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Posted by James Lee on 22nd April 2011

PPC Management Weekly Roundup 4/22

Welcome to the Earth Day edition of our weekly PPC management roundup! Pay per click isn’t known for being green, but on the plus side, think of all the paper it’s saved in diverting your budget away from traditional advertising. Now get out there and go for a walk…after you’ve updated your PPC campaigns.

Let’s start with Brad Geddes over at Certified Knowledge. With his usual thorough, analytical style, Brad looks at 3 strategies for organizing your keyword match types. You already know that using broad, phrase, and exact match can have different effects on your campaigns, and that using all of them at the same time can be beneficial. But how do you do it? What’s the best way to structure your campaign to max out on these benefits? You’ll have to click to find out.

Next, some news from both Google and Bing. Matt McGee at Search Engine Land reports that Google is now testing instant previews on PPC ads. When a user mouses over your ad, a preview of your landing page will pop up. More reason than ever to make your landing page look attractive and relevant. We’re watching with great interest to see how it affects your CTR. Bing, on the other hand,  has some broad match issues that are negatively affecting traffic. Mark Ballard at Rimm-Kaufman looks at how Bing has difficulty determining when a broad match click will be relevant to an advertiser. We all complain that Google’s broad match is often too broad, but Bing’s strictness in adhering to your broad match terms also negatively affects your traffic — and bottom line.

Want to fight back with more comprehensive keyword lists? This week, Wordstream announced its new keyword research suite with what they claim is the biggest keyword research database on the planet. Test drive it for free. We’d love to know what you think.

Finally, Dan Brandao offers a savvy Facebook PPC strategy to try, warning that “playing by the old rules will see your advertising efforts fall flat.” We agree. Take a look at Dan’s three step process that funnels prospects into increasingly targeted actions.

That’s wraps it up for this week. We hope you found these articles useful in tuning up your campaigns. To get your hands on a smart, affordable PPC management software tool, don’t forget to sign up for your free trial of ClickSweeper!

Posted by James Lee on 15th April 2011

Weekly PPC Round-up 4/15

Welcome to this week’s cream-of-the-crop PPC management articles. Is it us, or does it get harder to narrow them down every week? We have some great articles lined up for you on product listing ads (a.k.a. PLAs), AdCenter’s new quality score-type-thing, how to ramp down (or up) spend, and more. Read on!

Shawn Livengood over at PPC Without Pity starts things off with an article on how to succeed at in-house PPC. If you’ve only managed multiple accounts PPC at an agency before, in-house PPC is a whole new creature — sometimes in very good ways. Shawn takes us through the major differences, offers great pointers, and leaves us with the always valuable advice: don’t get complacent.

Next, George Michie, Matthew Mierzejewski, and Mia Brennan take a long, hard look at managing PLAs. You know, the shiny picture ads above the PPC text ads in the right column. If you didn’t jump on this opportunity when it first became available to advertisers, you might want to think about it soon. Competition’s already heated up. Here are some tips for setting up, running, and monitoring PLAs. 

Wondering how Google Instant has affected PPC results? Find out now on the ever helpful PPC Hero.

As MSN AdCenter develops, it heads off into innovative new direction…well, OK. Not really. Joseph Kerschbaum over at Search Engine Watch probes the new MSN quality score, which looks so much like the Google quality score we know and love. (Or hate.) The major difference is that MSN claims that your quality score will not affect your ad rank or CPC. We’ll see…

And finally, a tidy little primer from Melissa Mackey at Searching Beyond the Paid on how to ramp up — or down — your PPC spend. Melissa offers some tried-and-true tactics for each, going far beyond simply changing your daily budget. Thanks, Melissa!

That’s it for this week, but we’ll be back next week with the most useful and interesting of PPC news around the web. (If you’re done reading and want to get managing, may we recommend a free trial of ClickSweeper PPC management software?) And if you’ve written a terrific PPC management article, send it our way by leaving a comment!

Posted by James Lee on 8th April 2011

Weekly PPC Round-up 4/8

April’s off to an interesting start for the PPC world. This week we have news — again — from Google on changes to Adwords, a humorous take on beating your competitors, and some good old strategizing to help you manage your PPC accounts. Have at it!

