Bid Management for the Overworked Advertiser, Part 2: CPA Bidding with Conversion Optimizer

Recently we’ve been sharing several specific tips designed to help novice to intermediate AdWords advertisers with more on their plate than just managing pay-per-click campaigns to get greater efficiencies out of PPC marketing. We published a two-part series on some simple reports that can unearth thousands of dollars in PPC savings:AdWords Quick Wins: Two Reports that Could Save You ThousandsAdWords Quick Wins Volume 2: More Reports that Could Save You ThousandsWe also shared a basic methodology for managing bids for advertisers with minimal time and resources.

In this post we’ll walk through an alternative to that approach for the same overworked AdWords advertisers: CPA bidding in AdWords.What Is CPA Bidding and Who Should Use It?CPA bidding, or cost-per-action/acquisition bidding, ... > Read more

February 27, 2012     |   Written by: Tom Demers   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 1

Keyword Not Provided – What Is the esrc=s String in Google Analytics?

This evening I was doing some SEO research, digging through some web server log files and came across a bunch of weird HTTP referrer fields like this one: couldn't figure out what the q=&esrc=s string was because:The q= parameter was emptyI had never seen this esrc=s parameter.

There were literally thousands of HTTP referrer strings from Google containing the string:  q=&esrc=s parameter set.I did some digging and figured out that "esrc=s" has to do with the Keyword "... > Read more

February 24, 2012     |   Written by: Larry Kim   |   Posted In: Analytics   |   Comments: 21

So You STILL Want Links? These Link Building Strategies Are OFF THE CHAIN!

Sorry for the terrible awesome pun, but I’ve just been reading this Quora thread, “Death by Puns,” and it almost killed me.Anywayz, I saw two great posts this week on link building, and I know how much you guys love link building, so let’s take a look at some of these great tips.At Search Engine Journal, Sujan Patel writes about 13 unconventional link-building strategies, including:Set up a guest speaking gig: Patel writes, “suppose you reserved a room at your local university and offered to give a free presentation on a topic in your niche.

Assuming you advertised your speaking gig correctly, you could see a surge of backlinks from local news sources or other local publications covering your event (not to mention the participants who share word about your presentation on various... > Read more

February 24, 2012     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: Online Marketing Blog Roundup   |   Comments: 7

Guide to Google AdWords' Left Navigation: Using Shared Libraries, Reports, & Custom Alerts

In recent weeks we’ve been working through a series of posts on various components of the AdWords interface that are designed to help advertisers better understand all of the different options and features available to them within Google AdWords. To date we’ve covered:AdWords Ad ExtensionsAdWords Reporting via the Dimensions TabAdWords Campaign SettingsCreating & Analyzing AdWords AdsThe Google AdWords Audience TabGoogle AdWords Auto TargetsIn the next series of posts, we’ll focus on a somewhat overlooked component of the AdWords interface: the items contained in the AdWords left navigation within the campaign tab.

What’s in the Left Nav within the Campaigns Tab?Within the left navigation in the campaigns tab you’ll find a series of interesting tools that allow you to report o... > Read more

February 23, 2012     |   Written by: Tom Demers   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 0

3 Quick Ways to Generate Leads from Your Existing Website Content

You’re a marketer, you’ve been there – the end of the month approacheth and you haven’t met your lead goals. If you’ve got limited resources and it’s too late to embark on a brand-new initiative to generate leads, don’t give up – chances are you can squeeze a few more leads out of the content you’ve already created.

