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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What the New Twitter Redesign Means for Search Marketers

The goal of the new Twitter interface is to provide a richer user experience and a more robust platform to search, share, access, and explore content and information. All 160 million registered users will soon be privy to the new features which include embedded media capabilities,  easier content sharing and more accessibility. Over the coming weeks, Twitter will continue to roll out the updated version to all users through the process of random account selection.

The upgrades are significant, and overall the new interface is a step in the right direction, especially from a marketing standpoint. As Twitter becomes more of a destination site and offers more than just ‘tweeting’,  it stands to provide ample ways for marketers to reach more targeted customers in real-time.

According to Augie Ray, analyst for Forrester Research, “Twitter’s new web functionality is a significant evolution that promises to attract more visits to Twitter.com, improve Twitterers’ interactions with content and each other, and ease adoption for Twitter newbies.”

The numbers speak for themselves!  In August Twitter generated nearly 3 billion tweets, which was up 33% from May. According to WebProNews, an average of 85 million tweets were posted on Twitter each day in August.  Now, with Twitter’s improved usability, marketers should take advantage of the increased customer engagement they can gain.

Twitter has now integrated features previously only available from third party vendors. This should ultimately help Twitter win back the 20% of users who have turned to third party tools such as Tweetdeck, Seesmic  etc. The new features go beyond just tweeting, as CEO Evan Williams suggests the site can be used as an exploring tool–and the new interface does just that. Not only is it more user friendly, it provides improved resources to access information and opens the doors to increase marketing outreach.

Here’s A Glance at the Twitter Redesign Impacts on Search Capabilities:

  • Prominently displayed Search box is at the top of the page
  • Unlimited scrolling option on search results
  • Additional filtering features: Tweets with links and Tweets Near You
  • Save this Search option is more visible
  • Enhanced search features for retweets

Twitter’s Redesign Improvement Highlights:

  1. New Interface Design: The infinite scroll and new architecture is more user friendly and allows for faster ways to view more related information. In the top navigation, you can easily access your timeline, mentions, retweets, searches and lists. The tweet stream on the left remains the same, however, when one clicks on a tweet, the right side populates with more detailed content.
  2. Embedded Media/Photos/Videos: You can easily embed and view photos, watch live video and more within your Twitter account (offered by Twitter media partners: DailyBooth, Etsy, Flickr, Justin.TV, Kickstarter, Kiva, USTREAM, Vimeo, yfrog, YouTube and more). Media is displayed on the right side.
  3. Additional Pane for Related Content: It’s easier to view more detailed insight on information related to tweets – see author or subject info, replies, other Tweets and a map for geo-tagged Tweets. You can now use the new pad/pen icon (overlay box) to tweet and not lose your place in Twitter. If a tweet links to a product on an e-commerce site partnering with Twitter, you can view the product.
  4. Mini Profile View: You can get fast access to user account details without off-page navigation including bio information and Tweets.

The verdict will remain open until the roll out is complete, but it seems to be a step in the right direction. We will keep watch and report back with any findings at the end of the transition.

Let us know what you think of the new Twitter interface. Feel free to share your thoughts on the features that you like or dislike in the comments.

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

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11 Killer Ways to Increase Your Facebook CTR

Like AdWords, in Facebook the #1 factor governing your CPC is your Click-Through Rate (CTR).  While Facebook doesn’t reveal your ad or keyword Quality Score, you bet that it makes a huge difference. We have some ads that we bid $2 a click and end up paying 5 cents, while we have some ads bid at 20 cents, in which we’re paying 15 cents.

 Why?  CTR.  If you’re reading this, odds are that your CTR is in the 0.030% range or less–which will cause your clicks to be in the 75 cents range for US traffic.  But if you can get a 0.100% CTR, you might pay only 25 cents.  In some cases, you could hit a home run and get a 1.000% CTR and pay a penny a click for high quality traffic that converts.

