Category Archives: PPC

What are AdWords ‘Dimensions’ and why are they useful?

Some of you may have noticed that AdWords recently released a new tab within the campaign management section of the account called Dimensions. In this post I’ll discuss how to enable that feature and what some possible uses are for the data it displays.

Viewing Dimensions

Dimensions will not be visible by default, you have to select to view the tab within your account. To do so, go to your campaign settings, and click on the drop down menu to the right of the Networks tab, as shown in the screenshot above. After clicking on Dimensions, you will see an additional array of options to choose from, as shown in the image on left.

What should I care about dimensions?

Dimensions provide you an easy view to segment and view your AdWords data by the dimension of your choice for an ad group, campaign, or your entire account. One of my favorite options is to analyze how your account performs on different days of the week. If you’re concerned about ROI and have a tight budget, and the dimensions tab shows you that on Sundays your cost/conversion is higher than on other days of the week, you can choose to lower your budget on Sundays or pause your campaigns entirely.

Another view I found useful is to look at account performance over a period of several months. You will be able to see all of your statistics month-by-month and this can allow you to evaluate how the account has changed since you started implementing specific optimization strategies or special offers, for example.

I also found Destination URL data very useful, since you can quickly view how your different landing pages convert and which ones are most profitable. Really, Dimensions are another quick way to integrate and present reports and data you care about!

Advantages Of Paid Search Ads Over Organic/Natural Search

Business owners that are looking to grow their online presence often ask why they should invest in pay-per-click (PPC) ads when they could be getting free organic traffic. When considering how to market your business online, it’s important to keep in mind that paid and organic ads both have their advantages and disadvantages.

One of the main advantage of organic is that clicks are free. Also, more people click on organic than paid ads, and those clicking on organic results tend to be more educated. However, paid ads do have some important benefits over organic, and these factors should be considered before you neglect your PPC efforts.

Top 10 benefits of PPC ads:

  • Instant: A strong online presence in organic search can be difficult to achieve and may take months. With online PPC ads, you can create an ad and appear on your most important keywords within minutes.
  • Targeted Keywords: With PPC marketing you can control the precise keywords and messaging for your business with virtually unlimited scope of keywords to target.
  • Flexible Spend: There are no minimum spend requirements for PPC, and you can set your own budgets and the maximum amount you’re willing to pay per click.
  • Cost-Effective: Advertisers are awarded for being relevant, which in turn helps bring down costs and allows even smaller advertisers to compete with large businesses.
  • ROI: PPC is highly accountable and allows you to measure and optimize return on investment. You can easily analyze how your keywords and ads are performing and make adjustments, based on data.
  • Reach: With PPC ads, you can reach millions of people searching for your services. Additionally, you get access to a huge network of other partner sites beyond search.
  • Easy implementation: PPC advertising is a proven model and is simple to implement. PPC ads don’t require any major modifications on the website. Ads can be easily updated for changing promotions and business needs.
  • Location Control: PPC campaigns allow you to target users in select locations or regions.
  • Time Control: advertisers can choose the days and times their ads will show. Campaigns can be easily activated or paused when you need to adjust demand, or to match your bandwidth/resources.
  • Mobile Audience: With PPC ads, you can now reach the rapidly growing audience of mobile users browsing the web and pay for clicks or calls only.

For all of these reasons, businesses should consider paid search, in addition to organic optimization efforts. White both strategies have pros and cons, you’ll likely find that each suits a different business need and deserves a place in your marketing plan.

Google’s keyword tool out of beta

Google’s updated keyword tool is now officially out of beta, and advertisers no longer have the option to go back to the previous version of the tool. This is unfortunate, as the previous version provided more results and keyword variations. However, a couple of advantages on the updated tool include updated statistics and the ability to use the tool without signing in.

In you’re looking for additional or alternative keyword tools, I recommend you check out keywordspy and wordtracker. Both require subscriptions but do offer free trials.

Should you let AdWords do the bidding for you with Enhanced CPC?

AdWords recently released a new bidding option under campaign settings called Enhanced CPC that uses your conversion data to optimize bids for ROI.  Advertisers will reportedly benefit from spending less time on managing bids while receiving more conversions at an equal or lower ROI.

The way Enhanced CPC* works is that your keyword bids are automatically adjusted up or down depending on how an individual keyword converts for you. As a result you may pay up to 30% of your set bid. It’s a feature you can enable at the campaign settings page, and it applies to all the ad groups within the chosen campaign. If you’re uncomfortable paying more than your set Max CPC, you should probably not use Enhanced CPC.

Unlike with Conversion Optimizer, the other AdWords advanced ROI bidding option, you do not need 15 conversions in the past 30 days to use this. However, Conversion Optimizers allows you to set specific CPA goals, which Enhanced CPC does not offer. If you are looking to lower CPA significantly, then you might be better off using Conversion Optimizer, which has greater potential to help you improve CPA.

