Searching Beyond the Paid

Friday, September 24, 2010

PPC In-House or Agency: Decisions, Decisions - Part I

My Twitter bio says "In house or agency - I've done it all." I got my PPC start doing in-house PPC at Magazineline from 2002-2007. I loved it - this was the heady early days of $0.10 clicks and a pure auction, and PPC practitioners were a small and tight-knit group. I've since moved on to Fluency Media, where I manage PPC campaigns for a wide variety of clients.

(Before I go any further, let me make it clear that this is my personal blog. As such, the opinions expressed in this and every post here are mine, and do not necessarily reflect those of past or present employers.)

Based on my background, I have a pretty good handle on both in-house and agency PPC. If you're a business owner who's thinking about getting into the PPC game, which way do you go?

The short answer, as usual, is "it depends." What's right for one business is probably totally wrong for another. Having seen both sides, I'd like to present the pros and cons of each approach. In this post, I'll talk about in-house PPC management.

In House Pros:
  • Full-time attention on your PPC campaigns. Without multiple clients tugging at their time, in-house managers are able to devote 100% of their focus to squeezing maximum performance out of every ad group and keyword in your campaign.
  • Attention to detail. An in-house PPC manager's performance review likely is based on account performance. As such, they'll be keen on accuracy and account performance.
  • You're the employer - they answer to you. And you'll see them every day: in the halls, at staff meetings, and performance reviews. There's nowhere to hide when you're in-house.
  • Understanding of your business goals, company culture, and other quirks. If your CEO hates the word "cheap," an in-house PPC manager knows this - and knows not to use it in a PPC ad.
  • Deep vertical focus. In-house managers are motivated to learn about your vertical and what works, not just in PPC but on your website as a whole. This enables them to develop a super-in-depth PPC account that covers every angle.

In House Cons:
  • Learning & training. It's often hard for an in-house manager to even find out where learning opportunities exist, much less find the resources to take advantage of them.
  • May not be "plugged in" to SEM community. Although it's a much larger club than it was in the early days, the SEM community is still out there, and it's a huge competitive advantage - IF you can break in.
  • Longer learning curve. Your company is the manager's only "client" - there's no previous experience with other clients to go on and learn from.
  • Motivation. A less-than-conscientious in-house manager may not be motivated to make the program succeed - after all, it's just a job, with a low risk of getting dumped for "someone else."
In Part 2, I'll cover the pros and cons of agency PPC management.

Friday, September 17, 2010

How Not To Use Dynamic Keyword Insertion

As you know, I work from home most of the time. I love it - I'm able to minimize interruptions, focus, and get tons done, and still greet my kids when they get home from school. I'm saving the environment and my gasoline bills, too.

There are down sides, though. Our next-door neighbors have 2 young German Shepherds. These dogs BARK AT EVERYTHING. I mean EVERYTHING. They bark at me even though they see me every damn day. They bark at the mailman. They bark at the other neighbor's dog that’s in its own yard EVERY DAMN DAY. As you can probably tell, it's beyond annoying. And they bark at my son when he goes out to shoot hoops, which is not only annoying, it kind of scares me.

I heard someplace (radio? newspaper? I honestly can't remember) that there are devices that generate high-frequency sound that humans can't hear, but dogs can - and it makes the dogs stop barking. So, I turned to my good friend Google to try to find this miracle product, thinking we could try it at least when the kids are outside attempting to play basketball without listening to barking dogs the whole time.

I found tons of options in both the paid ads and the organic results, as you can see below. But I also found a gross misuse of dynamic keyword insertion (DKI).

See the third ad at the top of the page? "Stop Dogs Barking Neighbors"? Seriously? Folks, remember: DKI does NOT insert the keyphrase that was typed into the search box - it inserts the keyphrase you're bidding on. While "stop dogs barking neighbors" is a perfectly fine keyword to bid on, it looks kinda silly in the ad title.

The moral of the story? Use DKI with discretion. Be careful which keywords you include in your ad groups that use DKI. Actually read through each possible title, out loud if necessary. Eliminate the ones that don't sound right, and move them to an ad group where you're not using DKI.

Oh, and please teach your dogs not to bark at every moving thing. Please.

Oh, and by the way - I didn't buy a "stop dogs barking neighbors" device yet. Any recommendations?

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Thursday, September 09, 2010

Google Instant - The Apocalypse of SEO?

Unless you're still on summer vacation, you've probably read plenty about Google Instant - the fun new feature that serves up search engine results pages and PPC ads as you type, and changes them as you go along. The Twittersphere is abuzz with predictions about Instant marking the death of SEO.

Hold on. Not so fast. In my latest post on the Fluency Media Blog, I discuss why we need to just keep doing what we've been doing all along: choosing relevant keywords, link building, publishing relevant content..... Give it a read and let me know what you think, either here or on the Fluency blog.

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