Ok, so here are some principles to follow to increase your CTR:

  1. Ask a question in the ad: Not only will this drive in-line likes (fans), but encourages participation. Consider asking them if they like you or the interest you’re targeting– but make sure you’re still relevant or you’ll be disapproved.
  2. Write short ad copy: Sure you can use up all 135 characters in the body and 25 characters in the headline, but odds are that people won’t read it all.  This is Facebook– people are likely not conducting serious business, so make it light and easy.
  3. Use a close-up face in your image: Smiling is better, as well as looking directly at you.  This is FACEbook, so use FACEs in your ads.
  4. Personalize the image: If they’re a 45 year old white female in the Bible Belt, we’re not going to show an urban teenager rocking out. People usually convert better when the ad model is closer to them– the exception is dating and beauty products. Baby products can be like that, too.  Whatever the case, test it.  We know if they’re married or not on Facebook and can even guess their race– so that is something you can personalize the image with.
  5. Capitalize a couple words: Saying FREE is not okay in AdWords, but we see it all the time in Facebook.  You might try it.
  6. Use numbers and unusual characters: This works in regular PPC, too.  And if you make a claim– don’t say “We can help you save money on insurance.”  Don’t even say “We can save you 15% on your insurance.”  You need to be more specific– “Save 17.3% in just 3 minutes!”
  7. Stimulate emotion:  ”You’ll be sorry.  That’s what you’ll say if you miss Portland Honda’s Labor Day blowout sale!”  Arouse curiosity. Message it as if it was a personal friend talking to a personal friend– “Doris, you wouldn’t believe the sale at Luckys on hotdogs this weekend.”  
  8. Send users to your Facebook page: This is where custom tabs, especially a reveal tab or engagement app positively rules.
  9. Follow through on the promise on the landing page: Almost nobody does right– if you see it done right, please let me know. In PPC, we know that we must tightly map the keyword to the ad to the landing page. That means if someone is looking for patio furniture, we don’t say “cheap furniture” and dump them on our home page.  But that’s what most folks do in Facebook- send everyone to exactly the same page, as opposed to differing landing pages based on what’s targeted in the interests and ads.
  10. Dayparting: We run Facebook campaigns for a number of food companies.  I suppose you could promote breakfast foods at night, but why would you?  Consider how time of day may affect the messaging as well as the type of user you see.  For example, if you’re selling cold and flu medication, you might run ads between midnight and 6 am saying “If you were using X, you’d be sound asleep right now.”  By the way, dayparting is not a feature in Facebook yet, so we had to build our own.
  11. Fan targeting: Once you have all these fans, you have to keep the conversation going.  The fan targeting won’t give you much volume, but I’ll bet it has the highest CTR of any ads you run.  It’s the equivalent of social retargeting.

There you have it–now go kick some CTR butt with these tips and let me know how they worked for you!

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 Dennis Yu is CEO of BlitzLocal, a firm specializing in Facebook and local advertising.

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

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Why an Active Social Media Presence is Important for Search Engine Optimization

As a discipline, search engine marketing (SEM) is made up of several components, traditionally including both search engine optimization (SEO) and pay per click marketing (PPC).  Internet marketing, however, is a game that is constantly changing.  With the rise of social networking and social media, it is critical that Internet marketers understand the impact of these channels on search engine optimization and search engine marketing.

Social Media as Content Distribution Channel

Previously, if a company or individual had a blog, post, or article they wanted to get noticed, they might concentrate on SEO, hoping to get better placement in the search engines and boost traffic, getting more people to notice their article.  These days, social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have become new ways of distributing, searching for, accessing, and interacting with content.

This is a trend that is not going to halt or reverse – currently, Facebook users share over 30 billion pieces of content, which includes web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, etc., each month.  Twitter has grown from about 5,000 tweets per day in 2007 to a reported 65 million tweets a day as of June, 2010; because of Twitter’s 140 character limit, many of these tweets contain embedded links to third-party websites.  While not social networks in the strictest sense, social bookmarking and content sharing sites like Digg, Reddit, and Stumbleupon also offer novel channels of distributing and searching for content outside of the traditional search engine.