Matt Van Wagner over at Search Engine Land starts us off with a thoughtful and funny look at how to stay ahead of your hungriest PPC competitors. He gives us the low down on short term advantages (don’t count on them to last), the difference between tactical changes (that is, day to day fiddling) and strategic improvements, and why having a better process is truly crucial to beating the competition.

Next, PPC Hero reports on some official Google news: the position preference feature is getting axed early next month, which should be enough time for you to switch to a different feature. (Or you could try ClickSweeper’s rank based bidding, which doesn’t have the weird disappearing ads thing that you might have seen with position preference.)

Our friend and PPC champion Tom Demers has a new article out at the Wordstream blog on changes to Google’s campaign experiments, how they make it easier to run tests, and the one thing to watch out for (thoughtfully highlighted in bold). Wise words of caution, Tom.

And finally, from The PPC Blog, a thoughtful overview of the concepts that underpin PPC strategy. Peter D. hones in on what state of mind your visitor is coming from, and how you can accommodate that state to make a sale. Much of it will be familiar if you’ve been doing PPC, but it might just offer the reminders you need to spring clean your campaigns.

That’s it for this week! We’ll be back next week with more of the best new PPC articles we’ve spotted. Until then, you can find us on Twitter, Facebook, or get a free trial of our award winning PPC management software.

Posted by James Lee on 1st April 2011

PPC Weekly Roundup 4/1

We figured that you’re probably already tired of lame April Fool’s Day jokes by now, so no jokes, just a great lineup of the freshest and hottest PPC news in the industry. Big changes lie ahead for all of us — thanks for keeping us on our toes, Google! Whatever else it is, the world of PPC is never boring. Read on for the best PPC management articles we spotted this week.

We can always count on Tom Demers to come up with cutting edge PPC articles. This one, over at the Wordstream blog, is on seller star ratings and how reviews impact your Adwords account. As search and even ads become more social (more on this in a sec), understanding new ad options and making good decisions about whether to adopt them will be crucial for PPC advertisers. Thanks, Tom!

Next, from Bethany Bey at PPC Hero, an informative post on how to pass MSN’s adExcellence exam. Good news: it’s not as bad as the Google exam (phew!) and focuses on basics and general best practices. But you’ll still want to spend some time studying for it. With a 96% score under her belt, Bethany gives us the scoop on the exam, how to study for it, and why we should take it.

After you’re finished with that, you might want to move on to a really useful step-by-step article about how to test low volume ad copy over at the Certified Knowledge blog. Brad Geddes (you might know him from his excellent Search Engine Land articles) offers us a video that addresses a problem all of us have faced: how to test low volume ad copy. Testing is essential, but how can we do it when we don’t have much search volume? Check out Brad’s detailed tutorial.

And finally, the big news from Google: searchers will now be able to +1 (i.e. ‘like’) ads, pages, sites, products, etc.) they like and recommend them to their contacts. Whoa. That’s big. We’re not totally sure how this is going to affect your ad performance yet, but we’re about to find out. The PPC community is already concerned about ‘gaming’ the system. We’d like to see how the dice fall and then use the opt out option if we need to. What are your thoughts on the new +1 feature?

That just about wraps it up for this week. Don’t forget to sign up for your free trial of ClickSweeper PPC management software — why work harder than you have to for PPC success?

Posted by James Lee on 25th March 2011

Weekly PPC Management Roundup 3/25

Welcome back to another round of our cream-of-the-crop PPC management article round-up. This week brings some especially juicy articles to the table on new location targeting options, broad match modifier, sitelinks, and the much dreaded Google slap. (Not to be confused with the even deadlier Google ban.)  Read on for pro tips and tricks!

Search Engine Land’s Mona Elesseily (@webmona) kicks things off with 5 PPC myths explained in simple terms. Drawing on her extensive search background, Mona gives us the scoop — nothing highly technical or obscure — on negative keywords, trademarked terms, pausing keywords, bidding on your own brand, and the display network. If you read up on PPC, odds are that you’ll have encountered some of these myths. Don’t worry; Mona will set you straight.

