Category Archives: PPC

Use the broad match modifier in AdWords and get more clicks, while maintaining control

AdWords just released a new keyword match type called broad match modifier that gives more control over how your ads will show. The broad match modifier is more specific than broad match but provides greater reach than phrase or exact match. Unlike phrase match, it will trigger singular and plural variations, as well as misspelling and closely related words. And, unlike broad match, it will not expand to wildly irrelevant variations that hike up costs.

The broad match modifier is meant for advertisers that have been using phrase and exact mainly. This type of advertiser has been avoiding broad match because it’s shown their ads on variations that are too far outside the target audience. Even if you’re running on mainly broad match today I recommend testing the braod match modifier, as the more precise matching might improve your conversions. It’s recommended to add the new keyword in addition to your existing match keywords, rather than replacing them. Then, analyze your data and adjust bids and strategies accordingly.

To implement broad match modifier, simply out a + before each word in the search term. Make sure there are no spaces before or after the + sign, but there should be a space between the search terms in the query.

Correct: +sell +widgets
Incorrect: +sell+widgets
Incorrect: + sell + widgets

Implementation is still a little slow and manual. Within the interface, you have to click to edit a keyword and add the + sign manually. Hopefully, AdWords adds a feature that will allow us to change the keyword match type to the modifier within the interface and AdWords Editor soon.

I can’t blame advertisers for avoiding broad match, however phrase and exact can severely limit traffic. The issue of keyword being expanded too broadly with broad match has caused me hours of work reviewing search queries and adding negative keywords to maintain click and conversion volumes. The broad match modifier will be a valuable tool in my campaigns.

Microsoft & Yahoo unite to provide a unified search advertising platform

Microsoft and Yahoo announced earlier this year that they’re forming an alliance by uniting their search advertising platforms. The alliance will make both companies more competitive with the current leader in online advertising, Google AdWords. Advertisers will reportedly benefit from greater reach, better technology, more resources freed up for innovation, and improved customer support.

What does this mean for current advertisers? Microsoft adCenter will be the platform for search campaigns for both companies and those using Yahoo will need to transition their ad campaigns over to adCenter. The transition is planned to take place before the 2010 holiday season, but it may be delayed until 2011. Advertisers should prepare by learning more about the upcoming changes. You may need to shorten your ads, expand keywords, and check your bids. Start making changes now, so you experience a smooth transition!

I, for one, am very excited about using only one platform and am looking forward to a more unified experience. More importantly, I am hopefully that this alliance will make Yahoo and Microsoft better source of qualified traffic, as both have been struggling to keep up with Google. The reality is that most of my clients get the bulk of their traffic and leads from Google, plus the AdWords platform provides far more advanced options and features. Getting some real competition in the PPC world can only mean good things for advertisers and agencies.

See how you stack up against your AdWords competitors

There’s a new tool in AdWords that allows you to compare your account performance against your competition. You can access it by going to your Opportunities tab and clicking on link Analyze Competition. It’s limited in terms of what data you can analyze and currently provides comparisons for the following metrics: impressions, clicks, CTR, and Avg. position. This is a good start, but what I’d really like to see are CPC and conversion metric comparisons, as impressions and clicks are heavily driven by budget and you can quickly increase those numbers by increasing your budget.

Data is available for the last two weeks or so, and there is no option to change this date range, which would be necessary if you wanted to review trends. Filtering is also available allowing you to select specific countries and states. A major con of the Analyze Competition tool is that it’s pretty vague about who your competition is, for obvious privacy reasons. It separates out competitors bidding on the same terms under several industries and provides data for those verticals. However, some of the competitors bidding on your keywords may not be your actual competition for your sub-vertical or areas of specialty.

Overall, an interesting tool to check out and even more data from Google to arm you with information to potentially act upon. However, in order to be truly useful, the data would have to be more specific to your true competition and include CPC and conversion metrics. Meanwhile, I recommend checking out some of the other software sites, such as KeywordSpy or SpyFy that do offer more detailed information about your competition.

AdWords finally makes it easy to find out why your ads aren’t showing

Why are my ads not showing? That was the most common question I heard from advertisers while working at Google, year after year. There are many reasons this might be happening, such as a low budget, Max CPCs lower then the first page bid estimate, regional targeting, and many other potential issues. There isn’t always a simple answer to this question and it is highly specific to each account. This is why help articles are not always, well, helpful. Clients have to browse through technical jargon and are still often unable to find out what the issue is. Worse yet, they are not even aware of the available tools that can help them troubleshoot.

AdWords just released a feature that aims to ameliorate this common problem by allowing advertisers to easily diagnose keywords and find out why they might not be triggering ads. Previously, advertisers had to navigate to the tools section in their account, which many never made it to or even knew about.

Now, the tool has been integrated into your campaigns and can be found while looking at data within the Keywords tab in your AdWords account. While on the Keywords tab, click on More Actions and then Diagnose Keywords. The tool will walk you through the rest.