While Google remains the most trafficked site in the United States, Facebook is already the 2nd most trafficked, Twitter the 7th, and LinkedIn the 17th most trafficked in the United States; according to Alexa, Facebook is the top website in five countries.

How Does Social Media Impact Search Engine Optimization?

Twitter is now recognized as a legitimate information source and distribution channel – it is indexed by Google (tip- try typing in site:twitter.com into Google.  Over 100,000,000 pages are indexed) and the United States Library of Congress even archives all public tweets.  The social web is the future–Google knows this and, in order to stay competitive, Google has been and will continue to integrate social media assets into its search algorithm and search engine results pages.

While Facebook has long been more of a “walled garden” than Twitter, due to the higher privacy expectations of its users, you can’t afford to ignore Facebook’s impact on SEO.  There are two key things to consider when thinking about Facebook and search engine optimization: the first and most obvious is, “How does Facebook impact traditional search engines like Google and Bing?”.

But don’t ignore the second question–how do you optimize your website to appear in the search results WITHIN Facebook.  That’s right – if you haven’t noticed, when searching from within Facebook, after results from Facebook itself are displayed, “Web Results”, supplied by Bing, are also displayed.  This may not seem like a big deal right now, but you can bet that Facebook will continue to leverage its dominance in the social space to try to become a serious player in the search space.

Facebook’s Impact on Traditional Search Engines and SEO

Because this is such a new area and is continuing to develop, it is hard to gauge the direct and indirect impact Facebook and sharing content through Facebook has on SEO.  If your company has a blog or website and post links to that site on your Facebook, does this benefit your SEO?  If you integrate a “Like” button into your website, and visitors use it to share your content, does this benefit your SEO?

Directly – probably not – these links are running through Facebook and redirects, which likely eliminates any ‘link credit’ you might get.  But that said, it is nearly impossible to quantify the ‘indirect’ benefit to your search engine optimization efforts – that is, users who see your link, visit your site, bookmark it, tweet about it, email it to friends, and so on.

Key Tips About Social Media and Search Engine Optimization

  • If your business doesn’t already have profiles on major social networks (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn), establish them now.  If you’re not on these services, users who search for you there won’t find you.
  • Keep your profiles active – they’re not going to help drive traffic and improve your SEO standing if you’re not using these channels to distribute content.
  • Don’t ONLY use social media as a distribution channel - one of the most powerful aspects of social networking is that it is bi-directional.  You’ll gain the most benefit by engaging users, not just throwing content at them.

Stay up-to-date.  The web and the technologies behind it are constantly changing.  Make sure you follow and understand developments at Google, Facebook, Twitter and how they impact your social media, SEO, and search engine marketing efforts. 

PPC Summit offers online training in areas including search engine marketing, search engine optimization, and social media marketing.

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Jason Mikula works as a freelance search engine marketing and social media marketing consultant.  He has experience working with pay per click, search engine optimization, and email and web marketing.

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

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Getting to Know AdWords’ New Modified Broad Match

Google recently introduced a new keyword matching option in Google AdWords: modified broad match. As you can probably guess, modified broad match is similar to the traditional broad match option, but gives you a little more control as the advertiser. Let’s take a look at how this new option works. 

What is modified broad match?

Modified broad match is a new AdWords feature that allows pay-per-click (PPC) marketers to set keywords to a more targeted level than broad match, while still having a greater reach than phrase match or exact match keywords.

To use modified broad match, add a plus sign (+) in front of one or more words in a broad match keyword. The word or words that are preceded by a (+) sign must appear in the user’s search query, exactly or in close variation. Close variants include misspellings, singular/plural forms, abbreviations, acronyms, and stemmed forms.

The words that are not preceded by a plus sign may vary more significantly or not appear at all in the user’s search query, as with regular broad match.

This is potentially a very interesting and profitable opportunity for AdWords advertisers, as effective modified broad match keywords are likely to drive more traffic than phrase or exact match keywords, while attracting more qualified, targeted traffic than broad match.

What are some examples of modified broad match keywords?

Let’s start with the keyword “aromatherapy oils”—if this keyword was set to broad match, your ad might display in response to queries like “cooking oils” and “oil spill.” Not very targeted and not very good for your click-through rate, cost per click or Quality Score.

