Category Archives: Google AdWords

Black People On Ebay Again

Ebay recently pulled ads from Google when the Google Checkout people decided to arrange the Let Freedom Ring event on the same date as Ebay Live. Ten days later the Ebay ads are back online and I’m so excited because once again I can find black people for less on Ebay! Yay! (sarcasm)

Black People For Less On Ebay

This is a great example of when broad match, dynamic keyword insertion and lack of negative keywords can harm your professional reputation and cost you a lot of money.

Ok, Ebay has a very large list of keywords and a few like this are going to slip through the cracks, but it just goes to show that you need to keep on top of your pay per click accounts and look at the keyword reports carefully.

Website Optimizer Is Search Engine Friendly

Website Optimizer by Google AdWords is a multivariate testing tool, that is to say, it takes A/B testing one step further. Instead of testing 2 versions of a page, you can test multiple page elements and the various combinations.

When you create an experiment you can specify page elements that you want to test, for example, a page heading, intro copy or a lead image. It uses javascript on the landing page to swap out the test element with the other variations that you specify within Website Optimizer.

I participated in the beta test of this and my initial concern was that it may not be search engine friendly due to the changing page elements, however, after a short call with the Website Optimizer Product Manager, he confirmed that it would not have any impact on organic rankings.

If you are still concerned about it, then you can always set up a specific landing page that is not linked to from your main navigation and use either the robots.txt or meta noindex tags to prevent search engines from crawling those pages.

Once your AdWords account is fairly well optimized, I would highly recommend trying out this tool. You will learn new things about your website, its traffic and motivators. Just make sure you carefully plan the test elements and don’t test too many elements at once to ensure that you can run through enough iterations with conversions to gain meaningful data.

Google AdWords Ad Creation Tool – Write and Preview Ads

I like the way Yahoo Sponsored Search displays the character count as you create ads, but unfortunately we don’t get that little luxury with Google AdWords, so I created this little tool to count the characters as well as preview the ad and have the ability to copy it into a local document. It also gives you the ability to add in some Google Analytics tracking variables to the destination URL.

I use this tool at work almost every day and it’s saved me a lot of time, I hope you find it as useful.

Google Acquires Doubleclick – What’s Next TP?

Google TP Advertising

Google’s plans to dominate the online advertising world just took another leap forwards today when they announced the acquisition of Doubleclick.

At Google, we are constantly looking for new, innovative ways to make the information you want more accessible and more relevant—and to deliver it as fast as possible.

Once Google gets firmly established in the other major media outlets, TV, Radio, Newspaper, you have to wonder what’s next.

In 2034 will I wake up each morning and listen to my Google clock radio? Will I have ads beamed onto the inside of my shower curtain? When I take a number two, will I have TP with Sponsored Sheets? Will advertisers be billed on a PPR (Pay Per Roll) model?

Buying PPC Ads When You Have Good Organic Rankings

Here’s a very common theory I come across all the time: “If I have great organic rankings, I can save money by turning off pay per click listings for the same terms”.

This reasoning is only valid if you’re bidding on keywords with poor ROI, or your campaigns are not properly optimized. The one thing that people often overlook is that if you’re paying $100 to get $5000 in business and you’re making say $500 profit, why would you cut that? By cutting advertising with a positive ROI, you’re actually hurting your revenue and profit!

Math aside, here are a few more reasons why it’s good to buy sponsored listings, even if you rank number 1 for a specific term.

1) You are showing the audience that you are serious about acquiring traffic – it shows that you have a strong selling intent.

2) It implies market dominance

3) You provide 2 places (sometimes 3 on Yahoo) where a user can find a link to your website

4) You eliminate one of the sites you’re competing with

5) It caters to both sets of audiences, those who prefer organic, and those who prefer sponsored listings

6) It enables you to use the PPC ad copy to compliment your organic listing, by promoting special offers, trust, or unique selling points

7) Even if your PPC ROI breaks even, you’ve just acquired another customer and increased your marketshare

Edit (3/28/07):
A recent post by Rob Garner of Search Insider: Yes, Co-managed PPC And SEO Campaigns Work also backs up my experiences and proves that this strategy can work very well.