Here are three ways to generate leads by re-utilizing your existing marketing collateral.Send an Old Offer to a New ListLook back over your most successful lead-gen offers from the past couple of years, such as white papers, guides, or marketing kits. Hopefully, that content is evergreen or, if it’s out of date, can be updated pretty easily (certainly, bringing an older guide up-to-date is faster than starting from scratch to create a new one).Let’s say you... > Read more

February 22, 2012     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 5

The Overworked Advertiser's Guide to AdWords Bid Management

If you read many PPC blogs, you know that there are a ton of interesting and clever tips and tricks that you can leverage to squeeze more efficiency out of your online marketing campaigns. The trouble is, if you’re running an AdWords account there's a fair chance that you’re:Running your own business as wellResponsible for several other components of your company’s marketingSpending real money on AdWords, but not enough to hire an agency or full-time employee to manage itThis forces you to rule out a lot of those tips and tricks, simply because they won’t have a big enough impact for the time they take to implement – naturally, you have to weigh any optimization efforts you might make against other areas of your business you could be improving.

While understanding that specific tw... > Read more

February 21, 2012     |   Written by: Tom Demers   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 0

3 Ways to Get Ideas that AREN'T Brainstorming

As someone who has recently been subjected to several “brainstorming” sessions (OK, I initiated at least one of them), my interest was piqued by a recent New Yorker article title-tagged “Brainstorming Doesn’t Really Work.” Oh really!According to Jonah Lehrer, the whole brainstorming craze started in 1948, when Alex Osborn published a book called Your Creative Power.

 “An amalgam of pop science and business anecdote," the book became a surprise best-seller. It was full of little tips and tricks to help people boost their creative output, and one of those tips was “How to Organize a Squad to Create Ideas”:When a group works together, he wrote, the members should engage in a “brainstorm,” which means “using the brain to storm a creative problem—and doing so in comm... > Read more

February 17, 2012     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: Online Marketing Blog Roundup   |   Comments: 3

Quick & Dirty Guide to Google AdWords Auto Targets

Recently we’ve created a series of guides on various parts of the AdWords interface designed to help advertisers better understand all of the features and functionality available to them within AdWords, including:AdWords Ad ExtensionsAdWords Reporting via the Dimensions TabAdWords Campaign SettingsCreating & Analyzing AdWords AdsAdWords Audiences & the Audience TabIn this post, we’ll focus on another area within the AdWords interface: the Auto Targets tab.

What Is the Google AdWords Auto Targets Tab?Many people new to AdWords wonder what this tab even is – in fact the tab is irrelevant for some AdWords advertisers. The auto targets tab is a component of Google’s product listing ads. If you sell e-commerce products, you likely (and should) have a Google Merchant account. (As ... > Read more

February 16, 2012     |   Written by: Tom Demers   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 2

Win of the Week: Tough Rules Create Breakthrough Ad

Take a look at the two ads below. If you were looking for a hotel on the beach, which ad do you think you'd click on? Better yet, which ad do you think you'd act on?While many contests conducted on the BoostCTR platform are designed to improve CTR, some are set up to improve conversions. This contest used conversions as the metric, which is why I added that second question: Which ad would you act on? PPC Ad #1PPC Ad #2The titles are completely different.

This is because this particular advertiser did not permit BoostCTR writers to use DKI in their ads even if the original ad used it. This was an obvious disadvantage, but the writer worked around it.The body copy is also very different. With that in mind, which one do you think outperformed the other?Made your decision?The winning ad i... > Read more

February 16, 2012     |   Posted In: Copywriting   |   Comments: 0

AdWords Blogging Mania! Our Best Google AdWords Blog Posts of All Time

We blog a lot about the ins and outs of Google AdWords here at WordStream, for the obvious reasons – PPC is our specialty (or “speciality,” as Engywook from The Neverending Story would say), and AdWords is still #1 when it comes to PPC.Let me get this out of the way, or Larry will razz me for days – our most popular AdWords post of all time is actually a list of AdWords promotional codes.

But those codes are all good and expired now, so let’s move on to the articles that are still well worth your while, shall we? :D Yes, let’s. Here are our top 10 most popular AdWords blog posts OF ALL TIME!The Most Expensive Keywords in Google AdWords – I used to always wonder what the most expensive PPC keywords were, and couldn’t find a satisfactory answer. So we decided to do the resear... > Read more

February 15, 2012     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 3

Introducing Enhanced Ad Sitelinks: The War on SEO Wages On...