If you modify the keyword with a plus sign before “aromatherapy” (+aromatherapy oils), you’ll guarantee that only queries that include that word or close variations trigger your ad. For example, queries that trigger you ad might include:

  • aromatherapy
  • aromatherapeutic oils
  • aromatherapy massage
  • organic aromatherapy products

But your ad won’t display in response to queries like “massage oil.” As you can see, this gives you the ability to define your target audience much more closely, while still catching some interesting variants.

As another example, say your keyword is “anti wrinkle cream.” Set to broad match, your ad might show up in the results for queries like “wrinkle resistant pants” and “acne cream.” If you modify your keyword with plus signs like so (anti +wrinkle +cream), only queries with close variations of both “wrinkle” and “cream” will prompt your ad.

Hasn’t broad match always worked this way?

Originally, AdWords’ default broad match type was more restrictive than its current broad match feature. Close variations of your keyword could trigger your ad, but the field of possible queries that could trigger it was narrower. For example, the words in your keyword phrase could appear in any order, and along with any other words, but they all had to be there.

Eventually broad match became less targeted (as it is today), and many Google AdWords users complained. These advertisers felt that the change was allowing their ads to display against terms that weren’t relevant to their offerings, requiring them to develop extensive lists of negative keywords. Negative keywords are crucial for high return on investment when using broad match, but some users felt the new broad match was still too inclusive. For example, one user complained that “zebras near Chicago” showed up in his search query report for the keyword “widgets near Chicago.”

Now AdWords users can get the same control offered by the first version of broad match, but they also have the option to use today’s broader broad match.

How do I enable modified broad match?

In your AdWords account, click on the Keywords tab and select the keyword phrase you want to edit. In the Type column, click on the current match type and choose Modified Broad Match from the drop-down menu. Edit your keyword as necessary with (+) signs.

Is modified broad match is a good idea for my campaign?

Unless you are perfectly happy with your campaign performance given your current keyword settings, it’s a great idea to give modified broad match a try. If you’re mostly using phrase and exact match because you like to have more control over your keywords, you might find that modified broad match gives you a high degree of control while increasing your reach, impressions and clicks. If you’re mostly using standard broad match, you might find that enabling modified broad match on some of your keywords reduces wasteful spend on irrelevant traffic, and improves Quality Score and other key metrics.

As with any change to your AdWords campaign, be sure to keep close track of how your campaign performance evolves. Take note of how clicks, CPCs, conversion rates, and ROI change. Helpfully, Google lets you produce a performance report with information solely about your modified broad match keywords.

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Elisa Gabbert is the Content Development Manager at WordStream, a provider of PPC tools and an advanced keyword research tool to help PPC advertisers discover profitable head, mid and long-tail keywords.

 

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

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A Recent PPC Summit Survey Reveals What Advertisers Need to Focus on To Improve Their Search Marketing Results

As search engine marketing evolves at light speed pace, new opportunities are constantly arising–making Search Engine Marketing (SEM) that much more challenging and harder for marketers to keep up with. PPC Summit recently surveyed 3500 past PPC Summit attendees who provided valuable insight on the top areas where Search Engine Marketers feel they need more education. 

According to survey respondents, the topics that Search Marketers want to learn more about to improve their ROI are:

  • Pay Per Click (PPC) Campaign Optimization
  • Integrating Paid Search, Organic and Social Media Marketing (SMM)
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

While Search Marketing and Search Engine Optimization remain strong revenue drivers for online marketers, Social Media is rapidly moving up in importance. With social media sites like Facebook (500+ million users), LinkedIn (70+ million users), Twitter (106+ million users) and YouTube (300 million accounts) all securing their justifiable placement in the marketing mix, SEM specialists have to be on top of their game in order to keep up.

ISSUE #1 – Pay Per Click Campaign Optimization: The goal in pay per click marketing is to write compelling ad copy that directs prospects to your site or landing page and then entices them to sign up or buy your product/service. Easier said than done, right?

