Do cats really like to cuddle?
What does cat cuddling have to do with Pay Per Click? Only everything.
Over the years, we’ve managed PPC Accounts containing well over one million Keywords combined. To date, one Keyword stands out. A one-in-a-million Keyword. A stunning Keyword, not for its relevance or startling performance. For its mere existence: do cats really like to cuddle?
This Keyword not only showed up in a Global SaaS Firm’s Search Term Report, this company was actually bidding on it! Worse, people were actually clicking on it. “Oh, the humanity!”
No other Keywords like this are in the SaaS’s Account, although eliminating do cats really like to cuddle? plus thousands of other non-relevant terms, restructuring Ad Groups and the aggressive addition of Negative Keywords resulted in a year-one spending reduction of $240,000 … 67% of this company’s total annual PPC spend.
The bonus? Lead Volume increased 15% while CPL dropped by 42%, at one-third of the cost!
One of the key measurements of PPC Management Company effectiveness is Keyword Selection and Management. Is your agency selecting, implementing and measuring the performance of Keywords aligned with your business goals? Is your agency pausing or deleting under-performing search terms? Do you – the client – even know what Keywords your Agency is bidding on?
EverEffect, in addition to monthly PPC Account Management, audits existing PPC Accounts and provides detailed recommendations for Account Optimization. With respect to Keyword Selection, we uncover three common issues:
- You are bidding on Keyword Terms for Products/Services you do not provide.
- You are bidding on Local Keyword Terms in areas you do not serve.
- You have not enabled Conversion Tracking, and do not know what Keywords are actually generating profitable business for you (Leads or Transactions).
Selecting Keywords to test is easy. Understanding which ones to keep and which ones to throw out, is harder. With the exception of Keywords like, do cats really like to cuddle?
GET TO KNOW EVEREFFECT
EverEffect Founder & President Thomas Heed and his team specialize in Strategic Planning, Pay Per Click (PPC) Marketing (Program Development, Implementation, and Control), Factor Analysis, M&A and Writing/Producing/Directing for Video & Film Production. If you’re curious about what our goals are and what we’re thinking, give our posts a read. Or give us a call for a face-to-face.
One Minute Online. Do you know what happens in those 60 seconds? Here are a few estimates:
- 2,300 Amazon Transactions – resulting in over $203,000 in sales
- 78 Million YouTube Videos Watched
- 150 Million Emails Sent
- 51,000 App Downloads from Apple
- 95,000 App Downloads from Android
- 4 Million Google Search Queries
- 38,194 Posts to Instagram
- 347,222 Tweets Sent on Twitter
- 17,361 LinkedIn Member Profiles Viewed
Every day, new ways of searching and reaching targeted audiences are developed and new strategies are implemented, while the platforms used to gauge the success of these marketing strategies are continuously changing. Whether you are new to the world of PPC or consider yourself seasoned in the aggressive realm of digital advertising – keeping up with this dynamic online landscape can be overwhelming.
Now. How well is your company positioned to profit from these 60-second online opportunities?
True Success Does Not Happen in an Instant
You see the statistics; you hear the buzzwords. You can’t open your email or scroll through your social media accounts without running across an article or two -or three- about what your company should be doing NOW if you want to be an instant success. So tell me, when did true success ever happen in an instant? Unless of course, you win the lottery. Powerball numbers and scratch-off tickets aside, you may not make a billion dollars this instant, but the advertising decisions you do make in an instant can notably change your earnings reported in the next QTR. So, choose wisely. It’s worth the time to Analyze. Optimize. Monetize.
2 Most Important Questions
First and foremost, ask yourself:
- What determines our success? You cannot expect to be successful if what determines success is not clearly defined.
- Are our digital advertising objectives accurately and effectively measured? Success cannot be achieved if there is no form of measurement in place to determine if advertising objectives are being met.
Ask Questions, Questions and More Questions
Where should we invest our advertising budget? Which marketing channel provides the best ROI? Should we invest more in mobile? Should we build an app? Are people downloading our app? And if they are, do they re-engage with it after the initial download? What is our competition doing? How do we compare? How can we dominate our market? What do we know about our current audience versus our target audience? Does our website speak to our target audience? Is it engaging and entertaining? Is our website functionality designed to meet our company goals?
The query list should go on and on … and much further on, believe me. This will help greatly in the challenge of finding the right answers.
Content Marketing Institute publishes a research study, B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends, which compiles survey data from 5,000 marketers in 25 industries and 109 countries. On average, only 21% of marketers in North America successfully track ROI.
