Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Some quick links to Ismael Ahmed

While this post is a bit out of sorts, I thought it would be interesting as our company is highly involved in the Lansing area and the educational system in the local community. Ismael Ahmed has been a rather newsworthy person of late and I figured I would share some resources on him.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What to do with PPC return visits?

For far too long, Google Analytics users have struggled with using PPC for products and services with a longer purchasing process. Chances are, if you're selling an expensive product or service, your PPC campaign probably isn't going to turn into an immediate purchase. This leaves you with an unhappy boss or client when you go to show them your AdWords report and your ROI sucks.

But what other solutions are out there? Well, leave it to the good people at Viget to come up with a very slick way to track your PPC return visits. Check it out here. Ultimately, what you'll need to do is modify the user defined variable and then set up a profile to only track those identified visitors. Then, you'll have a profile that just tracks this traffic, allowing you to better understand which keywords and campaigns are really bringing in qualified traffic, and making your client/boss happy to see that your paid search management skills are directly responsible for revenue. Boom!

Monday, January 12, 2009

The fruits of combining your search engine marketing efforts.

One mistake I often see made by people beginning their search marketing campaigns is not thoughtfully implementing SEO and PPC in conjunction. Many beginners falsely assume these two elements can't work in conjunction, but they do, and they can save you money in the process.

For those not aware of the Google Quality Score, it's a measure of a variety of factors that helps determine your positioning and the price you pay per click. Long story short, the better your Quality Score, the less you pay and the better your position. A key element of quality score is page relevance. Making your page more relevant for your pay per click term can be done by also doing organic search engine optimization on the same page. Talk about killing two birds with one stone!

So even if your industry is terribly competitive, don't assume SEO is a waste of time. Yes, a first page organic listing might be light years away, but that doesn't mean SEO efforts are a waste of time. Double up your efforts and watch your cost per click drop and your average position improve!

I'll be back in the near future to supply a few basic tips for those unfamiliar with on page SEO. Until then, may your online marketing initiatives bring you great success!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A trick to track Yahoo! Search Marketing in Google Analytics

If you're doing pay per click advertising, you better be doing some analytics. If not, stop reading this immediately, go to http://google.com/analytics and start.

Okay, you're back.

One of the biggest pains when it comes to setting up PPC is setting up your tagging for other search engines. Google provides a handy tool called the Google URL Builder which allows you to set up the right destination pages for Google Analytics to track your non-Google campaigns in your search engine reports in Google Analytics.

However, it can get really tedious adding destination pages for each keyword. But wait, there's an easier way, people!

By using Yahoo's variables, you can simply add them in at the ad level and Google and Yahoo will do the rest of the work for you. Basically, all you need to do is add {OVKEY} for your term and {OVADID} for your campaign content and all will be right with the world.

Who knew paid search marketing could be so easy?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

How to ruin your paid search campaign before you even start

"Let's waste some money!"
-something you'll never hear yourself, or a client say

I was in a meeting yesterday with a creative agency who said they had constructed a high end site for one of their customers, who wanted to "advertise on Google". They built the site, set up AdWords for him (as a courtesy, they never claimed to be marketers) and set him loose. My head was already spinning, and when the story spiraled into a disgruntled customer's angry phone calls, I started imagining all of the things that must have gone wrong...

As such, a short list of ways to ruin your AdWords campaign from someone who has some experience in paid search management. So for you newbies, here's how to blow it from the get go:

  1. Insufficient research and understanding of the platform. Just because you can get your ads live doesn't mean you know what you're doing. Check out the Google AdWords Learning Center before you get started. Take notes while you do it. I'm serious. And then, just to balance out the Google Kool-Aid factor, read your fair share of blogs like this to make sure you do things that Google doesn't tell you, like turning off the Content Network and rotating your ads.
  2. Shorting your budget, or spreading it too thin. Sorry to tell you folks, but I've done some statistics in my day and there's something called sample size. Even the best of us will have to do a lot of adjusting to campaigns over time, but you'll never know what to adjust without some critical mass. Either have the budget when you start, or focus your efforts on a small number of keywords and ad groups so you don't have 600 keywords with four clicks each. If none of them convert well, you don't have enough of a sample to decide what works and what doesn't. Rule of thumb, don't make a change until you've had 30 clicks, bare minimum.
  3. Making monstrous ad groups. This one has been said a million times, but can't be said enough. If your ad versions don't adequately represent each keyword, you need more ad groups.
  4. You have no goals. Set a number of leads. Set a sales goal. Have SOMETHING to work towards. If you don't, you'll have no idea what you're working towards and how to get there. People who struggle here are the ones who remember a year later that they have AdWords running, have been paying for it, but completely forgot about it. This, my children, is unacceptable...unless of course you wake up screaming:
"Let's waste some money!"

Monday, November 10, 2008

A handy trick for using Google Analytics site overlay

Hopefully anyone out there running a paid search campaign is also running analytics as well. Obviously, Google Analytics is a mighty powerful (and free!) tool that provides a wealth of information to improve your campaign(s). Now, one thing that GA does not do in its standard functionality is allow you to segment the site overlay report. Instead, you are given all information in one aggregate mass.

It would be much more insightful to be able to see how your PPC traffic acted from one page to the next, and to be able to use the overlay to show our findings to non-analytics types can be even more valuable. So how can we make this happen?

It really just takes a few easy steps.
  1. On the main login page, select "add new profile" above your current profiles.
  2. Select "Add a profile for an existing domain" and give it a name - "PPC traffic" works for me.
  3. Go to "edit settings" for your new profile and create a name for your new filter. Select custom filter>include>campaign medium> ^(cpc|ppc)$ > and "no" for case sensitive
Note: if you have all of your campaigns setup as only cpc or ppc, you would only need one of them, not both.

Now, once you've had a few days to collect data, going into this profile will only show you your paid search traffic. The site overlay, as an extension, will only show this traffic as well. If you want to take it a step further, you could add an additional filter that includes only the campaign source and add the specific search engine you want to track.

Alright kids, that's all for today. Go try this out and let me know how it works.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Rotate your ads!

Sometimes optimization is NOT optimization. A key example of this is when Google AdWords decides that they will "optimize" how your ad variations are displayed for an Ad Group. This is a fundamental problem with AdWords (that and having the content network on by default) that stops you from properly testing your ads.

Ideally, you want all of your various ads to run in rotation. Assuredly (I'm putting some faith in you, now), you're running Google Analytics or some other analtyics package that lets you see how the various ad copy is performing once they reach the site. AdWords, however, is only interested in click through. So, while I can write an ad that says "Free preview of (insert anticipated new movie here)" that gets a tremendous click through rate, users probably won't do much on my site if it doesn't really deliver to their expectations. Google AdWords, however, would begin optimizing for that very quickly and take your other variations out of rotation.

So, for you folks getting started with AdWords, please shut this stuff off or have a professional do your AdWords setup.