According to the Survey Results, 82.5% of SEM respondents feel they need to focus more on PPC Campaign Strategies by:
 

  • Improving their Quality Score. One way to improve your Quality Score–and pay less per click– is by properly using header tags (more here).
  • Utilizing Website Optimizer & Google Analytics: Paying more attention to your analytics and constantly analyzing your cost-per-customer can really help your results.
  • Fine-tuning Google AdWords PPC strategies: Save time and optimize your AdWords campaigns with the AdWords Interface.

ISSUE #2 – Social Media and Search Marketing Merge: Your customers are on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and more. Incorporating these social media sites into your marketing mix is a must in today’s SEM world. Use Social Media Marketing to complement your paid search and organic marketing strategy and reach a broader audience.

More than two-thirds of Survey Respondents ranked “Integrating Social Media with Search Marketing” in their top three priorities. Here are some quick tips: 

  • Incorporate Keywords. Use keywords in your account names and all SMM communications ie. SEO blog postings, Tweets, Facebook updates, etc
  • Develop Quality Content. This is critical in attracting quality prospects through the Social Media Channel.
  • Social Media Time Management. Streamline your communications with automation tools.

ISSUE #3 – Search Engine Optimization: We have heard from attendees–countless times–how they invested so much time and money on creating a fabulous SEO campaign, but in the end conversions were low due to poorly structured websites or landing pages.

Up to 82% of the SEMs polled told us they need help with their SEO campaigns. You can start by: 

  • Creating Appropriate Site Architecture. Customers should be able to find what they are looking for on your site in a click or two. If it’s more than three clicks, then you should re-think your site structure and messaging.
  • Using Tools Many SEO Experts Use. Utilize the industry leading tools like:

You can learn more about these challenges and how to solve them at the upcoming
PPC Summit Presents: Search & Social Media Successconference. We built a brand new three-track curriculum based on the results from this attendee survey. On Sept. 21-22 Marketing Professionals will gather in Los Angeles to hear from an impressive line up of experts in SEM/SEO/SMM who will share their top strategies to increase search and social media marketing ROI.

We look forward to seeing you in September!

Kelly Larsen
Director of Marketing, PPC Summit

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, social media on August 11,2010

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7 Hidden Reasons Why Companies Fail at Facebook Advertising

We’ve seen so many companies that are competent at traditional Pay Per Click (PPC) get destroyed when trying to advertise on Facebook.  Let’s cover the most common mistakes and how to solve them:

• Keywords are not interests: You have keywords on Google versus interests on Facebook. In the former, someone is actively searching for something and is expressing immediate intent. In the latter, you’re targeting WHO someone is, as opposed to WHEN they are going to buy. You’re likely hitting them weeks and months before they search, so your targeting and ad copy must be different. We’ve seen PPC companies attempt to peddle translation tools that convert search keywords into Facebook interests. You might as well make chicken salad out of chicken poop– not possible. In search you know WHEN, but not WHO– in Facebook, you know WHO, but not when.

• Ads take users away from Facebook: Users who are on Facebook don’t appreciate being yanked out of their browsing experience. So don’t send them to your website– send them to your Facebook fan page. But that also requires that you have a custom tab on your Facebook page — a landing page that is just as specific as any PPC landing page, whether sending people to a particular product page, video testimonial, store locator, or whatever. And that does take a bit of engineering effort as they are few app makers that can build FBML apps. WebTrends just bought Transpond for that very reason.

• The ad copy is too forward: Imagine you’re having a nice dinner with a friend. Then some loud salesman interrupts your meal to pitch his wares. You’ve never seen this guy before— he’s not a friend, and you aren’t exactly interested in buying his stuff right NOW, thought it’s something you might consider later. That’s what Facebook advertisers do today– they shout over the din of the other shouting advertisers, just as you see in the content networks. On Facebook, you don’t have to shout because you can microtarget and whisper quietly because…

• There isn’t multi-step engagement: Because advertisers are trying to go from impression all the way through to the sale in the same visit (yes, it works in PPC because you can target bottom of funnel terms), they fail. Instead, have one set of ads designed only to get fans from the right target audience. Then another set of ads messaging just fans. Then another set of ads for friends of fans. You wouldn’t say the same thing to someone off the street versus a friend you’ve known for a while, now would you? In Facebook PPC, you can segment your messaging by their level of engagement. And no, this concept is not available in mainstream PPC tools– those software companies are still trying to jam the round peg in the square hole.

