PPC Lessons of 2012

The holiday season is a crucial time for effective online marketing campaign strategies. Let’s take a look back and see what we’ve learned this year and what we can build on moving forward!

Integrate the idea of being “evergreen – Traditionally, aiming to create evergreen content is a major goal in creating content for blogs, web pages, white paper, slideshows and more. The point is that the content will never get old because it contains long-lasting ideas that can be used for years to come. When using this in your paid ad copy, keep things simple, straight-forward and something that will rightfully belong in your ad group as you make other changes, while keeping this consistent.

Consistency counts – Small business owners might get the urge to spend more on PPC when things are going well and completely turn ads off when things aren’t so great. Just like with SEO, paid ads can be greatly affected (in a negative way) when it’s on an erratic schedule. Online campaigns should be kept at a consistent level even if it means cutting back on bids instead of completely shutting the campaigns off. (Again, it depends on your business and industry and it’s always best to consult with an experienced PPC consultant.)

Divide and conquer – No matter how much you plan, research and test, sometimes, certain phrases or keywords don’t perform so well. It could depend on customer preferences, search trends, and even the weather. (Yes, rain and cold weather can have a huge affect on customer spending behavior!) Instead of having the entire ad campaign suffer from the lack of conversions, it might be a good idea to move them to another group and keep the winners from suffering.

Stay focused – Speaking of testing, there is such a thing as too much testing. Dealing with irrelevant minutia of multiple campaigns can get to a person and prevent you from seeing the bigger picture in the long run. If possible, it’s better to choose a few of the most important metrics to consistent test and limit the amount of campaigns that are consecutively running. This way, you can actually sit back, analyze them, and make changes for the better instead of obsessing over the details… and even possibly getting yourself confused as the campaigns blend together. Never a good thing!

Do your best and be realistic – This isn’t just a reminder of what to tell your customers but something you should always keep at the back of your mind. It’s easy to manipulate statistics and even bring in more traffic, but it all comes back to one thing… is it relevant? Conversions will give you the answer to that. Promising something impossible like the number one ad spot all the time is overly ambitious and can also make your business sound less trustworthy. Building false hope of a successful campaign may sound enticing but it never leads to any good in the end. From the beginning, it’s important to set goals that you are capable of achieving and some that you know you can meet. This way, you can move forward to bigger and better accomplishments instead of trying to dig yourself out of a hole by making empty promises.

Paid search is expected to grow even more in 2013. Lists of important lessons will also grow but there will always be the core foundations that rarely change!

Making the Decision to use Broad Match

According to Google, about twenty percent of the queries that they receive on a given day, have not been viewed in the last three months. Some can avoid being part of this undesirable group by using broad match to help improve quality score. Quality score is determined by many variables including: historical performance of your account, landing page quality, and historical click-through-rates of your keywords. First, when you use broad match with Google Adwords, it automatically generates a list of relevant variations of your keywords. Here are some things to consider before using broad match for your campaign:

Benefits of using Broad Match

  • Save time. Instead of spending time building lists or by testing via trial and error, broad match covers all different variations of your keywords.
  • Save money. If an ad isn’t doing as well based on a certain variation of a keyword, the broad match system will automatically stop the ads and search for other variations.
  • Utilize data for trends that you might not see otherwise. Using broad match gives you traffic trends and results from trying different variations of keywords.
  • Help attract more web traffic to gain clicks and conversions.

Broad Match isn’t Right for You

  • An ad campaign for a brand conscious company may not want to stray away from their strict control of keywords; this means giving up clicks in order to maintain the brand.
  • If you are on a limited budget and already spending all your funds on your keyword advertising campaign, broad match may not work for you.
  • If rearranging the order of your keywords will cause a different meaning, broad match may bring you untargeted traffic.

Overall, broad match can help you be successful in getting more clicks. When properly managed, it can be cost effective and help you gain consumer insight about your products and services.

How Quality Score Can Help Or Hurt Your Adwords Campaign

Quality score is a somewhat mysterious variable for Google Adwords campaigns that have a real effect on the cost of your advertising. The price of your pay per click ads is determined by a combination of your bid and your quality score, which means that a good quality score can get you a higher ranking for less than the other guy is paying. So how do I get a good quality score? Well, that’s where Google is a little vague, but there are some strategies.

You can use the keyword report to discover which keywords have a low Quality Score. Once you find those weak keywords, you can use the keyword analysis tool to find out what factors are affecting your score.

The analysis really only gives you three categories and a thumbs up or down. It may not be very useful if you are trying to bump your score up from an 8 to a 10, but it will let you know when you are way off base. The three areas that affect your quality score are: keyword relevance, landing page or landing page load time. Basically you want to make sure your keyword is relevant to the page your ad is linking to, this means including your keyword on the page, and maybe even creating specific landing pages for certain keywords. Also if the link is broken or takes a long time to load, your quality score will go down.

Quality score may not be your number one concern when designing an adwords campaign, but it’s a good indicator of which ads aren’t working at all, and anything that makes your campaign more cost effective is worth the time.

Dealing with Google

I’m going to be frank with my opinion here. Just because Google is an innovative, booming company, one which will change—and probably already has changed—the way our world accesses and manages information, that doesn’t mean by any stretch of the imagination that Google should be treated with some sort of ivory-tower, holier-than-thou deference.

Believe me when I say, Google is as successful as it is specifically because they have done so much to shed the image of traditional mega-corporations. If you tried to call up your brokerage firm for some support and advice, you might get it, eventually. If, however, you are running a Google Adwords or Adsense campaign and you find yourself needing some questions answered, Mr. Google is more than happy to put down his trillions and his yacht and answer your phone call.

This sounds funny, but I mean it. Google has revamped the image of the consumer-conscious company. Their customer support professionals managing the Adwords and Adsense departments are nothing short of spectacular when it comes to helping you iron out your difficulties. But even though I’ve seen this in my own business and with dozens of eMarketed’s clients, some members of our industry fail to realize the significance of Google’s strong commitment to customer service.

In short, if your online venture should take you past the gates of Google, don’t be afraid to knock. They are not your average company. They do not want to be your average company. They want to be bothered, constantly. Their young employees play video games at work and eat gourmet meals three times a day. However, as a testament to their hiring process, Google is staffed entirely with young upstarts who will drop their unicycles and forks at a moment’s notice to answer a client’s call or email. These kids are dedicated to their job, period.

Google’s goal with creating Adwords and Adsense was to level the playing field between the small business and the mega-corp. As a result, small businesses have a leg up because they’re used to handling issues with suppliers and other businesses face-to-face or over the phone. Larger and more traditional businesses will have to adapt their thinking or be left in the dust when it comes to customer service and business solutions in the post-Google Age.