Successful digital advertising has increasingly become about creating entertaining and engaging multi-channel messaging that will captivate your target audience and lead them on a journey all the way from first impressions to solidifying long-term relationships. A few key points to help you get connected and deliver measurable results:
- Understand the life cycle of each marketing medium
- Use data analysis to tell the story
- Leverage micro-moments to drive conversions
2016 is predicted to generate the most digital advertising ad revenue yet. What will your profit share be? Where will your advertising dollars be spent?
There are those questions, again.
GET TO KNOW EVEREFFECT
PPC Account Manager Kristin Cox is an expert in developing and executing paid search strategies that focus on lead and revenue generation, audience engagement and brand awareness. She has a B.S. in Marketing and is AdWords and Bing certified. Through the use of creative web solutions and well-crafted messaging, Kristin has launched highly successful campaigns that emphasized mobile and video engagement and data-driven results. If you’re curious about what we’re thinking, give our posts a read. Or give us a call at 888-506-2183 for a face-to-face.
Extraordinary PPC Account Management is as Easy as 1-2-3
I began working with EverEffect in March, 2015; first as an Intern, then as a Part-time Employee and now Full-Time. As an SEM (Search Engine Marketing) Analyst, my primary duties are to collect, analyze and report on how our client accounts are performing versus goals across a wide range of dimensions, including standard KPIs (Clicks, Impressions, Click-through Rate, Cost-Per-Click and Conversions) as well as by Competitor, Device, Keyword, Location and many more.
As an Intern, my first assignments are to simply collect data that populates tables and charts for client reports. Early on, I become interested in not only what kinds of data I am collecting, I am curious about the “why.” My supervisor tells me that the best way to learn is by doing, and invites me to assist with the on-boarding of a new client’s PPC Accounts (AdWords + Bing). Below is an overview of our task routine.
3 Overlooked Steps to Long-Term Improvement in Performance
1- Identify and Eliminate Wasteful Spending
When starting out, we set a date range of one year and evaluate Keyword Performance vs. Goal. Any Keyword that have a Cost per Lead of 25% over Goal or more is Paused, at least temporarily.
Keywords with greater than 100 Clicks and no Conversions are paused. Here, Keywords generating Clicks with no Conversions could not possibly be operating profitably. Now, a single Keyword, with a $2.00 CPC and 100 Clicks would only cost $200 over the course of that one year. However, take 50 such Keywords, pause them and savings amount to $10,000!
Keywords with poor Quality Scores or low Impression Share are also paused. We do this because poor Quality Scores, in particular, increase Average CPCs, which drive costs up.
2- Restructure Campaigns
We then turn our attention to Ad Groups. Any Ad Group containing more than 30 Keywords is broken up into new Ad Groups. This is done to improve the alignment between Keywords, Ad Texts and Landing Pages. This allows us to create new Ads that include Keywords in the Headlines or Description Lines that relate to the core terms in each Ad Group.
Consider a pet store client account, for instance. You might want to have an Ad Group for Pets, but you would also want separate Ad Groups for Dogs, Cats, Turtles and Goldfish, each pointing to its own Landing Page. You would probably benefit from the creation of additional Ad Groups featuring specific breeds.
For the account I was working on, there are some 50 Ad Groups, each containing between 60 and 150 Keywords. In this case, I created more than 50 new Ad Groups, each with 12-24 Keywords, and new Ad Texts. I’m currently working on another account that started with 24 Ad Groups, each featuring between 40 and 512 Keywords! An additional 132 Ad Groups were created during its restructuring.
Please note that it is necessary to migrate Keywords from bloated Ad Groups to new ones. Doing so erases their performance history, which in turn leads to a short-term drop in performance – about three to six months. Erasing performance history means that the account is essentially starting from scratch and must re-establish itself. This is equally true with revised Ads.
3- Attack Keywords, Both Negative & Positive
This step, again using the year date range, is to run a Search Terms Report. The results were incredible. With 500 Active Keywords in the account that were being bid on, more than 17,000 Search Terms had triggered Ads. This is because Broad and Phrase Match Keywords that include single words or phrases has led to undesirable impressions.
First, we sort the list by those Search Terms that had generated Conversions. Any Search Terms that had generated multiple Conversions at or below our target CPL are added to an appropriate Ad Group as an Exact Match. This is done because high-performing Keywords were not previously bid on, and Exact Match Keywords tend to have higher Conversion Rates than their Broad and Phrase Match counterparts.
By adding negative keywords to the account, we can always reduce the number of undesirable Impressions that trigger Ads, resulting in improved performance metrics, including CTR, Conversion Rate, Cost/Conversion and Total Conversions.
