Category: SEM

Nov 12 2008

Get More Traffic Through Ad Testing and Optimization

Are your Pay Per Click ads the best they can be?

Ad testing (also known as a/b testing or split testing) lets you experiment with multiple ads at the same time to find out which ones work best.

When combined with the Ad Optimization feature in Google and Yahoo, the better-performing ads will display more often.

To start with, make sure you have them rotate evenly.  Then you can see which one comes out the clear winner.  You can then run another split test against, that winner, to see which one works best.

How Do You Benefit from Split Testing?

? Improve ad group performance because better performing ads, based on click-through rate, will serve more often (if Optimization is turned on, which is the default setting). Change to Rotate when you are first testing.

? Save time by automatically displaying the best performing ads

? Save money because ads with higher click-through rates may score higher in the quality index, and this may lead to higher placement at a lower cost

? Find out which messages, promotions, and geographical locations test better, and apply this learning to other marketing tactics, and in other PPC programs.

? Test different versions of your landing page URLs.

How to Create New Ads

To create a new ad:

1. Go to your intended ad group page or create a new ad group
2. Click on the +Create New Ad button
3. Enter a title, description, destination URL and display URL; make sure you are only testing 1 thing against the other ad, for example, the headline. Perfect it with split testing.
4. Review and approve ad
5. Track your results for a week
6. Repeat steps 1 through 5, in order to optimize your headline.
7. Once you have optimized your headline, repeat steps 1 through 5 with your first lines, to find the optimum one.
8. Repeat steps 1 through 5 to optimize your second lines.
9. Then do your display urls.

If you carry out your ad testing and tracking in a methodical way, you will be amazed at what a difference a tiny tweak or two can make. Best of all, you will have trackable, tangible results.

Aug 25 2008

Getting Started with Google PPC: AdWords Hints and Tips 9

Refining your campaign

You can do this with each of your keywords, and then try to do split tests for each of your landing pages, to track and then test, to see first of all how you are doing, and secondly, if you can test to improve things.

All of this requires patience, and can be time consuming, but the good news is, once it is done, you have set up you first campaign, and some of your traffic should be converting from browsers into buyers.

If they are not clicking on your ad, look at it again.

If they ARE, but no one is buying, is your call to action clear enough? Are you offering the right content, in other words, continuing the keyword conversation and offering them the solution they need?

Is your Quality Score low? Are your keywords on the page and in the metatags, are your pictures named meaningfully using keywords, and are your alt and title tags populated with keywords?

If they are, great, if not, go back and take the time to do them correctly. It will help with search engine optimization (SEO) as well (unless you are concerned with duplicate content, in which case, you might want to put “do not follow” tags on the pages that are duplicated.

So, keywords are not only essential for your website, but a crucial part of Search engine marketing (PPC) and SEO. Brainstorm your lists of keywords, start slowly with Adwords so you don’t lose your shirt, and when you start getting positive results and a revenue stream, and have become familiar with the system, then you can add more keyword based campaigns to grow your online marketing presence.

Finally, once you have a successful campaign in Google, you can migrate it over to Yahoo, MSN, and other ad networks as well. Just keep in mind that they don’t permit you to have a really large number of groups in your account, so you need to be careful when you migrate them over. We will cover setting up in Yahoo and MSN in other articles soon. For now, get started cautiously with Google, and see how successful you can be with this powerful marketing tool.

Aug 23 2008

Getting Started with Google PPC: AdWords Hints and Tips 8




Split Testing

One of the great things about this system is you can run two ads in rotation, and test to see which performs the best. Don’t get caught up in little tiny fractions of a percentage point, go for big changes of a percent or two. Just keep in mind that you should test and track, and keep an eye on your campaign settings and define a meaningful test for yourself. (Also remember that you are not just looking at click through rate, but also conversion from browsers into buyers).


For example, to run an A/B split test, you can set your campaign settings to run accelerated ads, in rotation, to show the ads as fast as possible, and find a winner quickly.  Then you could do the same for a third ad, and a fourth, keeping track of your changes so that if you don’t improve, you can easily go back to the way things were.


Always set up a new ad, even if it seems like only a minor change, or else your former results will be lost, dropping down into the ‘other’ category with no record of what they used to be.

Aug 21 2008

Getting Started with Google PPC: AdWords Hints and Tips 7

 Adding and Removing Keywords

Once you’ve created your account, you can add or remove keywords by logging in to your account. At the top of the Statistics section of the My Ad Campaign page, click the Add more keywords link. On the next page, you can again add keywords in the box provided and use the Want more? box to find related keywords. When you are done, click Save Changes.

To delete any keyword, find the keyword in the Statistics section of the “My Campaigns” page. Click the Delete link in the same row as the keyword.

Again, you might want to set up small, targeted campaigns, so if some words are performing well, you might break your cluster into even smaller groups to really gear your ad toward that keyword, or again, give a different destination URL in order to match that keyword, and also boost your Quality Score.


Quality Score.

