Category Archives: ppc advertising

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Is this the ‘right’ move from Google?

The PPC community has been out in full force in recent days after Google stopped serving paid text ads on the right hand side of its results page.

Product listing ads (PLAs) still appear and a fourth ad has been included at the top of the page for premium phrases, pushing the organic rankings further down the page and giving the SEO community plenty to think about in the process.

Why has Google made this change?

The most likely reason Google has made this decision is for economic gains – with CPCs forecasted to rise given that the top positions will become more desirable – and a push to make the desktop and mobile/tablet experience more seamless, which potentially coincides with the other big announcement that accelerated mobile pages (AMP) for HTML is now available.

What does this mean for webmasters and agencies?

The PPC landscape will likely become more competitive with a reduced amount of paid ads now showing in the prime real estate at the top of the page, and campaigns that have relied on the regular and cheaper traffic driven from positions 4-10 may start to see a drop off in click-through-rates, forcing a push into the more expensive premium positions.

For websites that rely more on organic traffic there is the concern that the fourth paid ad position may eat into their share, while only the top three local positions now show by default, down from five previously, which could have an impact on smaller businesses.

What to do

It may take a little time to notice any big changes, but In the short term you’ll need to keep a close eye on Google AdWords and analytics to assess the impacts and adjust bids of your top performing PPC keywords if conversion rates start to drop off. If increasing your bids to maintain the same conversion rate increases your cost-per-sale or cost-per-lead it might be time to weigh up putting more time, effort and money into obtaining a higher organic ranking.

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Keyword Changes on Google Adwords

Exact match and phrase match keywords are disappearing from Google AdWords.

Google announced that these will be replaced with ‘variation’ or ‘near match’ varients starting in September. What does this mean and how will it affect your Google AdWords campaigns?

What is Google changing?

In a blog post on 14th August Google announced that it will no longer be possible to bid on exact match and phrase match keywords without including ‘close varients’ – keywords that are similar to the entered keyword.

According to Google nearly 10% of Google searches contain a misspelling, and there are other varients that need to be included.

They give the example that if you advertise for the exact match keyword [kid scooters], Google will now show your advert for the search terms “kid scooters”, “kid’s scooter” and “kids scooters”. Until now, ‘exact match’ meant that the ad was only shown for “kid scooters” and not for the variations.

A similar approach will effect phrase match keywords.

Good or Bad?

The official Google statement is that this change is great and that you will get a lot more clicks. But as an advertiser you will have less control over your target keywords as it’s unclear whether the variation keywords will have the same conversion rate as the target keyword.

The cynic in me says this change will be beneficial to Google but might not be beneficial to Google AdWords users. Unfortunately, there’s nothing users can do to prevent this change.

What to do

You could change your phrase match keywords to exact match keywords so that Google can’t add too many unwanted additional keywords to your account. You can also use negative keywords to remove unwanted phrases, but this canbe a very long-winded process.

As is often the case with Google updates we will have to wait and see what happens, assess the impact and make any necessary changes to keep our Adwords campaigns working efficiently.

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Add a Review to your Adwords Advert

Customers like to see other people’s reviews for a product or service when searching online and Google have been adding reviews from third party sources for some time.

Google Adwords

However, now on Google Adwords it’s now possible to add a review extension to your advert and share positive write-ups, awards or third-party rankings with potential customers. This is in an additional line of text beneath your ads on Google Search and you can choose and enter your own quoted review.

You can use a paraphrased or exact quote, as long as it’s attributed and linked to the published source.

According to Google:

“Reviews should focus on your business as a whole, as opposed to a review about a specific product or service. This makes the reviews relevant to just about all of your ads.”

So your extra line might look something like this:

“Really impressed with the excellent service” –

However Google also point out that it is your responsibility to make sure you’re allowed to use a third-party review for your ads, so you would need the publisher’s permission.

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Video on Adwords PPC

Those in regular communication with me will know that I have been emphasising the importance of video as a part of website promotion for some time.

For many businesses video is an important part of their marketing and brand promotion. Yesterday I was chatting to a local sports celeb who is successfully combining Facebook and his video chanel on YouTube to promote himself, his sponsors and create an income stream. His following on YouTube is such that any new video is guaranteed thousands of visits. So he regulary produces good quality and interesting videos to promote himself and his sponsors. The same videos are picked up by others and embedded on websites, blogs and Facebook so the distribution goes far beyond initial YouTube exposure.

