Archive for the ‘Pay Per Click’ Category
Posted October 17th, 2012 by Kristin Cox
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
Posted February 28th, 2012 by Chris Bross
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
Posted August 27th, 2011 by Kristin Cox
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.
Posted in Conversion Rate Optimization, Landing Page Testing, Online Strategies, Pay Per Click
Tags: Conversion Optimization, Pay Per Click Account Management
Posted June 23rd, 2011 by Sarah Wallace
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.
Posted in Online Strategies, Pay Per Click
Tags: Pay Per Click Account Management, PPC Expectations
Posted June 9th, 2011 by Sarah Wallace
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.
Posted in Pay Per Click, SEM
Tags: Pay Per Click Account Management, PPC Policy
Posted June 2nd, 2011 by Sarah Wallace
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!
Posted in Landing Page Testing, Pay Per Click
Tags: PPC Landing Page, PPC Optimization
Posted May 31st, 2011 by Kristin Cox
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.
Posted in Pay Per Click
Tags: Pay Per Click Account Management, PPC Expectations, PPC Optimization
Posted May 11th, 2011 by Kristin Cox
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.
Posted in Internet Marketing, Pay Per Click
Tags: Pay Per Click Account Management, PPC Optimization
Posted May 5th, 2011 by Sarah Wallace
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
Tags: AdWords Policy, PPC Policy, PPC Policy Issues
Posted May 3rd, 2011 by Kristin Cox
Pay Per Click Account Management isn’t like the cooking infomercial with Ron Ponpeil. His Ronco Showtime Rotisserie’s selling point may be that you can “Set it & Forget it”, but if you “set” and “forget” your PPC marketing campaign, it can wreak havoc like a toddler in a mud puddle; when you turn your back on it, a mess will inevitably be made.
Running a PPC campaign can be very expensive, and you want to make sure that you are maximizing the potential of your Campaigns. It is very important that you not only monitor the results of your PPC campaign carefully at the end of the day, but that you are also checking in on your account several times throughout the day to make sure there are no glitches. Often times throughout the day you could find that…
- Ad Scheduling went astray
- Credit card payments have been declined
- CPC’s are jumping astronomically
- Ad positions are declining
- Destination URLs have broken
- Number of Impressions/Clicks have jumped exponentially
These are key aspects of PPC Campaigns that you want to make sure are running properly. It can be difficult enough to get the results you are expecting without the little things throwing a wrench in your account. It can be the difference of your ads showing in a top three position or not showing up at all. And besides, it’s your money that is being spent to advertise. You want to make sure that it is being used effectively. By monitoring your account throughout the day you can make he necessary changes needed to help increase your ROI’s and “get to that toddler before he gets to the mud puddle (well in this case, catch any PPC bugs before they wreak havoc on your account).
Checking in on your account often is especially important after:
- Setting up a new account
- Creating new campaigns/ad groups
- Adding new keywords or match types
So remember when it comes to PPC, this isn’t cooking, this is online advertising and you want to make sure you are doing everything you can to keep your account running smoothly. Set it & Forget it…..only if you want your competitors to enjoy the ROI’s you’re missing out on.
Posted in Internet Marketing, Online Marketing ROI, Online Strategies, Pay Per Click
Tags: Pay Per Click Account Management
Posted May 1st, 2011 by Thomas Heed
“The greatest wastes are unused talents and untried ideas.”
In reality, commit a PPC Management sin and it leads to waste (gluttony). For proof, check Part 1 or Part 2 of this series.
When it comes to wasted talents, one needs to look no further than Lindsey Lohan or Charlie Sheen. Duh … gluttons for punishment!
As for untried ideas, let’s put a new spin on the sin: when you ignore new or existing features or ideas, you are missing (wasting) opportunities.
Search share is now at approximately 30%. While not for everyone, in some cases total cost is far lower than Google, and Conversion Rates can be quite solid.
Ad Extensions (Google) –
Brand Campaigns – Invest in yourself!
In most cases, local businesses derive a good deal of traffic from people searching on their “Brand” terms.
