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Adwords Top Ad Placement Formula Changing

Category : paid search


wallet.jpgThe Adwords team announced today that over the next few weeks they’ll be rolling out changes to the formula in their Adwords tool that dictates who gets the top spot in the sponsored listings on the search engine results page (SERP).

Today, the top spot is determined by a combination of quality score and actual cost-per-click (CPC). The new formula will be a combination of Quality Score and an ad’s maximum CPC. Here’s Google’s explanation as to why that’s a good thing:

Actual CPC is determined, in part, by the bidding behavior of the advertisers below you. This means that your ad’s chance of being promoted to a top spot could be constrained by a factor you cannot influence. By considering your ad’s maximum CPC, a value you set, you will have more control over achieving top ad placement.

I don’t like this for small businesses who do a better job of optimizing their campaigns to perform better than those of their larger business competitors. I notice alot of larger business campaigns put alot of money in, but just let the campaigns run without tweaking and making them better. I think this new formula will allow the larger businesses to dump more dollars in and overtake the top spot without spending the time to make the experience better for the user.

Maybe it’s just the wording of their release, but my first reaction to this news is that Google is saying you’ll need to dish out more to hit the top spots.

View Google PPC Results in Other Countries

Category : paid search


redfly_logo.pngI’ve written previously about how I like to use Google’s Ad Preview tool to monitor search engine results pages (SERPs) in different countries and regions. Checking in on the different SERPs gives me insight on how my paid search (PPC) campaigns are appearing to people in those regions. I also like to see what organic results are coming up on top outside of the US.

Well, Google’s tool hasn’t worked well lately and, to be honest, it wasn’t the easiest to use in the first place. That’s why I was excited to get an email from Dave Davis of Red Fly Marketing. His team has developed a Firefox extension that does the same thing – only it’s built right into your browser.

Stop by Dave’s site for the download and tutorial. It’s a must if you’re advertising with Google Adwords outside of your own country.

How To Use Google Adwords Search Query Report

Category : paid search


I’ve been using Google Adwords’ Search Query Report quite a bit lately. If you’re not familiar with this reporting tool, the search query report tells you what search queries prompted impressions and clicks for your ads. In many cases, I’ve been able to isolate keywords – not relevant to my ads or landing page – pulling an impression and a click on one of my ads. On the flip side – as with any good analytics report – I’ve been able to see some new terms being used by my target audience (great market research).

If you’re using any broad match keywords, running this report is a must. Remember, with broad match your word(s) can be used in any way and with any other combination of words. This report will help you find combinations that you don’t want.

Let’s take a look at where to find this valuable report. In your Adwords admin panel, click on the Reports tab.


Click on Create New Report and you’ll be taken to the Create Report page. On this page and under Report Type you can see where the Search Query Performance option resides.


Next, you’ll select your settings for the report. I prefer running the report at the Ad Group level of detail. My reason for doing this is that I like to add negative keywords at the Ad Group level. This report always isolates a few of those negative keywords for me. I also recommend using one to three month spans of time for the report. I don’t think shorter time frames give you enough trending information.


The rest of the options are to your preference and fairly similar to other reports. Now, let’s point out some of the finer points with regards to the Search Query report:

  • The Search Query Performance report DOES NOT show every single query. Google lumps all queries that don’t meet their privacy and volume requirements into an ‘All other queries’ row. They assure you that queries lumped into these categories are largely insignificant to your campaign efforts.
  • The Search Query Match Type column in the report is important. This column shows how close a user’s search query was (in terms of match type) to a keyword in your account.
    • If the column shows “exact match” for a query, this means you already have that query in your account as an exact, phrase, or broad match keyword.
    • If the column shows “broad match” or “phrase match” for a query, this means you don’t have that exact query in your account. Instead, a broad or phrase match keyword in your account is enabling your ad to be shown for this query.

Its that second option in the match type column that I think is the most important. These are some of the terms that you haven’t planned on for getting your ad an impression.

If you like the term, add it as a keyword in your ad group. I’ve found some nice long-tail keywords which I’ve put a phrase match on and been able to get clicks at a much lower cost-per-click (CPC).

If you don’t like the term and feel it is not relevant, make sure you add it as a negative keyword. Thus ensuring that you won’t get non-relevant clicks on your ads.

Here are some other posts from other blogs on the Search Query Report and related topics:

PPC Tip: Use Ad Scheduling to Focus Your Campaigns

Category : paid search


As with any good marketing plan, you should know the behavior of your target market. You’ll want to know when they research, when they make decisions and when they buy. This theory applies very closely to paid search campaigns. In fact, it can be the difference between being successful and throwing away money.

The use of ad scheduling (or dayparting) in PPC campaigns allows you to select the days of the week and even the time of day that you want your ads to run. Not only is this a great way to get the attention of your audience at the perfect time, but it also saves you money.

