35 PPC ideas for 2012

18 Jan

I recently read a really interesting blog on PPC Hero titled ‘145 PPC Must-Do’s for 2012’ (found here), which I enjoyed so much I thought I would extract my top points from it. I’ve picked out what I believe are the best and most original ideas in order for you to be a PPC god!

If you want to know why PPC is so great, check out my previous blog. Ok, now let’s hear these ideas!

1. Speed up your site. As technology gets better, people are less patient.

2. Be original. What works for others might not work for you. Focus on optimizing what you have, not trying to copy what someone else is doing.

3. Get more customer reviews. Once visitors hit your page, testimonials and reviews give them a reason to trust you.

4. Use remarketing to cross-sell. After someone has submitted a lead or purchased an item, keep remarketing to them. Tailor your message to the next step of your sales process or a related item.

5. An hour analyzing data may be worth 3 hours of general account maintenance. Become an Analytics guru, or hire one. Forrester Research reports that web analytics can lift ROI 900%-1200%.

6. Test your website on Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari. It may look a lot different across each.

7. Create good, insanely valuable content first.

8. Spend more time in Bing. It’s impression share is growing, and they are working diligently to increase volume and quality of clicks.

9. Refine your unique selling proposition. Having a strong value proposition differentiates you from your competition and makes your keywords, ads, and landing pages feel more cohesive., worry about traffic second.

10. Make sure your mobile landing pages are “finger click” friendly. That means large buttons, links, and asking for limited information.

11. Use Google insights for valuable information about your industry and marketing channels.

12. Determine a goal for every page on your website. If you are an ecommerce site, the goal of a product page isn’t a sale; it’s an “add to cart”. It’s the cart page’s job to move the client to the payment details page, and the payment details page to get the sale.

13. Segment your campaigns by Branded and Non-Branded terms, Search and Display, and Desktop and Mobile.

14. Optimize based on ROI, not CPL/CPA

15. Increase communication with your PPC clients. Staying in front of them prevents you from being blindsided by changes.

16. Set up a Google + page so you can take advantage of that extension in AdWords.

17. Use site links extensions, they can drastically increase CTR.

18. Make Quality Score a primary focus. It lowers your CPC and increases your reach. Great guide here.

19. Test stand alone landing pages versus landing pages that are contained within your main site.

20. Compare how your ads perform at Top Vs. Other positions. Sometimes you’ll find you perform best when not at the top.

21. Get AdWords and Analytics certified. Even if you’ve been at the PPC game for a while, it’s possible that there are a few things you don’t know that can help your account.

22. Spend some time in Analytics on the real time feature. Not sure how much you’ll learn, but it’s pretty fun to see what’s happening, while it is happening.

23. Run reports on the performance of your top 10 keywords (by spend). These are the keywords that make the biggest impact on your account, so analyzing and optimizing them first can pay huge dividends.

24. Add /{KeyWord} to the end of your display URL’s. This dynamically inserts the users search query into it, and could help CTR and Quality Score.

25. Read Avinash Kaushik’s blog on Analytics.

26. Set up Google Alerts for your brand and your competitors. Staying on top of the news will let you take advantage of trends by identifying popular topics and knowing when you might see a spike it search queries and should increase your budget.

27. Step up your Excel game to increase your reporting capabilities. Great guide here.

28. Audit your keyword lists and insure that every match type of every keyword is in there. Then pause/adjust bids based on which perform best.

29. Stop using the word “cheap” in your ads. It looks…cheap.

30. Decrease your bounce rates by dynamically inserted the users search query in the headline of your landing page.

31. Audit the alternative text on all your images. Make sure it is there, relevant, and not spammy.

32. Use bullet points on your landing pages to convey your most important points.

33. Use the In-Page Analytics report in Google Analytics to determine where users click on once in your site. This will tell you if they are going where you want them to, or if you’re distracting people from your desired conversion path.

34. Follow best SEO practices for your site. The line between PPC and SEO is narrowing, as shown in this Mashable post.

35. Write in short sentences. And brief paragraphs. It’s easier to read.

Why does PPC work so well?

15 Jan

Selling to someone who has shown an interest in your product is a great deal easier than selling to someone who hasn’t, right?