It took weeks to comb through 17,000 Keywords and isolate the Negatives. Going through this process has allowed me to find -and add- 2,725 Negative Keywords to just one campaign.
Client Account Results
We restructured in April 2015 with May its immediate aftermath. Total Conversions that April and May hit two-year lows; since June 2015, Conversion Totals have out-performed the prior year in nine of 12 months.
Comparing January 1 through April 30, 2016 versus the same four months in 2015:
- Impressions dropped from 793,120 to 309,937 (-61%)
- Click Volume rose from 14,515 to 18,266 (+26%)
- CTR increased from 3.18% to 6.32% (+99%)
- Total Conversions went from 351 to 461 (+31%)
For me, as the first opportunity to work inside an account, it is fun to look back a year later and see what a positive impact executing on these three simple steps have had.
GET TO KNOW EVEREFFECT
JC Heed is a Search Engine Marketing Analyst in EverEffect’s PPC Services division, which operates with one core philosophy: if we aren’t helping you make a boat load of money, we need to work harder. Our advanced knowledge of internet marketing and pay per click advertising allows us to focus on increasing your return on ad spend (ROAS) while decreasing your costs. Our in-depth reporting outlines account changes, month-to-month goals vs. results, as well as the performance pacing on your personally defined PPC Goals. If you’re curious about what we’re thinking, give our blog posts a read. Or give us a call at 888-506-2183 for a face-to-face.
Stop wasting my clients’ money.
You’re probably asking yourself how you’re wasting my clients’ money. After all, it’s not your responsibility to make sure that I’m doing everything I can to make the most of my clients’ budgets.
If only this were the case.
Let’s say – for the sake of argument – that I have a client, Wee Cheatem & Howe, in Kookamunga, a Family Law practice that specializes in Divorce Law. Here are two ways that you’re killing me, plus you and yours:
1.You are using Broad + Phrase Match Keywords with few or no Negative Keywords.
Law Firms have many practice areas: Accident, Bankruptcy, Corporate, Disability, Divorce, Environmental, Injury, Malpractice, Real Estate, Tax, Workers Comp, Wrongful Death, and more.
My client only shows up when someone is searching for a Divorce Lawyer because I’m using Negative Keywords to avoid other types of practices. Your client shows up in search results for all imaginable practice areas because you are not using Negative Keywords.
Think of it this way: if my client is a Divorce Lawyer, do I really want them to generate Impressions for Injury Attorney? Maybe, but only if they handle cases for hurt feelings! (Believe it or not, Ripley, there is Search Query Volume for the Keyword how to avoid hurt feelings when your friends divorce).
2. You are not using Geo-targeting or Location Exclusions.
If you are a Local Business and not using Geo-targeting, you’re wasting your client’s do-re-mi plus mine; if you are not using Location Exclusions or Negative Keywords to avoid irrelevant Impressions or Clicks, you are costing us both money.
A few more examples:
- A Houston Plumber promising same-day, emergency service should not show up in Chicago or Palm Springs Search Results.
- A local Dental Practice in London, England has no business having their Ads served up across the Continental U.S.
- An Insurance Company that is unlicensed to sell its products in all 50 states, shouldn’t be displaying Ads in all 50 states.
- Indiana Law Firms that are not licensed to practice law in Kentucky or Michigan, should not be in the Top Four Ad Positions in these other states’ SERPs.
- A service-oriented firm that can only operate within the mainland US of A, should not generate 25% of their click volume from Alaska, Hawaii, or overseas, especially in Fredonia and Sylvania!
2 Ways This Costs Both Our Clients More
- If you are generating Impressions outside of your Target Area, you are almost certainly lowering CTR, which leads to increased CPCs, or worse, you are actually generating clicks within geographic areas you cannot possibly serve.
- If your Max CPC Bids are ridiculously high, you may routinely show up in search results above my client (no matter how well the account is optimized), forcing me to increase bids and pay higher CPCs in order to remain competitive in Kookamunga.
In Kookamunga, we have no interest in competing against Arnie Becker, Divorce Lawyer, of McKenzie, Brackman, Chaney & Kuzak in L.A., so we take action to avoid doing so.
In such cases, your three best friends in AdWords are the Search Terms, Geographic and User Locations Reports.
Even though EverEffect is a small firm, our clients have saved over $2 million in wasted spend over the last four years, just from our aggressive implementation of Negative Keywords and Location Targeting Exclusions.