These types of campaigns are almost always a low CPC play. After all, who is more relevant to your Brand than … You?
Leverage Site-links and Phone Ad Extensions, and you can make quite a splash.
A local business, paying $0.25 to $0.50/Click for Brand-related terms, could send 1,000 to 2,000 more Visitors a month to their site for an investment of only $500.
This feature is especially critical if you are an SMB or hyper-local.
- Example 1: intense pressure on Max CPC Bids often stems from poorly executed campaigns by other advertisers across the country. For instance, many individual dentists or their proxies are not employing Geo-targeting – we highly doubt that Indiana residents are actively seeking dental care in Rye or Oswego, New York or the United Kingdom!
- Example 2: A major Health Insurance Provider, authorized to sell policies in only a dozen states, displayed its PPC Ads nationwide. Would it shock you to learn that they were wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on clicks from people who could never legally buy from them?
The Display or Content Networks (AdWords/Bing) –
Again, this may not be for everyone. However, Display/Content Network Campaigns can contribute significantly to your bottom line, and at much lower CPCs. In our experience, Managed Placements tend to perform better than Automatic Placements. One of our clients generates 70% of their Leads at 25% of their cost for the same Keywords on the Search Network.
Managed Placements allow you to optimize your Ads for the individual sites where they will appear. The added context (relevance) can greatly enhance Conversion Rates.
Goal/Ecommerce (Google Analytics) or Conversion Tracking (AdWords/AdCenter) –
Not measuring or analyzing Conversions? Oops!
When it comes to Sales from Pay-Per-Click, the 80/20 Rule applies too; 20% of your Keywords will generally account for 80% of your Revenue. If you have not enabled Goal, Ecommerce, or Conversion Tracking, you cannot possibly identify those most productive terms.
Put another way, as much as 80% of your spending may account for only 20% of your sales. Now that’s waste!
Web Analytics –
Ignore at your peril. Do not forget to consider the on-site performance of your campaigns within your Analytics solution. Campaigns, Ad Groups, Keywords, and Text Ads should all be routinely evaluated for onsite performance related to:
- Bounce Rate
- Average Pages/Visit
- Average Time on Site
- Goal / Ecommerce Conversion Rate(s)
Value/Visit is an especially valuable metric for you to monitor. Would you really pay $2/Click when the Keyword you’re bidding on only generates $1/Visit?
As you can see, it is often what you didn’t do that causes more waste (gluttony) than anything you did.
Posted in Pay Per Click, SEM
Tags: Pay Per Click Account Management, PPC Management Sins, PPC Optimization
Posted April 27th, 2011 by Sarah Wallace
It seems like just about everything is trademarked these days, doesn’t it? From the obvious big brands such as ‘Sony,’ to seemingly random common words such as ‘face’ (thanks, Facebook), and ‘Chicago’ (belonging to Apple), you could start wondering if we have any words left that are without a legal owner. If you’ve ever had your AdWords ads disapproved for Trademark (TM) Policy, you may have found yourself sifting through a lot of Help Center articles and Support emails, trying to figure out how to navigate what one would think to be a simple policy.
I have had some experience with this policy, I’d like to do my best to provide a quick and dirty overview, hopefully simplifying things a bit for those who feel lost. Please note, however, that Google’s TM Policy is fairly complex and differs by region, so I’ll be providing links to the official policy pages throughout. This is not meant to be a comprehensive guide, and you should always refer back to Google’s official pages or reach out to their Support Team with questions.
In the United States (meaning ads targeted to the US), the first thing to note about TM policy is that it only governs ad text, and does not affect keywords. As they mention frequently, Google wishes to allow advertisers as much freedom as possible in the selection of their keywords, and as such in this country they do not monitor trademarked terms in keywords. This means that if you are a trademark owner and are upset that a competitor’s ad is showing up when your trademarked term is entered into the Google search bar—sorry, you’re out of luck. That competitor is allowed to use your term as their keyword. Whether you agree with this or not, keep in mind that were this policy different in this regard, all advertisers would have a lot of limitations when it comes to their keyword lists, and as a result the user may suffer due to lack of choice and/or variety in sponsored results.
