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.
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 each step of the cycle, with li... > 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 quality and volume.Fortunately, we PPCers have... > 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
This is the last installment in a three-part series on achieving specific goals within your paid search accounts. In the prior installments we’ve covered:Five Ways to Get More Leads from PPCFive Ways to Lower Your Cost Per Action (CPA)And today we’ll cover a third, somewhat less frequent objective: lowering your PPC costs.
It seems like lowering your PPC costs should be a pretty common objective, but in actuality lowering your CPA is usually a much better goal. After all, for most businesses you’ll take as many cost-effective leads and sales as you can get, so the concern is more how much you’re paying for each lead rather than how much you’re paying total. But as most PPC managers know, in the real world there are various factors that sometimes cause businesses to want to quickly... > Read more
Last week we gave you five tips on how to get more leads from PPC. But what if your main problem isn’t leads? Everyone wants more leads, of course, but what if your most immediate problem is that your PPC campaign just isn’t profitable?In this post we’ll walk through five more tips, this time for lowering your CPA.
Cost Per Action Lowering Tip 1: Lower Your BidsIf your cost per conversion is out of whack, this basically means that the following equation isn’t adding up properly for you:Cost / Conversions = CPAWe’re thinking about ways to get conversions for cheaper, so it’s pretty obvious that we might want to do something about the conversion end of this equation, but all too often I see people ignore the cost side to their own peril.Many times, there’s a range of conversion ... > Read more
Todd Wilkinson, CEO of WordWatch, began his online career in 1999 with WorldOnline/Tiscali, a pioneering European ISP. Todd later co-founded a digital agency in Amsterdam in 2002, called iizt (pronounce “east”), serving the advertising industry in the Benelux. In 2006, Todd co-founded and served as CEO to Respectance.
com, a social media play described by TechCrunch as the “MySpace for dead people.” Funded by two European VCs, Respectance was located in San Francisco, CA and Amsterdam, NL. Todd exited Respectance in 2010 and launched WordWatch in March 2011, based in Foster City, CA and Amsterdam, NL, with production and algorithm development in Krakow. You believe that bid management is the most time-intensive part of search engine marketing. Why is it so time-consuming and what... > Read more
I thought I had a good grasp on keyword match types – that is, until I started studying for the adCenter exam. Then I realized there were some noteworthy differences between how Google and Bing interpret match types. If you’ve been treating match types the same in both search engines, read on to learn the key differences between the two and how they may be affecting your account.
For this example we are going to be owners of a flower shop. We want to include the keyword "red flowers" in our Google and Bing accounts. I’m going to go through how the different match types for "red flowers" will affect when our ads show in each account. List of Match Types: Broad Match Phrase Match Exact Match Negative Keywords Broad Match Google: An ad is eligible to appear when a user's search term ... > Read more
If you run a local business in a competitive market (and whose market isn’t competitive these days), it’s essential to set your AdWords campaigns up in a particular way for local online marketing. You will need to set up a minimum of two different campaigns, and sometimes four. Why is this? Let’s look at an example for a plumber from Swindon, in the UK.
The first campaign will be set up with general keywords. Examples are: Plumber Local plumber Plumbers Emergency plumbers Local plumbers 24 hour plumbers The best practice in order to get high Quality Scores, hence a cheaper Cost Per Click (CPC), is to add each of these keywords in their own ad group, with ads containing these specific keywords. You will then set this campaign to run ONLY within the Swindon area. You can do this... > Read more
That's right folks, it's the auspicious return of Pimp Your PPC Ad, in which I scan the SERPs for sponsored ads that don't pass the sniff test, then tell you how to make them better (-smelling?). I always meant to make this a regular feature, but apparently I only did it once in 2009. Oops. So, maybe it's only a biannual feature.