GET TO KNOW EVEREFFECT
EverEffect Founder & President Thomas Heed specializes in Strategic Planning, Pay Per Click (PPC) Marketing (Program Development, Implementation, and Control), Factor Analysis, M&A and Writing/Producing/Directing for Video & Film. When we EverEffect folks get together to discuss business, anything is in the mix and everything is up for a talk-through … industry trends, creative strategies, favorite campaigns, tricky projects, compelling statistical evidence … Then we share it all with you on the EverEffect Blog. If you’re curious about what we’re thinking, give our posts a read. Or give us a call for a face-to-face.
In recent months, Google has continuously released new features which can be utilized to optimize our Display Campaigns. In the past, the Display Network has proven to be a bit confusing, and deciding on an appropriate strategy for your campaigns could be even more of a challenge. The release of these new features, I think, makes developing a good strategy and implementing that strategy a little easier. I, for one, am a huge fan of the new features, and hopefully after reading a few tips on how to set up your campaigns for success, you will become a fan too.
Strategy & Structure
Defining your goals: Are you looking to increase your branding or are you more interested in Lead Generation? Understanding what you want to achieve and how you are going to measure the results will go a long way in planning your campaign. In addition, taking note that potential customers may not be searching for your services on the Display Network will help you target your campaign more effectively.
Targeting: Determine whether or not you want broad reach (automatic placement) with your Display Network ads. Targeting gives you several options that allow you to narrow the focus by setting limitations based on topics, categories, keywords, etc. If you want to advertise on a smaller scale, you will need to add Keywords and Placement choices into your Campaign (managed placement).
Making it a separate Campaign: Your Display Network campaign (because it functions differently than the Search network) should always be a separate campaign from Search. Give it a separate Budget, separate Ad Creative, and separate Bidding Strategy. With this distinction, you will be able to market more effectively to potential customers and track the performance of your campaigns more efficiently.
Creating tightly themed Ad Groups/Keywords: Before Google decides which of your ads to show in the Display Network, all of the keywords in that Ad Group (along with your Ad Text) will be evaluated. Therefore, having tightly focused Ad Groups is essential to maximum the performance of your ads. You want to select 5-20 Keywords that are closely related, and use only the Broad Match type of the Keywords. When it comes to Branding, even fewer Keywords can be selected.
Example: if your ad group contains keywords for party supplies and wedding decorations, Google will try to find a page containing both, and this can greatly reduce the number of pages in which your ads will show. You should have one ad group around party supplies and another around wedding decorations to maximize performance.
Creating Multiple Types of Quality Ads: The types of ads that can be displayed on webpages across the Display Network varies depending on the size and shape of your ads. Certain webpages allow all types and sizes of ads, while others have more strict limitations. This is important to remember when creating Image Ads. You want to create different sizes for testing purposes to determine which style appears more attractive to potential customers.
Dynamic Keyword Insertion can be used; again, it may be worth creating one to test against a standard text ad to see which performs better. Also, keep in mind that your ads should be relevant to the Keywords being used, and should highlight any offers/sales/etc. you have in order to grab the attention of people visiting the webpage your ad is displaying on. Background color of Image Ads and color of Ad Text is something to be mindful of because you always want to make sure that your ad is easily readable.
Bidding: Ads displaying in top 3 Ad Position will have greater success on the Display Network, so adjust your bids accordingly. Whether you are using automatic or managed placements, it is always best to bid higher on the well performing sites. You can also adjust bids based on Gender and Age Demographics, so if you are targeting a certain age range or specific gender, then adjusting your bids accordingly can lead to greater success.
I hope the information provided will help you on your journey into advertising on the Display Network. Stay tuned for an upcoming post that expands upon New Targeting Options & Tools, and on Optimizing Your Display Network Campaigns.
You can see the headlines everywhere, screaming across the internet: “How To Get More Hits! Increase Traffic Instantly! Guaranteed Visitor Increase!” With so many articles, websites, ads, and businesses devoted to this subject, it would appear that increasing clicks on your advertising and bringing more people to your website is one of the most popular goals of PPC advertisers. I’d like to throw a wrench in all of this, though, and argue that getting more traffic should not be a goal.
Sure, having ads that float along on search pages without any clicks shouldn’t be a goal, either. Obviously we all want users to click on our ads and visit our websites. However, getting that click isn’t doing you any good on its own, and has only served to increase your advertising costs. It’s what happens after that click that really matters: the actions taken by users once they arrive at your site. The conversions are what you’re really after, since that’s what will ultimately bring you what you want—sales, form submissions, phone calls, information requests, etc.
So, what does this all mean for the management of your PPC account? It’s simple: don’t aim for higher click volume alone. Set your sights on conversions, and look to raise your click volume with that separate end goal in mind. Check out your statistics on a regular basis, and if you’re knocking it out of the park in click traffic resist the urge to relax and let it ride. Make sure that those clicks are working for you, and if they aren’t, it’s time to make changes.
