Paid Search Fundamentals

Feb 26, 2008 • 7:33 pm | comments (0) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Search Marketing Expo 2008 West
 

Paid search allows you to generate traffic from search engines by purchasing ads, usually on a cost-per-click (CPC) / pay-per-click (PPC) basis. This session covers the basic of how to purchase placement from the major search engines, including best practices for success with your ads.

Moderator: Detlev Johnson, CEO, SearchReturn Q&A Moderator: Anton Konikoff, Founder and CEO, Acronym Media Speaker: Matt Van Wagner, President, Find Me Faster

Matt is talking about why he loves PPC. Example of Bebop Baby Shop. The business opened in August of 2007, no publicity, and needed to get people in the store. They decided to start a PPC campaign, and one month later they had 124k ad impressions, 300+ qualified visitors, and cost was $185 -- less than one ad for the local newspaper. Sales three months ahead of projections.

The investment in PPC is very measurable, and more measurable than many other types of advertising. Gives example of company under-investing in PPC campaign. He tried to keep the ad spend as a percentage of total revenues. He kept the percentage the same, and the sales tripled.

PPC and SEO are Complementary. You can get going quickly if you are a new site, and PPC provides good market research. You can discover which words convert. You can also help manage your risk of algorithm changes. If you have PPC, you have some protection against another Florida update. PPC is also helpful in providing a predictable, dependable flow of traffic.

PPC allows you more control over messaging. You can control your messaging through your ad text, while you can't always determine what text is shown in the SERP for an organic search results. You also get to determine what page your visitor lands on, while you can't always do that with organic search.

Process creates sustainable advantage It's not just about keywords, ads, or bids. It's not where you are at a moment in time, but what you're learning as you go. Plan on working in a disciplined manner.

Use systems-level thinking. Align your campaign goals with larger company goals. It's not just about increasing visitors, but it's also about increasing sales. It can be good to be in a small firm, since you don't have to go through several levels of management to change your ad or landing page.

Track your performance and make adjustments. Be methodical, measure and test everything that you can. Don't react too quickly, but don't get analysis-paralysis. You don't want to make changes based on too little data, like having only five clicks on an ad text.

Overview of Paid Search

Search Engine Networks

Definitions: Keywords : Words or phrases that users type in to find what you are selling. Ads: The short text/graphic ads that represent your elevator pitch. Landing pages: where your ads take users and turn them into customers. You don't need to create landing pages for each and every campaign, but you don't want to always take people to the home page of the site.

The process involves managing all of the above; tracking your results, conversions, ROI; and testing your ads and landing pages.

Search Landscape for 2008 Google has 68% of search engine market share, the others have the rest of the share. Didn't see country or other details about this market share.

Search engines and search partners. The user types in a query, and they are actively seeking what they type in.

Content network websites. The user doesn't type in a query, but they encounter the ads when they are doing something else (reading an online newspaper or other form of content). Content ads are important, but different from search, and do not treat them the same.

Screenshot showing which is free and which is paid in Google, Yahoo!, MSN/Live, Ask search results. Ask is different, they double-serve results. You can have two different ads in the same search result page, as they take ads from Google. Can be cheap, since no one is interested in spending on a place that has such a small marketing share.

Screenshot of content network ad, showing ads for wine on a page with content about French wine and food. For content ads, you want to put ads that are low engagement. For lead generation and low engagement types of program, content network is good. If you're selling expensive server gear, it's not as good.

Search engines ads ARE NOT content network ads. If you don't understand content ads, turn them off until you are ready. You need to explicitly turn them off, since they on by default. In Yahoo, it's under administration tab, and under edit campaign settings in Yahoo. If you have content on, take a look at home much you're paying for content and see if that is working for you. Likely it's not if you've never known that it was there.

How does PPC Work?

We all know the questions: What's the best position for your ads? Does the highest bid always get the top spot? How much will I pay? (Max CPC vs Avg. CPC) What's all of this crap about Quality Score?

For some of these, you might as well ask how long is a piece of string.

The speaker heard some reports about how men versus women look at search results. Men clicked the top result. Woman will look over page, look at links, then decide what to click. If you believe this, it may affect what position you want for your ads depending on the type of item you are selling.

What's the best position? He gives a schematic of Google and Yahoo search results. In Google, you don't automatically know if the first position is on the right or on the top, you need to sign up for Google analytics.

In a perfect world, you'd put together a couple of ads, bid, put in a landing page, and get first result for cheap. Here's what really happens: search engines want relevant results. Pretend that you can search for a color blue. Solid blue would be in first position, less blue would be in second position, etc. If the highest bid determined the ad display, the results displayed may not be quite as relevant. A search for blue would show a result for red if the bid is high enough. This is the basis for a quality score.