Anyway, here we go with five more lessons from poorly executed pay-per-click ads. Lesson #1: Don't Put All Your Keyword Eggs in One Basket These are some of the ads I was served up for "army surplus gear": This last one suffers from a lack of targeting – these different keywords (ACU headgear, ACU jackets, etc.) should really all be in their own ad groups. In addition, the ad doesn't communication any value proposition and doesn't have a ca... > Read more
If you're a PPC agency there are some fundamentals within the campaign that you want to understand before you do anything else: Margins & Profit - Before you do anything else with PPC, you want to understand what "profitable" means. If you're working on a VC-backed company willing to take a loss on each lead this might just be a target cost per acquisition (CPA), but in most cases it means a hard cost that leads a company into the black.
This is the most critical single metric in your PPC campaign (and it has nothing to do with click-through rate, Quality Score, etc.!). Costs & Costs Per Click - Obviously you want to be cognizant of what you're spending -- not just in the context of your cost per conversion and your margins, but also in the context of the volume you can drive... > Read more
BoostCTR is is a network of advertisers and expert pay-per-click ad writers. I asked BoostCTR's Jeff Sexton and Ryan Healy to share some of their knowledge about what goes into a great pay-per-click ad. Jeff is in charge of Optimization Management for Boost’s writer network, and Ryan is a lead writer and blogger for Boost.
First off, can you tell us a little bit about BoostCTR? Jeff Sexton: BoostCTR helps businesses improve their pay-per-click advertising ( PPC) by boosting the click-through rate (CTR) of their ads. We take clients’ best performing PPC ads, re-write them, and then split-test the original ad against our new challenger ad. And we repeat that process until we beat the client’s old ad by at least 5%, or we give them their money back. 5% is the guarantee, but our average ... > Read more
A couple of weeks ago I told you that your first negative keyword lists should consist of your brand keywords. Doing so keeps your competitive (higher CPC), non-branded campaigns from poaching brand-related ad impressions. Typically we see negative keywords being used to stop ad impressions from completely irrelevant search queries (or search queries that bring no business value), but there is a case for using relevant keywords as negative keywords.
Using brand-related keywords in negative keyword lists is not the only example of using relevant keywords as negatives. Depending on your business, you may find, after analyzing your search query reports, that your campaigns are poaching ad impressions from each other. Because of this, I recommend that you create a negative keyword list for eac... > Read more
How many PPC blog posts do you read in a week? How many do you actually take action on? I’m guilty of reading a lot and acting too little. Much of the information published on optimizing your PPC campaigns is very interesting and insightful, but maybe not particularly actionable (or it can be difficult to take action easily).
So when you see something that's actionable and easy to try, don’t just read and tweet! Actually try it! Slow down and ask yourself how you can leverage this new knowledge in your own campaigns. That’s what I did, just a few weeks ago when Tom Demers wrote this article about using symbols in PPC ad text. Was this the first time I’d ever heard of using symbols? Nope. But the last time it was on my mind, I didn’t take action, so I didn’t reap th... > Read more
In many cases, expanding your paid search marketing reach can have as great of an impact on results as refining your existing campaigns. As you look to expand your paid search campaigns, you want to focus on two core means of discovery: "Wider" - Going "wider" means identifying new keyword verticals that didn't previously exist within your campaigns.
This often comes in the form of new ad groups targeting wholly new keyword ideas that you hadn't previously introduced into your campaigns. "Deeper" - Going "deeper" in this context means mining your existing campaigns for new targeting opportunities. The best way to do this is by looking at the search query data generated by your existing campaigns. WordStream's latest product release offers some tools to help advertisers perform just these... > Read more
Which day of the week do your contextual PPC ads get the most clicks? Infolinks recently released a study showing that in-text pay-per-click advertisements get more clicks on Tuesday than any other day of the week, followed by Wednesday and then Monday. Unsurprisingly, clicks were lowest on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, with a typical Sunday accounting for 45% fewer clicks than Tuesday.
This study was based on Infolinks' database of over 40,000 websites and analyzed data spanning all of 2010. According to the study: "Advertisers and publishers can utilize this click data for smarter investments and also higher payouts. By concentrating advertising efforts on Tuesday, Wednesday and even Monday, higher engagement can be accomplished and in turn higher revenue earned." ... > Read more
1. I will use Broad Match Modifiers more This feature is something that we PPC’ers have been wanting/needing for a long time. It is a real step forward in giving us more control over how we spend our money on broad match. But with great power comes great responsibility. It’s up to us to use BMM to its fullest potential, which unfortunately means more disciplined work.
