Paid Search Marketing
This section contains paid search marketing articles, covering advanced paid search marketing tips, tricks and strategies. Also in this section are interviews with some of the Web's most prolific and well-known paid search marketers.
Half of agencies reported improved ROI from PPC in 2012.>>Tweet This!<< That increased ROI led to more PPC spending. More than three-quarters (77%) of agencies reported an increase in investment in Google advertising in 2012.>>Tweet This!<< 32% of PPC agencies report that their clients primarily use PPC to sell products or services directly.
35% use it to generate leads.>>Tweet This!<< PPC agencies report that the three most important metrics for gauging success of paid search marketing are return on investment (ROI), number of sales or leads, and cost per conversion. (This differs from the top 3 metrics as reported by companies: return on investment (ROI), conversion rate, and number of sales or leads.)>>Tweet This!<<&n... > Read more
Any questions?If you’ve been considering taking the plunge into PPC marketing, and you have some basic – very basic – questions before getting started, look no further. Here you’ll find answers to 10 frequently asked questions from PPC beginners and hopefuls – that is, people who have heard of pay-per-click marketing and Google AdWords, but don’t know much else.
Naturally, if you have a beginner question that isn’t answered here, let us know in the comments and we’ll do our best to help you.Table of ContentsWhat is PPC marketing?Nobody clicks on ads, so why have them?Why do people click on AdWords ads?Why use pay-per-click marketing?What type of businesses should be using internet advertising and why?How does Google AdWords work?Why is Facebook’s click-through rate l... > Read more
In PPC marketing, as in all walks of life, your best intentions can sometimes get you into trouble. Even “best practices” often have unintended side effects!Last week I partnered with Sean Quadlin at Hanapin Marketing to host a webinar called “Good Intentions Gone Wrong: 7 Worst Practices in PPC.
” Here are three of those “good intentions” that can hurt your PPC account and cost you money and leads.Worst Practice #1: Keyword Expansion or Bust!Some marketers have an “expand or die” attitude in PPC. You want every impression possible, so you’re constantly browsing the opportunities tab and adding new keywords that your competitors are bidding on. Growth is a good thing, yes, but if you focus on expansion over organization, your ad groups are probably out of control.Ask yours... > Read more
In honor of this week’s change in branding from adCenter to Bing Ads, and as a counterpart to 25 Fast Facts About Google AdWords, here are 25 facts and figures about Bing Ads, Microsoft’s PPC advertising platform:With a single Bing ad buy, you can reach 162 million unique searchers using Microsoft and Yahoo sites (including Yahoo Search, Bing, and partners), which account for 30% of total search engine share and over 6 billion searches a month.
(comScore Core Search, January 2012)From June 2011 to June 2012, Bing stole 5% of Google’s search share. (Experian Hitwise)Bids on Bing tend to be lower, and the competition for keywords is lower. (Hubspot)Local, travel, shopping and health related searches account for 30-40% of total search queries. Sessions in these four areas on Bing are of... > Read more
Those who advertise on Microsoft adCenter might have noticed that Microsoft changed its name to Bing Ads under Yahoo! Bing Network. Yesterday, advertisers received a newsletter from The Bing Support Team with the announcement in name change and no additional explanations. No significant changes have been made and advertisers don’t need to take any actions to upgrade to Bing Ads.
The first change many might notice is a new home screen when you log in or sign up to advertise on Microsoft. The new Bing Ads home page resembles the main page of Bing search and welcomes new advertisers with information and tips on how it works, how to expand advertising reach, cost and payment, and success stories.The second and I believe the biggest change Microsoft has made and is the ability to transfe... > Read more
A while back we published a post called “Think nobody clicks on Google ads? Think again!” This post was based on original research revealing that roughly two-thirds of clicks for search queries with high commercial intent go to sponsored results.Recently, a new, related report has been making the rounds.
This study, carried out by GroupM UK and Nielsen, reports that 94% of total search engine clicks go to organic results, with just 6% of click share left for paid search ads. This seems to contradict our results – one cheeky lad tweeted the link directly to us – but does it?In the strictest sense – just, you know, in terms of facts – the answer is no. The GroupM study was looking at overall click distribution in the UK over a one-month period, totaling 1.4 billion search q... > Read more
When it comes to search marketing, SEO’s are from Mars and PPC’s are from Venus.Just over a week following the release of our War on Free Clicks infographic, dozens of whiny SEO’s have come out of the woodwork with ludicrous sob stories about how they purportedly tried and failed to get PPC to work for them and/or their client.
