Larry Kim's blog
If you want to maximize your online advertising budget and get the most bang for your buck, you need a solid understanding of how paid search works and how to best manage your AdWords account. But where do you even start?Paid search marketing can be incredibly intimidating for beginners – there's a lot to learn and the industry is changing all the time.
Google AdWords is the most popular PPC platform, but can also be the most complicated for marketers to manage. In 2013 alone, Google made over a thousand changes to AdWords. It's almost impossible to keep up.That’s why we created WordStream PPC University: an organized educational resource enabling marketers of all skill and experience levels to take their AdWords strategy to the next level – for free!Millions of visitors have already... > Read more
Google has given AdWords advertisers a pretty awesome gift: new dynamic sitelinks, free of charge, for the top three ad positions. That means Google will automatically generate sitelinks for certain ads, and clicks on those dynamic sitelinks won’t cost you anything.In their announcement this morning, Google said, "This is another example, like selling ratings, of AdWords tools adding value to your ads while saving time and simplifying campaign management.
" As with Enhanced Campaigns, Google is basically catering to smaller businesses who don’t have the time or expertise to set this stuff up themselves.When Adoption Is Low, Google Forces AdoptionThe big idea behind Enhanced Campaigns was to increase adoption of mobile advertising, since so many AdWords advertisers weren’t doing it on ... > Read more
Google’s latest earnings call was a bit mixed – while Google saw a 22% increase in revenue over last year, bringing earnings to $15.96 billion in the second quarter of 2014, and the search giant narrowly beat analyst projections of $15.6 billion in revenue, their ad sales in the US and the UK, their two major markets, have slowed.
Non-US revenue (excluding the UK) of $7.7 billion accounted for 48% of total revenue. Their earnings per share were considered a miss as well, at $6.08.The proliferation of ads in emerging markets worldwide drove profits to $3.42 billion for the period, up from $3.23 billion in Q2 2013. More people are clicking on Google ads – a lot more. Total paid ad clicks were up 25% over last year and up 2% over the first quarter of 2014.However, the average cost per c... > Read more
If you’ve been following developments in the search industry lately, you’ll have undoubtedly have come across discussions about Google’s recent decision to remove authorship photos from search results. We reported on this soon after the change went into effect, and other industry thought leaders like Rand Fishkin wasted no time weighing in, either.
However, despite overwhelming support for the idea that Google’s decision was based on authorship photos’ impact on the CTR of paid search ads, some naysayers insisted that this couldn’t be the case. I wasn’t content to leave things at that, so I set about looking for evidence to support my theory – and I’ve found it.In the figure above, you can see that in a search for the term “negative keywords”, our paid search ad is the... > Read more
Googler John Mueller shocked the SEO industry last week with his announcement that Google is removing authorship photos and circle counts from the SERPs.The big question is: WHY? Why would Google kill a feature they had said would instill user trust in quality search results and help valuable content stand out?Why did they want us all to implement it in the first place?Was anything we were told about Google+ authorship markup and profile images in search true to begin with?It didn't take Moz's Rand Fishkin long to tweet his thoughts on the motivation behind the change:And even more pointedly:Since Google+ authorship and the rich snippets with photos in search results were implemented, we've seen eye tracking studies point to additional attention for the enhanced results.
We've seen researc... > Read more
Google this week has published a new white paper on Quality Score and finally updated their 5-year-old video on how Quality Score works. I asked them “why now” and they said that it’s just time to redo the old stuff, but part of me thinks that they’re trying to quell a Quality Score rebellion that myself and others (including Frederick Vallaeys, etc.
) may have inadvertently started – the wording of some points in the new materials seem to directly reflect points that I’ve articulated in articles I’ve published in the last year.Image via Kirk Williams - @ppckirkAs usual, Google trotted out the same old “happy users,” “happy advertisers” and “happy Google” platitudes. It’s mostly a rehash of the same old Google fairy dust about Quality Score, but there are a ... > Read more
Get this: since last year, mobile paid search advertising has increased by 55%. Even crazier: Mobile PPC now accounts for one-fifth of total advertising spend.We keep hearing that advertisers aren't seeing great ROI from their mobile ad campaigns, though. Even if you’re making the investment, you don't feel like you’re getting your money's worth.
