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.

How to Compare Your PPC Results Month over Month

Amy Hoffman is 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 the same trend. There... > Read more

August 11, 2010     |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 2

Selling Trending Items via PPC: A Success Story and Some Advice

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

July 27, 2010     |   Written by: Christine Laubenstein   |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 0

Building a PPC Campaign: Workflow & Mistakes to Avoid

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

July 22, 2010     |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 6

Announcing The Ultimate Guide to Quality Score

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

June 15, 2010     |   Written by: Ken Lyons   |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 0

Improving Quality Score Part 4: The Importance of Quality Score

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

June 10, 2010     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 1

Improving Quality Score Part 3: How is Quality Score Calculated?

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

June 09, 2010     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 3

Improving Quality Score Part 2: How Quality Score Works

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

June 08, 2010     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 2

Improving Quality Score Part 1: Why Should You Care About Quality Score?

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

June 07, 2010     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 1

How to Find Your Quality Score on Google and Yahoo

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

June 01, 2010     |   Written by: Christine Laubenstein   |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 2

Lifetime Value Versus CPA

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 generated, or a registered user or downloaded application.

Any discrete action that can be tracked as the result of paid search or any other type of performance-based marketing is a CPA. Many marketers obsess over the profitable value of a CPA to their business. This is a worthwhile undertaking since knowing your monetary targets in paid search is the easiest way to hit them. Let’s take a simple example for context. Say you’re selling baseball hats online. For the ease of the example, we’ll say that ev... > Read more

May 25, 2010     |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 0

14 PPC Tools for Beginners

For whatever reason, you may not have yet partaken in a pay-per-click advertising campaign. Maybe you thought print advertising was more effective, feared the potential of click fraud, or have just been too busy to learn the ins and outs of the PPC advertising model. Now you’ve decided that PPC may be worth your while.

You’re doing your best to read all you can about the advertising form, determine your keywords, and set a budget for your pay-per-click ad spend. As you venture into this new advertising territory, there are many tools that can help you effectively shape your PPC campaigns. Here are 13 PPC tools for beginners:Google AdWords Traffic Estimator: Use this tool to get the estimated average AdWords cost per click (CPC) amounts for particular keywords and keyword phrases. ... > Read more

May 18, 2010     |   Written by: Christine Laubenstein   |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 3

Bing PPC vs. Google PPC

Since the Microsoft Bing search engine was unveiled about a year ago, it has garnered a fair amount of media attention. Much of the attention has revolved around Bing’s potential threat to Google’s market share. It looks like Bing is indeed emerging as a danger to Google. Watch out Google! Bing PPC advertising is gaining ground.

According to Hitwise, in June about 5% of U.S. searches were conducted with Bing and 74% with Google. In April, however, about 9% of U.S. searches were conducted with Bing and 71% with Google.   It remains to be seen if Bing’s momentum will continue. But it is worth asking yourself whether its growing popularity should prompt you to consider advertising on its search results pages.   Before you make that decision, however, you should familiarize yo... > Read more

May 10, 2010     |   Written by: Christine Laubenstein   |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 11

Five Great PPC Landing Pages

You’ve probably heard numerous times that landing pages should contain your keywords, be attractively designed, and provide sufficient information for the customer to make a sales or registration decision.   However, you might not have been provided with good examples of these concepts at work.

Worry no more. This article contains five examples of great PPC landing pages.   While viewing these pages, however, remember that you never really know if a landing page is effective unless you test it and look at conversion data. Rosetta Stone   This is the top part of Rosetta Stone’s landing page for its Spanish software offerings. I typed the keyword phrase “learning Spanish software guide” into Google, clicked on a resulting Rosetta Stone PPC ad, and this page appeared... > Read more

May 06, 2010     |   Written by: Christine Laubenstein   |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 6

What Is a Good Click-Through Rate (CTR) for PPC?

If you are involved with pay-per-click advertising, one of the metrics you should be concerned with is click-through rate. Click-through rate is the percent of ad views that result in clicks, and it is one of the key factors in Google’s search engine results ranking formula. Ads with higher click-through rates get better quality scores and higher placements in Google search results.

