Searching Beyond the Paid

Friday, June 29, 2012

12 Links Every PPC Pro Should Bookmark

Every day, there is a plethora of great PPC info shared across the web:  on blogs, in social media, and in forums.  Most of it falls into the “that’s interesting” category, but nothing more.

Periodically, though, a post or tool is so good that I bookmark it and refer back to it often.  Here is my list of the 12 links every PPC pro should bookmark.

Modified Broad Match Tool from Acquisio: This tool enables you to paste a list of keywords, tell it which ones you want to add the broad match modifier, and spits them out with a keystroke. It’s a huge time saver and I use it at least weekly.

SplitTester: A tool to quickly get statistical significance & confidence levels. Great for PPC ad testing.

WebShare’s split testing tool: This tool combines CTR and conversion rate to tell you the overall winner of an ad test.

145 PPC Must Do’s for 2012 from PPC Hero: This was a New Year’s post that was actually very useful.  I’ve been working my way through the list for the past 6 months.  Not every tip will apply to every PPC account, but if you’re looking for new optimization ideas, this is the place.

Excel Hints for PPC from SEOptimise: PPC’ers live in Excel, so we’re always hungry for more Excel tips. This is a good bunch of hints.

Excel Formatting Tips from Search Engine Journal: If your reports look like they were done by a 5th grader, this post will help you fix that.

Excel Tips & Tricks from PPC Associates: Yet more awesome Excel tips for PPC’ers.

Ion Interactive’s Landing Page Checklist: I refer to this often when advising clients on landing page best practices.

PPC Task Checklist from PPC Hero: A great list of PPC tasks that will help all PPC pros, from novice to expert.

Google Analytics Advanced Segments Shares from Jill Whalen: A neat list of advanced segments that you can copy and use in your own Google Analytics accounts.

Google Analytics URL Builder: A good way to make sure your custom URLs for Google Analytics are formatted properly.

Auditing PPC Accounts Without Account Access from Fathom: A recent blog post to help PPC’ers over a common stumbling block: auditing a PPC account when you don’t have access to the account itself.

And there you have it – 12 must-have PPC bookmarks! I know there are more out there, so share your favorites in the comments!  I’ll compile them into a future blog post.

Editor's Note:  The link to the Ion Interactive Landing Page checklist was incorrect and has now been corrected. Thanks to commenter Max Miller for pointing out the error!

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Using Keyword Level URLs in PPC

In PPC, we have almost unlimited choices in how we structure our accounts.  The flexibility is one of the reasons why I love PPC:  every account is different, and we can tailor the structure and settings to meet each advertiser’s needs.

One such customization is keyword-level destination URLs.  Both Adwords and adCenter, as well as nearly every 2nd tier PPC engine, provides the option to specify destination URLs at the keyword level, as opposed to the ad level (the default for most engines).

Astute readers may be wondering why keyword-level destination URLs are even necessary.  After all, if you’ve structured your account properly, with small, tightly-themed ad groups, you shouldn’t need to use distinct URLs on your keywords, right?

In general, that’s true.  However, there are situations even with small ad groups where keyword destination URLs make sense.

This was the subject of a recent impromptu discussion on the PPC Chat hashtag on Twitter.  John Lavin (@Johnnyjetfan) asked why anyone would use keyword destination URLs if the account is structured well.  The answers were, as usual, informative. Here is some of the feedback, and my commentary.
  • I have one client who uses them for their internal tracking (non-GA). So I have special URLs for each keyword.
    • Melissa’s comment:  Some clients use proprietary tracking systems other than Google Analytics (GA).  In many of these systems, parameters must be assigned to each keyword in order to pass that data to the analytics system.  Therefore, individual keyword destination URLs are necessary to get keyword-level data.
  • Sometimes we have keywords that don't fit the mold of the landing page and don't get enough volume to warrant a complete ad group.
    • Melissa’s comment:  While I’d probably still put those keywords in a separate ad group, this is yet another valid reason to use keyword destination URLs.
  • Happens often w/ Ecommerce where descriptive/feature words are better off sending customer to a point closer to the cart.
    • Melissa’s comment:  Absolutely.
  • You can also pass special variables to the landing pages on a keyword by keyword basis.
    • Melissa’s comment:  This is another fantastic use of keyword destination URLs.  For instance, you could use a URL parameter to pass a code or keyword that would then dynamically appear on the landing page.
  • Another advantage is you can amend your destination URLs anytime without having your ad trigger a review.
    • Melissa’s comment:  I hadn’t thought of this – and I like it!  Lately I’ve found that the editorial review process for ad copy is taking far too long, so anything I can do to avoid getting stuck in that purgatory is worth it!
As you can see, there are several instances where keyword destination URLs make a lot of sense, even when account structure is sound.  Many thanks to the PPC Chatters who made this post possible:


Have you used keyword destination URLs in a new and different way? Share in the comments!

Editor's Note:  I inadvertently left off one of the comment contributors, Andrew Baker.  I apologize for the oversight!  You're on the list now.


Friday, June 15, 2012

Picking a PPC Landing Page

Countless articles and blog posts have been written about setting up and managing PPC campaigns.  From keyword research, to ad copy development, to account structure, to networks, geotargeting, and on and on, there’s a plethora of info about dealing with the inner workings of the various PPC engines.

In all that detail – and let me be clear, all that detail is critically important – it’s easy to forget that keywords & ad copy are only the first step in a long journey to a conversion.

I’ve heard it said that the best PPC campaign in the world can’t fix a crappy website or a crappy landing page.  And I’m here to help you choose the right landing page for PPC success.

Choose the most relevant page for the query.

The most relevant page is almost never going to be your website’s homepage.  The exception to this would be branded terms that don’t give any additional info about what the searcher is looking for.  So if the search query is “brand X,” then the homepage is better than deeper pages that may not be relevant to the query.

But most search queries aren’t that vague.  Nearly every non-branded query is going to give some idea of what the searcher wants (and if it doesn’t, maybe you shouldn’t be bidding on it!).

Use this info to choose your landing page.  If the query is broad, you may want to use a category page as the landing page.

Let’s take the example of a clothing retailer that sells designer jeans:  Nordstrom.  (If you were at my Intro to PPC session at SES Chicago, this will sound familiar).  If the query is “designer jeans,” then don’t send them to the home page:

Instead, you’ll want to send the visitor to your jeans category page:

Often, though, the query is more specific.  People might search for “women’s seven for all mankind jeans,” for instance.

In those cases, give the user what they searched for!  Land them on the “Seven” category page.

Granted, they’ll still need to do some browsing on your site to find the exact pair and size they’re looking for, but it’s certainly better than dropping them on your home page, which may not even mention the product they looked for!

I know that once you see these examples, it seems obvious – yet I see countless PPC campaigns that either send all their traffic to the home page, or use a category page for specific queries (or vice versa).  Your visitors already performed one search - don’t make them search again!  By picking the right landing page, you’re giving yourself the best shot at getting that sale or lead.

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Friday, June 08, 2012

Auditing PPC Campaigns - My SMX Presentation

Well, another SMX Advanced has come to a close.  The conference always goes by shockingly fast, with so much great information sharing and networking going on.

This year, I had the honor of presenting in the Auditing PPC Campaigns session.  Each presenter on the panel discussed a different aspect of auditing campaigns for better performance.  It was a fun session with lots of info shared.

With that, here is my presentation from SMX Advanced.  Enjoy!

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