Next, Chad Summerhill (@chadsummerhill) guestblogging at Certified Knowledge looks at Adwords sitelinks and their impact on performance. Sitelink extensions make your ad look more like organic search results, so the jump in CTR (almost 40% in Chad’s case) isn’t surprising. But Chad digs a little deeper to look at their effect on his organic traffic, and the results are definitely interesting. Go take a look!

It’s not often that we get ‘PPC’ in the same sentence as ‘marshmallow shooter gun,’ and Crosby Grant’s article on Search Engine Land would be worth reading for that alone. However, it’s a very handy, well-illustrated guide to using broad match modifier — you know, kind of the way broad match was supposed to work before Google was showing your ads for remarkably irrelevant things. The little + symbol is very useful in making sure the best ad matches up with a query and for tightening up your adgroups. Read the article for more examples and how to do it. 

Next, from the horse’s mouth official Adwords blog: new options for location targeting. Remember how you used to set a target location only to find that your geographic keywords also attracted queries from way outside the area? This approach made sense if you were a hotel whose prospects would likely be from out of the area, but not for most local businesses. Now, when you set a target location, you can choose the ’physical location only’ option – which means that only people within the area you targeted will be shown your ad. That’s probably what you wanted in the first place. Thanks for listening, Google!

And finally, the dish on the ‘Google slap’ from PPC Blog (@theppcblog): a.k.a. when your quality scores suddenly all plummet to 1. It’s always a bad couple of days when Google does this, and believe it or not, sometimes they really just do make mistakes. Here’s a great summary of what’s happening, why, and what you can do about it. Hint: don’t try to game the system. Just find out what’s wrong and fix it as soon as you can. Groveling may not be necessary.

That wraps it up for this week. If you’re looking for PPC management software that will take the sting out of daily management, don’t forget to check out ClickSweeper for a free trial. We’ve just updated our trend graphs and have some more surprises coming soon.

Posted by James Lee on 18th March 2011

Updated Feature: ClickSweeper Trend Graphs

We’ve been working hard to improve ClickSweeper’s trend reporting, and we’re pleased to announce that the new trend graphs are now live in your account. (Just head over to the reports tab; they’ll be the first thing you see.) We wanted to make it easier and faster for you to evaluate your account performance with clean, simple graphs that offer just the most useful metrics. We promise you won’t feel overwhelmed with too much data. Here’s a screenshot of the new trends page: Continue Reading

Posted by James Lee on 18th March 2011

PPC Roundup for 3/18

Welcome to this week’s best-of-the-crop PPC management articles! Here’s the latest of what’s new in the pay per click world regarding ads, landing pages, and enterprise PPC.

Mike Fleming over at Search Engine Guide shows us how to look at our ad copy tests by time segment to get the real scoop on how our ads are performing. Did one ad have a slow start and then pick up? You’ll never be able to tell if you look just at weekly numbers. Make smarter and more informed choices about your ads by comparing them within the same time period.

Over at Adweek, Mike Shields reports that Facebook ad performance is, well, abysmal. The average clickthrough rate for 2010 was just .051%, which by comparison makes search engine PPC look pretty enticing. Interest based ads also begin to burn out quickly, within three to five days, making it more that much more time intensive to run an optimally updated campaign. However, the article doesn’t touch on the real metric of profitability, cost per conversion. We recommend you try it out for yourself to see if Facebook advertising is a good venue for your business. 

What is it about infographics that makes all types of information seem more appealing? We found this one from The Wall on how marketers can use PPC to boost business and liked the way it broke up components of good and bad landing pages in an easy graphic format. Its primary suggestion of targeted, specific landing pages for a specific offer is an oldie but goodie.

Finally, an article on something we don’t see as often: in-house PPC for big companies.  David Roth over at Search Engine Land covers some of his session at SMX, in case you weren’t able to attend in person. Using his own experience, he looks at four major facets: planning, monthly forecasting, budget mobility, and optimization. Some great advice here!

That’s it for this round-up. Don’t forget, ClickSweeper offers free trials of award winning PPC management software. Won’t you give us a try this week?

