Are you sick of year-end lists yet? Too bad! I love looking back at the best and worst of the year (and we have a few more lists in store for you over the next week).
Today I’m sharing my picks for 2015’s best articles on paid search and PPC marketing from around the Web, covering topics including ad copywriting, conversion rate optimization, remarketing, mobile, social ads and more. Let’s get to them!
1. How to Write the Highest-Performing AdWords Ads, Ever – Unbounce
That’s a tall order, but Johnathan Dane delivers. As he points out, even with a limited character count, we can do some pretty spectacular things when we recognize what users want.
- When writing ad creative, keep the visitor’s end goal in mind, use tactics like countdown timers and specificity to pique interest, and make it personal as much as possible.
2. The Emotional Science Behind PPC Ads – WordStream
PPC ads can be really boring, but they don’t have to be! So Helen Edwards took it upon herself to dig into hundreds of client accounts to discover the emotional triggers that can increase click-through rates up to 5X across the board.
- Anger, disgust, affirmation and fear are all emotions you can arouse with your PPC ad copy. But before putting pen to paper, think about the customer persona in addition to the persona you, the advertiser, want to take on.
Landing Pages & CRO
Oli Gardner’s writing never disappoints. With a solid mix of education and entertainment, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry (OK, probably not) and you’ll learn a thing or two about landing page optimization in what’s possibly one of the longest introductions to landing pages out there!
- Where to begin? Oli shows introductory and advanced techniques to understanding attention ratio, context, imagery, headlines, persuasive design and more.
4. Our 10 Best Landing Page Tips & Tricks Ever - WordStream
Yes, ever! When it comes to the best tips tested and proven to work, Dan Shewan shows how to kill it using tricks that span copy, layout forms, video, devices and beyond.
- Would you be amazed to find out that No. 1 on the list eliminates the need for landing pages altogether? Well, surprise! Call-only PPC campaigns convert massively well, and businesses should take note.
5. 3 Crazy PPC CRO Hacks To Boost Conversion Rates Right Now – Search Engine Land
Hi, it’s me … here to tell you that conversion rate optimization when it comes to PPC isn’t what you think. In fact, most efforts to optimize your ad copy have absolutely no impact on your conversion rate. But I know what does, and that’s what you’ll learn in this pick for one of the favorites I penned in 2015.
- Differentiate at all costs (sounds simple but most rarely do), use the ad formats that convert like crazy and always, always explore remarketing as a kick-ass CRO tool.
6. 17 Best Practices for Crazy-Effective Call-To-Action Buttons – WordStream
Designing PPC landing pages can be borderline obsessive-compulsive. But we do it because small changes to the design of your call-to-action button can impact conversions. Megan Marrs shares a huge list of tips for CTA’s of the button kind.
- From shape to text to color Meg covers it all.
7. How Page Views, Time on Site & Bounce Rate Predict for Changes In Quality Score and Revenue – Search Engine Land
Page views and time on site and bounce rate – oh my! According to some thought-provoking data by Benjamin Vigneron, engagement metrics can be strong predictors for the familiar AdWords scoring system, proving there’s no place like your website to improve your Quality Score.
- Bounce rate, click-through rate and time spent on site were strong predictors of Quality Score, and a better Quality Score typically means a higher impression share and lower cost per click.
FYI: This is one reason I happen to think Smart Goals are OK for some advertisers.
8. 8 Google AdWords Hacks That’ll Double Your Conversion Rate – NeilPatel.com
When you simply can’t wait for those organic leads to trickle in, you can turn to AdWords to boost traffic. And if you want to learn how to double your conversion rate in AdWords, Neil Patel shares some awesome ways – backed by examples and data – to do just that.
- More conversions in AdWords means looking at your approach both strategically from a customer journey perspective and tactically, minding the details of a well-managed PPC account.
Day-to-Day Paid Search Management
9. The Secret To AdWords Success, Told By A Former Googler – Search Engine Land
Whenever we can get a closer glimpse into the mind of Google, we’ll take it. This jam-packed article by my friend Frederick Vallaeys reveals the details of what you need to succeed in AdWords. And spoiler alert: Many of the things we deem as best practices are on that list.
- A successful AdWords account, says Fred, should be driven by the one KPI that matters most to the business, and it should be attainable. Other supporting goals should also be tracked as they offer more data points that make optimization decisions easier.
10. The Essential In-Depth Overview of PPC Bid Management – Search Engine Land
Fred Vallaeys says there are no bad keywords, only bad bids. So what's the cure? No, not more cowbell – it’s this in-depth guide! Learn everything from setting bid management goals to types of bidding strategies, automated bidding and more.