When appearing in both natural and paid search for the same keyword impression, clicks lifted 92 percent, actions lifted 45percent, orders lifted 45 percent, page views lifted 44 percent, visitors increased by 41 percent, and time on site increased by 40 percent.

The results of an iCrossing study found that organic listings actually boost the performance of PPC campaigns significantly, which really emphasizes the point that when you have both an organic and PPC listing on one page, the PPC better have positive ROI.

More Thoughts:

5 Simple Steps to Reactivate Inactive Keywords in Google AdWords

Since the recent Quality Score updates have been put in place a lot of people are seeing keywords being marked as inactive for search with a message: “increase quality or bid $X to activate” The costs to activate the keyword vary but can easily be $1, $5 or $10 per click. These costs are just not feasible for most advertisers, but getting these keywords back online is important.

Here’s my 5 step process for getting those keywords active again at the same or almost the same cost.

1) Delete the affected inactive keyword from the Ad Group.

2) Create a new Ad Group and name it something relevant to the keyword you’re working with.

3) Create a new ad which specifically targets that keyword. If you can include it in the title and description, great! If not, at least the title should be good enough. Make sure that the destination page also has that keyword present on the page if possible. If it’s an important enough keyword think about creating a dedicated landing page.

4) Add this keyword and only very close variants to the new Ad Group. For example, if the keyword you’re working with is red widget, only add phrases like red widget and red widgets. We want to keep this as focussed as possible for now, we can always add other variants later. Also be sure to add the necessary negative keywords.

5) Set the CPC way above what you’d normally bid and let it gain a few clicks, then you can back it down to the usual cost. This will give it some history and help get it established.

If your account is poorly structured, you may have a lot of inactive keywords. If this is the case, perhaps this would be a good time to hire a pay per click consultant to help you restructure the account. They should also be able to help you with writing the ad copy, analyzing the destination page and help with conversion analysis.

Google Pay Per Action Ads – Good and Bad

I’m very glad this Pay Per Action (PPA) beta test is now available and it’s definitely a smart move by Google to fill in the gap of their advertiser base. It will be running on the US content network only initially with limited ad formats, but I’m sure that will expand and grow as more advertisers sign up and publishers request more formats.

The Problem With Current Content Targeting
Many advertisers turn off content targeting (I hate that it’s turned on by default when you create a campaign) because they get poor performance and high clicks costs. It makes it doubly hard when a new or inexperienced AdWords customer wants to try the content network because it very often requires a different strategy to make it successful and when the first taste of results is sour, it’s tough to lure them back in to try it again.

Reacquiring Advertisers
PPA will provide another advertising option for those AdWords clients who opted out due to poor returns and high costs. This will be on their financial terms and is much easier for them to justify and track.

Gaining New Advertisers
There are still many companies who do not and will not trust CPC advertising, or Google’s click fraud protection, due to the huge discrepancies in reported click fraud which runs anywhere from 2% to 20%, and especially when just a year ago Google was involved in a class action lawsuit where they agreed to pay $90M settlement.

Many have misconceived ideas and notions of how CPC advertising works and will not be swayed, regardless of the numbers presented to them. For these business owners, Pay Per Action is going to be much easier for them to digest and they’ll be much more willing to give it a try. Unfortunately, these are the type of people that will really need a helping hand, since they will typically be the most inexperienced at online marketing. The biggest incentives for them will be the lack of financial commitment and easy of applying their business model.

It’s A Double Sell
One of the other issues that PPA advertisers will face is the double sell. They will obviously have to craft ads in various formats with great marketing messages to appeal to the end consumer, but they will also need to ensure that they write appealing descriptions and have a website which appears to convert well enough to have publishers run their ads.

Bye Bye MFA
If this ends up replacing the current CPC model, it will virtually eliminate Made For AdSense (MFA) websites and click fraud because the payback is on the completion of an action (newsletter signup, lead, sale etc). This is a huge step forwards and while many part time webmasters will boo and hiss at this, it will appease the more important audience, the advertisers themselves, ie the source of the revenue. This could also have performance and storage implications for crawling and the indexing processes.