Posted by James Lee on 11th March 2011

PPC Management Weekly Round-up 3/11

Good morning, and welcome to this week’s round-up of interesting, informative, or just plain good to know information about the PPC world. There’s a little news about MSN AdCenter, a common Adwords mistake to avoid, legal news on trademarks in PPC ads, and the latest eyetracking report. Go get ‘em!

First off, a nice little piece from Dan Greenbaum over at Search Engine Journal on a common Adwords mistake: not making sure the offer in your ad is in sync with the offer on your site. Does your ad appeal to browsers, yet take them to a landing page for buyers? It could be affecting your conversion rate. Good thing it doesn’t take much effort to sync up your offers.

Next, Pamela Parker of Search Engine Land reports that MSN AdCenter will soon be rolling out its own version of Google’s quality score for keywords. Unlike Google, Microsoft claims that scores will not directly influence how ads are ranked, but we think they might be kind of kidding about that. Start tightening up things now.

And some news from the legal front: trademarks have always been a dicey issue in PPC ads. Advertisers should be happy to know that a California federal appeals court ruled that buying ads based on a competitor’s trademarked name does not violate trademark law. So while your quality scores for competitor’s keywords are still going to be low, at least you’re in the legal clear now. Good to know!

And finally, the newest eyetracking study confirms what we already knew: most users are focused on organic rather than paid search results. Many ignore the ads or spend very little time looking at them. (Don’t let that discourage you too much: Google still makes a major chunk of its income from clicks on ads.) What does this mean for advertisers? Well, to start with, you have even less time and opportunity to attract a user’s attention than you thought. Get back to work on that ad copy! And if you’re not doing SEO to bring up your website in the organic results, that should be your next priority.

Hope you found this week’s articles handy. Don’t forget to visit us for a free trial of our popular PPC management software!

Posted by James Lee on 9th March 2011

6 Ways to Measure PPC Ad Performance

Never forget that your ads are the most visible part of your PPC campaign. They are often overlooked in favor of keyword lists and bid management, but they shouldn’t be. Part of the problem is that the available tools to measure and manage your ads are not located in one convenient location. However, don’t let that stop you from making the best possible decisions about your ads, whether editing, adding, or pausing. Here are six basic but essential metrics to evaluate your ads with. Continue Reading

Posted by James Lee on 4th March 2011

PPC Weekly Roundup 3/4

Welcome to this week’s PPC management roundup. Was it us, or were there a lot of PPC management articles this week? Maybe spring puts people in the mood to clean up their advertising. Whatever it is, we like it.  Here are some of the gems we’ve come across this week.

First of all, two really useful articles from the Vertical Leap blog. Paul Broomfield offers a tidy little tutorial in calculating PPC ROI for beginners. Pay per click advertising is one of those things in which the bottom line matters a lot — and can be calculated with relative ease. Yet many business owners don’t understand how to go about it. If you need a refresher in ROI, start with the basic formula Paul provides. Next, Mackenzie Cockram considers if and how PPC can work for local businesses with small budgets. Yes — with planning and judicious use of geo-targeting tools. It can be done!

Next, breaking news on how Google’s new content-farm-axing algorithm affects PPC advertising, courtesy of the ever brilliant Search Engine Land. Pamela Parker looks at the ‘Farmer’ update and the biggest winners and losers. Overall, the news looks pretty good for advertisers.

And a quick tutorial from a PPC blog we’re new to, PPC Buyers, on how to see which keywords are converting for which ads. There is so much data you could look at to determine ad performance, from CTR to time on site. Here’s another piece of the puzzle that can help you figure out how your ad is doing and fix it (if necessary).

Finally, Amy Hoffman at PPC Hero introduces us to Google’s new ad optimizing feature and asks, “To optimize, or not to optimize?” The new setting optimizes for conversions rather than CTR, as the longstanding ad rotation feature did. Why the hesitation? For one thing, better conversion rates don’t necessarily equal more conversions. For more on why you should pause before jumping on this new tool, check out Amy’s full article.

That’s it for this week, folks. Don’t forget to check our our main page for award-winning PPC software and score a free two week trial.