So, the next question to answer is that of how Google monitors trademarks in ad text. Before we jump into this, there is one very important point that should be noted:
- If you have not registered your trademarked term with Google and requested that they monitor it, your trademark will not be monitored. Period. Due to what I assume is a limitation of resources, Google does not proactively search out trademarked terms to keep on file for monitoring, and therefore you must submit a TM complaint in order to begin the monitoring process.
Once Google is aware of your trademark and is actively monitoring it, you should know that there will be people who are allowed to use it in their ads. Whether you’re a trademark owner or an advertiser who is using a trademarked term in ad text, you should familiarize yourself with the rules regarding who is allowed to use a trademark in ads:
- Ads using the term in a generic way, not referencing the TM owner or goods associated with the TM.
- Ads leading to a landing page that allows and clearly demonstrates the ability to purchase the goods/services corresponding to a TM, or that facilitates their sale.
- Ads leading to a landing page that clearly demonstrates the ability to purchase components, replacement parts, or compatible products corresponding to the TM, or that facilitates their sale.
- Ads leading to a landing page providing informative details about the goods/services corresponding to a TM, and that does not allow or facilitate their sale.
Basically, if a site is legitimately selling or facilitating the sale of the goods associated with the trademarked term (i.e. a Ford dealership’s website, and the trademarked term ‘Ford’), parts or replacements for said goods, or products closely related to these goods, it’s OK to use that term in ads. Here’s the caveat: the landing page must make it very clear that the above criteria are met. Using the same Ford example, if the dealership has a landing page that is nothing but a promotional video, and there is little to no mention of the word ‘Ford’ on that page (since all of that content is within the video itself), that page would most likely not qualify. Therefore ads using the term ‘Ford’ that lead to that landing page would be correctly disapproved for the Trademark Policy.
So, as an advertiser what are the key takeaways here?
Essentially, if you’re using a trademarked term in your ads you simply need to ensure that your landing page makes it as clear as possible that it is either allowing the user to purchase the goods or services associated with a trademarked term, or that it is providing information about said goods or services. If you feel as though you should be authorized to use a trademarked term but don’t meet the criteria, you have the option of contacting the TM owner and requesting that they submit an authorization on your behalf. Google will be able to provide you with the contact information for that person.
If you’re a TM owner, what should you walk away understanding?
- That you need to submit a TM complaint in order to ensure monitoring of your TM by Google
- Once you’ve done this your TM will only be monitored in ad text and not keywords
- There will still be folks who are allowed to use your TM. You should also probably familiarize yourself with your options in terms of filing complaints, since whether you submit a general or specific complaint will matter. But that’s another story for another day…
Once again, this information is in reference only to Google’s TM Policy in the U.S. There is a lot more information available here, here, and more information about other regions here.
Posted in Pay Per Click, SEM, SEO
Tags: AdWords Policy, Pay Per Click Account Management, PPC Account Management
Posted April 26th, 2011 by Kristin Cox
The Display Network can be somewhat confusing and a little scary when debating whether or not to turn it on. Below are some tips to ease the confusion and help you maximum the performance of your campaign. Be sure to read all the way down, because there are some tips that others aren’t using!
Point #1: Make it a separate Campaign
The Display Network should be its own campaign with a separate budget and bidding. This will allow for better tracking of performance and assist with testing the different variables when comparing the performance of search vs. display. While Google does allow you to use both at the same time, they really should be separated out since they are two very different beasts that perform in very different ways.
Point # 2: Create tightly themed Ad Groups/Keywords
The Display Network functions somewhat differently than Search because all of the Keywords in an Ad Group are evaluated (along with your Ad Text by Google) before deciding whether or not to show your ad on a specific page. Because of this, having tightly focused Ad Groups is essential to maximizing your performance. You want to select words that are closely related to one another, and duplicate words can be a good thing when used with the Display Network (Not recommended for Search).