Sure, PPC isn’t easy – I get that, and I’ve even written a few articles about how some small businesses are struggling with PPC.But, seriously – compared to SEO?!! PPC is a total cakewalk. Like rolling off a log. Easy as pie.SEO, on the other hand, has recently become a complete nightmare-circus – I’m talking about the keyword analytics “not provided” brouhaha, Panda, Penguin, unnatural links notifications, the increasingly ridiculous and ... > Read more
Microsoft adCenter: Learn to Login, Download the Desktop App, Import from Google AdWords & Market on Bing & Yahoo
If you’ve already created a successful Google AdWords campaign, a great way to drive more leads through PPC is to start to expand to platforms outside of AdWords, like Microsoft’s adCenter, which allows you to place ads on Bing, Yahoo! and their partner sites. (And now that WordStream PPC Advisor offers support for adCenter in addition to AdWords, it’s the perfect time to learn.
)Many of the fundamental best practices for being successful in Google AdWords also hold true for creating a successful adCenter campaign, but the platform definitely has some distinct wrinkles. If you’re starting to advertise with adCenter, or thinking about getting started, there are several great informational resources available to help you get more out of your campaigns.One thing I think is worth cleari... > Read more
Yesterday we published the results of a study showing how sponsored advertisements on Google (PPC ads) are taking over territory previously reserved for organic listings, AKA “free clicks.” This is both good news and bad news for marketers. On the plus side, Google continues to roll out more and better types of search advertising to help marketers target their customers.
On the negative side, you (obviously) have to pay for those clicks.But the fact is, organic clicks aren’t really “free” either – gone are the days when it was relatively easy to rank on the first page in Google for your target keywords. Given the increasing costs and complications involved with SEO, it’s important to diversify your marketing channels. You can’t rely on organic search alone for traffic and l... > Read more
We recently highlighted the different advertising options available via Twitter’s paid ads and promoted tweets platform. Another massively popular social site has also been introducing new advertising options of late: Tumblr. For many businesses, Tumblr’s currently available advertising options may not be a great fit yet, but it’s always worth understanding what’s available with a given advertising channel before you dismiss it, and by following how a popular platform with a lot of visitors evolves their ad products you’ll know when they start to offer solutions that you can get the most out of.
Currently, Tumblr offers four separate ad products:Tumblr Highlighted PostsHighlighted posts allow users to designate their own Tumblr posts to be highlighted in your followers’ dashboar... > Read more
The Microsoft adCenter platform offers its own answer to AdWords Quality Score, but as with negative keywords in adCenter, Quality Scores in adCenter function somewhat differently than they do in Google AdWords.You can easily see your keyword-level Quality Scores in adCenter, similar to the way that you can drill down to the keyword level in AdWords:The way that Quality Score is calculated, however, is slightly different in adCenter.
How Quality Score Is Calculated in adCenterThe biggest difference is that adCenter Quality Score doesn’t actually impact your cost per click and ad rank, ad position, or keyword eligibility. It’s designed to be a metric that indicates how generally competitive your keyword is in the adCenter marketplace as compared to other advertisers’ keywords. The over... > Read more
There are a lot of key differences between Google and Bing match types, but people seem to be particularly confused about adCenter’s negative keyword match type. Most people are familiar with negative keywords in Google AdWords and understand the mechanics of using negative keyword tools and selecting the best negatives for a campaign in Google AdWords, but many people struggle with some of the nuances of leveraging negative keywords within Microsoft adCenter.
In this post we’ll walk through how negative keywords work in adCenter and how, specifically, that functionality is different from Google AdWords.Using Negative Keyword Match Types in Microsoft adCenterIn the post I linked to above, Bethany Bey created this great chart comparing the way negative keyword match types function on dif... > Read more
This is pretty funny – do a search for “keyword” in Bing and here’s an example of the ads that get served:In other words, a seemingly random assortment of merchants – Bloomingdales, BMW of Sudbury, ankylosing spondylitis treatments, whip cream chargers?? Only one of the sponsored results has anything to do with keywords, the one on the bottom for an “SEO Site Analyzer” (notice, though, that the term “keyword” doesn’t even appear in the ad).
What’s going on here? My coworker Sergey figured it out – marketers or business owners are either uploading a spreadsheet or cutting and pasting from a document that uses “Keyword” as a heading. For example, Bloomingdales might have a keyword list that looks something like this:KeywordKate SpadeDKNYMichael KorsAnd the heading ... > Read more
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
It should be no surprise by now that people are using smartphones to perform web searches. Is your website mobile-friendly?Here are some things to consider if it isn’t. Seventy percent of mobile users have compared product prices on their cell phones, 65% read product reviews on their phones and half of all mobile searches lead to a purchase.