• They aren’t refreshing ads daily: In PPC you can make some ads and they can live a long time. We have ads that are years old that continue to build good Quality Scores. We just leave those campaigns as is–set it and forget it. In Facebook, ads burn out in days. In fact, the narrower the audience, the faster the burnout. Google ads don’t burn out because it’s a different set of users searching on the keyword each day. In Facebook, you’re hitting the same inventory over and over– especially since the average user spends 7 hours a week on Facebook and consumes dozen of pages. With no frequency capping on Facebook, you better keep your ad copy fresh– not just because you want to split test, but because you don’t want to burn out by wasting inventory on the same people over and over.

• Their analytics is sending you the wrong message: If you’re measuring conversions, odds are that it’s the unspoken last click attribution. In other words, the user may have come to your site multiple times via organic, paid search, email, social, or other sources– but only that last click (likely a branded Google click) got 100% of the credit. In paid search, there is the concept of the “assist” and the “view through conversion” to give credit to other touchpoints prior to conversion. In the world of multi-channel marketing, where consumers take in multiple inputs before making a decision, you have to measure how many Facebook visits (or even impressions) resulted in an eventual conversion later. Facebook does have a conversion tracking tool and Ads API– but it’s still too buggy for mainstream users.

• They are going for exposure: True, when you have a new page, you want to get a lot of fans. If you’re a media buyer, you might even be looking for raw CPMs. But a fan is not a fan. You need to measure what those fans are worth. And there is no one size fits all– you can’t just use the ClickZ figure of $3.65 per fan and multiply by the number of fans you have. You have to measure how many of your fans eventually convert and then calculate back to an average fan value. If 5% of your fans eventually buy something and that something is worth $100, then a fan is worth $5 with full attribution. If you find the overlap is 33% between channels on average (3 visits on average between all channels prior to conversion), then your fan is worth $5 divided by 3–or $1.67.

There are no software packages that will save you from these pitfalls–you or someone in your organization must develop the targeting, ad copy, and landing tabs that reflect your unique selling proposition. In the same way that great traditional PPC has tight linkages between the keyword, ads, and landing page– on Facebook, you must have tight interests, ultra personal ad copy, and many interest-related landing tabs.

Dennis Yu is CEO of BlitzLocal, a Facebook advertising agency that has been serving brands and local resellers for 3 years. Come hear him speak at PPC Summit.

Posted by admin in Facebook, Google AdWords, Internet Marketing, Pay Per Click, Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, social media on August 11,2010

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B2B Buying Explained: The BuyerSphere Project

By Kevin Newcomb, Editor, Internet Marketing Institute

Business-to-business buying behavior is an enigma to many, even those who spend their lives trying to sell their products to businesses. For the average B2B marketer, understanding what makes buyers tick can mean the difference between success and failure of their business, or at the very least of their own careers.

Last month, at the B2B Search Strategy Summit  in San Francisco, B2B marketers learned a new way of looking at B2B buying behavior. In the morning keynote address, Gord Hotchkiss, president and CEO of Enquiro, shared some findings from a comprehensive business-to-business marketing research initiative known as the BuyerSphere Project.

The research grew out of Enquiro’s own curiosity, as a market research and online marketing services firm that sells to other businesses, according to Hotchkiss. Like many B2B companies, Enquiro recognized that the buying process rarely went as planned, and so decided to find out why.

Enquiro — along with thought leaders from Google, Business.com, Marketo, Covario and DemandBase — proceeded to perform more than 100 face-to-face interviews with business buyers, hundreds of eye-tracking research sessions, and a survey of more than 3,000 business buyers. The results were published last fall in a 210-page report, The BuyerSphere Project: How Business Buys from Business.