Well, this is what search does! The moment someone enters a query into a search engine they are instantly becoming a qualified potential customer. Having a person who is already interested in the service you provide, exposed to your company is a fantastic opportunity.

But hey, it is difficult to get on top of organic search listings, even with your super relevant service. So what can you do? Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising of course! This allows you present your product/service directly to the potential customer, at the moment they are looking for it.

So the potential customer is a lot more likely to click through to your website and convert, simply due to the fact that it is what he/she is looking for. This makes PPC is the most contextual relevant form of advertising out there, with high and easily measurable return on investment (ROI).

Super relevant

Making your advert super relevant by follow the three rules of more relevant keywords, knowing your audience and improve your Ad quality score (more on how to improve these here), can make you website revenue increase dramatically.

But will it work for you? The short answer is yes, if it is undertaken properly. It is 100% worth a try for all businesses online, even if it is only to initially experiment, as the up front costs are minimal. PPC is instantly measurable, so you can see the ROI you are receiving and it just as easy to constantly test and improve. So everyone can make it work for their business, perfecto!

Everything’s changing

What about the future? Aren’t all these online businesses quite fickle, and so soon everyone will stop searching on the like of Google and will be just using mobile Apps instead? Well maybe, but we don’t really know yet. What we do know is that search and PPC is here to stay for the foreseeable future and is a hugely profitable way of advertising, for the advertiser (more relevant customers), the network (more relevant results and revenue of course – Google made USD$28 billion in 2010 from PPC, enough said really!) and for the potential customer (as they get what they are searching for!).

So it’s win win all around, what are you waiting for! Go PPC!

How to improve AdWords performance

14 Jan

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is such a crucial part of any online business these days that it is imperative to continually improve performance. PPC is a great model for advertisers because it is most contextually relevant form of advertising and is instantly measurable. It can put your company, and what you’re offering, directly in front of the people who want to see it. If the visitor clicks on your Ad, the potential customer is then on your landing page so now it is all up to you. Can you convert them?

Google’s Adwords (which I will be focusing on here), uses principles which reward good Ads. This is because Google wants relevant results for peoples searches, as this is the purpose of the search engine. If the AdWords Ads are more relevant, more people will click-through, and thus more money for Google! This model has enabled Google to make a huge amount of money ($28 billion in 2010), but they can only make more by making the Ads more and more useful to people searching. For more on why PPC is so great, see my post on this exact topic.

So how do you improve AdWords performance? I follow these three basic principles.

1. More relevant keywords

2. Know your audience

3. Improve your Ad quality score

Simple, right? Well it gets a little more complicated, but nothing too difficult when on a small scale (it’s just a problem on the large scale!). So lets delve into the detail…

1. More relevant keywords

Getting more relevant keywords is critical as these are the terms which people are searching. So you want to show them your site, if that’s what they are interested in. If they arrive via an irrelevant keyword (i.e. someone searches ‘Kenyan football’ and they end up on a Oak furniture eCommerce site, extreme example I know) they are likely to leave immediately and waste your well-earned budget (and this, in turn, will reduce point 3 – your quality score). These are the main points I try to focus on. I will not apologise for mentioning relevancy.. a lot!

a) Keyword matching

Keyword matching helps make your keywords more specific and remove unwanted clutter. There are four types: Broad, Phrase, Exact and Negative matching.

Broad match should be generally avoided as it is very vague. For example, if your using the keyword ‘Google Analytics’, a person could search for ‘Google Calender’ and come up with your rather irrelevant Ad, as they both have the keyword ‘Google’. Not ideal! This problem can be solved however by using either Phrase or Exact matching, or to a lesser extent, negative matching. With phrase matching of the keyword ‘Google Analytics’ it will have to include the two words, but it could extend either before or after by an unlimited number of words. For example, someone searching ‘Increasing web conversion using Google Analytics’ could be shown your Ad. More relevant, yeah!