In the latest move to make SEO harder and increase Google revenues, Google yesterday introduced a new ad format called Enhanced Ad Sitelinks. This new ad format has some similarities to the existing site links ad format, but instead shows related ads in your AdWords account rather than your site links.

Here's what the new super-sized adwords sitelink looks like now:In testing, Google said that "ads with enhanced sitelinks were more useful and relevant" and "clickthrough rates were significantly higher than the same ad with traditional 2- and 3-line sitelinks." Obviously (duh), this has something to do with the fact that the new ads can occupy up to 3 times as much real estate on a Google SERP. It looks like a highly effective way to dominate above-the-fold search results, and further push o... > Read more

February 15, 2012     |   Written by: Larry Kim   |   Posted In: Google   |   Comments: 5

Crushing on Love Letters: A Valentine's Day Case Study in User Engagement

 Online businesses know that user engagement is incredibly powerful. Better than chocolates or flowers, getting users to “like” your posts or engage you in conversation through Google+ is a dream come true! But often, it can be difficult to obtain that valuable user interaction.With Valentine’s Day upon us, I thought today we could evaluate Boston Globe’s online Love Letters column, a small niche of a large news site that has managed to obtain some exceptional user engagement.

I heard about Love Letters through my mother, who habitually sends me her favorite posts. Although my mother works as a computer programmer, she is the farthest thing from a techie, virtually inept at anything outside of COBOL. A once-a-month Facebooker, she’ll often call me to ask how to “send a mess... > Read more

February 14, 2012     |   Written by: Megan Marrs   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 15

AdWords Quick Wins, Volume 2: More Reports that Could Save You Thousands

Last month we shared two simple reports that could save you thousands in wasted AdWords spend: search partner performance and device performance. These types of reports are great for small and medium-sized businesses because (once you know they exist) they only take a few minutes to pull, and they can give you quick insight into a dimension of your campaign you may be altogether neglecting.

Today we’ll walk through two more easy to pull reports that could uncover thousands in potential savings: the placement report and the audience report.Quick Win #1: The Google AdWords Placement ReportThe AdWords search query report is frequently talked about on PPC blogs like this one (we did a whole series on search query mining, for instance), but placement reports get less coverage, and subsequently... > Read more

February 13, 2012     |   Written by: Tom Demers   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 0

Forget Google for a Minute – Look at These Baby Lions

WordStream’s founder and CTO, Larry Kim, isn’t just a PPC veteran and secret linkbuilding addict – he’s also a world traveler and accomplished amateur photographer. Last week he traveled to Africa with his frankly gorgeous wife (who is also a surgeon!) and took some drop-dead amazing photos of the local wildlife.

Naturally, I wanted to find a way to post some of his fantastic shots on the blog, so I took a page from PPC Memes’ book and did what I could to make them relevant to search marketing. (Also, I’m back in the Boston office this week, and the combination of after-work drinks and minor jetlag has made forming full sentences more difficult than usual.)So please enjoy (and share!) these search marketing memes – the captions are mine, but the photos are all Larry. &nbs... > Read more

February 10, 2012     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: Online Marketing Blog Roundup   |   Comments: 5

How to Create Google AdWords Audiences

This is the third and final post in a series on the Google AdWords Audience tab. In the first post in the series, we walked through what an AdWords audience really is and the types of audiences you can target and in the second post we focused on the reporting options available via the audience tab and what you can do with the data.

In this post we’ll focus on best practices for creating specific types of audiences within the AdWords interface for your Google AdWords display campaigns.What Audiences Can You Create?Before you can create strategic audiences you need to understand what characteristics can make up an AdWords audience. In creating the audiences that live within the audience tab, there are two core types of segments you can target:Specific Category InterestsThis is an option to ... > Read more

February 09, 2012     |   Written by: Tom Demers   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 0

7 Examples of Awesomely Creative Advertising: Using Your Environment

 Yesterday I was walking through Boston when I came across quite an unusual scene – a huge golden heap of Butterfingers smack in the middle of Copley Square. What kind of sorcery is this? I thought as I stared in awe at the giant mound of crunchy candy. Several people stood around the pile, gingerly picking up a candy bar here and there.