That may seem like a big number – but think about how many times you’ve searched for a place to eat, checked out a few menus and made your decision. It happens all the time. As of January this year, it’s estimated that Google serves between 6-8 billion mobile searches per month, meaning that at least 3 billion purchases are made because of a mobile search.Maybe you have an app available on the App Store or Android Market? That’s great, but d... > Read more
If you are managing PPC campaigns in both Google AdWords and Microsoft adCenter, then allow me to be the bearer of some good news. The good folks over at Microsoft are finally making changes to the adCenter platform to make it more familiar to AdWords users.In fact, as this Media Post article describes, Microsoft has conceded that because Google owns the majority of the market share it has become the unofficial industry standard.
While this may be a tough pill for Microsoft to swallow, it’s good news for advertisers who are constantly struggling to save time while optimizing campaigns on both networks.Let’s take a look at some of the things that are changing in adCenter – changes that will make it easier to navigate for people who are currently advertising on Google AdWords:Easier ac... > Read more
We're doing a joint webinar tomorrow with Search Marketing Now. Here are the details:WHAT: Things You Can Do NOW to Improve Your Paid SearchWHEN: Thursday, November 3, 2011 – 1 PM EDT (10 AM PDT)WHO: Alex Cohen, Director of Marketing, H. Bloom, and Larry Kim, Founder and CTO, WordStreamWHY: Every PPC campaign needs a regular checkup.
In this webcast, we’ll take a look at things you can do to evaluate, fine-tune and improve your paid search.Alex Cohen will cover things you can do immediately to audit your account to find hidden waste and to improve your ROI. Larry Kim from WordStream will discuss steps you can take to create and maintain a healthy PPC program while investing just 20 minutes per week.Attend this webcast and learn:How to find and eliminate wasted spendHow to identify and ... > Read more
Last week, 17 PPC experts (and a few more who chimed in via the comments) told us the metrics they pay the most attention to when analyzing their campaign performance in AdWords. The #1 most common answer was click-through rate (CTR). Cost per conversion was another big one.There are many ways to improve your click-through rates, including refining your keyword research and writing more compelling ads.
We're also big advocates of using negative keywords to improve CTR by reducing impressions and clicks from search queries that are irrelevant to your products or just unlikely to convert. By eliminating those non-converting clicks, advertisers can save an enormous amount of wasted budget (often up to 30%!). So using negative keywords effectively doesn't just raise CTR, it lowers costs and im... > Read more
To become a rocket scientist you have to spend approximately half of your life going to school and earning PhD’s so that maybe, possibly, you could do what you really wanted to do as a boy. If you’re not scientifically inclined, but artistically inclined, things don’t get any easier. To be recognized as a master painter you have to put in a lot of work.
You might have to draw the scene ten times, but slightly different each time to get the right effect. You may have to cut off an ear, or maybe even die to be recognized for what you do well! Yeah, it’s a lot of effort, and that shouldn’t be surprising.The reason I bring this up is because lately I’ve been fielding a lot of questions about search engine marketing and pay-per-click marketing along with many, many theories about ho... > Read more
One of the challenges for any specialist is evangelizing your own channel. Whether you’re a pay-per-click consultant, doing PPC full time in house, or just list PPC campaign management as one of the channels you manage, you want to be sure that the proper budget and credit are being assigned to your pay-per-click campaigns.
In some instances just looking at the standard reporting options might not give you a full picture of where the value in your PPC campaign truly lies, but in this post we’ll introduce you to a few tools that will help you get more granular insight into the true performance of your pay-per-click campaigns.Demonstrating PPC Value with Multi-Channel FunnelsMulti-channel funnels from Google Analytics are a great (new) means of showing previously hidden value being create... > Read more
Are you still not doing PPC?! Silly business owners! There are many reasons to explore paid search marketing as a lead generation channel. Here are just three good reasons to get you started.1. PPC Ads Won't Poach Your Organic TrafficAdWords recently released the results of a study designed to answer a question that many advertisers ask: Will running pay-per-click ads cannibalize my organic search traffic? To address this concern, statisticians at Google built a statistical model to make predictions about click volume based on ad spend.
According to Google:This model generates estimates for the incremental clicks attributable to search ads or, in other words, the percentage of paid clicks that are not made up for by organic clicks when search ads are paused.Google found that 89% of traffic... > Read more
Earlier this year George Michie of the Rimm Kaufman blog had a great two-part blog series on performance-based pricing in PPC. The first post did an excellent job of outlining why performance-based pricing may not be as much of an incentive for agencies as some contend, while the second post focused on three additional issues with performance-based pricing, namely:Performance metrics aren’t simpleThe metrics commonly used can be artificially inflatedCommissions are paid for the wrong performanceBefore you get started with a pay for performance agency, you’d be well served to read both posts, but many successful agencies and happy advertisers find ways of making pay for performance work, as George himself points out in both the body and the comments of his posts.