Some of you may remember the Broad Match Modifier tool I created earlier this year to help you get started. I wrote about how to use BMM here. 2. I will use geo-targeting more Geo-targeting has been around a long time, and like the new BMM it takes a disciplined approach to use it properly and effectively. Using geo-targeting gives us advertisers more control over how we spend our money, but it makes me tired just t... > Read more
VLOOKUP is one of a number of handy Excel functions for PPC. For grizzled PPC campaign managers this function is likely very familiar, but as a former philosophy major who fulfilled his math requirement with a class in logic (taught by a philosophy professor) I think it's helpful for non-Excel ninjas who are new to PPC to understand:How the Excel VLOOKUP function worksHow it can be applied to pay-per-click managementAs a result in this article we’ll walk through some specific applications and resources offering more information on using the VLOOKUP function for PPC.
How to Do a VLOOKUPBefore we dig into the applications of the VLOOKUP function for PPC I want to go over how to actually use the VLOOKUP function. Here are a couple of videos that should help you to learn the function:And anot... > Read more
I have failed to effectively communicate "what PPC is" to people on numerous occasions. Some of that may be that I talk unnecessarily fast, but I think most of it was a result of my approach. My more recent efforts to explain to people what PPC is, how it works, and why it's important to their business have been more successful (from what I can tell and from what I've been told) and since this is an issue every PPC consultant is likely to face in some capacity or other, I thought it might be useful to talk about what has been (and hasn't been) effective for me in communicating to non-PPCers on the topic of paid search marketing.
Think About Your Objective I think that your objective should always be education. Whether you're selling PPC services, PPC software, or just trying to "sell... > Read more
This is the last post in my series on Advanced Search Query Mining. Here is a list of the previous posts in this series just in case you missed one. Part 1: The Power of Search Queries Part 2: Getting the Right Data Part 3: Preparing Your Data for Analysis Part 4: Mining Your Data for Insights In my previous post on search query mining I showed you my technique for creating an ad-group-level negative candidates list and a keyword expansion list from your search queries.
In this post I’m going to show you a method for acting on those insights. I will also include a link in the conclusion of this post to a free Excel download that has all of the formulas I’ve used in this series. Acting on your Negative Candidates There are several factors that could be impacting the performance o... > Read more
In the last post in this series, I showed you how to prepare your search query data for analysis. We had some specific questions that needed to be answered and that shaped how we transformed our data. These questions included the following: What search queries have high impressions but no clicks? What search queries have resulted in a conversion? What search queries have a below-average CTR for the ad group? What search queries have an above-average cost/conversion? Do I have a problem with ad poaching and duplication? For the most part, these questions are focused around search queries that may need to be added as negative keywords and search queries that need to be a part of a keyword expansion strategy.
I like to start my query mining analysis with a quick surv... > Read more
In part 2 of this series, we gathered all of the data we would need for our search query mining exercise into Excel, as seen below. Now, we must take the time to prepare our data for analysis. This will include creating derived fields to bring information to the surface, flagging and deleting noise, converting counts to proportions, etc.
We are going to use the power of Excel to our advantage and push our data to its limits to extract value. Here are some of the questions our data will need to be able to answer easily: What search queries have high impressions but no clicks? (might be a good negative candidate) What search queries have resulted in a conversion? (promote these to exact match keywords in your account). What search queries have a below average CTR for the ad ... > Read more
As with any PPC analysis, you must get the right data to answer your questions. Here are some of the questions our data will need to be able to answer easily: What search queries have high impressions but no clicks? What search queries have resulted in a conversion? What search queries have a below average CTR for the ad-group? What search queries have an above average Cost/Conv? What search queries are duplicates of existing exact match keywords? In order to answer questions about a search query’s performance we need the Search Query Report, for questions about comparison metrics we will need an Ad-Group Report, and for questions about duplication we will need a Keyword Account Structure Report.
This tutorial does require a basic understanding of how to use the AdWord... > Read more