The BuyerSphere Project debunks several commonly held beliefs about B2B marketing, including the idea that B2B buying is rational and emotionless, that it’s an organized and clearly thought-out process, or that the availability of information delivered online has made business buying easier.

Nothing could be further from the truth, according to Hotchkiss, who writes: 

“So this is what we have: a hunch that human decision making is more convoluted and irrational than we ever guessed, a realization that those same mechanisms are used at work just as they are at home, a limited understanding of how decisions are made when you have multiple people working within an organizational framework, and, to add an exponential dimension of complexity to everything, the explosion of information and communication opportunities presented by the internet. Our paradigm is shifting before we ever defined it. No wonder we can’t catch up.”

After digging into the buying behaviors of thousands of businesses, the Enquiro researchers were able to distill some key findings in several areas, including: 

1. The Risk Gap

The Risk Gap refers to the way the typical “Risk and Reward” process falls apart for B2B buying. The idea that our decisions are based on avoiding risk or attaining a reward is not really applicable to a B2B buying scenario, where the “reward” emotions are far outweighed by the “risk” emotions. That’s because the person making the buying decision doesn’t usually stand to personally benefit from a B2B purchase, but the penalties that might come from making a bad decision are ever-present in the buyer’s mind.

 Add to that the concepts of personal risk vs. organizational risk, or the varying degree of risk in repeat purchases vs. “blank slate” purchases, and the Risk Gap takes on even more importance. The old maxim, “99% of business buying is about covering your butt,” holds true today, which means that B2B marketers need to figure out how to use the tools they have to minimize the risk and provide buyers with a reason to trust them.

2. The Myth of the Funnel

The marketing concept of a “buying funnel” — where a buyer progresses neatly from Need to Awareness to Consideration to Purchase to Use — is a myth, according to Enquiro’s research. Buyers do pass through those areas on the way to a purchase, but it’s rarely done in a logical, rational, and linear way, according to Hotchkiss.

In the pre-Web model, geographic and resource limitations would force a business to take a disciplined approach to identifying and developing a market before it even thought of marketing and selling to that market. Face-to-face, feet-on-the-street selling was the only way.

The Internet appeared to offer a shortcut, where prospective buyers would find the business online, instead of the business having to go out and find the buyers. While this drastically broadened the number of prospects at the top of the traditional sales funnel, too often those prospects never made it to the final sale. Without the face-to-face reassurances, many potential buyers bailed out when their concerns about risk were not adequately addressed.

The BuyerSphere Project reveals the need for a new model, one that puts people back in the center of the process and combines the strengths of online and offline channels. Online and offline both need to be integrated into the process of identifying and developing a market, marketing and selling to that market, and servicing that market.

3. The Buyer-Doer Gap

 Anyone who has ever bought or sold a product for business knows that most of the time, the person who is going to use the product is not the same one that does the buying. And yet, B2B marketers often fail to address the needs of both the “doers,” who will be using the product, and the “buyers,” who hold the purse strings.

Enquiro’s research unveils a gap between buyers and doers in relation to risk assessment. It boils down to the fact that doers are looking to evaluate the product, while buyers will evaluate the vendor. For the doer, the risks revolve around whether or not the product will make the user’s life easier. For buyers, the concerns involve whether they can trust the vendor, if the vendor will be easy to work with, or if the vendor is financially secure.

A B2B marketer needs to address risk concerns from both parties, in various stages of the buying cycle. Generally, the doer will be evaluating the product early on, to see if it does what they need. Once you can convince them it will, then it’s time to convince the buyer that it’s safe to do business with you. 

These are just a few of the findings of the BuyerSphere research that Hotchkiss discussed at the B2B Search Strategy Summit last month. If you missed the B2B Search Summit, check out the upcoming PPC Summit Presents…Search Marketing and Social Media Success coming to Los Angeles in September — learn more about this comprehensive training event at www.PPCSummit.com.

Posted by admin in Internet Marketing, Pay Per Click, Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, b2b marketing, social media on July 2,2010

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