay Per Click (PPC) Marketing channels and tools. From the search engines to social media, David’s new book offers some invaluable tips that every Search Marketer should know.

A regular speaker at our PPC Summits, David Szetela is a master of the art in PPC Advertising. He has a unique ability to share his wealth of Search Marketing knowledge in a no-nonsense, easy-to-understand format. And in the new book, Szetela and co-writers do a great job sharing their PPC wisdom including everything from the basics to rules and best practices. The book covers it all from campaign development, management and measurement–offering many important takeaways for PPC success. 

Pay-Per-Click Search Engine Marketing An Hour A Day provides clear guidance for improving campaign architecture and creative execution. *****************************************************************************************************************

1. What led to the book’s creation and why are these lessons important for Marketing and Advertising Professionals?

Szetela: We decided to write the book because we wanted to provide a soup-to-nuts instruction manual for new PPC advertisers–even those with no formal training in marketing and advertising. The excellent books already on the market seemed to assume some familiarity with PPC advertising. We took a different approach: the book covers basic advertising and marketing topics before diving into the skills necessary to become an expert PPC campaign manager.

2. Tell us about your background and experience managing PPC/SEM campaigns?

Szetela: Even though I started gaining expertise in PPC advertising a few years after it became available, I had a head start by virtue of my 30 years of experience with direct response advertising.  When I discovered PPC advertising in 2003, I realized that it was classified advertising on steroids–a challenge to write persuasive ads using a small number of characters and an opportunity to improve performance over time by testing and improving ad copy.

3. Name the most important thing every PPC advertiser should do when setting up and managing a campaign?

Szetela: The most important thing is to fully understand your customers. Usually the set of a company’s customers can be broken down into separate sub-groups–each with its own unique jargon and perceptions of benefits. Understanding these differences are important in crafting persuasive ad copy and advertising on sites that are frequented by the customer sub-segments.

4. Sum up your top 3 tips for being a more effective SEM/PPC advertiser and maximizing your results? 

  1. Understand that the creative aspects of the job – ad copywriting and landing page design – are as crucial to success as the scientific aspects like ad group and campaign structure, keyword bids, etc.
  2. Adopt the philosophy that continual testing and optimization will produce continual improvement in sales volume and conversion rates
  3. Learn how to spot the early signs of campaign problems like falling click-through-rates and rising costs

5. What is the most challenging piece of PPC/SEM (from your own experience), and what is your advice on how to tackle it?

Szetela: Over the years, as more and more companies have realized that PPC advertising provides the best ROI of any kind of marketing, the competition has steadily driven average click prices up. To counteract this, expert PPC campaign managers use exact and phrase match versions of popular keywords and continually test ad copy to obtain progressively higher click-through-rates. This improves keyword quality scores which helps advertisers obtain higher ad rank than their competitors at a lower average cost-per-click.

6. In this industry it is tough to stay current. How do you stay up to speed with current industry trends?

Szetela: I read every article that I can find on: Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch, MediaPost, MarketingSherpa etc. I also Tweet about the most important developments in the PPC world so people who follow me on Twitter can keep up (@ Szetela) or http://twitter.com/szetela. I also moderate a PPC discussion group on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/groups?mostPopular=&gid=1217347.

Overall the book covers many facets of search engine marketing—going beyond Google and much more than just AdWords. It takes you outside of the search engine results, into content networks and on to social media (Facebook). It’s a must read for all marketers!

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About the Author: Pay-Per-Click Search Engine Marketing An Hour a Day
David Szetela is Owner and CEO of Clix Marketing and specializes in PPC advertising: Google AdWords, Yahoo! and Microsoft. Szetela’s 25+ years working for small magazine publishers, Apple Computer and Ziff-Davis Publishing has provided him a deep experience in direct response marketing. David is a frequent speaker at industry conferences like Search Engine Strategies, PPC Summit and  MarketingSherpa Summit.

Posted by admin in Facebook, Google AdWords, Internet Marketing, Paid Search, Pay Per Click, Search Engine Marketing, social media on September 22,2010

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Google Instant Search: What’s the Impact on PPC?

Last week Google launched “Instant Search.” Instant search essentially fills in words and phrases for you as you conduct a search on Google. For example, let’s say you start to type in “goo”. Before you get further, you’ll see a list of potential queries, like “Google” and “Goo Goo Dolls” and so on.

Google’s reasoning for launching this innovation, as with pretty much everything they do, is – on its face – simple: to improve user experience by helping users find what they need faster.  For search engine marketers, however, what’s good for users is not necessarily good for PPC campaigns. Will Instant Search fundamentally change PPC forever?

As I see it, there are two big impacts from Google Instant Search that SEMs need to immediately address.

1. Instant Search increases the importance of head terms. Head terms refer to generic or very popular keywords in your account. Tail terms (or “long tail”) are the much targeted keywords with few queries. A head term example might be “mortgage” whereas a tail term would be “mortgage rates in Miami Florida for bad credit.” Because Instant Search immediately starts to suggest words as a user types, it stands to reason that this feature will result in more head term keywords and less long tail keywords.

In the example I gave above, a user who typed in “mort” might immediately see a suggested query of “mortgage rates” and decide to click on these results long before they complete a much longer query like “mortgage rates in Miami Florida . . .”

