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Posted by Chris on 15th June 2011

Google Ad Network Display Ads. When Do I Jump In?

We’ve all been there. You start a search campaign. After a few days of seeing conversions, you get excited, really excited. You start seeing money jumping out of your PPC management software, and your heart rate goes up. In all of this excitement, a question pops into your mind. What about the display pay per click? Can I jump in?

Well, yes and no. Here are some questions to lead you to the right answer:

Is your search cost/conversion where you want it?

Oftentimes, when first starting a campaign, search cost/conversion is not in its target range. That’s okay and in many cases normal. However, believing that the display network is going to bring down the cost/conversion is a common mistake. Although oftentimes having lower CPCs and more clicks, display advertising (yes, even managed display) usually has much lower quality traffic who are not ready to convert. That means higher cost/conversion and sometimes a very fearful shriek from first time PPC managers.

Do you have a defined goal for the display network?

It is okay if you are a first time user trying out PPC bid management, but display is a different creature than search, which means the way you treat the bidding and the management may be somewhat different. Often times the best bet is to allocate a small budget at first to a campaign with automatic placements. See what happens and then react with optimization.

Are your ad copies ready?

Display means that people aren’t searching for you, so be ready to give away more. The perfect way to do that is with smart ad copy management. Whether that is bigger promotions or more intriguing copy, you have to be ready to lasso in the traffic.

Display shouldn’t be scary, but beware of the greed shark. It can bite the best of us. So, hang out in search so you are ready to dive in to display when you do.

Posted by Chris on 31st May 2011

3 Reasons Why Paid Search is Essential

Performance, performance, performance.

Unless a large rock has been fallen on your router (don’t try that at home), most of you have noticed that there has been an increasing buzz surrounding social media and mobile marketing over that past year or two. Needless to say, we in the PPC world haven’t been deaf to it either. With cool and useful social media dashboards and a wealth of mobile apps, there is definitely reason to wonder devoting budgets or people to these new forms of media. However, when we took a hard look, we found three things PPC has that so far social media and mobile are still playing catch up on.

1. Clear Cost/Lead or Cost/Sale

Although things truly depend on industry and whether or not you have shopping cart of eCRM integration, PPC still has the most accurate cost/lead estimations available against social media and mobile. Why? Because each ad has a cost per click and clear call to action. However, social media and mobile can have multiple layers of goals irrespective of end sale. Additionally, when there is a concise call to action on these platforms, oftentimes manpower cost versus sale is harder to measure.

2. Engagement

Things are changing rapidly, but as of today, search PPC still has the highest rates of engagement (if you can pay the price to get yourself to the first page). The nature of a search engine is for users to find things they are looking for. Therefore, placing yourself in this stream is automatically more useful than streams where users are more likely to be acting in an arbitrary or unfocused manner.

3. Strategy Testing

I know being able to do something a million ways is cool (see eating a Reese’s), but oftentimes with social media and mobile marketing the bridge between creativity and performance can be vague at best. There are a million ways to engage with customers. Do you ask them for sales, peddle coupons, or just put on a good face and talk to them? The questions are endless, and this can lead to missteps and loss of direction. However, paid search is pretty clear when things aren’t going the right way. This makes it easier to fix and easier to save.

That being said, do you want to remove all of your money from social media or mobile marketing? Absolutely not. Online marketing has changed and is constantly changing. However, if you are considering cutting your pay per click budget, reconsider, it may be easier to make money there than anywhere else.

Posted by Chris on 25th May 2011

5 Ways to Guard Against The Keyword Monster

Over the past few days, here at ClickSweeper, the keyword monster has raised its ugly head. What is the keyword monster, you might ask? Well, it is a large group of 0 impression and/or 0 click keywords that sucks the quality score life out of campaigns.

Back in PPC’s infancy, it was popular for managers to store thousands and even millions of keywords in their Google campaigns. Large retailers still continue this process now because of the obscurity of product id numbers and descriptions that have low search volume but also require their attention. However, for the rest of us, the keyword monster can make management painful and quality score dreadful especially if there are 0 click (but lots of impression) keywords making up segments of your campaign.

Therefore, here are 5 ways to guard against this pesky foe:

1. Regularly clean your keywords.

Haven’t seen a click in over 90 days (conservative)? You should start asking questions about these keywords.