This doesn’t mean, however, you should aim for the highest click-through rate possible. Why? Because each click costs you money. If your conversions aren’t keeping up with you click costs, then you will be losing money.  Click-through Rates CTR rate goals Below goal CTR Above goal CTR Optimize CTR Monitor CTR Change CTR goals So, what’s a good click-through rate then? Your ideal click-through rat... > Read more

April 26, 2010     |   Written by: Christine Laubenstein   |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 14

Google AdWords Remarketing: What is Remarketing?

A couple of weeks ago Google announced a new AdWords feature, called remarketing, that lets advertisers display their ads on the Google Content Network to users who have already visited their website. The idea is that because many of these users have an interest in the product or service you are offering, the chances of them clicking on your ad and converting are higher.

A study recently published by the Network Advertising Initiative backs up this claim. It shows that behavioral-targeted online ads are more than twice as valuable and effective as non-targeted online ads.The unveiling of this Google tool follows a one-year remarketing beta period. About 500 companies, including Samsung, InterContinental Hotels Group, and Armani cosmetics and fragrances, took part in the product test.What ar... > Read more

April 09, 2010     |   Written by: Christine Laubenstein   |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 4

5 Tips for Passing PPC Certification Exams

I was never a very good test taker. I would easily ace papers and homework assignments, but please do not ask me to reveal my SAT scores. This is a post for all of those that can share in my pain – tests are not fun. In the PPC industry, there are several certification exams that one can take: the Microsoft adExcellence Exam, the Google Advertising Fundamentals Exam, and of course the king of them all – the Google Analytics Individual Qualification (IQ) Test.

We recently celebrated when our newest member, Jen Barrett, passed the analytics exam (any excuse for Happy Hour on a Tuesday, right?). She is now ready to conquer the world of analytics, SEO and PPC consulting and I thought we would help you all do the same with a few tips and tricks for passing these industry exams. Some of thes... > Read more

April 05, 2010     |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 7

A Balanced PPC Diet: Balancing Head Terms with the Long Tail

All too often we search marketers get overly consumed with the concept of long tail keywords. We read about it in blogs and articles and increasingly the long tail is preached as the solution to all your pay-per-click problems.  Certainly the benefits of the long tail are undeniable; by targeting long-tail phrases we focus our efforts around more targeted search queries and generally find less competition among advertisers.

However, as with any diet, we need to remain balanced. By eating only lettuce and vegetables, we’re sacrificing protein and other nutrients that come with fattier foods. Likewise, by only targeting the long tail, we sacrifice the valuable benefits that competing for head-tail terms may provide. So what are the benefits of head terms? First, these more genera... > Read more

February 23, 2010     |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 5

Ten Ways to Improve Your AdWords Click-Through Rate (CTR)

One of the best ways to save money on your AdWords campaign is by improving your click-through rate (CTR), or the percentage of viewers who actually click on your ad. A higher click-through rate leads to a higher Quality Score -- a grade Google applies to your AdWords keywords and ad groups. When you have a high Quality Score, you pay less for better ad spots.

  Here are 10 steps you can take to improve your AdWords click-through rate: Include promotional offers, attractive adjectives, and calls to action in your ads. People are more likely to click on your ad if you tout a special promotion, like free shipping. Also, words like “save,” “easy,” and “new,” and calls to action like “buy now,” “reserve today” and “call now,” can prompt a click. Put your keywor... > Read more

February 02, 2010     |   Written by: Christine Laubenstein   |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 10

Recommended Reading: PPC Blog, from the Folks Who Brought You SEO Book

My favorite way to find quality blogs (and books and movies, for that matter) is via recommendation. Towards that end, I thought I'd share a PPC Blog you might not be reading (every so often we share a list of our favorite search and online marketing blogs). Aaron and Giovanna Wall of SEO Book fame have started collaborating on a sister site that focuses on PPC.

The content is really strong, offering a very similar level of high quality how-to and industry trend material. They recently launched a very clever AdWords tax calculator that can help give you an indication of how much you might be wasting on paid search. If you haven't already it's definitely worth checking out and subscribing. ... > Read more

February 01, 2010     |   Written by: Tom Demers   |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 0

Temporarily Outsourcing Client Work: It's Not As Scary As You Might Think

This is a guest post by Jenny Anderson, a search marketing consultant at Hanapin Marketing. She works with a variety of clients and writes for Hanapin’s blogs, PPC Hero and SEO Boy. Outsourcing your clients’ work can get a little sticky, and there are plenty of reasons why some agencies may never turn to external help – even when they’re on overload with other client work.