Dedicated customer support isn’t a strength for AdWords, especially when it comes to small, lower spend clients. So, I hope advertisers empower themselves and use the various tools AdWords has developed to help them manage and troubleshoot their accounts.

Best practices for using dynamic keyword insertion in AdWords ads

Keyword insertion is a tool that allows AdWords advertisers to automate their ads with a single piece of code in the ad copy. Keywords users are searching on are automatically populated into the ad, usually the ad title, possibly making the ad more relevant. To use it, you’d simply enter the following piece of code {KeyWord:Default Headline} into your ad. Keyword insertion is used most commonly in headlines. However, the code could also be placed in the rest of your ad text, as well as in your display and destination URLs.

There are many benefits to using keyword insertion, but you should also be careful to avoid weird looking ads that don’t make sense or aren’t converting for you. The table below explores some pros and cons of keyword insertion as well as my tips on how to best take advantage of it.

Stop wasting advertising dollars on bad keywords

Before you can analyze and make decisions on individual keywords, make sure you have conversion tracking set-up first in your Google AdWords account. Conversions are specific actions you care about on your website, such as lead submissions, white paper downloads, or most commonly, sales. If you’re not tracking conversions already, enable conversion tracking within your Google Adwords account first. You’ll get a code snippet to be placed on a page that’s usually a confirmation page for a desired action.

Once you’re tracking conversions, review your data regularly and make decisions based on patterns you’re seeing. If a keyword is getting a lot of clicks but few of those clicks are resulting in a conversion, you may want to lower your CPCs or pause that keyword entirely. This will save you $ and allow your PPC budget to be spent on other, more profitable terms. In the example below, I paused a keyword that generated clicks and had a good CTR but resulted in only 1 conversion and a relatively high cost/conversion.

Best practices for using negative keywords

Negative keywords are an excellent way to eliminate irrelevant impressions and improve the quality of your PPC traffic. They help boost your CTR, improve quality score, lower your CPCs and increase ROI. Here are my 5 best practices for using negative keywords with Google AdWords:

  1. Use negative keywords at the campaign level. Negative keywords in Google AdWords can be applied at the ad group or campaign levels. In most cases, you’ll want to use them at the more scalable campaign level to eliminate specific words or phrases from appearing with any on your keyword combinations pertaining to your entire campaign.
  2. Use the AdWords keyword tool. Look up additional keyword variations for your highest impression generating keywords through the keyword tool. Any searches that are not relevant to your business should be added as negative terms.
  3. Expand your negatives. Make sure that you expand the negative terms you come up with, adding singulars, plurals, synonyms and any other variations you can think of. The Google AdWords system does not expand the negatives for you. For example, if you’re running on a keyword ‘cosmetic surgery’ and you add a negative keyword ‘pic’ the query ‘cosmetic surgery pics’ still might trigger your ad unless you add ‘pics’ as a negative as well. Add synonyms (photo, photos, picture, pictures, pix) while you’re at it!
  4. Run search query reports. Search query reports will show you actual queries that led to clicks on your PPC ads. Any queries that do not apply to your website are excellent negative keywords. I recommend running this report once a week.
  5. Use advanced negative matching options. In addition to negative broad match, you can also use negative phrase and negative exact match. Negative phrase and exact match should be used to restrict specific phrases from triggering your PPC ads, but still preserve and allow your PPC ads to be triggered for some of the words within that phrase. Let’s say you are advertising a cosmetic surgery website, and you’re running on keyword ‘breast enhancement surgery’. Here are some use cases for advanced negative match types with that example in mind:

Optimize your Google AdWords campaigns for mobile

According to recent data, 30% of US  of mobile owners are accessing their internet browsers on their phones and mobile is one of fastest growing media channels. Advertisers need to take advantage of the various mobile options that Google AdWords provides. Are your PPC campaigns optimized for it? Here are three tips for success:

  1. Create a separate campaign opted into mobile devices only and opted out of desktop and and laptop devices. This will allow you greater control and an easier overview of how mobile is performing for you. On your Google AdWords campaign settings page, under Networks and devices, choose to opt your campaign into iPhones and other mobile devices with full Internet browsers
  2. Enable Phone extensions to display your number on iPhones and other mobile devices with full internet browsers. Calls are often more valuable than online leads and this feature allows you to side-step the website visit option and get that call right away, increasing the chance of converting a visitor to a lead.
  3. Create WAP mobile ads. In my experience they get better CTRs and lower CPCs. WAP mobile ads are shorter versions of your full text ads, optimized for the online browsing experience and with a click-to-call option. Mobile text ads contain two lines of text with 18 characters per line. The display URL is limited to 20 characters only. Consider leaving out the www. if you are running out of space. To create a mobile ad, go to your mobile campaign, click tab Ads -> New Ad and choose the WAP mobile option from the drop down.

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