But after about 30 seconds, kids swooped down in hordes, cramming piles of bars into their backpacks in sheer ecstasy. I snapped these photos to document the event:Upon closer examination, this was no glorious miracle, but actually a clever advertising ploy by Pawngo, an online pawnshop business and apparent Giants fan. Their candy bar jab gives new meaning to “bittersweet.” I wasn’t beyond cramming some into my pockets before leaving though.I... > Read more

February 08, 2012     |   Written by: Megan Marrs   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 2

Are You Making These 3 Pay-Per-Click Advertising Mistakes?

These common pay-per-click (PPC) advertising mistakes are easily avoided, but nonetheless, we see them over. and over. and over. again. These mistakes hurt your click-through rate (CTR), Quality Score, and return on investment (ROI). Are you making these mistakes in your own PPC campaigns?Mistake #1: Not Monitoring Your Search Query ReportBroad match is the default keyword match type in AdWords, and it’s the default type for most PPC marketers, too.

Unfortunately, many advertisers don’t realize just how “broad” broad match really is. Take these ads triggered by a search for “piano bench”:It looks like The Bench Factory and JCPenney are bidding on the keyword “bench” using broad match; Lighting Universe is probably bidding on “piano lamp.” In both cases, Google thinks th... > Read more

February 07, 2012     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 5

Quick Guide to Google AdWords Audience Reporting

This is the second post in a series on the Google AdWords Audience tab. In the first post in the series, we walked through what an AdWords audience really is and the types of audiences you can target. In this post we’ll focus on the reporting options available via the audience tab and what you can do with the data.

Why Wouldn’t My AdWords Audience Reports Show?Before you can determine what to do with your audience reporting data, of course, you need to actually have the data. Many accounts will show something like this:If you haven’t already created and targeted a specific audience, you’ll be presented with the message above (“There are no targets in this campaign”). Similarly, if you’ve chosen the specific targeting method within campaign settings under network setting option... > Read more

February 06, 2012     |   Written by: Tom Demers   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 0

Super Bowl 2012 Commercials: Which Advertisements Won?

Another glorious Super Bowl has passed, this year's being the most tweeted sporting event in history, with over 10,000 tweets per second. The end of Super Bowl XLVI even nabbed the 2nd spot in Twitter’s list of most-tweeted-per-second events, with Madonna’s half-time performance grabbing spot #3.This was also the first Super Bowl to be streamed live, and Google took the time to asses the Super Bowl Sunday chatter across desktops and mobile devices, and tablets.For the less sport-savvy among us, Super Bowls are all about commercials. Some of these advertisements got a lot of attention on Super Bowl Sunday, and will continue to be talked about this week. It’s tempting to dream of posting your own videos and imagine similar viral success, but it’s certainly no game for the faint of he... > Read more

February 06, 2012     |   Written by: Megan Marrs   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 0

Local Paid Inclusion and the Self-Policing SEO Industry

On Tuesday, Miranda Miller of Search Engine Watch published a story called “Google, Bing & Yahoo in Partnership to Sell Top Organic Local Listings?” The article outlined a new service offered through Bruce Clay Inc.  – a venerable search agency – in partnership with Universal Business Listings (UBL) called Local Paid Inclusion.

Local Paid Inclusion, according to its own website (which has since been taken down, but can still be viewed in archive form; you can also view screenshots at Search News Central), was billed as a way to get your website to the top of the local listings – for a fee (emphases mine):In January of 2012 we were approached to participate in a new and exciting program: Local Paid Inclusion (LPI). We’re offering it directly to local businesses, to chai... > Read more

February 03, 2012     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: Online Marketing Blog Roundup   |   Comments: 3

Google AdWords Audience: What Is an AdWords Audience?