Unfortunately since a lot of Google’s revenue comes from content network CPC ads, they’re going to be extremely cautious at making this type of move.

The Poor Publisher
A lot of publishers will not like this model and will probably stay away from it. Their belief is that simply displaying the ads is providing value and they would like some compensation. While that’s a fair statement in itself, the MFA sites abuse this and tarnish the reputation of good, trustworthy publishers.

In a PPA or CPA model, the advertiser/vendor relationship is self regulating. If a publisher does not see good returns, they will simply swap out the ads.

Competing With Affiliate Networks
The PPA model, (a.k.a. Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)) is competing with the affiliate networks like Commission Junction, and they’re not going to like it at all. With Google’s offering, there’s no monthly service fee, which is much friendlier to the vendor. According to Andy Beal’s post where he questioned Rob Kniaz, product manager for Google’s advertising products, Kniaz did not feel that this was direct competition. Although they may not intend that to to be so, the similarities are striking.

More Coverage
Official Google Announcement: Pay-per-action beta test
SEORefugee: Overcoming Objections for Google’s Pay-Per-Action
SearchEngineLand: Google Launches Pay Per Action Ads
Barrons: Google Launches “Pay-Per-Action” Ad Beta

Google AdWords Quality Score – Serious Algo Flaw Discovered

Announced today, by the Inside AdWords crew:

Today, we began rolling out improvements to the Quality Score algorithm, which will update the Quality Score for keywords in your account over the next 3 to 4 days.

The goal is to improve the quality of the ads, which is great and I applaud their efforts to try and combat arbitrage and low quality ads, unfortunately, I’ve uncovered another side to the story of the AdWords system which isn’t so great.

The main factors in calculating quality score are click through rate, the relevance of the ad and landing page, but there are many other minor factors at play, which are not disclosed. After talking to my rep the other day, one issue which I’m not happy about at all, is the fact that a quality score is applied to the keyword, but not per account, but just the keyword itself. All advertisers are then subject to this generic keyword level quality score.

What this means is that if you have a great campaign with high click through rates, perfectly relevant ads and are seen as an authority of a topic, your minimum bid may increase because the keyword quality score overall was dragged down by arbitrage, junk sites and other accounts which, perhaps through inexperience, are bidding on the wrong keywords.

Let me reword that slightly different – your minimum bids may be raised based on the actions of other accounts, which are totally beyond your control.

This is absolutely horrendous!

The end result is that good performing accounts are effectively penalized and in one of my cases, the minimum bid was raised to a level, where there are NO advertisers willing to bid for that term, and it wasn’t one of those $1, $5 or $10 minimum bid raises either.

It seems Google has shot themselves in the foot on this issue and I know there are going to a lot of similar complaints with this new quality score system.

It doesn’t matter how much Google stresses the quality aspect of this update, advertisers are only going to see the issue that affects them the most, how much it’s going to raise their prices.

Adwords Quality Score Bug

Since many people are experiencing today’s “quality score bug” as reported in Search Engine Land and on SEORefugee, I decided to run a daily keyword performance report for the period: month to date on some accounts. I noticed that some keywords were marked as inactive for search with minimum bids being raised to $1, $5 or $10 per click. The csv report also showed multiple rows of data for these keywords, with some rows starting at 2/1/2007.

After checking with my AdWords rep, it was confirmed that no matter how many rows are displayed for a specific keyword, the minimum bid is always set to the current value of when the report was run. In other words, the report data for the minimum bid column is only accurate for the current date, ignore previous dates as it all shows the same value.

The rep also confirmed that this is a widespread problem and that it’s their top priority to fix. It should be fixed within the next day or so. Fortunately for the accounts I looked at, the keywords that were affected have very little search/click volume so the impact was fairly minimal. For one account that has approx 2,000 keywords active at any one time, only a handful were affected.

For now, I recommend sitting it out and waiting for the bug fix before trying to reorganize your account.