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.
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
This is a guest post by Chad Summerhill, author of the blog PPC Prospector, provider of free PPC tools and PPC tutorials, and in-house AdWords Specialist at Moving Solutions, Inc. (UPack.com and MoveBuilder.com). 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 Deme... > 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
If you are bidding on broad match keywords and ignoring your search queries, you are definitely wasting money, by not managing your negative keywords, missing out on profitable long-tail keyword opportunities, and possibly missing new emerging search trends in your market. Keywords are not search queries Keywords are not search queries, although search queries can be keywords.
Keywords are assumptions about the words we think our customer will use when using a search engine, while search queries are the reality. If you are only using exact match keywords in your PPC campaigns, then your keywords will match your customers' search queries exactly every time a search is matched to your ad. However, if you are taking advantage of broad and phrase match, oftentimes one keyword ca... > Read more
One of the biggest mistakes that I see people make surrounding keyword organization is that they waste good to great structures. It's becoming better understood that intelligent paid search campaign organization is fundamental to paid search success, but just having a strong keyword structure isn't enough.
You have to then work to get the most out of that organizational advantage. How to Waste Great Keyword Structure in One Easy Step One of the really important things to understand about keyword grouping is that as you create new groups of keywords and get more and more granular with your segmentation, you're actually just speaking to an additional layer of intent. A keyword, after all, is an advertising control, and you're hand-picking a certain type of prospect with the keyword and signa... > Read more
This is a guest post by Willy Oghinan, a search engine marketing consultant and CEO of Salesplux, a leading Google AdWords management and marketing enhancement company. With Google AdWords, you can build your brand and increase your customer base with near immediate results. However, the challenges in properly creating and managing an AdWords campaign are such that many marketers abandon the whole project before they can achieve any return on investment.
These challenges include, but are not restricted to, high bid rates that exceed your budget and non-converting clicks that further erode your spend. But there are two critical factors that go a long way toward ensuring greater AdWords marketing success, enabling you to implement precisely targeted advertising and turn your PPC campaign in... > Read more
We've reviewed PPC Blog here before but since that post they've added a members-only training and community portion of their site that I've had a chance to spend some time with, so we thought it was worth reviewing the training and community aspects of the site. Why Bother with a Training/Community Site? One of the common objections you'll hear to paying for content (whether it's a how-to eBook or the Wall Street Journal) is that you can get seemingly similar content for free.
I touched on this in my review of SEO Book's training and community site, but I think that as content and data become more and more omnipresent and commoditized, a lot of the opportunity to create great products that make people better at what they do lies in how you slice, dice, and represent portions of that c... > Read more
The goal of PPC ad testing is to increase your click-through rate (CTR) and/or your conversion rate (CVR). Focusing on CTR should result in more traffic to your site, but it could be at the expense of your CVR. On the other hand, focusing on conversion rate should improve the quality of your traffic, but could hurt your CTR and reduce the number of potential customers visiting your site.
As advertisers we are asked to maximize both CTR and CVR, which often requires totally different approaches. If you want to maximize the total number of conversions on your site, you will need to look at a different metric which considers both the CTR and the CVR. This metric is called Impression-to-Conversion or I2C (Conversions/Impressions). I recently created a free Excel download for determining statis... > Read more
We recently ran a webinar on negative keywords, sharing tips, tricks and best practices for using negative keywords to identify and eliminate areas of wasted spend in AdWords pay-per-click campaigns. The webinar included: Tips for identifying wasted spend before it happens Methods for identifying underperforming queries that are costing you money in your AdWords campaign Step-by-step instructions for setting negative keywords within your AdWords campaign via the AdWords interface If you missed it, you can view a video of the webinar or the slides below.
And we hope to see you at the next webinar! Negative Keywords: Tips, Tricks and Best Practices Need more help with negative keywords? Download our free white paper: Negative Keywords: How to Put an End to Wa... > Read more
This is a guest post by Amy Hoffman, a search marketing consultant at Hanapin Marketing. She also blogs for PPC Hero and SEO Boy. Have you ever looked through an old scrapbook to find yourself smiling at memories you’d nearly forgotten? For me, it may be dressing up as Aqua to perform a sixth grade rendition of “Barbie Girl,” holding my at-the-time new baby brother, or some other embarrassing, proud or hilarious moment.
Some of these moments will live on only in the scrapbook. (I can double-check but I’m pretty positive my mom won’t have any more kids.) On the contrary, these memories can spark future plans such as a reunion with my fellow Aqua impersonators. By now, you’re probably wondering where I’m going with this. Believe it or not, the lifespan of a PPC account follows... > Read more
The Wall Street Journal recently reported on a small retailer in Alabama that profited from noticing and acting on a paid search opportunity. 365 Inc. first seized a market opportunity—late last year, knowing that the World Cup was approaching, the company ordered several thousand vuvuzelas (stadium horns).
They had a hunch vuvuzelas would become popular among U.S. soccer fans, which ultimately proved true. As the World Cup drew near, 365 Inc. bid on vuvuzela-related terms like “soccer horn” and “stadium horn” from Google and Yahoo for between 15 and 30 cents per click. Its ads began appearing in search results, and as of July 1 the company had sold $240,000 worth of vuvuzelas (30,000 vuvuzelas at $8 apiece). The company wouldn’t reveal to ... > Read more
I haven't done PPC in a long time, so when I had to set something up for my dad's dental continuing education conference and travel business, it took a while to shake off the rust. I'm still figuring things out, but so far I've got some things flowing smoothly, and some mistakes worth learning from, too.
