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.
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
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
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
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
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
This is a guest post by Jenny Anderson, a search marketing, SEO and PPC consultant at Hanapin Marketing. She works with a variety of clients and writes for Hanapin’s blogs, PPC Hero and SEO Boy. 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 here at Hanapin Marketing when our newest member, Jen Barrett, passed the analytics exam (any excuse for Ha... > Read more
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
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
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 (see our SEO Book review here) 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. Here is some of the content they've churned out so far: A PPC Copywriting Guide A Post on Leveraging Search Query Reports (Though of course we a... > Read more
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
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... > Read more
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
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
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... > Read more
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
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
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
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
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
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
Remember MTV's Pimp Your Ride? Well today I'm going to pimp your PPC ad. Roll in with your Chevy Cavalier and I'll send you home with a Cadillac. Of pay-per-click ads. OK, these advertisers didn't ask me to revamp their ads, but I'm doing it anyway (for free!) and I think we'll all learn some valuable PPC ad writing lessons in the process.
Lesson #1: You have limited space. Don't waste it. Below are the first-page sponsored links for a search on "web design firms." This ad is redundant. The URL tells us the name of your company, so use the headline to say something more—tell us a little about what you offer and what sets you apart. (And one or the other could include the keyword to increase relevancy.) Notice how the competing ads have included useful information about pri... > Read more
We got an interesting email the other day from our friend Jim Jansen, assistant professor at the College of Information Science and Technology at Penn State. If you haven't heard of Jim yet or aren't familiar with his research in search marketing and searcher behavior, read our recent interview with him here: Jim Jansen on Click Behavior and SERP integration.
Jim told me about a really cool project he and his students are doing in his PPC advertising course (BTW, how cool is a class on PPC advertising?). He and 55 of his technology and advertising students at Penn State are creating keyword advertising campaigns for eleven non-profit organizations. Apparently, the students will be implementing paid search campaigns for these eleven non-profits, as well as doing some SEO work and optimizing... > Read more
If you’re selling a product or service of any kind, differentiation should be top of mind. Search agencies are no different. Really this could apply to any online marketing agency or consultant, but for the sake of this post we’ll discuss why it's particularly pertinent to paid search: people are starting to spend more on search, there are reports that most of that increased spend is being pushed towards pay per click advertising, and many are frustrated with their results.
This means two things: Increased Opportunity for PPC Agencies – There’s more spend to manage; more and more quality companies who would make great clients will be turning to agencies to manage their paid search accounts. More Competition – With the influx of money to be managed, new firms, lone-wolf consultan... > Read more
Mike Volpe, VP of marketing at Hubspot recently wrote a blog post in which he describes PPC as a “marketing addiction”. Incidentally if you haven't read the Hubspot blog you should check it out; they post a lot of interesting and informative stuff, and even craft some pretty good link-baits (as evidenced by the first sentence of this post).
In the post Mike makes the argument that SEO and social media are asset-based marketing channels that offer greater leverage than perpetually paying for clicks. I don't think this is a ridiculous point to make. SEO efforts often offer streams of “passive traffic income” and when done right SEO and social media activities provide compounding benefits. SEO and social media are excellent marketing mediums. We love them. We use them. We sell softwar... > Read more
The conventional thinking on pay-per click landing pages is that they should be “dedicated landing pages”, should be “de-indexed”, and that you need to create individual pages for PPC versus organic search. There are a number of very good resources on landing pages that will tell you this.
There’s validity here; it’s most likely the case that you’ll optimize conversions by creating a separate landing page for PPC traffic. However, this post will tell you why in some cases it can be a poor use of resources. We’ll talk about why this is, and about when it makes sense to allow SEO and PPC to share landing pages. The Roots of Conventional Landing Page Wisdom So how did conventional wisdom become so conventional? The argument for creating dedicated landing pages for paid ... > Read more
I looked in my account this morning and noticed for the first time that Google is exposing something new in the new AdWords interface: This is interesting for a few reasons: It seems the impressions share report data (IS lost budget in your AdWords report) that many PPC marketing managers make use of in their daily work is now being exposed in the home dashboard.
It helps make Google money (notice there's not warning for budgets that are set too high...you're either eligble or you're missing out). It will lead to irrational bidding behaviour. The impact may be slight but advertisers will log into their AdWords accounts, see that their campaigns are "limited", and change the way they allocate money, upping their bids on AdWords keywords. It's important to point out that sometim... > Read more
The question “are long tail keywords dead for paid search” is fundamentally the wrong question. There are a few things at play here: The long tail of search is alive and well. The long tail of search queries is apparent in both paid and natural search marketing. The tail of keywords in paid search has actually become pretty short.
If you’re confused, it’s probably because the above three points assume a seldom-made distinction: Keywords are not search queries. A keyword is a word or phrase you’ve decided to target in your marketing efforts. A search query is the actual thing a searcher types in before they see your listing or ad and navigate to your site. It’s an important distinction when talking about the long tail and pay-per click marketing, because while the existe... > Read more
One of the things being shown off at SES New York a few weeks back was Google’s new AdWords interface. It’s currently in beta and is being rolled out to more and more customers. There have been a series of in-depth blog postings and discussions about the interface as a whole. The new is definitely a lot slicker than the old: Versus… The first is definitely prettier, and you can certainly make your way through the interface more swiftly.
But what about new features? The most interesting feature for a manufacturer of PPC management software that focuses on search query data was the new search query report. Basically the interface lets you run a search query report in real time for a specific keyword, then add or set your negative keywords for the search queries related to that keywor... > Read more
Fundamentally, we at WordStream believe in 10 critically important best practices that are the key for both paid and organic search success: (Drum roll, please...) 1. Your Keywords are a Valuable, Proprietary Asset Understanding the search queries that people actually use to find the products & services that are relevant to your business, and the way that you categorize, organize, and prioritize the keyword data represents a crucial piece of competitive intelligence.
Building a proprietary, comprehensive, up-to-date and well-researched keyword taxonomy is the foundation of any successful SEO and/or PPC effort. 2. Keyword Research Should be Personalized and Based on Real Data The problem with a typical keyword suggestion tool is it provides suggestions of keywords that might be rel... > Read more