As mobile PPC continues to increase in value and surpasses desktop PPC…how can you tap into the massive opportunity of connecting with highly motivated, on-the-go consumers?Don't keep plugging away, following the old best practices – we've discovered that the conventional wisdom for desktop PPC is dead wrong when it comes to mobile. If you're doing what you've always done, you're sabotaging your own mobile campaigns.That sucks, right?S... > Read more
If you’ve ever read “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”, you probably didn’t notice a chapter about Google tracking your parental status in AdWords. Well, this is exactly what Google is doing, as Parental Status is now a demographic subset that advertisers can explicitly target.This feature went live within the past 12 hours or so, and Google has yet to make an official announcement.
However, we’ve already seen it in action, as you can see in the following figure:Our resident data scientist Mark Irvine was the first of us at WordStream to notice the new feature. At this point, parental status targeting hasn’t been rolled out across all advertiser accounts – in fact, even some of our largest Managed Services accounts don’t have access to this functionality yet, suggesti... > Read more
What if search advertising were able to impact not just clicks and conversions, but top-of-mind brand awareness?This was the question Google set out to answer in a just-released study with Ipsos MediaCT. In it, they found that search ads have a positive impact on top-of-mind awareness, but also on unaided brand awareness – even when the searcher doesn't click the ad.
Search ads may be known as a direct response tool, but Google's research points to real value for branding, as well.The study, which consisted of 61 simulated search experiments involving 800 U.S. consumers, identified an 80% lift in top-of-mind brand awareness.In each of the studies, consumers were asked to perform searches for category-specific searches spanning 12 verticals. They then saw either a control page or a simula... > Read more
Google is launching a “new and improved” AdWords Policy Center aimed at making policies more user-friendly and accessible to advertisers, according to an announcement buried in their AdWords Policy Help resources.The current AdWords policies will remain in effect until “around September,” when the new center will launch.
So what's new? Google has released a preview of the new center alongside their announcement. Here's what you need to know about the changes.1. If you're in compliance now, you won't be a rule-breaker come September… well, most of you, anyway.In their announcement, Google noted, "Almost all advertisers who comply with our current policies will also comply with the new policies."Yes, there will be fundamental policy changes that will affect some advertisers more tha... > Read more
Keyword research can be a tedious, thankless task – especially if you aren't using the results for maximum impact. Without keyword intelligence, though, you're flying blind. How can a marketer get the greatest ROI from their time spent toiling over keywords?More than keyword research tips, smart marketers need a comprehensive keyword strategy to guide successful SEO, PPC, and content marketing efforts.
We get it, you don't have time for the same old regurgitated "wisdom" you've been hearing and reading about for years.Together, Will Critchlow, co-founder/CMO of Distilled, and I have devised an all-inclusive, totally replicable keyword strategy for search engine success – one we'll share in an exclusive webinar next Tuesday, June 17.Not your average keyword tipsAttendees will review cas... > Read more
eBay along with researchers from the Universities of Berkeley and Chicago, have just released the final version of a study claiming that paid search ads have “no measurable benefit.” This is not really new news; we heard about the preliminary results last year, and pretty much everyone in search marketing had a good hearty laugh – because eBay has long been known for its embarrassingly crappy ad strategy.
