Posts filed under 'PPC'

Data Driven Keyword Strategy

The search query report in AdWords provides a great way to expand your keywords in a data-driven way. There are a lot of keyword tools out there to help you discover which keywords you should be bidding on so that your keyword list is perfect right out of the gate. I like the approach of trying out well thought out keywords first, and then using the data for making the decisions of how to refine your keyword list second.
Search Query Report
This is what I mean…

Make a tight group of specific keywords all in the same theme that don’t deviate too much. Your list may be only 5 or less words for one adgroup. Make them broad match.
So if you’re selling karaoke machines your adgroup may be, “iPod Karaoke” with keywords like “karaoke machine with ipod dock”, “ipod dock karaoke machine”, “ipod karaoke”, “karioke ipod”. Then once the adgroup has ran for a couple days run a search query report. This report will allow you to discover all the keyword variations that triggered your ads and give you lots of inspiration for expanding your campaign with more adgroups and keywords, as well as all the keywords that you don’t want your ads showing up for which you can add as negatives. So with your search query report you may discover lots of searches for “portable karaoke machines”, “karaoke systems”, “black karaoke ipod system” and “karaoke modules under $25.99″ which would all make for great new adgroups with targeted adtext and landing pages.

Not only will this keyword strategy give you ideas of how to expand your keywords, it will also give you insight into how much these new keywords will cost if you started to bid on them seeing how you can see their avg. cpc in the report. You may stumble upon a few words that fit just right and are cheap.

Instead of engaging in the never ending quest of discovering the perfert keywords before you launch, give this keyword strategy a try and choose the keywords that that your visitors actually use supported by the data.

Add comment June 2nd, 2010

Simple PPC Bid Strategy Using Impression Share Report

When setting out to manage and optimize bids in paid search, looking at all the campaigns, adgroups and keywords at once can be overwhelming. I like using the impression share report as a starting point for focusing optimization strategies and managing bids.

In AdWords make the following report: 1. Report Type: Click Campaign Performance. 2. Settings: Set Weekly visits, set the date range for a few months and select all campaigns. 3. Advanced Settigns: Add the following Columns: Impression Share, Lost IS (Rank), Lost IS (Budget), Conversions, Conv. Rate, Cost/Conv.
That’s it – once the report is made export it into Excel. In Excel sort by Campaign so that you can see the increase or decrease in impression share week to week for each campaign. Now we can cover the what, why and how.

Start off by looking for campaigns with low impression share and then look across at the Cost/Conv column. If Cost/Conv is within your accepted range for these low impression share campaigns, then you are leaving money on the table by not maximizing your impression share. Likewise, if impression share is high for certain campaigns and their Cost/Conv is high, you might consider decreasing impression share.

With these initial insights look at the Lost IS (rank) column and Lost IS (budget) column. These two columns will tell you why you have low impression share. If Lost IS (budget) is high, this means your ads are not showing as often as they could because your campaign budget is being tapped. If your Lost IS (rank) is high, this means your keyword bids are so low to the point that your ads aren’t appearing.

The campaigns with low Cost/Conv and high Conv. Rate are you hero campaigns. These should have as much impression share as possible. Give them unlimited budget (why limit it? As long as the ROI is worth it you should push these campaigns as far as they’ll go) and give their keywords higher bids. Google has a bid simulator built in for giving you an idea of how much traffic will result in your bid, but don’t worry too much about it, set a bid that seems right and then test how it performs. You can adjust it once you see the results.
The campaigns that are in-between need a little more time and effort. This is where you’ll dive into individual adgroups and keywords to discover which ones are causing the bad Cost/Conv and low Conversion Rate. Decrease bids on the losers and increase bids on the winners. Click through your ads to see if the keywords you are bidding on match the landing pages you are giving your visitor. Try different keyword match types.

This PPC bid optimization strategy allows you to prioritize your efforts so that you increase the biggest winners and get rid of the biggest losers first. Once done, go back the next week and see your results. I like to make my changes all in one day and then leave it alone for a week instead of making little changes day to day which makes it harder to recognize causation.