So let's see what we can learn from this campaign.(This was in the context of trying PPC again for my dad's dental CE cruises. I already knew the campaign strategy and so was able to create the landing page quickly, making the wireframe myself, having the graphics fleshed out by Angeles, and the HTML sliced by PSD to HTML CSS.)If you don't have your strategy set already, you need to think things through first. (For instance, is it going to be an e-commerce or lead gen play? Who's the audie... > Read more
Since launching WordStream in late 2008, the most common question we get asked from clients is "how do I improve my Quality Score?" This really doesn't come as a surprise given that maintaining a healthy AdWords Quality Score is critical to driving down click spend and driving up ROI. To help PPC marketers better navigate the murky waters of Quality Score, we've put together The Ultimate Guide to Quality Score.
The guide features in-depth, comprehensive insights into the nuts and bolts of Google AdWords Quality Score from some of the top minds in pay-per-click advertising, including Brad Geddes, Andrew Goodman, George Michie, Dave Davis, Marty Weintraub, Larry Kim and many, many more. So for anyone who's ever wondered what you can do to improve your Quality Score in Google AdWords... ... > Read more
Quality Score affects virtually all the important metrics of a PPC campaign, including: Impressions Ad position Cost-per-click (CPC) Here’s how: How Quality Score Affects Impressions Each time a user conducts a search, Google AdWords conducts an internal ad auction to determine which advertisers have ads it deems eligible (relevant enough) to appear alongside the user’s search results.
Google has publicly stated on numerous occasions their underlying belief that it’s better to display no ads at all than to display irrelevant ads (and in doing so, potentially lose an opportunity for incremental revenue). Quality Score partly determines if a keyword is relevant enough, and hence eligible to enter an ad auction. The more times an advertiser’s ads are deem... > Read more
For the rest of the week, we'll be posting excerpts from our new free white paper, "Improving Quality Score: The Value of Being More Relevant." To download the full white paper (you'll only get about half of it here), fill out the form below. Google determines Quality Score slightly differently for each of the different advertising networks that it runs.
Here we’ll learn how Quality Score is calculated for Google Search, which is the largest source of traffic for most advertisers. According to Google: Quality Score is calculated in real-time, every time your keyword matches a search query—that is, every time your keyword has the potential to trigger an ad. Quality Score is used in several different ways, including influencing your keywords’ actual cost-per-click... > Read more
For the rest of the week, we'll be posting excerpts from our new free white paper, "Improving Quality Score: The Value of Being More Relevant." To download the full white paper (you'll only get about half of it here), fill out the form below. In a nutshell, Quality Score is a Google-devised system that measures advertising quality (or relevancy), which in turn helps determine if your ad is eligible to be displayed in the search results for a given query.
Beyond that, if your ad is deemed relevant, the position of your ad and the cost you pay each time it’s clicked are also partially determined by your Quality Score. The factors that determine Quality Score, as outlined by Google, include: The historical click-through rate (CTR) of your account and your specific keyword... > Read more
For the rest of the week, we'll be posting excerpts from our new free white paper, "Improving Quality Score: The Value of Being More Relevant." To download the full white paper (you'll only get about half of it here), fill out the form below.Why Should You Care About Quality Score?Should you be concerned about Quality Score? You probably should, but let’s find out for sure.
Take a look at this list and see if any of the following apply to you:a) You’re Paying Too Much – You’re annoyed at rising pay-per-click (PPC) advertising costs (or you wouldn’t mind paying less per click).b) Your Competitors Seem to Be Beating You – You wish your sponsored ads would show up higher than those of your competitors, but without having topaymore.c)... > Read more
The Quality Score of your pay-per-click ads is a key determinant in the amount you need to bid on keywords to secure a strong position in search engine results. The higher your Google Quality Score, the less you have to pay for your ad to appear in your desired position.For this reason, it's important to track your Quality Scores so you know how your ad campaigns are performing.
Low Quality Scores should prompt you to better organize your keywords, get rid of specific keywords, modify your ad text, or improve your landing pages (among other possible solutions). But first you need to find out what your Quality Scores are. Unfortunately, Bing doesn’t provide this information, but Google and Yahoo do. Here's how to find your Quality Score in Google AdWords and Yahoo Search Marketing.&n... > Read more
This is a guest post by Niel Robertson. Niel is the CEO of Trada, the first PPC marketplace that allows agencies and in-house advertisers to leverage the skills of hundreds of the best PPC experts in the world, who in turn earn money risk free by generating low-cost clicks and conversions for advertisers.
Trada is running a contest in May for the best online marketing blog post; the winner receives an iPad. You can read more of Niel’s thoughts on the Trada blog and follow him on Twitter at @nielr1. The performance-based advertising world is focused on CPA. For those who are not aware of the acronym, it means cost per acquisition or cost per action (both versions are used). An acquisition or action can be anything that a website’s owners want it to be: a confirmed sale or a lead ge... > Read more