The study is done now, and while it’s not completely terrible, it’s definitely misleading, as well as confusing in terms of what this says about eBay’s marketing strategy. In this post I’d like to go over a few points worth rebutting, especially when it comes to trying to apply these findings to the average Google advertiser out there.It’s Not the Channel, It’s How You Us... > Read more
Poor eBay – they're having a pretty bad day. Thanks to Google’s roll-out of Panda 4.0 and the Payday Loan 2.0 update, eBay is suffering a massive loss in organic traffic and rankings. Adding insult to injury, they had to ask all users to change their passwords after a database hack.Matt Cutts kicked off the SEO hysteria yesterday as he often does, with a tweet:First released in 2011, Panda is a component of the organic search ranking algorithm designed to weed out low-quality sites, or those with "thin content.
" In its initial release, Panda affected approximately 12% of all search queries – by March 2013, Google had refreshed Panda 25 times, making it a constant source of aggravation in SEO circles.This update is particularly worrisome for webmasters, given that Google had stopped a... > Read more
Does the internet marketing industry have a gender bias problem? It’s something that’s been talked about before, but too often, those discussions are based almost entirely on speculation, a general sense that women are getting the short end of the stick. And the problem with speculation is that it’s easy to dismiss.
Moz’s recent industry salary survey provided some interesting data; they found that women in online marketing are paid less than their male counterparts, even at the same levels of education and experience. This sparked some really great discussion, but again, some may assume men just get the better jobs because of greater ability, better performance, or more ambition. But is this really the case?I recently ran across some internal data that really surprised me. I believ... > Read more
A few weeks ago, Google announced major changes and updates to the AdWords platform, several of them designed to improve efficiency and scale for enterprise-class search marketers.Google wants to make life easier for companies with massive campaigns – for those who are spending hundreds of millions or even a billion dollars on AdWords.
Enterprise-level PPC marketers face unique challenges, given the complexity and sheer size of their campaigns.These new features were designed to increase efficiency, help brands scale their campaigns and make insights more accessible and useful. In this post, we’ll take a deeper dive into the new tools available to enterprise AdWords clients.Bulk Actions: Making AdWords Less "Complicated"In the new features announcement a few weeks back, VP of Products ... > Read more
I recently had the opportunity to be the subject of an AMA (Ask Me Anything) at Inbound.org and was blown away by the response. Not only were there a ton of questions, but they were really, really good!These questions led to a lot of great discussion and advice on PPC and AdWords, in particular. But in case you don’t want to dig through the whole thing, here are my top 10 best PPC tips from the Q&A.
1. What's the greatest, but most underused, opportunity in AdWords?Q. Kyle Petzinger asked, "What would you say is the single largest, mostly unused opportunity that AdWords advertisers can take advantage of? I realize this is pretty open-ended, but feel free to just spit out the first 'OMG DO THIS. WHY IS NO ONE DOING THIS' thought that comes to mind. Thanks a ton in advance! Love your wo... > Read more
Keyword research is a critical component in every successful paid search strategy. In fact, our internal data shows that search marketers spend nearly 25% of their time on keyword research.Google has quietly rolled out a number of significant changes and updates to Keyword Planner that should not only reduce the amount of time spent in the tool, but make it exponentially more useful, as well.
The updates rolled out this week make it highly visual and more powerful, with a definite mobile focus. It's the first major refresh since the tool was introduced about a year ago.(Warning: the new version is way more fun – you might actually spend MORE time in Keyword Planner. Try not to get distracted by the pretty shiny things.)So what's new? Check out the new Keyword Planner features:Visualize S... > Read more
Today's the day: Google finally spilled the beans about the new features that are coming to AdWords. (Protip: sign up for our webinar tomorrow for an in-depth look at the changes and how they'll affect you!) Now we can finally tell you what they actually announced. Here’s our take on this exciting news.
New AdWords Features OverviewBefore we get into the specifics of the new AdWords features, I wanted to provide you with an overview of the key points about these planned improvements. I recently spoke with Aaron Stein, Google’s Global Communications and Public Affairs Manager, who told me that:These features will be entirely optional, unlike last year’s mandatory (read: “destructive”) Enhanced Campaigns update.Also, unlike last year’s EC update, no existing features are being ret... > Read more
Google is making a big announcement on Tuesday, April 22 (yep, that's TOMORROW). They will announce 10+ new AdWords products, features, and research studies that they have been working on for the past year.Last year, we were the first to bring you complete coverage of Enhanced Campaigns, the biggest change to the AdWords ecosystem in the last decade.