Add comment March 30th, 2010

Managing the Long Tail of Search

Long Tail keywords individually might not make the biggest difference to your overall PPC account. But in aggregate these long tail keywords can sometimes mean huge amounts of traffic and lots of money. Setting up you PPC account with your most popular, or “head”, keywords set to broad match is not an effective strategy to capture all of your long tail traffic and have a positive PPC campaign. Here’s why:

1. You will hurt you click through rate due to less targeted ad copy. look at these two examples for the query “Gibson Acoustic Guitar”.

Where one is only bidding on the broad match of Gibson Guitar, the other is bidding on the longer phrase Gibson Acoustic Guitar. Not only is the former ad more targeted and therfore more likely to get my click, its quality score will be better due to keywords in the ad text which will save money and give it a higher ad position.

2. Conversion rate will improve. Take a look at the landing pages for both of the previous ads.

One is showing me exactly what I was looking for, Acoustic Guitars, and the other shows me both electric and acoustic which means it is not inline with my intent so I will most likely bounce.
3. Better bid management. Let’s say that you have your adwords accounts set up so that each one of these long tail products are organized by category and theme. This way if there is a seasonality element or if something goes on sale you can easily increase your bids for just that product segment and keep all the rest of your campaigns running at the same cost. This means you can be more nimble and cost effective with your inventory.

So that’s the why long tail keyword management is better than just using broad match head terms, here’s the how:

1. First start by running a Search Query Report in AdWords and find all the keywords that are trigging your ads that you arn’t currently bidding on that make sense. Orgainze these keywords into themes that you can build campaigns around. In this example’s case, one campain set up for general acoustic guitars, another around Gibson guitars and another around Gibson acoustic guitars.

2. Expand on that list with this long tail key word tool to figure out all the permutations of those keywords.

3. Also use modular ad text. Meaning don’t make the second line flow over into the third line on the adtext, make them seperate sentences. This will help you mix and match adtext on the fly so that if acoustic guitars go on sale you can easily swap out one of the lines and replace it with something like, “Now 20% Off, Buy Now!”

Monitoring these keywords takes more time and more effort to set up, but in the long run means a much more effective PPC marketing effort.

Add comment March 20th, 2010

Example PPC Dashboard in Excel

If you’re working in an environment where you have to do weekly reporting on your AdWords performance, and the reports in AdWords aren’t cutting it, you may want to invest some time into making your own PPC dashboard in Excel. Plus I think putting the data together in this way leads to insights that aren’t as easy to notice in the AdWords interface. This is an example of a dashboard for a mock small rental company with only 5 campaigns in their account. If your account is bigger and than this and runs campaigns in the double digits you may want to consider a different layout.

PPC Dashboard for Excel

Click For A Larger Image

The “spend/budget wk” in-cell graph was made using Sparklines and a tutorial on how to make the interactive line charts can be found here. (You can download the Excel file below and play around with it too.)

I’m going to walk you through how to use this dashboard and hopefully discover some insights along the way:

Going counter-clockwise through the report allows you to dig deeper into what is going on and hopefully make some actionable insights.
Starting with the graph in the upper right, you can switch between any of the metrics at a higher up account total level. Lets say you’re looking at the cost/conversion view and notice that cost/conversion has been around $8 for a while and then in the last few weeks it has risen to $9 and above. Let’s see if we can figure out the reason.
Moving to the next graph to the left, you can set the first drop down to highlight a particular campaign and then in the next drop down you can choose which metric you want to focus on, in this case I want to look at Avg. CPC to see if any campaign is going up in cost making the cost/conversion go up. Flipping through the different campaigns I can see that they are all pretty even except that the Fishing Boat campaign jumped up in Avg. CPC over the last few weeks.What happened?

Leaving the first dropdown highlighting the Fishing Boat, I can now switch between the different metrics associated with the Fishing Boat in the next drop down. It looks like impressions have been going up, possibly to seasonal demand, and clicks have been going up right along with it together showing CTR maintaining at that same 3% range. But when impressions and clicks went down again, presumably after demand has fell off in July, you can see cost/conversion start to jump higher and higher.