*Do note that if you enable Enhanced CPC you will not be able to make changes to your campaigns through AdWords Editor.

Optimize Pay-Per-Click Display Campaigns for ROI

Many advertisers are reluctant to use display due to lack of control and poor ROI, but with the right set-up and optimization, display can be a great source of leads, and not just a branding tool. Display includes websites, such as blogs, articles, and other sites that will show ads relevant to their content. The Display Network has the advantage of reaching potential customers at different points of the buying cycle, and capturing the attention of those that were not yet considering searching for your services. For example, someone reading an article on how to clean a carpet might decide that they’d like to hire your carpet cleaning company after seeing your ad next to the article they were reading.

As you get ready to advertise on Display, keep in mind that users browsing online content behave very differently than those searching for specific information. Also, you will see different results from the two networks. Lower CTRs on display are normal and will not affect the quality of your search keywords. Most advertisers see higher conversion rates for search, but that’s not always necessarily the case. Some of my clients get most of their conversions from display. Then, there are advertisers who see lower conversion rates on Display but still get valuable traffic at lower costs than Search. The only way to know how Search and Display will perform for you is to test them both.

Here are my top 5 recommendations for optimizing display campaigns:

  1. Display only campaigns: When advertisers create their AdWords campaigns, they’re automatically opted into both networks. However, I do not recommend simply enabling Display within your existing campaign, keep the two networks separate. To get you started, create a mirror version on your search campaign, opt it out of search and leave it opted into content only.
  2. What placements to target: You can either run display ads by choosing Automatic Placements, where AdWords chooses for you what websites are relevant based on your current keywords and ads. or, you can target specific websites you’d like to show on by selecting Managed Placements. At this initial stage, I recommend going with Automatic instead of Managed Placements.
  3. Budget: While you test effectiveness of Display for your website, I recommend setting an initially lower budget for Display than for Search (10-20% of your total AdWords budget), and lowering your bids by about 20% for Display.
  4. Display ads: Create different ads for display to capture attention of users that are at different staged of the buying cycle. Also, create image and rich media ads. AdWords offers a free Display ad builder that will help you get started. Image and rich media ads tend to get better CTR on display than regular text ads.
  5. Exclude poor performers: Monitor what websites your ads have appeared on and exclude poor performers, which are sites that generate a lot of impressions but few clicks, and sites that you get a lot of clicks from but that don’t convert.

Keep monitoring your campaigns and adjusting based on incoming data. Display could prove a valuable source of cost-effective traffic you’ve been missing out on! What strategies have you tried that  worked?

Increase exposure to your site with flash and image ads

According to the latest data, flash and rich media ads account for 40% of online display ad impressions. AdWords, and most other PPC programs allow you to create these ad formats through their display network. Many advertisers have been reluctant to use display but with the right set-up and targeting you can optimize ROI as well. AdWords even offers a free display ad builder to help you get started. Are you taking advantage of this growing market?

Enable Ad Sitelinks in AdWords and boost your CTR

AdWords recently announced that they are enabling Ad Sitelinks for all campaigns, which advertisers previously had to pre-qualify for. Only advertisers with very high quality scores actually saw this as an option in their accounts. Now, it’s available to all campaigns, and you should be taking advantage of it. Sitelinks allows you to link to other pages on your website with the links visible immediately below your Display URL.

Sitelinks not only acts as an extra line of ad text and provides your visitors additional navigation options, it can reportedly boost CTRs by up to 30%. To set it up, go to your campaign settings, and under Extensions, enable Sitelinks by clicking on Show additional links to my site within my ad.

Find out when your AdWords ads convert to maximize budget and ROI

Many advertisers have observed that their ads convert differently during the day. In fact, hourly conversion rates can vary as much as 50% from the overall average. To maximize your budget you should first find out when visitors are more likely to covert. To do so, log-in to your analytics account, go to Traffic Sources, click on the AdWords tab, and select Day Parts. There, you can see goal completions by hour of day.

If you notice that most of your conversions happen during certain times of the day, say during standard business hours, you may want to run your campaigns during business hours only. This can be set-up automatically within your AdWords campaigns by enabling Ad Scheduling. Be aware that restricting your ads to certain hours only will results in decreased impressions and clicks. However, this may still be a viable option for you, especially if you have a limited budget.  Understanding when your ads convert and acting on that information can help you maximize advertising dollars and improve ROI. You’ll avoid spending money on clicks that are less likely to convert and focus your efforts on what’s working for your website.

Yahoo & Microsoft announce new editorial guidelines for paid search.

Yahoo and Microsoft announced their new paid search editorial guidelines that will begin in early August. The new guidelines are part of the alliance between Yahoo and MS (see previous blog post). Make sure you review the new content restrictions and policies and see if you’re impacted. If content policies do not apply to you, still read through the ad content and style policies to ensure you’re ready for the transition.

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