This Wednesday, we’ll be holding a free, live webinar to clue you in on this new announcement and what it means for your AdWords campaigns.The moment the embargo is lifted, we’ll start bringing live coverage of the announcement plus actionable advice on how it will affect your account and how to take advantage of the changes.There’s been plenty of speculation so far on what those changes might entail. We’ve seen what people are saying,... > Read more
It’s no secret that there’s little love lost between Google and Facebook, even to those outside the Valley. Google proved this once again today by announcing it has expanded access to +Post ads to all advertisers and that these ads will support Google Hangouts on Air.What Are Google +Post Ads?Google first announced +Post ads in December, billing them as a new format of ad that brands can use to drive engagement across multiple platforms.
Simply put, +Post ads are pieces of content from brands’ Google Plus profiles, such as videos and photos, which are repurposed into ads to be served across the Google Display Network.What’s the Big Deal?In the official blog post announcing the rollout, Google highlighted some examples of how advertisers have used +Post ads to drive user engagement.... > Read more
All sorts of silly rumors were circulating earlier week suggesting that Google is going kill off all search query data from paid search and that third party tools providers like WordStream are going to be slammed. Unfortunately the reporting on this issue has been light on facts and heavy on speculation.
In this article I'll explain exactly what is is changing here -- the short answer is: not a heck of a lot.Are The Rumors True? Is Paid Search Query Dead?No. not even close. If you used paid search query data to do campaign optimizations, you can still access all of that data from within the Search Terms Report in AdWords just as you have done in the past. Not convinced? The easiest way to disprove this rumor is to log into your AdWords account and view your search query data for yourself. ... > Read more
What would it do for your business if you were able to crawl inside my brain and wallow in crazy-effective PPC knowledge, gained over more than ten years working in paid search every single day?The insane insights and experience you would take away would become your ultimate PPC secret weapon, giving you the power to slay the competition and squeeze every last drop of ROI out of your AdWords campaigns.
For one day only, you have the opportunity to do just that. In our next free webinar, I'll share mind-blowing PPC secrets and unconventional wisdom gleaned over my 10+ year career in PPC.Our Ultimate Introduction to Pay-Per-Click Advertising webinar is designed to help you kick-start your PPC campaigns or invigorate your existing ones.There's no denying that AdWords ads are a highly effective... > Read more
By late August, Google will retire their regular PLA campaign type and switch all product listing ads users to Shopping campaigns. Beta launched in October 2013 and fully rolled out in February, Shopping campaigns have a number of unique features that make them particularly attractive to e-tailers:The ability to browse inventory within the AdWords platform and create product groups using attributes from your data feed.
Custom labels, a way to tag products in your data feed with personalized attributes.Advanced performance measurement, with data segmentation by product or attribute.Aggregate competitive performance data, including the average CTRs and Max CPCs of your competitors.Create and edit with the AdWords API and bulk edit product groups at scale.If you’re selling products, you shou... > Read more
Hi, I'm Larry Kim and I've analyzed over $10 billion in paid search spend.Wondering how to give your Quality Scores a lift, or what Quality Score even is? Curious about how WordStream works, and how I bootstrapped my way to the top? Looking for growth hacking tips to build your business? Or maybe you're curious how we churn out such awesome content here at the WordStream blog, driving over half a million page views per month? I can help!This coming Monday, March 31, I'm hunkering down at the keyboard for what I hope is a fun and informative Ask Me Anything with Inbound.
org. What is an Ask Me Anything? It's basically an opportunity for the Internet at large to pick the brain of one person – and this time, it's me! AMAs started on Reddit but since Inbound started hosting them, they've gene... > Read more
Google has been using some pretty effective scare tactics to warn marketers off link building lately. Scalable link building – even tactics that used to be seen as white-hat, like guest blogging – are steadily coming to be seen as black-hat. Instead of focusing on links, Google says, just build your brand by creating great content!The problem is, everyone and their best friend has already jumped on the content marketing bandwagon.