They might not want to lose the control of knowing every detail in the account, they might think they know the product better than someone on the outside, or they might be afraid of what their client will think if they find out. In our experience with managing outsourced accounts at Hanapin, I can tell you that it’s really not that scary. Below are some tips and hints on how to successfully outsource, along wit... > Read more

January 26, 2010     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 1

Know Your PPC Traffic! The Real Deal Behind 'Search Partners'

This is a guest post by Shawn Livengood. Shawn Livengood is a search marketing professional based in Austin, Texas. He is also pursuing his master’s degree in information architecture at the University of Texas at Austin. You can read more at his PPC marketing blog, PPC Without Pity. When you sign up for a pay-per-click advertising account, you might assume that you are buying your traffic directly from the search engine.

If you bid on keywords in Google AdWords, you're just getting traffic from people who search on Google.com, right? Wrong! What many people don't realize is that a significant portion of PPC traffic comes not from the search engine sites themselves, but from a network of "search partners" associated with each search engine. So what exactly is a "search partner"? Basicall... > Read more

January 07, 2010     |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 3

Learn How You Can Improve Your Pay-per-click ROI with Google AdWords' Conversion Optimizer

As a long-time PPC manager, one of my biggest pet peeves is automation for the sake of automation. Yes, we’re all looking to save some time and make our processes more efficient. But efficiency will only benefit you if it means you are still getting great results from your pay-per-click campaigns! For a long time I naively avoided bid management tools or anything that “stank” of blind automation.

Then Google AdWords went and created Conversion Optimizer, which switches the bidding process from cost-per-click (CPC) to cost-per-acquisition (CPA). Not only that, but it automates keyword level bids. With some trepidation on my part, I decided to give Conversion Optimizer a shot and I haven’t looked back since! You still pay per click, but you no longer need to adjust your bids manually... > Read more

January 05, 2010     |   Written by: John Lee   |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 4

A Search Marketer’s New Year’s Resolutions

Repeat after me. This year, I resolve to... 1. Get More Organized Is your idea of "keyword research" just a bunch of keywords jammed into in a spreadsheet? Effective keyword organization and keyword management is a foundational component of paid and organic search marketing. In PPC, it means grouping together similar keywords and matching them with targeted ad text and landing pages.

And in SEO, it means effectively targeting keyword niches in order to create and link together original themed content about specific topics, which in turn are more likely to rank highly for targeted organic searches. Start the new year off with strong organizational footing by checking out our Definitive Guide to Keyword Organization. 2. Lose Weight Trim the fat from your PPC campaigns! Negative keyword disc... > Read more

January 04, 2010     |   Written by: Larry Kim   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 8

A Wrod Abut Mispelligns

The following is a guest post by Evan Saks, founder and president of Lungfish Communications. PPC advertisers looking for the best value in search would be well-advised to follow these three steps: search, serch, and seacrh again!  One of the wonders of Google is its automatic spelling correction.

Search for the term “Ipod” and Google will return results including text ads from Target, Bose, MacMall, Amazon, AOL, Overstock, and others. Apple gets top position, but it’s a crowded field with plenty of others clamoring for attention.  Now search for “ipdo” and Apple’s sponsored link will appear in the first position. And also in the last position. Because it’s all alone, with no other competitive ads. Apple is presumably paying a miniscule bid price, since there are n... > Read more

December 28, 2009     |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 0

Using the Free Keyword Niche Finder to Set Up a PPC Campaign

Yesterday I talked about using the Free Keyword Grouper to plot out a structure for a new website. Today I'd like to show you how to use our other new tool, the Free Keyword Niche Finder, to quickly set up a PPC campaign. We believe that a high Quality Score is the key to an effective, cost-efficient pay-per-click campaign, and that a well-organized campaign structure is the key to securing high Quality Scores.