On the other hand, you could use exact matching, where only someone searching the specific term ‘Google Analytics’ would come up with your Ad, so this is super relevant (although it won’t have a broad scope). The final aspect of keyword matching is negative matching. This is where terms, which are maybe common additions to you keyword, being unwanted. For example, if you didn’t want any results for ‘Google Calender’, you could simply make ‘Calender’ a negative term and it will bother you no more! If you are using broad matching keywords, I recommend using negative keywords as well.

b) Focus on long-tail for new customers
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As you can see from the graph inset, it is normal for a website to have a few keywords/phrases which are used the majority of the time (known as the head). As you can also see there is a large number of keywords/phrases used sparingly. However, when aggregated, the total of visits from long-tail terms is usually higher than that for the head terms.

Many companies when using PPC only use the main keywords/phrases which receive the most hits. That is all well and good but they are missing out on all the long-tail visitors who are incredibly monetizable. Head keywords/phrases are typically made up of brand mentions, or something super specific to you. In that case, you should really be using SEO to leverage your website as you are already super-relevant to the searcher.

On the other hand, the long-tail keywords/phrases are typically more broad searches often within the category of your website service. This usually includes a high percentage of new visitors as they didn’t use a branded search. Long-tail is harder to leverage with SEO as the searches are more vague and so many websites will offer a similar relevancy to yours. This problem can be solved however, as this is where PPC comes in! Long-tail has a lot less competition and will therefore be cheaper, but will bring in lot’s of new customers to your website. Great!

Remember that long-tail searchers are new customers so you should regard them as that when you are measuring keyword performance (i.e. use bounce rates and time on site as your goal metric). Head searchers are super specific to your service so should be treated as such, and measured on conversions to your particular goals (i.e. product purchased or signed up to emails). This is a great opportunity to match your keyword groups to your customer purchase cycle, which of course, has different goals at different stages and thus different measures of success. So if you are keen on customer acquisition, focus on the long tail!

c) Test whats changed

Since there is such a huge amount of keyword data that you are dealing with, it is important to prioritise what to use your valuable time on. A great way to do this is to see how the performance of your keywords is over time. Any significant changes can then actioned upon immediately.

2. Know your audience

a) Targeted

Knowing your audience is a basic principle that is needed across all marketing channels, and there is no change here. AdWords allows you to target who views your Ads down to the location and language. This is an obvious requirement for your business as if you’re a UK-based company, you don’t want irrelevant searchers clicking on your Ad and wasting your budget in Australia!

b) Using the Google Display Network

The other factor with audience is whether to use the Google display network. The Google Display Network gives you the opportunity to advertise to Google’s partner sites. This can be in the form of text Ads similar to what you find in paid search results, or in the form of display Ads which are image based. Treat the Display Network separately as the potential customer is at a different stage of the buying cycle. Display Network is contextually relevant in the sense that the websites will be targeted so there will be a category relevence, but there is no time relevance as with paid search. This is because they are earlier in the purchase cycle and are less likely to be looking for your service. However, Display Network is still hugely effective if leveraged properly. This is especially the case with strong imagery with clear calls to action, or simply as a brand awareness campaign. I won’t get into it now, but using Google Remarketing on the Display Network techniques have proven to be incredible effect due to it’s highly targeted and relevant nature.

3. Improve your Ad quality score

a) Use super relevant keywords and insert price (if applicable)

You should use your highest converting keywords within the Ad copy. Keywords within the Ad which are searched will appear bold which will make them stand out more to the searcher. Within the Ad you only have a headline, two lines of text (95 characters each) and a link to use. There should be a clear call to action to attract the searchers attention. A common way of doing things if your an eCommerce site and selling a product is to put the product description on the first line and then the deal on the second. For example, ‘Sale now on – only 2 day remaining’. Another great optimisation technique is to add /{KeyWord} to the end of your display URL’s. This dynamically inserts the users search query into it, and could help your click through rate and quality Score.

b) Optimised and relevant landing page

Previously not a factor, the landing page is now important in determining your quality score. This is as Google wants more relevant Ads to benefit the searchers. So the landing page should be relevant to the Ad, doing exactly what the Ad suggests. The customer intent and the webpage’s purpose should be aligned (to borrow a phase from Avinash Kaushik). This includes having a clear call to action and good load times.

c) Test variations

Test, test and test some more! It is so easy to create multiple variations of Ads that it would be silly not to. Continuous improvement by seeing what converts best will put you on the road to being a PPC king!

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This blog takes particular thanks to Avinash Kaushik, who provided lots of insights through his brilliant book Web Analytics 2.0.

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