This noisy space is getting even noisier! Over 90% of B2B marketers use content marketing – for obvious reasons:Two-thirds of consumers say they feel better about and are more likely to buy from a company that delivers custom content.Interesting content is a top 3 reason people follow brands on social media.So when everyone is doing it, how do you stand out... > Read more
What would it do for your business if you had the chance to pick the brains of two renowned PPC industry experts about your specific AdWords needs? Would you discover budget-saving bidding and creative strategies, tactics to maximize your conversion and ROI, or targeting functions and features to get you in front of the most relevant audience possible?All of the above!This spring, one lucky marketer has the opportunity to supercharge their AdWords strategy with expert insight and guidance from two industry experts.
In just a few days, we'll draw the winner of a two-hour paid search consultation with my good friend, AdWords guru Perry Marshall and me, Larry Kim.Marshall, the world's most quoted Google AdWords consultant, authored The Definitive Guide to Google AdWords, the most popular PPC ... > Read more
It's fair to say Google's Amit Singhal shocked the audience at SMX West last week when he told Danny Sullivan a solution to the not-provided keywords issue will be announced "in the coming weeks or months."Wow .@theamitsinghal announced that google is working on solution for keyword (not provided) situation #SMXWest #smx pic.
twitter.com/taQEMTYv9m— Larry Kim (@larrykim) March 12, 2014Google hasn't given an inch on the keyword data lost to site owners and marketers when secure search was fully implemented in September 2013. It was a change two years in the making; SEOs and site owners saw keyword data gradually disappearing to the "not provided" dark side from September 2011 on. Throughout, panic ensued as site owners were no longer able to track users by the keywords that brought them to... > Read more
Conversion is a key element in your paid search strategy; after all, if you're not actually turning lookers into buyers at a high rate, what are you advertising for? Conversion rate optimization enables you to maximize every cent of your PPC spend by finding that sweet spot that convinces the maximum percentage of your prospects to take action.
But what is a good conversion rate? If you're already achieving 3%, 5% or even 10% conversion rates, is that as high as you're going to go?We recently analyzed thousands of AdWords accounts with a combined $3 billion in annual spend and discovered that some advertisers are converting at rates two or three times the average. Do you want to be average, or do you want your account to perform exponentially better than others in your industry?Through our ... > Read more
In just a few days, I'll be heading to New Orleans, home to Mardi Gras, the Saints and of course, Pubcon Spring New Orleans 2014! I'm speaking at two sessions, so if you're planning to attend the conference, make sure you stop in and see me!Hacking AdWords – There's Nothing Lucky About Being the Top DogOn Wednesday March 19, join me in Salon B at 10:10 am for Hacking AdWords: Quality Score Insights, where we'll get our PPC hacking game face on and learn how to lower your cost per click and cost per conversion with an advanced understanding of AdWords Quality Score.
The key to AdWords mastery lies in understanding that everything Google offers runs on an algorithm – once you understand the math behind ad ranking and pricing, you can optimize to the algorithm. This isn't black magic or di... > Read more
We recently held a massively popular webinar packed with techniques guaranteed to triple your AdWords click-through rates, and we got a lot of people asking for help with the next logical step: boosting conversions. Once you've earned the click and have a visitor on your site, how do you most effectively convince them to sign up for your offer or purchase your product? Raising CTR’s is great, but raising conversions is even better.
Our next free webinar (THIS THURSDAY, March 6) will teach you just that: amazing – yet perfectly achievable – strategies to increase your conversion rates by three times or more. In Unbelievable Discoveries to 3x Your Conversion Rates, we're going to dive deep into tactics and features of the best converting campaigns in the market, with a replicable proces... > Read more