This is the first post in a series on the Google AdWords audience tab. In this post, we’ll focus on the topic of how Google defines an “audience” as it pertains to AdWords display campaigns, and some of the strategic ways you can make use of audiences within your display campaigns.What Constitutes an AdWords Audience?An audience within AdWords is a means of segmenting or targeting your display campaigns.

With audiences you can do either of two options:Target all audiences and adjust bids for different audience typesTarget only specific audiences and exclude others (using audiences as a targeting mechanism in the same way you would placements, keywords, or other means of targeting specific visitors or searchers)What Types of Audience Can We Target?The actual “audiences” or segment... > Read more

February 02, 2012     |   Written by: Tom Demers   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 0

The Ultimate Guide to the Google AdWords Audience Tab

Recently we’ve been running a series of in-depth guides to various parts of the AdWords interface. So far, we've covered:AdWords Ad ExtensionsAdWords Reporting via the Dimensions TabAdWords Campaign SettingsCreating & Analyzing AdWords AdsIn the coming days here on the blog we’ll be continuing with this series, focusing next on the Google AdWords Audience tab.

Display ads are now an over $5 billion dollar business for Google and growing rapidly, and understanding how to leverage tools like audiences within your AdWords display campaigns can be a powerful means of driving large amounts of targeted traffic. For that reason, we’ll walk through the audience tab and cover:What is an “AdWords audience”?How can you leverage the reporting data in the audience tab to help optimize your... > Read more

February 02, 2012     |   Written by: Tom Demers   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 0

Win of the Week: Are You Accidentally Confusing Your Market?

Take a look at the two ads below. If you lived in Baltimore and you wanted to start training in mixed martial arts (MMA), which ad do you think you'd click on? PPC Ad #1PPC Ad #2 The titles are completely different. The body copy is mostly different (the phrase "Professional Facility" is the same in both of them).

And the URL is the same in both ads. Which one do you think outperformed the other?Made your decision?The winning ad is ad number two. It was written by BoostCTR writer "wordisborn," and it increased CTR by 70%. Where the original ad was getting 1 click, the new ad is getting 1.7 clicks, which is a significant improvement.So why did the new ad win? Let's take a look...The Original AdThe original ad is fairly good. The title "Mixed Martial Arts" is straightforward and mi... > Read more

February 01, 2012     |   Posted In: Copywriting   |   Comments: 0

Best of the Month: WordStream's Top 10 of January

So how is 2012 treating everyone so far? Are you sticking to your resolutions? Or crying on the couch eating potato chips out of the jumbo-size bag with both hands?That’s what I thought. Sound like you could use a distraction. How about reading or re-reading our blog’s greatest hits from January?Here are the top 10 most popular posts from last month:What Industries Contributed to Google's $37.

9 Billion in 2011 Revenues? – In this post, Larry summarized the findings of our recent research into which industries spend the most on Google AdWords, and drew some interesting conclusions about what the data says about the state of our economy.SOPA and PIPA: Why They're Bad for Business – Meg breaks down the problems with SOPA and PIPA, proposed actions to put an end to piracy.AdWords Exper... > Read more

February 01, 2012     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: WordStream   |   Comments: 0

5 Blog Redesign Mistakes That Kill SEO

SEO, when done right, never interferes with web design, but sometimes redesigning a site can unknowingly interfere with search engine optimization. This is why teamwork among SEOs, designers, marketers and developers is critical during a blog redesign process.Here are 5 common web design mistakes that kill search engine optimization:1.