While this particular format probably won’t work unless you have a high personal profile, it does show the power of video in general and YouTube in particular.

Google, who own YouTube, have taken video a step further and will shortly be allowing Adwords advertisers to insert videos in PPC adverts.

Knowing how much people like video this could be a great advantage in PPC advertising. Being listed at position 3 with a video might produce more clicks than being in the top spot with no video. And if you don’t have to occupy the top spot there must be some potential for maintaining or increasing click through rate while reducing average cost per click.

Yes, this is guesswork, but if you currently don’t have a range of videos that relate to your business, now might be the time to give this some serious thought.

For more information see my previous blog – Video as a Business Promotional Tool

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Google AdWords – money well spent?

The cost of adverting on Google has steadily increased over the past few years. So is it still worthwhile?
The answer all depends on how you set up and manage your campaigns.

An AdWords campaign has to be well organised and regularly maintained to be cost-effective. Your set-up checklist should include:

  • well researched keywords
  • carefully targeted AdGroups
  • keyword focused adverts
  • sensible keyword bids
  • compelling landing pages
  • a realistic budget

Many campaigns make the mistake of casting the net too wide – grabbing every available keyword and bidding for it – thinking that more is better. It’s a shortcut to a poorly focused campaign that uses up budget but delivers few results.

Campaigns need to use each AdGroup to focus on a service, product or group of keywords with compelling adverts designed to produce a high Click Through Rate and a good quality score.

Get this right and your keyword bids need not cost the earth and your budget should be manageable.

Once set up you need to know, ‘Is the campaign working?’ Click Through Rates may be good, keywords regularly in the top three positions and all within budget . . . but this is only part of the story.

To keep a strong campaign working effectively you also need feedback from the website. But I’ll look at this vital element in the next posting.

Also to come . . .
Maitaining your AdWords Campaign
When the target keywords are beyond your budget
Running AdWords on the Display Network

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Managing PPC Keywords

I had an email from a client this week. He was concerned that his Google advertising spend for the first quarter this year had almost halved compared to 2009. Was everything OK?

Yes, everything was OK . . . and still is. The number of clicks from the adverts was about the same as 2009, the Click Through Rate was better and the average Cost Per Click had dropped significantly.

The difference was all to do with ‘honing the keywords’. Making sure that every keyword was working in broad, phrase and exact terms, that negative keywords were kept up to date and bounce rates monitored.

He was no longer paying for irrellevent clicks, overpriced search terms or keywords with high bounce rates.

It’s the sort of work that requires marrying the PPC performance to the Analytics stats and making value judgements. It’s not rocket science but it does take some organisation, wading through hundreds (and hundreds) of keywords and checking performance levels against costs.

If there is an exciting side to Search Engine Marketing this isn’t it.
But get it right and you can cut Cost Per Click by up to 50%. In this case the Google spend for the quater was £1459 against £2684 the previous year. My client saved £1225 in one quarter on one AdWords Campaign, which is good for his business . . . and also good for mine.

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PPC – The Cost Per Click is Rising

Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising is on the increase. I know this even without the latest stats because Cost Per Click prices are soaring as advertisers increase their bids to gain the top keyword spots. I do this for clients if necessary.

But it isn’t always necessary. Sometimes business owners want the top spot for a given keyword without assessing what happens after the advert has been clicked and the visitor arrives on the landing page.

As a PPC advertiser at this point you should be asking a few pertinent questions:

What happens next? Is the visitor staying to view the site? If not, why not? What is the Landing Page Bounce Rate? What pages are viewed next? And the most important question: What do you want the visitor to do? View a certain page, buy something, download a file/brochure/newsletter?

If you don’t know the answer to these questions you could end up paying for keywords with a high CPC pointing to a page with an 80%+ Bounce Rate. Yes, you are winning the bidding battle but you’re loosing the war, and wasting money in the process.

So if you are running a PPC campaign try asking yourself:

  • Am I targeting the best keyword(s) for my business?
  • Are there less competitive keywords with a better Click Through Rate (CTR)?
  • Is the advert giving out the right message?
  • Is the Landing Page designed to serve the advert?
  • Is the Landing Page performing?
  • Am I getting value for money from my PPC advertising?

You need to be able to answer these questions in a positive way, and not just once, but on a regular bass.