For instance, when I first started PPC many years ago I ran my ads 24/7. I figured why not – any click is a good click, right? I soon learned that this was not the case! My clicks on the weekend were still high, but my conversions were much lower than during the week. After a review of keywords that led to our ads, I found that the wrong audience was clicking. My BtoB customers were obviously not searching and clicking on the weekend. I was wasting money! Then I saw the light and started using the ad scheduling function in Adwords.

Here is where you can find it in your campaign settings screen:


Click the Ad scheduling option and then click on edit times and bids. You’ll see a screen like this:


You can see in this example ads are paused on the weekend. Now, if you want to take ad scheduling a step further, click on the “switch to advanced mode” button on top. Here, you can select to bid a percentage of your max bid at certain times.


For BtoB advertisers like myself, it might make sense to only offer a percentage of your max bid in the evenings since many of your customers are not making buying decisions at that time. If you try this, make sure to take into consideration time zones. If you’re on the East coast, you don’t want to cut short the time people on the West coast can see your ads. The same theory should also be applied if your ads run in a different country.

Keep in mind that these changes you’re making affect a whole campaign – not just one ad group. Another reason that running multiple campaigns for multiple audiences and countries is a must!

Tips for Launching Paid Search Campaigns in Different Countries

Category : paid search


In search of new markets and lower pay-per-click costs from my paid search campaigns, I venture outside of the US with my keywords and ads. How tough can it be, right? You just translate your ads and keywords and launch, correct? No!

Yes, there are lower click costs, lower conversion costs and new customers to be engaged through PPC outside of the US. But, guess what? These countries and regions have their own languages, own phrases, and their own calls to action.

Here are some tips and tricks to optimizing your campaigns abroad:

  • Utilize Google’s Ad Preview Tool: The preview tool allows you to run a search and see the search engine results page (SERP) from just about any geographical region including country, city, region or postal code. I particularly like using this tool to see what competitors are advertising in different countries. Are they translating their ads or hoping English is recognized? Are they using keywords we use in the US or something different?
  • Don’t Speak a Foreign Language?: Find someone that does! If you’re launching in a foreign language country, run your ads in that language. Don’t assume English will be recognized. Your impression will be much more powerful when viewed in the in-country language. If you don’t have a representative in that country, consider using a translation service of some kind. Don’t risk using incorrect dialect or phrasing – languages are taken very seriously and a mis-step here will hurt your campaign.
  • Watch Results Early: I find the first few days or weeks to be the most important. If you’re seeing poor results early on keywords that perform well in the your home country than most likely there is a variation or different word meaning the same thing. Find that word or phrase quickly! This recently happened to me in the UK. I launched a new ad group with the new keyword and a couple ads utilizing the more common phrase.
  • The Landing Page: My feeling is that the landing page should also be translated to match the language of the ad. I’m finding that bounce rates are very low and call-to-action clicks are much higher on the landing page when visitors are greeting in their language. Does the whole conversion path need to be translated? No. But I think the first page should.
  • Watch Your Costs: I’ve yet to find higher cost-per-click (CPC) numbers than in the US. So far, every country I’ve gone into is less. With that said, there have been some surprises. Higher cost, highly competitive keywords usually mean there is demand. Think about adjusting ad copy to match that highly competitive keyword. Your clicks should go up and costs should go down with the more relevant ad copy.
  • Learn From Your Results: Don’t underestimate the research value of your analytics results. You can learn alot about the behavior of your target audience by how they interact on the SERP!

Whenever I do posts like this, I do a quick search in an attempt to find some additional information on other sites or even different points of view from my own. But, I could not find much on paid search outside of the US. Here is what I came up with:

Do you have any good content I could add or is PPC not being utilized outside of the US? Your thoughts?

Google’s BtoB Knowledge Center Worth A Look

Category : paid search, search engine marketing


I had received an email from The Google Adwords Team a while back and am just now getting around to opening it. The email introduced their new Tech B2B Knowledge Center meant to give tips and tricks to B2B Adwords Advertisers.

The site has a slight focus towards tech advertisers, but after looking through all of the content, I’d say it could easily apply to other B2B markets as well. Some of what can be found out there are tips for:

  • Getting started with paid search
  • Getting better clicks
  • Optimizing for better ROI

A link to the B2B Newsletter included more information on business blogging and optimizing landing pages for search. Along with that came a few case studies of successful company campaigns.

Overall, I came away with a few thoughts here and there. If you’re an advanced PPC user, than this might be too beginner, but for new advertisers I would suggest taking a look.

Search Marketing is Creeping….

Category : paid search, search engine marketing


For those of us interested to see search marketing integrate with our other business resources, the news that Google and Salesforce.com are forming an alliance is great news! Those of you that read this blog often know I’m a huge fan of paid search. Seeing Google Adwords integrate itself into a CRM means tighter integration between sales and our online marketing efforts.

Plus, tools combining like this means we’ll have more ways to watch and track the ROI from our marketing dollars. I bet we see more and more of these alliances in the next year. Companies are realizing the benefits of search marketing (SEM) and social marketing (SMM) and will be looking for ways to streamline efforts with other business applications.