High-traffic pages are removed or deletedThe blog redesign process often identifies site content that is no longer a priority, but pages should never be deleted. Older blog posts often bring in a high volume of traffic, and those aged URLs create domain authority and page authority for organic search traffic. Instead of removing pages, protect your SEO and visitor experience by using 301 permanent redirects to ensure visitors via organic search and referral ... > Read more

January 31, 2012     |   Posted In: Blogging   |   Comments: 17

Google AdWords Basics: 5 Things to Get Right First

We’re in the midst of a series of posts designed to explore different pieces of the AdWords interface in-depth. The idea with these series is to make what’s become a pretty daunting and complex interface more accessible for the average AdWords advertiser. Thus far we’ve covered:Google AdWords Ad ExtensionsGoogle AdWords Reporting via the Dimensions TabGoogle AdWords Campaign SettingsCreating & Analyzing Google AdWords AdsAnd while we certainly hope and think that these guides have been useful (and will be continuing the series of series by focusing on the audiences tab next) it’s also valuable to pull back and help focus those same advertisers we’re trying to help with these guides by emphasizing that while having a thorough understanding of the AdWords interface is great, ge... > Read more

January 30, 2012     |   Written by: Tom Demers   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 2

Google Goes Evil … Again: The New Google Privacy Policy, Now Less Private

The official Google blog this week made an announcement that has many in the tech industry fuming (Google users, specifically, and aren't we all?). Effective March 1, Google will consolidate privacy policies across its various products into a single, unified privacy policy. In theory, this simplification sounds positive.

The downside is, anyone with a Google account will be treated as “a single user across all our products” – that means you won’t be able to have a Gmail account and leave it at that. As long as you are logged in, Google will attempt to integrate your experience across its products – for example, pulling content from your Google Docs or Picasa albums into your search results:Our recently launched personal search feature is a good example of the cool things Google c... > Read more

January 27, 2012     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: Online Marketing Blog Roundup   |   Comments: 7

In Defense of Piracy: Why Are So Many Industries Unwilling to Adapt?

All right, this post isn’t so much a defense of piracy; it’s about why pirates aren’t the real problem.I know we’ve talked a lot recently about piracy and maybe you’re sick of it all, but the way I see it, all this discussion about SOPA and PIPA really boils down to many industries’ unwillingness to adapt.

Piracy is the result of the entertainment industry’s inability to change. Rather than think innovatively and try new solutions to better mesh with an increasingly online-oriented world, they dig their heels in the mud and try to pass laws that won’t force them to change their marketing strategy.What Sets Online Marketers Apart Great online marketers understand why it’s important to adapt to change. The world of online marketing is continuously shifting on the churning ti... > Read more

January 26, 2012     |   Written by: Megan Marrs   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 3

Frequently Asked Questions about the Top Google Advertisers Infographic

Thanks to everyone who helped us get the news out about our infographic: What Industries Contribute to Google's Revenues. A special thank you to John Abell at Wired, Jennifer Booton at Fox Business, and John Letzing at the Wall Street Journal, Noam Cohen at the New York Times, Eric Mack at CNET, Jeff Haden at Inc, as well as the guys at Black Hat PPC! In this post, I’d like to address a few of the questions that came up in the comment sections of our blog and other sites that covered the news.

Here it is again (click to enlarge), in case you missed it!And now for some Q&A’s about our Google Advertiser Infographic:Where Is the Legal Industry? (i.e., Where Are My “Mesothelioma” Keywords?)Here are the top 20 industries that spent the most on Google advertising last year.Finance &a... > Read more

January 26, 2012     |   Written by: Larry Kim   |   Posted In: Google   |   Comments: 7

What Kinds of Businesses Should Use PPC Advertising?

On Monday, we published a new infographic based on original research into the industries that spent the most money on Google advertising last year, contributing to Google’s 2011 revenues of $37.9 billion, 96% of which came from advertising. (Larry answered some follow-up questions about the research here.

)Following up on those results, we wanted to share some advice for new or hopeful AdWords advertisers – namely, what kinds of businesses are finding great success with AdWords and other pay-per-click (PPC) advertising platforms? What types of characteristics could make your business a good match for PPC?Below are five traits of businesses that usually see great results and strong ROI from paid search marketing. If any of these apply to your company and you’re not yet engaging in PPC,... > Read more

January 25, 2012     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 10
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