This is the algorithmic formula determined by Google as to how relevant your landing page is to the keyword. The rankings at present are Poor, Ok, Good and Great. You are aiming for Great wherever possible, so you can get your bids down.  Just remember that there are a lot of factors which influence quality score, so it pays to read the guidelines in the interface.


To see how you are scoring on each keyword, rollover the little spyglass to the right of the word, and see what it tells you. It will show you if the ad is showing or not, and your quality score, and suggestions as to how to fix the situation if need be.


We will go into some guidelines on quality score and simple ways to improve it in a later set of articles.


Aug 19 2008

Getting Started with Google PPC: AdWords Hints and Tips 6

* Use the Google Keyword Tool

At any time, you can use the Keyword Tool at Google to find relevant keyword ideas. If you are unsure of what keywords to choose when signing up, enter a term related to your ad in the box titled “Want more?” on the signup wizard.


The AdWords system will then show you possible keywords related to the one you entered. Carefully select the ones that best match your ad, then click Add to move them to your keyword list.


Even better, you can now see what sort of search volume (number of people who will be looking for that keyword) you would get on certain words. This is a big step up from their old service, and more in line with the old Overture Tool that got acquired by Yahoo at the end of last year and basically went away. 


A note about location-specific keywords.

Many search terms are general, but it can sometimes be useful to choose keywords like New York real estate, New York Florist, or Florist and your zip code, eg 10018.  AdWords automatically targets your ads to the region you select. If you are running local business ads, your ad will automatically appear to those in the vicinity of your business location.

Aug 17 2008

Getting Started with Google PPC: AdWords Hints and Tips 5

* Tracking your ads.

This is a critical part of the whole process, and one that requires patience and perseverance. 


First of all, check to see if your ads are running.  Sometimes they might need an adjustment to their wording or your bid in order to get them to show, or to show high enough up the page to get you meaningful traffic.


After your ads have run for two or 3 days, check your account to see which keywords are getting you the most clicks for the lowest prices. Get into the practice of checking it daily.


Refine the keywords that work. Weed out the keywords that don’t. If cookie wedding favors is working well,  roses is working well, try other variations. If your budget is not being spent, try adding a couple of more new keywords.


Very popular keywords can be very expensive because many people want to advertise on them. You may find that some keywords are too expensive for your budget, or that others give you better return on your investment. It is all about what you can afford, and who you are converting.


* You can pay $1 a click on a $100 purchase, but on a $4 one, you might have some trouble making ends meet. Remember that only about ½ of 1% convert into buyers. Yes, .5%. You may want to drive traffic purely as a branding exercise, but sooner or later you are going to have to start making money.


You can use bid placement to moderate your spend, and still get on the first page. If you set you placements too high, and your bids too low, you will not get on the first page.


If you set your bids too high, so that you are in the top 3 positions, you might get a lot of ‘happy clickers’ who think your ad is an organic search result. Many will click, and some might buy, but if your page is too overtly commercial looking (like a rapid conversion landing page) they might click right back out.

Aug 15 2008

Getting Started with Google PPC: AdWords Hints and Tips 4

* Keep your groups and subgroups small.

You’ll get the best results with a few well-chosen keywords. That should be enough to attract the audience you need while letting you focus on the keywords that match your ad best. Cookie wedding favors, edible, wine, would all be in their own subgroups within your larger group of wedding favors, or even food related wedding favors.


Then you might have a group titled candle wedding favors and have candles holders unity candles and so on within that group.


Whatever keywords you use in the subgroup, make sure they are in the ad, and as we said, if you can, customize your landing page as well, so that when they view it they will see content and products on that keyword.



*Content network versus search network.

Most people will tell you NOT to use the content network, partner sites external to Google that run their ads. We agree, so make sure when you set up your account that that option is unchecked. Otherwise, you can go to Edit Campaign and look at the dashboard, top right hand side under search, to make sure it is unchecked. 


Google is currently trying to reassure customers that it is safe to advertise on the content network, but:


A-there is a high incidence rate of click fraud

B-we do not recommend it when you are initially launching because you would like to get a very precise, targeted campaign and track to see how your ads are doing, and should do that in the relatively predictable space of Google. Then if you need more traffic, for higher volume, you can disseminate your most successful ads more widely.

Aug 13 2008

Getting Started with Google PPC: AdWords Hints and Tips 3

* Be specific.

If you’re selling wedding favors, use specific keywords like wine wedding favors or cookie wedding favors or golf wedding favors. Think of how you search for things and be as specific as possible.


Also, be aware of the difference between someone who types in Xbox and someone who types in Xbox360 Repair Guide. The second search means that that searcher is more likely close to a purchasing decision.


* Offer the solution.

If you know what they are searching for, and why, for example, the Xbox360 Repair Guide, or the Cookie Wedding Favors person, you can gear your ad towards other aspects of the purchasing decision which will give them confidence to buy. For example, the Xbox360 Repair Guide would emphasis that they can do it at home cheap, fast and easy and save money.  For the Cookie Wedding Favors, fast delivery, personalization, classy, elegant, discounts, free shipping, and so on, would all contribute to the purchasing decision.