Example: if your ad group contains keywords for televisions and DVD players, Google will try to find a page containing both, and this can greatly reduce the number of pages on which your ads will show. You should have one ad group around televisions and another around DVD players to maximize performance.
Point #3: Use Placement Performance Reports
Be sure to check the placement reports and performance on each. Remember that even a 0.10% CTR can be considered good when it comes to the Display Network. Any sites that you feel are not performing well, pause.
Be leery of sites showing over 100% CTR (these are typically Parked Domains)
Point #4: Use the Site Exclusion Tool and Placement Tool
A Few tips in this category:
- Use the site exclusion feature to eliminate any undesirable sites. Be sure to check the placement report to see which sites you are showing up for and eliminate the ones you don’t want to advertise on.
- Provide a list to your client, and make sure they agree with which sites they are currently advertising on. Sometimes, even if a page contains information relating to your Ad Groups and appears as a page you may want to be on, your client may disagree for various reasons.
- Use the placement tool; this will provide a list of sites you may want to advertise on (especially if you are using the Display Network from a managed side instead of an automatic placements)
Ultimately these tips lead you to do three things: Track PPC Performance, A/B Test Text Ads and Optimize Performing Text Ads.
Be sure to track performance from both Search and Display. See which Ad Groups are performing well and which aren’t. When it comes to the Display Network, pause the lowest Converting Ad Groups first, then look to CTR and see which sites are outperforming others.
Keep testing. Try out different text ads, and create new ad groups based on further keyword research or product/service offerings. Include new sites on your list.
Optimize. Make sure your ads are tailored specifically to the audience for the Display Network, and make sure your landing pages are optimized around the Keywords/Products/Services for which you are advertising.
Follow these steps and you will be on your way to running a well performing Display Network Campaign!
Posted in Pay Per Click, SEM
Tags: Display Network, Pay Per Click Account Management, PPC Optimization
Posted April 21st, 2011 by Sarah Wallace
Well, it looks like spring might finally be here. And if you’re anything like me, along with the warmer weather comes lots and lots of house work: spring cleaning; yard work; and—most exciting of all—home renovations. As an avid do-it-yourselfer I’m no stranger to some serious inconveniences in the name of improving my house. Gutting a kitchen? Check. Gutting the only full bathroom in a 1.5 bath house? Check. And after all of that I’d have to say that my biggest piece of advice regarding surviving these inconveniences is simple: make sure you have alternatives. The same is true of PPC and getting through the inconveniences associated with Policy Issues. If you’re curious as to what toilets and text ads have in common, read on…
As any person who has undertaken a kitchen renovation will tell you, it’s important to make sure you have some alternative cooking methods on hand to get through the project. Whether it’s a microwave in the living room or a grill on the patio, life will be a lot easier if you have alternatives. The same goes for bathroom projects and toilets: you’ll be pretty miserable without one, so you should probably make sure you’re covered before you tear everything out. When you’re undertaking any PPC account improvements, the same holds true; you shouldn’t gut all of your ads and replace them with new ones unless you’re prepared to have everything out of commission for a little while.
As has been discussed before, it’s extremely difficult to keep on top of every single advertising policy out there. Even if you religiously read Google AdWords’ Policy Change Log, chances are that there’s at least one policy that you might not be familiar with. And with your luck, it could be one that affects your ads and/or business. Understanding this, as well as the fact that many ads will need to undergo review prior to being eligible to run, you should expect that there could be down time (either due to review or disapproval of ads) before your new ads are up and running to their full potential. So, if you don’t want to halt all of your advertising, the smart thing to do is to keep a few of your current ads up while you undertake your account ‘renovation.’
Later, when everything is running as you’d like and all of your new ads are approved, you can go back and delete the old stuff. So simple, yet it’s amazing how the excitement of an ad overhaul can cause hiccups when an overzealous account manager ‘spring cleans’ everything too early. So, to recap, in order to prevent Policy-related PPC Pain:
- Periodically check-in to ensure you know what’s happening in the world of policy changes
- Pick out a few ads to keep in your account and hold down the fort while you undertake any large-scale ad changes
The only thing left now is to make sure that you brush up your general policy knowledge, especially with some of those more complicated, less cut-and-dry policies…stay tuned for some overviews later on.
