Category Archives: Pay Per Click


PPC Strategy – Using Location Exclusions & Negative Keywords

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.


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.

Posted in: Conversion Rate Optimization, Pay Per Click

Google Display Network: Improved or More Confusing Than Ever?

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.

Posted in: Pay Per Click

Increasing PPC Traffic Should Not Be A Goal (Alone)

PPC Traffic Increase

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!

Posted in: Conversion Rate Optimization, Pay Per Click

AdWords Landing Page Quality Issues: Tips For The Newbies

adwords landing page quality

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:

  1. 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.)
  2. 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.
  3. Do: make sure that your landing page contains relevant, unique content that directly relates to what was being advertised in your ad copy.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!

Posted in: Landing Page Testing, Pay Per Click

Google AdWords Policy: Online Pharmacy

Google AdWords Pharmacy Policy

As part of our efforts to help folks understand a little bit more about AdWords Policy and how to plan for changes, troubleshoot policy issues, and understand some of the more complex policies, we’ll be touching on another of the sticky policies today: online pharmacy. AdWords’ Online Pharmacy policy underwent some pretty large changes in the last several months, and even if you’re not necessarily in the business of selling prescription medications online it may be smart to get caught up on how things stand today. Understanding how this policy has been modified is a great illustration of how quickly and how drastically policies can shift, whether they’re seemingly insignificant in scope, or broad, global rules governing millions of advertisers and businesses.

As some of you may be aware, in the past if you sold prescription medications in the United States online and advertised using Google AdWords, you were required to have a PharmacyChecker ID. PharmacyChecker is a third party company who operates a verification program that protects consumers by ensuring websites selling pharmaceutical drugs online are dispensing medications from pharmacies in good standing. It was the responsibility of the advertiser or business owner to obtain the ID from PharmacyChecker, and once this was done they were able to submit it to AdWords in order to have ads approved. Why all the fuss? My guess is that AdWords needed to be able to protect consumers purchasing prescription medications from their ads, but may not have had the resources in-house to take care of this kind of evaluation. Makes sense…so what’s changed? Everything.

  • If you’re an online pharmacy that has a PharmacyChecker ID and was previously advertising just fine on AdWords, when the policy changed you might have found your ads disapproved. PharmacyChecker IDs are no longer required, or accepted for approval of AdWords pharma ads.
  • Instead of PharmacyChecker, AdWords now requires that any websites that allow users to purchase prescription medications online (keep in mind that this also includes pet pharmacies) be accredited by the National Association Boards of Pharmacy VIPPs Program.
  • Additionally, online pharmacies operating in the U.S. and U.S. territories may only target the U.S. and U.S. Territories.
  • There are absolutely no exceptions to these rules (not that there were exceptions previously, but this is worth noting as the changes to the requirements have been somewhat substantial).

Basically VIPPs have taken the place of PharmacyChecker, meaning that any online pharmacy wishing to begin or continue advertising with AdWords must be accredited. If you had a PharmacyChecker ID, it is now worthless in the eyes of Google. It should also be noted that selling pharmaceutical products between different countries is now completely prohibited, and so targeting must be specific and limited. There are other areas of the world that are allowed to advertise online pharmacies using AdWords, albeit the list is limited, and each has its own very specific requirements.

I can only assume that the changes made to this policy affected every single online pharmacy advertiser working with AdWords. That’s a huge number of advertisers, and a huge amount of revenue. With a space as tightly governed and legally sensitive as pharmaceutical drugs, I’m also assuming that the change was legally motivated, and Google likely had to work closely with or align with the FDA. So, as you can see, despite the huge impact that a change like this has on their advertiser base, Google will not hesitate to make sweeping policy changes when necessary–a great reason to periodically perk up and pay attention to what’s going on in the online advertising policy world.

Posted in: Online Strategies, Pay Per Click, SEM