Links Links and More Links

I’m re-gurga-blogging today and just throwing up some interesting links from around the web via my Google Reader (and some I’ve had open meaning to talk about).

http://www.seroundtable.com/archives/021231.html – WebmasterWorld forum users are trying to put a list together of all 200 Google Ranking factors….GOOD LUCK!

http://www.seroundtable.com/archives/021229.html – Google dropping the ban-hammer on Adwords accounts and not letting up

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/11/new-search-ad-formats.html – Google blog explains their new ad formats, pretty sweet! One of those is the new Product Ads which Big G explains to us on the Adwords Blog here

http://www.seroundtable.com/archives/021225.html – 85% needed to pass the Google Advertising PE exam, which for $50 is a rip.  Google needs to offer out some more Adwords Exam promo codes!

http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Google+Analytics/thread?tid=060bf519a42f367d&hl=en – Ever see an Analytics Keyword report showing 0 visits for a keyword, I have, here is why:

This is likely due to visitors to your site visited your site via two different methods in the same session.  For example if a visitor originally reached your site from “keyword A”, navigated back to the search engine, performed another search and clicked on “keyword B” and came to your site again, you would see one visit for “keyword A” in your report and 0 visits for “keyword B”.

https://adwords.google.com/support/aw/bin/answer.py?answer=144317&hl=en_US – -Custom Alerts, you NEED to be using them, here is what they are and how you can set’em up..

http://adwords.blogspot.com/2009/09/announcing-view-through-conversion.html this is an old one but after using it I need to give Google some big props. This can dramatically change the way you value the content network.  If your content ad shows to a user and they eventually convert on your site, you’ll know!  The old marketing adage “a customer must see your ad 12 times before they remember you” now has a way to measure!  I’m excited. More on it here

Google offers a help session via Picturs on Picasa. Here and here

That is all for now, I’ve got to go cook Thanksgiving dinner, happy bidding!

7 Deadly Sins of Landing Page Design

With the holiday seasons coming up I hope everyone has their campaigns in order but one of the most overlooked portion of a lot of campaigns I see is the landing page.  Tim Ash presented a Google Website Optimizer Webinar (which they’ve now posted on their YouTube Channel here) which talked about the ‘Seven Deadly Sins of Landing Page Design’.  Overall the video was really well done but pretty long, over an hour, so I took out the 7 sins and Tim’s recommended fixes and posted them below.  I also included links to the direct time in the video where he talks about each one. 

Seven Deadly Sins:
-Unclear Call to Actions – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erdEZvOq6wo#7m36s
    -should be clear and draw the eye
    -placement of CTA should be above the fold
    -de-emphasize competing CTAs

-Too Many Choices – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erdEZvOq6wo#14m20s
    -don’t present detail too early in the process
    -group choice into small number of categories
    -visual shortcuts to reduce reading

-Asking for too much Information – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erdEZvOq6wo#17m10s
    -ask only for absolutely-requred information
    -collect the rest at a later date

-Too Much Text – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erdEZvOq6wo#21m28s
    -Use clear headlines and headings
    -put important stuff first – “inverted pyramid” style
    -do not write in complete sentences
    -Edit and shorten text

-Not Keeping Your Promises – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erdEZvOq6wo#25m05s
    – Repeat the ad-test or keywords on your page
    -Provide clear access to information from the ad

-Visual Distractions “Make It More Boring” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erdEZvOq6wo#29m40s
    -Don’t compete with the call-to-action
    -Remove colorful page elements and animation/motion
    -Replace generic photos with specific relevant images

-Lack of Credibility & Trust – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erdEZvOq6wo#34m14s
    -Feature well-known trust symbols prominently
    -Use client logos/brands/media coverages as badges on the site
    -Remove anxiety with generous policies & guarantees

8 Not Always Obvious but Common Paid Search Mistakes

With the ever growing competition it is more important than ever to make sure your accounts are lean mean ROI machines. I’ve seen a lot of accounts that make very common mistakes that you just can’t get away with anymore.

Content Network management – I know I’ve beat the dead horse about my dislike for the Google content network but its the truth. It is one of the first things that I disable because without the proper attention, it is one of the biggest bloats to an accounts ROI. If you insist on using the content network than proper management is required. One of the first things you should do is modify your bids, by default content network bids are the same as your search network bids when in actuality the impressions can be had for a fraction of the cost. Lower the bid to the threshold where you don’t see any loss of clickthroughs and are paying a fraction of your initial bid. Another necessary management move is to selectively choose which sites your ads will show up on. This will help you avoid click fraud from splogs and unethical Adsense sites.

Failure to implement tracking – Google Analytics is free, use it! PS- the conversion tracking is excellent.

Not Utilizing a USP – Every company should have a USP, unique selling proposition, it helps you stand out among your competition. Whether it is Free Shipping, Easy Returns, or something else, conveying this in your paid search ads is ridiculously important.

Untargeted Keywords – When paid search first started it was pretty common thinking that you want to bid on as many words as possible and I saw tons of accounts that were bidding on completely irrelevant words. Well, that doesn’t fly anymore unless you don’t care about ROI. You need to be bidding very relevant words and the less broad you are, the more likely you will have a better ROI. I’m sure in your industry there are some broad terms that are highly relevant, I would bid on these with discretion. They are important but if not managed properly they can eat through your budget quickly.