- Use plenty of negative keywords to weed out irrelevant traffic.
- Don’t rely on broad match keywords alone: phrase and exact match may bring less traffic, but, provided your keywords are relevant, they’ll bring more qualified traffic.
- Check your ad text: it should be relevant to your keywords and website, enticing and attention-grabbing, and include a specific call-to-action for users.
Yes, if you implement some of these suggestions there’s a good chance your traffic numbers may go down. This is not necessarily a bad thing: it’s much better to have less click volume and more conversions, than to have higher volume with fewer conversions. If you do the math you’ll soon discover that the former results in a much higher ROI, and your campaigns will be more successful overall.
Do you have any more suggestions for increasing conversions, or information about increasing or reducing click traffic? We here at EverEffect would love to hear it!
Much like Brendan Fraser in Journey to the Center of the Earth (btw thumbs down), you may find yourself struggling to survive in this seemingly strange world of online advertising – especially if you only have a few clues to help you on your way. It occurred to me that when it comes to PPC advertising, there are two groups of people involved in this journey:
- The company; who is on the journey to conversion optimization and searching for ways to not only get traffic to their site, but to also get those visitors to stay a while and convert.
- The consumer; who is on a journey to find what they are searching for with the hopes of not falling into the dark abyss of endless websites that end up having absolutely nothing to do with what they were searching for, or worse yet, finding a site where the information is hidden.
In an attempt to help the second group, the first group must have the information they need to be successful in their journey. Being a member of the first group and handling day-to-day ppc account management, I have provided few more clues to help my fellow man on their journey to the center of conversion optimization.
Warning, Danger Ahead: do not bid on Keywords that have nothing to do with the product/service you offer:
Visitors to your site will not stay if they can’t find relevant information to what they were searching for.
If a visitor has been tricked to your site due to keywords that really have nothing to do with what you offer, they will not only leave your site but they will be frustrated as well since you just wasted their time. Therefore, bidding on irrelevant keywords is not only detrimental to your conversion goals, but when those visitors are looking for a product or service you actually DO offer, they may choose to stay clear of your site due to their previous experience.
Getting good, quality traffic to your site is half the battle. The other half is providing your visitors with good, quality content and creating a Landing Page template that is synonymous to achieving your goals (obtaining more conversions). When a visitor finds a site that seems to contain information they are looking for, but the Landing Page is set up like a Where’s Waldo book, they will leave…quickly and without converting!
Warning, Turn Back Now: Do Not put Sign-up Forms, Newsletter Guides, or anything you are wanting to track as a conversion…..at the bottom of the page
The truth is that while consumers are on a journey to find what they are looking for, you want to make that journey as easy and stress free as possible. When creating landing pages for your products and services, keep in mind that visitors to your site need to be guided to what you want them to do. You want to put any forms, sign-ups, or downloadable guides “above the fold”.
Follow these two essential clues when creating or re-evaluating your website and you will be well on your way to successfully making your journey to the conversion optimization.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about The End Of The World. Just check out a few Google search results on the topic. I blame Harold Camping, and his May 2011 Rapture predictions. Either way, there appear to be two distinct camps battling it out: those who believe on some level that something disastrous is coming our way; and those who feel as though that first group is totally nuts. Regardless of which side you’re on, if you’re in the PPC game you might find some credibility in one of my favorite ‘the end is coming!’ quotes:
It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark.
The meaning is pretty clear for those considering an underground backyard shelter. But for PPC? When it comes to online advertising—and more specifically, the spending of your hard earned dollars on advertising—it’s probably best not to sit around and wait for something disastrous to happen. Take it from the boy scouts, and Be Prepared.
1. Do your keyword research!
You don’t need to be a PPC expert to do a little bit of introductory keyword research. Never assume that you can throw a few phrases together that describe what you do or what you sell, use those as keywords, and watch the revenue come rolling in. Google has put together tools that are fairly simple to use, that will help you identify keywords that a.) have healthy search volume, and b.) don’t cost an arm and a leg. The Keyword Tool is a great place to start. You can begin with a word or phrase that accurately describes your business, and the tool will populate with additional keyword suggestions related to that original term. Don’t be surprised if there are a lot of duds. This is an automated tool, after all, and algorithms aren’t always known for their subtlety or understanding. Don’t write these off, though, without first considering using them as negative keywords to weed our irrelevant traffic. The bottom line? You want a balance of high search volume (i.e. actual folks out there looking for what you’re offering), and low cost (CPCs).