Here we’ll walk throug... > Read more
On the heels of Google's blow-out Q2 2011 earnings announcement last week, we wanted to find out the most expensive keywords - what keywords demand the highest costs per click and are most competitive in terms of high search volume. Since the vast majority of Google's profits come from AdWords advertising, these high CPC keyword categories are responsible for a large part of Google's profits.
The results of our research are illustrated in an infographic of the most expensive keywords. (Click the image to enlarge the google adwords keywords infographic.)Table of Contents:Google CPCExpensive KeywordsBidding TipsBid InfoThe 20 most expensive keywords categories with the highest search volume (i.e. the most used keywords) and highest costs per click, thereby netting Google the most money, are:... > Read more
Do Better Keyword Research Some keywords drive tons of volume, and are therefore highly competitive and costly to bid on. Other keywords are practically free, but are searched on so infrequently, they won’t deliver a significant number of leads. As a search marketer, your goal is to find the sweet spot in your keyword universe – terms that are specific and targeted to your business, and common enough to drive a healthy traffic volume without being so common that you can’t afford to rank on them.
So if high ROI is what you’re after, you’ll need to diversify your keyword sources and aggregate a large number of keywords, then test, test, test to find your own keyword sweet spot – the terms that give you high click-through and conversion rates for relatively... > Read more
Whenever I’m confronted with the task of building new AdWords campaigns from scratch or expanding existing ones, I focus on the above four steps one at a time. Without having that first impression, no click is possible. With no clicks, you can’t hope for a conversion. Without conversions, there’s no customer loyalty.
Adding keywords while writing new ads, analyzing yesterday's results while planning the next optimization steps, instigating competitive research while creating the next landing page test … it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the work associated with paid search marketing. It’s easy to lose focus on what you’re actually trying to achieve. Keeping your attention on one simple goal at a time goes a long way. The following is a summary of... > Read more
In PPC we often run into the word “quality.” Google’s Quality Score has definitely received plenty of attention over the past few years, but whose quality is it measuring? According to Google, Quality Score measures quality for the searcher, advertiser, and the search engine. Quality Score is great and can help you get your account healthy, but it probably doesn’t mean anything to your business leaders.
If your job is to drive “qualified leads,” Google doesn’t get to define quality for your business—the business does. To your business, "quality" probably means more profit or higher revenue. Not only does the business want quality leads, the business wants hundreds or thousands of them, so our job is always a balancing act between qu... > Read more
Finding the right agency to manage your PPC marketing campaigns is quite similar to making an internal hire – in addition to evaluating the agency's background and reputation, you'll want to ask a series of questions to help you better understand what they're about. For most businesses, the PPC agency with the right fit will need to meet your expectations in three areas:Depth of Expertise — Because of the complexity associated with PPC, you want to find a pay per click agency with depth of focus in the paid search space that can put adequate time and attention into the PPC area of your marketing efforts.
The agency should have at least one dedicated PPC manager who focuses solely on paid search. They need to be able to keep up with trends and accouncements in this rapidly changing spac... > Read more
For my money one of the trickier aspects of PPC management is the first few weeks of a new account, campaign, ad group, or product line. Many paid search practitioners (myself included) take a very data-driven approach to managing PPC accounts, so starting from scratch can be a little off-putting, particularly if things don’t get going out of the gate the way you’d hoped and planned.
In this post we’ll outline a few common early issues with new paid search campaigns and how to respond to them so that whatever accounts, campaigns, or ad groups you’re launching can bounce back quickly.Two Common Problems with New PPC CampaignsNew campaigns often suffer from similar issues to existing campaigns, but I find two major issues frequently plague new PPC campaigns unexpectedly:Lower volume t... > Read more
Sometimes as a paid search campaign manager, you get to a point with a campaign where you’ve done a really strong job with all of your standard “blocking and tackling.” You’re managing bids efficiently, your campaign structure is solid, you’ve effectively refined your match type strategy, you’ve done a thorough job of researching keywords, and you’ve put in place processes to consistently mine search queries and optimize ad text and landing pages.
Frequently, a logical next step is to look to drive more leads by expanding to new keywords and new campaigns. But the reality is that in a lot of niches, you’ll wind up driving a lot of your account’s volume (and spending a lot of your cost) on your biggest campaign or couple of campaigns, even after you’ve exhausted several e... > Read more
As a PPC manager, your job is more about achieving objectives than just leveraging features and tactics (features and tactics are a means to an end). Towards this end we put together a three-part series in which we offered specifics tips on how to:Get More Leads from PPCLower Your Cost Per AcquisitionLower Your PPC CostsBut what if you have a more specific objective? One common consideration for account managers is how to get “more leads,” but this is particularly true as it relates to leads from a campaign or channel that is very cost-effective.
Often the content network falls into that category.In this post, we’ll assume your content network campaigns, or a client’s, are launched and off to a great start, and you’re looking to audit a campaign to find opportunities to increase ... > Read more