Quality score: First is look at ads and keywords, decide who is going to be in the first x results. Ad rank = quality score times max bid. What goes into a quality score: Relevancy: Keywords -> ads -> landing page. How well do they fit together Historical Performance (CTR) - your keywords - your keywords + ads in combination - your ad groups, campaigns, account. If you have an ad group with over 100 or 200 ads, split it out. Put your higher performing ads in one group and lower in another ad groups, help get your quality score better.

CTR is normalized by ad position, search engines know that first position will get more clicks, and they take this into account.

Visual example given of bids, relevance, and placement on page.

Who pays what CPC? I missed some of the explanation here.

Please forget everything you just learned about ad rank. Please remember only that ad rank exists. Concentrate on creating great PPC campaigns. Yes, it's helpful to know that it exists, but there is no way to know all of this information. Know that you don't have to be the highest bid to be in a higher position. A rough quality score (great, good, poor) is given to you.

Setting up and managing campaigns

What is your primary goal of your campaign? Leads, sales, brand building.

How do you define success? More difficult because so many companies are not solely online. Online vs. offline sales conversions It may be steps on the path towards sales conversion, not necessarily the huge purchase.

How do you measure success? Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft offer free conversion trackers Third party web analytics tools (Hitslink, WebTrends, Webside Story, etc) How much the phones are ringing Total company sales and profits increasing

Start measuring actions. Don't measure just CTR or CPC. Even pure internet companies get trapped by the PPC stats, but need to look at bigger picture.

Budget Properly Put controls in place to prevent runaway ad spend. Set daily budgets, and budgets for campaigns. If you are under budget, you can always increase.

Asks if any clients are present, then gives an example of how something got screwed up. No cap on campaign, wanted to put in negative keywords, but went to wrong screen and didn't get negative in front of them. Huge ad spend for a few hours.

Be aware of natural seasonal up ticks. Holidays, other events can cause spikes. You don't want to cripple campaign by constraining the budget. Recommends to set display accelerated to make sure that you do get all of your ad spend in, instead of letting Google guess what the best display rate is.

Set ROI and ROAS Targets Measure at the aggregate level, get more granular over time. Don't measure an individual keyword, unless it's huge like student loan or home mortgage.

Establish cost per lead/order/action measure by search network, campaign/adgroup/keyword Essential to ongoing success.

Remember that sales cycle can take a while, and you don't always know how keywords led to sale. Could be the first or last keyword used, or not recorded if it's over a month from the start of the sales process.

Case study of Pets We Loved, they make pet bereavement products. The challenge was he was a cash strapped small business. They looked at what PPC people were clicking on (dogs) but most of the orders were for cats. They took the dog keywords offline, and refocused the ads and website content on cats.

You need to structure your account well. Don't just name it Campaign #1 and Campaign #2. He explains the structure of a PPC account (campaign -> adgroup -> keywords). An example of a good organization would be to have ad groups by breed of dog, with keywords for each breed, and ads relevant to each bred.

Landing pages

Potent area for PPC campaign optimization If your landing page doesn't work well, why are you sending PPC traffic? Make sure your ads are going to live pages. Minor improvements can lead to big gains

Get visitors to the content the yare searching for - Quickly! Even if it's ugly, if you have the content they are looking for, send them there. Home page may be ok for single product sites Send visitors to the best interior page. Don't make them click multiple times to get to what you are advertising. Consider developing and testing landing pages for PPC traffic, can have good results.

Landing page impacts quality score Use keywords in your meta title, description, keywords Include keywords prominently on page in text and image Don't go overboard on this part. Do think about it, but don't spend all kinds of time or SEO stuff on it.

Building keyword lists

Start with your own brain. What words do you use to describe your stuff? What words do other people use? Use keyword tools that Google and Microsoft offer.

Organize keyword lists. Move from generalized lists to small, tightly themed groups. Makes it easy to manage and write ads.

Get Rapid Keyword Software. Lets you do lots of combining and cool features, $59.

Briefly mentioned keyword matching, broad, exact, phrase. Presentation will be online and you can see more information there. Google and Microsoft work almost identically, Yahoo works a little differently.

Negative match keywords are a big deal. Helps prevent ads showing on non-productive searches. Improves CTR, quality scores, and reduces costs. Example of person selling wool capes, and shows it for batman capes for Halloween.

Do regular keyword cleanups. Use negative keywords, remove low performing keywords.

Example of a client that was bidding on sock monkeys. Looked at broad match, people were looking for sock gorilla and other non-relevant searches.

Skipped over two slide here.

Ads can be designed to act as a filter, not just draw clicks. If your keyword is ambiguous (like "home care") you need ads that clearly identify the purpose. Talk about in-home care so people don't click on it for home repair.

Increase your CTR by writing great ads. A variety of copy styles exist, and have other people write ads to get different ads to get different ideas.

Two minutes left. Mentions geo-targeting and day/time targeting are good.

Live coverage provided by Keri Morgret.

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