2. Create plenty of ads
Now that you’ve got a decent keyword list in the works, you’ll want to make sure that you’ve got good ads to go along with them. One common mistake made during the ad creation process is putting together one really great text ad for each ad group, and letting that ad do all the work. Poor ad—that’s a lot of pressure! Not to mention the fact that if for some reason your ad is disapproved or comes down for editing there will be no ads left to show in its place. Add to that the fact that you’ll have nothing else to compare it to stats-wise, and you’re not in a very good position. You always want to have at least two ads per ad group at all times. This way—provided they’re not identical—there’s a good chance that if one of your ads gets disapproved you’ll still be in the game with the other. And if you need to edit them, do it one at a time so that you continue to run. You’ll also be able to get a better idea of what users are responding to, and make better ads because of it. You can measure your stats, see which ad is performing better, and use that information to optimize your ads…but remember, do it one at a time.
3. Brush up on policy
Yeah, it’s no secret that I’m a bit of a stickler about the Google AdWords policies. And I completely understand that policy isn’t all that fun to read about. So I’ll keep it short and sweet…as I’ve said many times before, while you may not be able to memorize all of the policies, at least make an effort to know those that govern your industry. You should also probably have a basic understanding of things like editorial policy for text ads, to avoid getting disapproved for something simple and preventable. No one likes having their ads come down for not following the rules, only to spend hours researching online and calling support to get them back up.
4. Analytics is your friend
I won’t lie—Google Analytics isn’t the most user friendly program for those new to PPC. However, if you have the ability to get the tracking code on your website, and understand enough about the reports to get a basic idea of what’s going on, it will help you—I promise. Even if you don’t intend to do super in-depth analysis of your traffic patterns, visitors, and goals, Analytics will help to show you where people enter your site, where they navigate, and where they drop off. Why is this important? Imagine for a moment that you’ve been running PPC campaigns just fine for a little while now, and all of a sudden the calls just stop coming. You check your Analytics reports to see what’s going on. You notice that the bounce rate on a key page just prior to your conversion page has jumped immensely in the past few days. You check out your website, and—voila!—the very page that Analytics pointed you towards is now showing a 404 error. Who knows how it got there, but now that you know why people are leaving your site, you have the opportunity to fix it, ASAP.
So there you have it. None of this is rocket science, or even as drastic as stocking up on a year’s supply of filtered water and dehydrated meals. But with a little bit of preparation and time spent up front on your PPC account, you’ll fare much better in the face of unexpected difficulties. By no means is this a comprehensive or complete list of things that one can do before or during the creation of PPC campaigns, but it is a start, and could help save you some dollars down the road.
I hadn’t intended to post about AdWords Policy again today. Nope, my full intention was to move along to a different topic entirely. This was before I’d done my due diligence, however, and checked the Policy Change Log. I know, I know, I harp on this a lot. But to be fair, there’s really a lot of good stuff in there. Like this gem: “The AdWords policy on information harvesting will be changing on May 17, 2011.”
A lot of curious advertisers visiting the change log would probably skip right past the expandable header titled ‘Information Harvesting.’ If they clicked for more info, they might even stop after that first line I quoted above. It’s really easy to assume that you’re not affected, since ‘information harvesting’ sounds incredibly sinister. There’s no way that you could possibly be guilty of such a thing, right? Well, do you have any forms or fields on your website that ask for a user’s full name? Perhaps their birth date? What about their email address, phone number, national identity, or mailing address? Then you should probably pay attention.
Starting on May 17th, AdWords began requiring any advertiser whose website requests any of the above information (as well as other pieces of information not listed above) to “provide a clear, accessible explanation of how the information might be used, as well as a simple, effective way to opt out of future direct communications.” If you don’t do this, you’ll be in violation of the policy and in danger of interruption to your advertising.
Additionally, if you accept any sensitive financial or personal information, such as credit or debit card numbers, bank account numbers, wire transfer numbers, or even a driver’s license number, you’ll need to ensure that it’s “transmitted securely over an SSL (https:) connection.”
So while you may not be the next black hat hacker extraordinaire, if your website collects even the most innocuous of personal information from users you’ll need to include usage information, opt-out information, and possibly an SSL connection. While the internet user in me is grateful for the protection, I have to wonder how this will affect the many websites that contain fairly benign forms. Sure, this will be great when it comes to the shady guys, operating forms purely to sell your information and fill your inbox with spam (or something worse). But I’m sure there are lots of legitimate forms out there, too. I’m not saying they’ll be hurt by this, since anyone on the up-and-up shouldn’t be worried about including usage information, but it will be interesting to see what kind of effect this has on various different types of websites that collect information.