Here's how the new tool can help you get there. First, just enter a keyword. The Free Keyword Niche Finder is a keyword suggestion tool and keyword grouping tool in one. Just enter a keyword, and you'll get back extensive, relevant suggestions, but instead of a scattered list, the results are organized into related groupings. Let's use the perfume store example again: Similar to th... > Read more

December 22, 2009     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: Keyword Marketing   |   Comments: 0

Five Ways to Expand Your PPC Presence

The following is a guest post by John Lewis, one of WordStream's client services representatives. John helps customers overcome challenges and hone PPC performance. Pay-per-click marketing is a continual process and there are always ways to expand your presence and improve performance. The following are five ways you can explore different PPC opportunities even after you have thoroughly segmented your keywords into an effective structure: 1.

Advertise on the content network: A good form of spreading your brand name to a relevant audience. Select verticals of websites that are related to your product to reach out to the most qualified audience. A study conducted by Forrester indicates that display advertising in the content network increases brand awareness and results in higher click-thro... > Read more

December 08, 2009     |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 3

Leverage Analytics Intelligence to Be Alerted to Important Changes in Your PPC Campaign

At the end of October, Google Analytics announced a series of exciting updates. Included was the Analytics Intelligence engine which algorithmically tracks significant changes to patterns in your website’s metrics. This engine works both as an automatic feature for general alerts and a custom feature for you to leverage Intelligence based on any metric and/or traffic source you choose.

Intelligence comes with the ability to provide Daily, Weekly or Monthly alerts. As a PPC manager, I'm thrilled to be able to let Google track my data and tell me when things are going well, and more importantly - not going well. Today I'm going to share with you some quick ideas on how you can leverage Analytics Intelligence for your own PPC campaigns.  But just in case you missed the offici... > Read more

November 17, 2009     |   Written by: Larry Kim   |   Posted In: Analytics   |   Comments: 5

3 Things You Need to Know About Long-Tail Marketing with Advanced Broad Match

This is a guest post is by Bob Stanley, WordStream’s Senior Client Services Representative. Bob has extensive experience in paid search, which he now leverages to help our clients solve difficult problems surrounding pay-per click marketing with the WordStream software. One of my roles as a client services rep for WordStream is to help clients use our software to successfully manage their paid search accounts.

I’m finding more and more with our clients that the long tail is getting extremely competitive. I personally blame advanced broad matching options, dynamic keyword insertion (DKI), and just the industry becoming more sophisticated.  We all know the advantages of getting more specific with grouping and creating better conversion paths – however, it’s not always so cut and... > Read more

November 04, 2009     |   Written by: Elisa Gabbert   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 1

Improve Your Paid Search Performance by Addressing These 5 Common PPC Mistakes

For many online marketers, pay-per-click advertising is a relatively complicated marketing tool with a lot of moving pieces. Maybe that’s an understatement, but with so many moving pieces, it is commonplace to let certain strategies and best practices fall through the proverbial cracks. Admittedly, a lot has been written on PPC mistakes.

But that is just further proof that so many advertisers are leaving money on the table and need to be reminded how they can step up their game and improve their PPC performance. Today I’m going to discuss 5 common mistakes that PPC advertisers make and offer simple solutions to get your campaigns moving in the right direction. Ignoring Quality Score-Friendly Campaign Structure Despite the wealth of knowledge found on blogs and in ... > Read more

November 03, 2009     |   Written by: Larry Kim   |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 6

What, Exactly, Determines Your PPC Keyword Price?

It's a question that's asked more often then you might think. "What determines my pay-per-click keyword price?" The answer is most certainly not "Google" or another PPC search engine. Truth be told, this question is aptly answered by a quick lesson in PPC fundamentals. Your keyword price, or cost-per-click (CPC), is determined by a combination of your bidding strategy, keyword competition, Quality Score and a handful of other factors.

TIP: PPC terminology 101. While keyword price is a seemingly accurate descriptor, the more appropriate (and widely accepted) term is actually cost-per-click - aka CPC.Your Keyword Bids: The most obvious determinant of your keywords' cost-per-click is in fact your actual bid! Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing and Microsoft adCenter all util... > Read more

October 19, 2009     |   Written by: Larry Kim   |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 7
 
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