Posted in Pay Per Click, SEM
Tags: AdWords Policy, Pay Per Click Account Management, PPC Policy, PPC Policy Issues
Posted April 17th, 2011 by Thomas Heed
“There is no shame in being poor … only in dressing poorly.”
– George Hamilton as Zorro, The Gay Blade
PPC Envy – a term first coined by Sigmund Freud in 1899 – rears its ugly head when you believe that your competition’s PPC Campaigns are sexier than yours are: they show up all the time; they use more Keywords; and, they show up higher on the page than you do.
Your mistake is assuming that your competition’s PPC Management knows what they are doing!
First, you do not need 24/7 visibility (Coverage) to be successful with Pay-Per-Click, especially if you are just trying to keep up with the PPC Joneses.
If you’re B2B, and running on weekends, just like your competition, you are probably wasting as much as 30% of your PPC Budget, just like they are. Need proof? Here you go.
One of our B2B Clients generates 90% of their Leads by phone. The chart below represents call volume, by day, over the first quarter of 2011. These are SEO calls which means they occurred when the site is always open. Anything stand out? Exactly, only one weekend call out of 212 total.
So, while your competition is spending money on weekends, you save almost 30% by setting Ad Scheduling for Weekdays only. You could even take those Budget savings and leverage them on those days where you actually develop leads.
You may envy the competition’s visibility; they would almost certainly envy your profitability.
Okay, you don’t need to advertise seven days a week. You really do need to have your ads running all day. El wrongo, Moosebreath!*
Check out the chart below, which shows calls from organic traffic, by hour of the day, over the same date range for the same client. “Hmmm,” you say. “I should use Ad Scheduling to narrow my focus even further.”
“But,” you argue, “I have an Ecommerce site and do tons of weekend business.”
Okay, seven days a week makes sense for both you and your competition. But advertising all day long, just because they do, is probably not a good idea, either.
See, less than a half of one percent of total revenue comes between the hours of midnight and 6am. Still envy the other guy who’s showing up all the time?
Lusting after your foe’s Keyword List might be the worst thing one can do when managing your PPC Account.
Last year, one of our competitors shared a chart like this with one of our clients:
The big bubble represents all the Keywords that a key online enemy (Brand X) was showing up for. The smaller bubble included Keywords used by our client only (The Good Guys), and the overlap where both firms were competing on the same terms.
“Holy cow, they’re bidding on 12x as many Keywords as we are!” exclaimed our concerned client.
Running competitive reports like these are valuable. We do it all the time. Please keep this in mind: it’s not the quantity of Keywords that trigger your Ads, it’s their quality.
Both companies represented in the Bubbles provide web-based services for marketing executives. So, what’s wrong with this picture? Well, it didn’t take us long to burst this bubble of envy:
- The list of terms we did not display for revealed more about the competition than us. Thousands of the Keywords that triggered their Ads revealed that Brand X was not using Negative Keywords. For example, how was showing up for irrelevant Keywords like charlotte’s web summary or – our personal favorite – f*^k your software you leechy f*^k help the competition sell more than we were?
- We showed up for nearly 300 Keywords that Brand X did not, and more than two dozen of them were “Super Converters.”
The Tiny Bubble – apologies to Don Ho – and overlap area represented the real battleground for profitability, and The Good Guys owned more than 40% of it uncontested!
In this example, what saved us – despite the smaller Keyword list – was a reduction in CPL from +$200 to $28 over eight months. Fewer, but better quality and higher converting Keywords make all the difference.
In the end, you don’t have to spend more than the other guy, just spend it smarter.
Check out all the PPC Management Sins
Posted in Pay Per Click, SEM
Tags: Pay Per Click Account Management, PPC Management Sins, PPC Optimization