Not Using Keyword Rich Ad-Text – Whether you want use keyword insertion or highly targeted adgroups/keywords/ad-texts, you will see far better CTRs with keyword rich ad-texts. Your ads will have bold text which will catch the users attention but it will also include relevant keywords which helps to build a trust with the user that your ad will deliver what they are looking for.

Not using proper landing pages – One of the biggest and most common faux paus possible is directing all of your ads to your home page. If you don’t have paid search specific landing pages, use internal pages that are relevant to your ad copy and the words you are bidding on.

One Campaign, One Adgroup – You wouldn’t organize all of your wardrobe by putting your clothes into one drawer, so why put all of your keywords into one campaign and ad group? Campaigns let you control your budget more precisely and multiple ad groups let you target your ads better to your keywords. Group similar keywords into specific groups and create ads that tailor to those keywords.

No Keyword Negatives – there is without a doubt at least one keyword variation of your broadest term that is completely irrelevant to your account and it wastes your money. For example, lets say you sell sport nets (Basketball goal nets, soccer goal nets etc), you probably don’t want to show up for people searching for the NBA team the New Jersey Nets. In this case you should include -New Jersey and maybe -New Jersey Nets into your negative keyword list. This will prevent your ad from showing on these irrelevant searches and save your budget.

The point of this post was to help you eliminate some of the common mistakes so easily overlooked by people new to PPC and Paid Search professionals.

Branding Strategies for PPC

I have about 10 tabs open in my FireFox that I’ve been meaning to post about for ages so I am hopefully going to catch up on this in the next week or 2.

With that said, Scott Woodard, not recently wrote a good article on MarketingPilgrim going over some PPC branding strategies that everyone should implement. He covers concepts such as bidding on your domain name, its misspellings and navigational type searches for your name but I would like to add a few additional points that I like to use:
Bid on your phone number and address – these will obviously be extremely low volume words but if someone does happen to search your phone number or address you want to be found. Isn’t the whole point of branding is to build a reputable presence, you do this by being found when people are looking for you.
Bid on key employees names – this doesn’t apply to everyone but if you have some popular people in your company or those who act as a spokesman for your company and industry, be sure to bid on their name.
Bid on competitors names – Bidding on your competitions name is sometimes viewed as an unethical practice but it really is a good way to increase exposure for your brand. Sometimes companies will have their names trademarked and won’t like other people bidding on their terms but I have found that 7 times out of 10 this is not the case. *Warning, this practice could bring on negative attention, it is not for everyone.

Using these few tactics along with the ones Scott mentioned, you should be able to implement an affective branding campaign. The best part of an affective branding campaign is that it should be very doable on the cheap.

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Should I Keep My PPC Search Advertising If I Already Rank #1 Organically?

This exact question was posted on SERoundtable and Google says the answer is an overwhelming yes. Several Google representatives all referenced a study that Google did last year that showed that sites who experienced high organic rankings and also participated in Adwords experienced 20% more overall traffic than doing one or the other. Google also says that CTR on Adwords ads is higher.

Of course you have to consider the source but I have also experienced the same results with my clients. Since the organic rankings have been in good standing, the CTRs and traffic has increased as well. In almost any case, if you rank organically, I WOULD also bid on those keywords with PPC. It has a great branding effect on users who are able to identify the URL all over the page. Simple put, in the users’ eyes it qualifies that sites existence on the page. In very rare cases where the keywords are extremely expensive and with a low conversion rate, it may not be beneficial.

Yahoo Reveals Its New Ad Platform, Panama, at SES

Reports around the web are that Yahoo Search Marketing has unveiled its new platform codenamed Panama at the SES conference in San Jose. Yahoo hasn’t done any major upgrades since the acquisition of GoTo.com and has been using basically the same auction style bidding strategy since its inception. The higher you bid the higher your position, pretty simple stuff, but with Panama Yahoo plans to implement a more algorithmic style of bidding including factors like quality score and ROI. Sound familar? Well it should, it is a similar setup that Google and MSN use
which allows them to control the price of keywords (although they would never admit it).

One of the benefits of this new platform is the ability to target a variety of different channels. Yahoo isn’t only a search engine. It has a variety of sites and portals from Yahoo Trips to Yahoo Games and advertisers will be able to target each section. Also along the lines of better targeting, Yahoo says geo-targeting will be easier then ever with Panama. This much needed change was expected to be released by Q3 but Yahoo has stated numerous times that it will be available Q4.

Since I was not at SES to gather more info, I will point you to Search Engine Journal, who has a more indepth review complete with a few almost readable screenshots.

Google Testing Expanded Adwords Relevancy

And when we expand on the term we get this image:
Everything was double checked to insure there were no errors in setup, tracking or anywhere else. Not only can we conclude that Google is testing out expanded relevancy, it is also a solid confirmation to everyone that a good tracking system is of utmost importance. PS – Hey Google, we caught ya! ]]>

Google Saving Bandwidth?

bandwidth issues.” Let’s just give Google the beneifit of the dougt for a second this is a legitimate reason, I still have beef with them. First off, why not tell us certain words do not qualify and will not be served? We all know they like to keep webmasters and marketers guessing, but this borders on satanical. And secondly, if these words are super low in search volume, why not let them be shown? Especially in my case where the words is super relevant and extremely targeted to a particular area, it would make sense to me to serve it. I thought that was the whole point of the Quality Score, to insure relevant ads are shown. It seems to be that Google needs to either increase their bandwidth (after all I am trying to make them money) or update their excuse roledex! I can’t be the only one who gets answers from their Adwords rep that seem to be less then genuine or at the least odd, can I? ]]>