I’m also curious as to the enforcement of this policy. Is it reactive-only, meaning they’ll be accepting complaints about offending sites and taking action then? Or does Google have the resources to proactively seek out these sites and take action? Depending on which tactic is chosen, one could either see very slow forward movement in the changes, or a lot of false positives. In the end I think it’s a good thing, for now I’m just interested in some of the finer details that you won’t necessarily find in the official policy description.
Check out the Information Harvesting policy for more details.
With all of the AdWords policy talk lately—see recent entries on policy troubleshooting, issue prevention, trademark policy, and online pharmacy policy—it wouldn’t seem right to close out the discussion without touching on one final, at times very frustrating, policy-related topic: landing pages.
If you’re an affiliate advertiser running ads on behalf of someone else, a business owner new to the online marketing game, or someone who’s ever been caught in the confusing web of landing page quality (LPQ) problems, you may want to check out a few of my thoughts on the topic. I can’t promise to fix anyone’s LPQ issues, but I might be able to provide some quick tips on what to keep in mind when creating or revamping landing pages for your account that just might help to keep you from the wrong side of LPQ. As always, since I think that other marketers tend to be the best source of good information, I’d love to hear your thoughts on some of these issues as well.
So, without further ado, a checklist of dos and don’ts for your online advertising landing pages:
- Do: make sure that the top-level domain, which appears in the URL in your ad, matches the top-level domain of the URL on the page where the user lands after clicking. (This isn’t really a landing page-related policy, but is one of the easiest ways to get disapproved [or simply denied during the ad creation process] if you break it.)
- Don’t: redirect or take users to a different landing page briefly after they click on your ad. It may sound innocent enough—taking users to a page with a matching domain when they click, and then redirecting them elsewhere so that you were technically operating within the above-mentioned policy, but this is not recommended. Google doesn’t like it when you try to trick their system, and they may kick you out. For good.
- Do: make sure that your landing page contains relevant, unique content that directly relates to what was being advertised in your ad copy.
- Don’t: use a landing page that has no purpose other than to take the user elsewhere. What do I mean? Come on…we’ve all seen them: an ad that takes you to a landing page with little or no content on it, aside from a link (or multiple links) to a separate site that actually contains the content or product you were looking for. This is just a bad experience for the user.
- Do: highlight the features that make your website unique from others in your particular industry. For example, if you’re a travel site, chances are that there are tons of other sites very much like yours showing up for the same keywords. Do you have unique offers? Perhaps you offer more results due to partnerships with specific vendors? Anything that sets you apart from the crowd should be prominently highlighted on your landing page, so that users (and Google) can see what makes you different.
- Don’t: offer a landing page whose main content is advertising and links, or content that is contrived to mask the fact that the page is serving to drive traffic elsewhere.
Essentially, from my experience I’ve found that what Google is looking for is landing pages that are real, useful websites. This can be observed time and again when advertisers are brought down for what Google considers to be ‘Bridge Pages.’ What exactly is a bridge page? Exactly what is mentioned in #4 above. Many times used by affiliate advertisers who are running ads on behalf of a parent company in profit-sharing type of endeavor, these are created so that the affiliate has their own landing page and therefore does not have to use the domain of the parent company in their ads. As one might expect, if they weren’t using a separate page they’d be competing in the ad auction against the parent company, which wouldn’t result in their advertising being worth much either to them or the larger entity. Don’t be fooled into thinking that if you’re not an affiliate this doesn’t apply to you, though. I’ve seen plenty of bridge page-type landing pages set up by a company simply because they feel as though they’d like to have multiple landing pages available to them for different ads, all leading back to their main page.
So, does this make things more difficult for affiliates whose actual business means that they must direct traffic to the parent company site? Absolutely. But aside from what many believe, I think that this is less an attack on affiliates and more in the interest of the user. What I’ve heard time and again from Google representatives are these simple questions: why would a user want to visit your site when they could go straight to the parent company? What added value are you offering on your site that makes it worth their time to go through what is essentially an intermediary? These are the questions that you should ask yourself as well, if ultimately a user will need to click to a different site to reach their goal. It isn’t impossible for landing pages that drive traffic elsewhere to succeed, but the key is to make it worth the user’s while to be there—offer multiple link choices. Information that cannot be received elsewhere. Anything that makes your landing page more than an obstacle in a user’s path to getting to their destination.