From a PPC perspective, this means that volume on head terms – and therefore the importance of showing up on these terms – will increase. Another way of thinking about this is that the head terms will be taking traffic from the tail terms. Hence, if advertisers currently making money on the tail still want to get the same volume they were previously getting, they will now need to spend more of their budget on the head terms. More advertisers bidding on fewer keywords will result in higher CPCs and more money for Google.

I believe that this is pretty consistent with Google’s existing policies. Several years ago I pondered whether keywords even mattered anymore and whether Google would one day go from a keyword-based system to a “category” based system. This move to Instant Search is consistent with that prediction. Long tail keywords cost Google money; getting as many advertisers as possible to bid on fewer keywords is very profitable!

2. Instant Search increases the importance of bidding separately for Google versus the Google Search Partners Network. Many people do not realize that when you buy ads through AdWords, your ad can essentially show up in one of three places: Google search results, the Google Display Network (content sites), or on Google search partners like AOL and Ask.com. Often, the performance on Google search and Partner search sites can be very different, as the demographics of users on these sites vary.

The advent of Google Instant Search will further change the results between Google and Partner search results. Because partners like AOL and Ask do not have Instant Search functionality, you can expect to get more results on long tail queries on Google partners than on Google. If you assume that long tail queries are more valuable (since they are more targeted) than head terms, the result may well be that the relative value of partner search results vis-à-vis Google search results will increase.

While Google doesn’t currently allow you to bid only on the Partner network, you can at least set up two campaigns with one set to Google only and one to Google plus the Partner network. You could then focus on head terms in the Google only campaign, and focus on tail terms in the Google plus Partner network campaign, and adjust bids over time to reflect differences in performance.

Keep in mind that Instant Search is only days old at this point so no one really knows how this functionality will really impact AdWords campaigns. And like many Google product launches, the initial launch is usually fundamentally different than subsequent releases. So watch your AdWords campaigns closely, watch for announcements from Google, and don’t make rash changes until the metrics suggest to do so!

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David Rodnitzky is Founder of PPC Associates, a leading SEM agency in San Francisco. To learn more about full service AdWords management from PPC Associates, contact David at david@ppcassociates.com.

Posted by admin in Google AdWords, Internet Marketing, Paid Search, Pay Per Click, Pay Per Click Tools, Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, keyword research on September 22,2010

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Is Google Quietly Trying to Compete with PPC Software Companies?

Over the years, Google has been consistently adding more “bells & whistles” to their AdWords Platform, and they are continuing to show signs of becoming their own PPC Management Software Company that could be a real threat to the existing leading companies in the marketplace today. In fact, if Google was able to get widespread adoption of the management tools by marketing to advertisers that, instead of spending  extra dollars for these tools, why not just use Google’s free tools and take that money and put it back into their monthly ad spend.

The movement by Google to offer similar PPC optimization tools for Free as compared to other companies such as Acquisio, ClickEquations , and others, where the advertiser has to pay, makes it a pretty good investment for Google and advertisers because those extra dollars would go back into advertising, or, in other words, Google’s Pocket. With that said, there are many questions that come to mind:

  • How good is Google compared to those other PPC Management Companies who, not only have a loyal following, but also have familiarity with their products?
  • Will the Advertiser see a higher Return on Investment using Google’s Tools?
  • Will it force the 3rd party companies to lower their rates to compete with Google?

Of all of the tools that Google is rolling out to their advertisers, there is one in particular which struck a cord with me and hinted on the fact that this maybe Google’s next frontier. For example, their new automatic bidding tool called Enhanced CPC is designed to increase ROI on an advertiser’s Max CPC campaign. Many PPC Marketers used to rely on this automation from third party companies so  time could be better spent on more important things.

Furthermore, another interesting point to note is the marketing language that Google is using to promote the tool. Here is a snippet from Google “Enhanced CPC can be thought of as an ‘‘ROI turbocharge” setting for your existing Max CPC campaigns. Simply check a box and let the AdWords system get to work improving your ROI.”  In essence, Google is trying to inadvertently eliminate the need for 3rd party bid management tools, or at the very least take the API integration to the 3rd parties out of the mix. However, in their marketing language, Google appears to be more sympathetic to other outside bid management tools by mentioning their Bid Tool is compatible with third party bid management systems.  This statement, even though soft and fuzzy, does not make a lot of sense to me because it forces the advertiser to make a choice of one or the other. How can an advertiser use both at the same time?

Another interesting tool from Google is their Analyze Competition product where advertisers can see what their competition is doing. Even though this is full release mode and was first introduced back in June 2010 and then expanded to all advertisers in August 2010, it’s another sign of more competing tools to come. In the past, we had to pay for this service from other 3rd parties to get this information. But again, the marketing messaging that Google uses to describe this service reveals more than just a nifty tool. According to Google, “For the first time, you can see how your AdWords performance compares that of other advertisers.” So it’s pretty clear that Google wants to provide every possible tool to get their advertisers to spend more money with them.

In conclusion:

No matter how we view the trend of Google pushing more and more PPC tools that were once only provided by third party companies, it provokes competition, and that can only benefit Google and the advertiser. However, it does motivate and open the door for PPC Management companies to come up with something new and exciting that Google does not already have in their arsenal. On the other hand, Google could just buy out those companies and eliminate the competition altogether. We’ll just have to wait and see.

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Greg Meyers is the President/Founder of iGESSO Internet Marketing, LLC and author the Search Marketing Blog SemGeek.com.

Posted by admin in Google AdWords, Internet Marketing, Paid Search, Pay Per Click, Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimization on September 22,2010

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