2. Structure AdGroups and Campaigns Strictly

Tight AdGroups and campaigns can make assessing keyword deficiencies simple. Furthermore, any type of strange quality score issue that occurs will be localized rather than widespread.

3. Use Smart Keyword Research

Is your vice buying keyword lists? If so, that’s okay. Just make sure to clean it up before you enact it across all of your adgroups.

4. Limit your long tail keywords to 3 Word Length

Pretty intuitive. You don’t need to write 10 words long for a keyword. At that point, not only have you confused yourself, but maybe Google as well.

5. Pace Yourself

Keyword expansion is a hard game to play. So rather than adding thousands in a day, add a few and make sure that they work for you until moving forward.

Posted by James Lee on 6th May 2011

Weekly PPC Round-up 5/6

Welcome back for this week’s PPC management round-up. We’ve got a good mix of articles for you today, including some in-depth technical ones on using Excel for PPC and lowering CPA, and some more general interest ones on different Google bid strategies, negatives, and more. Read on for the best of this week’s PPC articles!

To start things off, John Lee at Search Engine Watch looks at Google bid strategies (max CPC, enhanced CPC, and conversion optimizer) and how to transition from one to another and why. He walks us through the basics, starting with the default max CPC setting, and shows us what to watch out for when switching to a different strategy.

Next, Chad Summerhill at PPC Summit offers a detailed tutorial on using Excel formulas for PPC. If you haven’t figured out how to turn Google Adwords Editor and Excel into a powerful duo, it’s time to start moving beyond VLOOKUP.

Next, Tom Demers over at Wordstream gives us five ways to lower CPA. No, not your tax person — your cost per action. We love Tom’s straightforward approach and his emphasis on the bottom line, which businesses overlook with surprising frequency.

Do you have a systematic method of adding negative keywords? If not, it’s worth the time to develop one. Geordie Carswell at PPC Blog offers some of his favorite research tools and strategies for adding negatives, along with some basic advice. Negatives are still a great way to improve the quality of your clicks.

Finally, a post about PPC…and bananas. George Michie at Rimm-Kaufman Group offers a great example of how averages lie and why paying more for top positions doesn’t make financial sense.  Read up on the details — great charts and clear explanations — on the blog.

And that wraps it up for this week.  Check out ClickSweeper PPC management software for an easy, affordable management solution. Sign up for a free trial today!

Posted by James Lee on 29th April 2011

PPC weekly roundup 4/29

Welcome to this week’s weekly PPC management round-up. Can you believe it’s almost May? This year has brought a lot of changes to the PPC world already, and we bet Google has some more tricks up its sleeve. No surprises this week, though. Just some good, need-to-know info on quality score, building lifetime customer value in PPC, and more. Read on!

To start us off, a resource for PPC ads that we think you’ll want to bookmark. Like, now. Alex Cohen at ClickEquations has compiled the ultimate list of PPC ad testing resources, with fantastic (and even canonical) articles on the basics, advanced strategies, testing ideas, and more. Whew. Tons of really great stuff here. Whatever your current strategy, these articles will help you develop a better one.

Next, an article from PPC Hero on what your visible quality score isn’t telling you. (You didn’t think Google would really give you the full picture, did you?) Quality score is more complex than it seems, and there’s more than one affecting your account. Learn about the types of quality (including competing ad copies and geographic performance)  you need to monitor for yourself and stay on top of the quality score game.

We love Brad Geddes at Certified Knowledge. His PPC posts at Search Engine Land are consistently thoughtful, well-researched, and extremely useful. This week, Brad takes on bounce rates and when and how they matter to your PPC campaign. (Hint: keep the bottom line in sight.)

Next, a slightly off the beaten track article at PPC Blog on what comes after the sale. Geordie Carswell offers some great suggestions to build lifetime customer value in order to maximize your investment in PPC. It’s common sense that your cost per conversion goes down drastically if a customer keeps coming back. Start courting those customers in all the right ways.

Finally, a neat little case study on how much difference ad copy can make from the Boost CTR blog. A snappy title, an offer that the customer wants to hear, and boom, 115% improvement. Read the details and learn how to tighten up your ad copy.

That wraps it up for this week. Have you tried our award winning PPC management software yet? Get a free two week trial now!

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.