Once again, I can’t stress enough that the above information will not necessarily fix landing page problems. I can’t define exactly what is being viewed as ‘useful information’ or ‘unique content’ by the reviewers, but hopefully the above information can help someone new to the online advertising world understand a little bit better what to keep in mind when formulating landing pages. Any other tips or experiences to share? Please share them in the comments!
It can be difficult to rank on the Keywords you want to bid on, especially if competition is high. It becomes very important to the success of your Keywords and overall account to have “Good” to “Great” Quality Scores. Typically, when you first set up an Ad Group, the Keywords will have a good Quality Score, but then as Google has a chance to review everything, those Quality Scores can change. Below are some tips to follow which will help to boost the Quality Scores of your Keywords.
- Use the Keyword tool to find Keywords that are relevant to your site and landing pages.
- Split Keywords up into smaller groups.
- Send under-performing Keywords into their own Ad Groups (If you don’t want to pause under=performing Keywords [which really should be done] then split them up into their Ad Groups so they don’t drag down the Quality Scores of good Keywords).
- Don’t use every phrase match type in the same Ad Group; be sure to include Negative Keywords.
- Send traffic to quality Landing Pages; you want to create keyword targeted landing pages.
- Create fresh content for your site (i.e. – articles, blog posts, newsletters, etc). Content is King, and you want to make sure your landing pages provide new, relevant content and are easy to navigate.
- Tailor your Text Ads to your Keywords and Landing Pages; these three items are very important when Google determines your Quality Score, so you want to make sure they are closely aligned.
- Testing, Testing, Testing; it is very important to continually test new Text Ads, Landing Page content/templates and Keywords as you rid your account of under-performing ones and find what works best.
- Improve Landing Page load times; if your page is slow to load, this will negatively impact your Quality Scores.
Follow these tips and continually check in on your Quality Scores to make sure they are in the “Good” to “Great” range, and you will pay less for your CPC’s and receive better Ad Ranking.
For those new to PPC or thinking about starting a PPC campaign, you may be asking yourself “what is this Quality Score everyone keeps talking about?”. How does it work and why is it so important? Search no more; below is the answer to all of your questions, so let’s get started with the basics.
What is a Quality Score?
Quality Score is a variable that Google and MSN use to help influence your CPC’s (Cost-Per-Clicks) and Ad Position. It also helps to determine:
- First page bid estimates (the price you have to bid to be on the first page of search results)
- Eligibility to enter the auction that occurs when a user searches for a term you’re bidding on
How does it work?
There are a variety of factors that go into determining your Quality Scores, some of which Google is willing to share (and some in which Google is not)! Relevancy is the key to your success when it comes to Quality Scores; how well your keywords, text ads and landing pages align to a user’s search query is very important. Every time a user searches for a term that you are bidding on, your keyword enters an auction. The result of that auction is your ad position and CPC you pay if your ad is clicked on. A keyword’s Quality Score updates frequently and is closely related to its performance, so keep an eye on those performance metrics!
Some key components of Quality Scores are:
- Historical account data (if any): CTRs (click-through-rates) of the keyword and text ads
- The quality of your landing page
- The relevance of the keyword to the ads in its ad group
- The relevance of the keyword to text ads
- Account’s performance in the geographical region where ads will display
Note: There is a slight difference in the calculation of Quality Scores for the Search Network and Display Network. Display Network takes into consideration the CTR of the sites being advertised on. Google does not share your Keywords Quality Score for the Display Network (apparently Google feels this information is Top Secret!)
Why is it important?
When it’s the difference between being able to save money and reach even more potential customers, or spending more money and reaching fewer clients, Quality Scores become very important.
- Ad Rank – Top Spots: Typically you want your ads to show in the top three spots, but any of the ad positions above the fold tend to perform well. If your Quality Score is low, this can affect in which Ad Position your ads will show.
- Too Low – Don’t Show: Quality Scores of 2 and below, will not be allowed to show. This will certainly negatively impact your potential client reach.
- Money – Save vs. Spend: Even the slightest increase or decrease in your keywords’ Quality Scores can have a major impact on your budget, what you pay to rank on the first page, and how much you pay for a keyword if the a search that triggers your ad is clicked on.
Example: Say your account receives 1000 clicks per day on average. Your Quality Score decreases resulting in paying $0.10 more per click; this means $100 more in daily advertising expenses (if your daily budget doesn’t account for the difference, then you begin spending more to advertise less). On the other hand, if your Quality Score increases, then you could lower your costs-per-click by $0.10 resulting in $100 in daily savings or being able to advertise more and increase your potential client reach.
Bottom line, when it comes to Quality Scores, an average score is 5/7, better than average is 7/10 and even better is 10/10. Anything below that and you have some major changes to start making in your account.