Is it possible that bids were increased to keep up with demand but as soon as demand fell off, those bids weren’t decreased at the right time to adjust for that change in demand? Insight – try lowering your bids!
You can also see conversion rate drop a percentage point from the beginning of July to the end of July for the Fishing Boat campaign. Is it possible that many of the keywords that convert well during the peak of impressions at the start of July don’t work as well towards the end? Look in AdWords for bad performing keywords.
Have you noticed that the Sail Boat campaign has the 2nd lowest Avg. CPC, highest conversion rate and the second highest amount of conversions? This campaign is kicking butt! Is there more you could do to maximize it, ad more keywords, up bids, etc.? Take a look at it’s landing pages, what is it doing that the others aren’t?
Below the graph on the left is a Cost and Budget chart. As long as your cost/conversion is at an acceptable amount you want to make sure you arn’t hitting your daily budget. In this screen shot you can see that the Fishing Boat is getting close so you may want to increase it’s budget.

In the next chart over you can see the total conversions and total cost/conversion. Although the Fishing Boat campaign has the highest amount of conversions it also has the highest cost/conversion. The powerboat account has the lowest amount of conversions and the highest cost/conversion. It might be a good idea to go back to the upper left data graph and look at the different metrics around Powerboat to see if anything can be improved.
Here’s the Excel file for the PPC Dashboard, feel free to download and play around with it yourself and let me know what you think!

Add comment February 5th, 2010

PPC Strategy: Match Type vs. Negative Keywords

When making a pay-per-click campaign, the goal is for your ads to show up only for the people that they are most relevant for. Hence, match type and negative keywords as a way of doing just that. But what’s the right combination of match types and negative keywords? Here’s my theory:

If you sell ballerina shoes, for example, bidding on the broad term ballerina shoes will result in your ad showing for the most random search querys such as:  “name of ballerina wearing red shoes in that one movie.”

So you may decide to you phrase match, as in, “ballerina shoes.” Impressions will go down, cost-per-click will go down, but your click throughs should go up as you’re reaching a more targeted audience. Run another Search Query Report in AdWords and you will see traffic coming from querys like: ballerian shoes pictures.

Obviously you don’t want your ad appearing for people looking for pictures. So you can choose Exact Type, as in, [ballerina shoes]. This way you’re only getting people searching for those two words in that order. Impressions and CPC will go further down but click thoughs should still go up (relatively) and conversions should also go up since you’re getting an even more targeted audience.

Now take a look at this (PDF):


Searches with 5+ words have increased an average of 10% year over year. People are using more words in their querys which  means your exact match bid on [ballerina shoes] will be missing a lot of potential customers since using only two words in a search query is down 5% year over year.

New strategy: Keep your exact match bid going on [balleria shoes] since the your average cpc on those keywords will be lower. Then keep the broad match keywords but load up on the negative keywords. Run Search Query Reports and look for all the words that don’t have to do with your product and add them to your campaign as negative words: -images, -free, -download, etc.

This way you can keep out the unrelated random searchers but keep attracting the people getting very specific with their search querys.

Add comment July 5th, 2009

Keywords Determine a Customer’s Stage in the Buying Process

The key to a successful PPC campaign is determining the keywords/phrases that your target audience will search for to find you.

The first step is creating a “keyword universe”

  1. Think about what words your customers use when referring to your product/service.
  2. Use a keyword tool to get a list using those initial keyword ideas. Google’s keyword tool and the SEObook keyword tool work great.
  3. You can also have Google go through your site and come up with more ideas.
  4. With that list expand it with common misspellings, plurals and abbreviations.

Now, all of these different keywords can be used by customers at different stages of their buying cycle. With some analysis you can understand to a degree what the customer’s motivation may be.

Learning Stage: the customer is gathering information. They use broad keywords like TV.

Shopping Stage: the customer is comparing products, brands and features.They use a little bit more refined keywords like Plasma TV or High Definition TV.

Buying Stage: the customer is ready to buy. They will use exact keywords of model numbers like Sony BRAVIA 46″ 1080p HDTV.

Is this strategy fool proof? No. But utilizing your web analytics to measure the success of certain keywords will allow you to see those keywords that are catching people too early in the buying process. If a lot of people are bouncing quickly, they may be too early in the buying process.

1 comment March 12th, 2009

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Hi, my name is Zach Olsen, internet marketing professional, web entrepreneur & proud dad. Read more...

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