- If this article teaches us anything it’s that there’s a TON to consider when setting a bidding strategy, and of course, having a strategy is a huge part of a healthy PPC account.
P.S. As you may have noticed, both of the above articles are from Fred Vallaeys, who I think is an AdWords genius. You should definitely follow him on Twitter this year (@siliconvallaeys) if you’re not already!
11. Attention Keyword Hoarders: You Need to Delete 98% of Your AdWords Keywords - Here’s Why – Search Engine Watch
We all know how hoarding begins innocently as a collection of things that we just begin to cherish a little too much along the way. So seriously, it’s time to get out the dumpster and start chucking those junk keywords.
- You don't need more keywords to improve Quality Score, and you don’t need more to improve conversions, either. It’s OK to expand your keyword sets but for the love of all that is good, make sure you clean up those that aren’t working on a regular basis.
12. 5 Ways to Use the 80/20 Rule for AdWords – Search Engine Journal
The 80/20 rule is used in a lot of different business and life scenarios, as you may have already learned if you’re a fan of Perry Marshall. Here, Rocco Baldassarre shows us some really cool ways to apply the 80/20 rule to AdWords.
- From location targeting, time of day and keywords to products, services and more, you really can apply the 80/20 rule to all sorts of AdWords scenarios to improve its effectiveness.
Advanced PPC Tactics
13. How To Track Your AdWords Competitors Over Time Using Auction Insights – Search Engine Land
Don’t you just love hacks? In this piece, AdWords script genius Daniel Gilbert shares a smart script that helps you pick your top five competitors based on highest impression share, and can show you historical data, too.
- Um, run the script! Also for more AdWords script mad science, follow Daniel Gilbert (@danielgilbert44) on Twitter!
14. New to Google Shopping? Read These 9 Tips To Own It – PPC Hero
If you’re new to Google Shopping campaigns and just not sure what path to take, Kirk Williams shows you the way in this sweet overview of the ever-expanding shopping channel. (BTW, shout-out to Google Shopping genius Kirk for all his contributions to the PPC Hero blog, Moz and other places!)
Remarketing and Display
15. 10 Remarketing Facts to Make You Rethink Your Entire PPC Strategy - WordStream
I simply had to set the record straight in 2015 on this whole “remarketing is creepy” thing. In actuality, remarketing is totally spectacular for a whole host of reasons, and that’s what I want you to know.
- If you’d like to explore more channels (including social), pay less than search ads, build your brand and experience nice conversion rates, remarketing is the way to go!
16. Three Must-Download Remarketing Lists To Use With Your Search Ads – Search Engine Land
Remarketing lists for search ads gave advertisers a whole new super fantastic way to target. In this article, Matt Lawson shares three types of audiences to try, and more to explore with these downloads you can easily import.
- Get in there and start playing!
Mobile and Local
If Drake had his very own PPC campaign, he might not be crying about missing those late-night calls. But business owners and marketers don’t have to follow in his footsteps with these fantastic methods for getting more phone calls with PPC in another one of 2015’s best from Johnathan Dane.
- People who call are usually more ready to pull the trigger versus people who simply fill in a form. Take note: These are among the most desirable types of leads for small and medium businesses today.
18. Under The Hood: How Google AdWords Measures Store Visits – Search Engine Land
Things got real in 2014 when Google AdWords launched the ability to track in-store visits … but seriously, how does it work? Googler Matt Lawson takes us under the hood in this fascinating article.
- Google Maps knows things about buildings – even their shapes – and when layered with Wi-Fi, cell tower and GPS signals, the data gets even more specific. Whoa.
19. Mobile Marketing 101: The Efficient Formula for Unleashing Your Full Potential – Search Engine Journal
News flash: Your target audience uses smartphones. So don’t put your mobile ad campaigns on hold any longer. This jam-packed article by Andrew Lolk gives an excellent starter guide for answering the demand of the mobile user.
- Simple principles apply for mobile ads, like short, call-focused copy and landing pages with not necessarily less content, but better organized content for mobile.
As much as I think that LinkedIn is the red-headed stepchild in the social advertising world, it’s interesting to learn about what it canoffer, and Sahil Jain gives a thorough summary of missed opportunities you may not know about in this two-part series.
- With all the features and strategies being employed by advertisers right now in LinkedIn, it’s worth a second glance if it makes sense for your brand.
21. The Top 10 Paid Social Media Hacks of All Time – WordStream
If you’ve been following me on the conference circuit this year, you know I’ve been obsessed with hacking social media. So let me show you the best hacks I’ve learned along the way in this article inspired from a webinar I co-hosted with Matt Umbro earlier this year.
- The best tricks to increase your quality scores in Facebook and Twitter, the very best targeting features and much more.