Stay tuned!


Thanks to Jon Miller’s contribution via his comment below, I came upon a story up on his company’s website offering another viewpoint. Beta-testing Marketo’s Adwords tool has brought me to pay more attention to search marketing and CRM integration. You’ll want to check out his site for the main points he makes in his comment.

Paid Search Can Be About Branding

Category : branding, paid search


Here is an actual conversation with a trade show attendee at a recent show: (Attendee approaches booth and engages us in conversation)

Attendee: I see your ads all the time and thought I’d stop by and see your products.
Me (digging for info)
: Thank you! Do you mind me asking where you see our ads?
Attendee: I’m a fairly new IT Manager setting up a new network and I’m constantly searching on Google and Yahoo for data networking info. I always seem to see your ads. You guys seem to have just about everything I need.
Me: Can you speak a little louder into the microphone? My review is coming around.

Yes, I did say that and no, he didn’t laugh. Maybe he didn’t quite understand that I live for hearing one of my paid search (PPC) target audience members utter the words that he thinks we have everything he needs because he sees our ads at the right time and in the right place. Although the joke bombed, he stuck around and we got a decent lead.

Where paid search is concerned, I divide my audience into two groups – those that have been touched by our brand and those that have not.

Don’t Know our Brand

I have sets of ads that are focused on keywords that are brand indifferent. These searchers want answers and they’re willing to hear from multiple companies. I’m not as concerned with pushing the qualities of our brand here. I want these people to get to our site so my ads are filled with industry buzzwords that they need to hear in order to feel confident that we can provide the answers for which they’re looking. Some of our brand attributes might persuade them, but I think advertisers get a little quick on the trigger to promote brands to these searchers. Once to our site, our brand messaging plays more of a prominent role.

Know our Brand

I’ve seen some debate among paid search advertisers about the need to bid on trademark or branding keywords such as a company name or company product name. Put me in the camp that you absolutely should be advertising on these terms. Typically, these terms cost less and the amount of advertisers on the search engine results page (SERP) are less. I feel this is where you have a big opportunity to push brand attributes. You can further instill confidence with the searcher by building your brand. They already know you…now you can let them know why they should buy from you.

Don’t underestimate the branding power within paid search advertising! As always, I like to provide readers additional resources and opinions. Here are some relating to PPC and Branding:

New PPC Tool Worth Checking Out

Category : paid search


logo_marketo.jpgIf you’re a PPC (paid search) fan like me you’ll want to check out this new tool from Marketo. An announcement put out Monday talks about the official release of the Marketo Search Marketing tool. As stated on their website, the solution consists of two parts:

Marketo Pay-Per-Click
Marketo’s pay-per-click management software drives traffic to Web sites by improving the performance of pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. The solution uses a portfolio-based bid optimization algorithm to maximize business results for a target budget. It also enables marketers to make “what if” forecasts for leads and opportunities generated from search, to discover new, relevant keywords, and to continuously improve pay-per-click advertisements through rigorous A/B testing.

Marketo Landing Pages
Marketo’s landing page optimization software converts traffic into leads by letting users create, publish and test branded landing pages in minutes using an intuitive PowerPoint-like interface. Custom landing pages improve PPC campaign performance since relevant landing pages get better ranking and dramatically higher conversion rates. “

Jon Miller, Vice President of Marketing and the author of the Modern B2B Marketing Blog, contacted me a while back to participate in their beta program. So far, I’m very impressed with the functionality. I think the portfolio-based bid optimization algorithm could be very beneficial for small business marketers. I haven’t played around with the landing page tool, but after watching Jon’s demo of it I’m convinced many companies will find it useful.

Kudos to Jon and his team for a great PPC product! Plus, you have to check out their website – in my opinion it’s one of the best designs I’ve seen in awhile.

Deleting Keywords as Important as Adding Them

Category : paid search, strategy


Note to all PPC advertisers: Don’t forget to delete keywords!

I was encouraged to see the Google Inside Adwords Blog putting up a post that included strategy information for deleting keywords. Check it out if you get a minute. I’m a firm believer in deleting keywords that are priced too high or don’t convert with click-throughs well. In the article Stephanie Lim from the Optimization team says:

“If you are CTR focused, you may want to identify and delete keywords with high impression counts but low numbers of clickthroughs. These keywords may be too general or not relevant enough and are garnering many impressions but very few clicks. If you are conversion focused, you may want to identify and delete keywords that garner high costs but very few conversions. These keywords may be too specific and accrue very few impressions over a long period of time because very few people are searching on them.”

This is also a way for small business marketers not to toss away money at poorly performing keywords. My recommendation is to give all your keywords a try and make sure your ads are helping them, but don’t marry yourself to keywords. I’ve also fallen into the trap of wanting a keyword to work so I keep trying to make it work. I’ve stopped that bad trend and you should too!

Good article. There are additional tips apart from deleting keywords that make the article a good read.