PPC Academy is a comprehensive, one-year search advertising course from beginning to end. Starting with the basics, PPC Academy progressively explores all of the varied facets of paid search, and the tactics needed to succeed and become an advanced paid search marketer.

PPC Academy Final Exam: Test Your Paid Search Knowledge

Here we are. I hope your time here at PPC Academy was productive and you learned a lot because it’s now time for your final exam. Were you paying attention? Have you bloomed into a search marketing pro with the knowledge and skills to kick major PPC butt, or do you still have things to learn? Below are 35 questions that test the most important concepts you should have learned from this one-year PPC course. If you missed any posts, here’s the course guide. Answers follow the questions. How good are you? 0-5 correct answers: Novice. Go back and read all of these posts again. [...]

PPC Academy: Complete Course Table of Contents

Well, here we are. A year in the books! Thank you for reading this one-year paid search course—I hope you got a lot out of it. I know that it was a great exercise for me to spend time really organizing my thoughts into a structured format. So much of search engine marketing is self-learning via sites like SearchEngineLand.com, attending trade shows and conferences and talking with peers. There are also some great books on the subject, and I urge you to keep learning! In the effort to make this column a better resource for you all, below is a "chapter by chapter" guide of the posts from th [...]

A PPC Marketer’s Code Of Conduct

This week, instead of discussing specific paid search tactics, I'd like to take a broader look at how you can become a better professional search engine marketer. In short, there are some ethical ways to conduct yourself as a paid search pro that you should embrace. These aren't necessarily just my own opinions, but rather how I think the search community as a whole feels towards PPC ethics. However, if you want to grow your career (or your business), win and keep good clients, and be a good-standing member of the SEM community, you'll want to keep these "core principles" in the back of your [...]

A Display Ad FAQ For Paid Search Marketers

Last week, in An SEO FAQ For Paid Search Marketers, we went a bit out of bounds for this column, which is a one-year course for learning PPC. However, I made the case that as a search marketer, you’re still an online marketer and it helps to know a bit more about the other sub-disciplines that are cousins to paid search, such as SEO, email, social media and so on. Overall, I think that it’s safe to say that you’ll be a better search marketer by learning more about the big picture of digital marketing. Today we’ll continue on this trek and talk about display advertising. Whereas p [...]

An SEO FAQ For Paid Search Marketers

Earlier in January in this column’s introductory post, Welcome To PPC Academy, A One-Year Paid Search Course, I said that this would be a column strictly about PPC. Well, if you’ve been reading this year, you know that I lied. The scope expanded to include some of the fringe disciplines including analytics, contextual targeting, placement targeting, etc. Before this column ends, however, it’s important that I also expose you to some of the other pieces of the puzzle so that you are a well-rounded online marketer. One of these other competencies is in search engine optimization (or [...]

How To Stay Current With The Swiftly Changing SEM World

Well, my friends, this column, a one-year search course is coming to an end soon. Hopefully, you’ve learned enough to manage and steward your own paid search accounts. For those of you already engaged in search engine marketing, maybe you learned a few extra tips and tricks that have helped you out through the year. This column has predominately focused on the execution side of SEM, but there’s certainly more to being a search engine marketer than running PPC accounts. This industry is constantly changing and it’s important to stay on top. Not only will you learn more to do your [...]

Optimize Your Site Lists On The Google Display Network

For the past month, this column has focused on the non-search triggered ad inventory available to you from search engines. Google AdWords offers two such products: content targeting (appearing on sites relevant to keywords you specify) and placement targeting (choose sites and placements for your ads to appear). The arena of these ads is the Google Display Network (GDN), the world’s largest adverting network with the potential to reach 70% of the internet audience in over one hundred countries and in twenty languages. Needless to say, there’s a lot of opportunity in the GDN. As a sea [...]

Step-By-Step: Choosing AdWords Placements

Continuing from last week’s introduction to placement targeting post, today we’ll discuss how you can set up one of these campaigns for your own account. Campaign Set Up Follow my Step-By-Step: Create An AdWords Content Campaign post from a few weeks ago to create campaigns, ad groups and ads. The big difference here is that you won't be using the automatic placement option to have AdWords marry your ads up to relevant content around the web using your keyword ad groups. Instead, for placement targeting, you’re going to choose the managed placement option and then pick the sites [...]

An Introduction To Google’s Placement Targeting

This column has primarily focused on paid search, but for the last few weeks, we’ve discussed contextual targeting using the engines. Today we’re going to dive into another non-search triggered product that Google offers, display targeting. Placement targeting, like content targeting allows you to access the largest ad network on the web, the Google display network (GDN), which reaches over 70% of the global internet audience and serves between six and seven billion ads each day. You can also go beyond three line text ads as image, flash and video ads are accepted on many sites. Ho [...]

Step-By-Step: Create An AdWords Content Campaign

In last week’s post, you were introduced to the concept of contextual targeting via the search engines. Let’s review: Contextually targeted ads are non-search triggered and do not appear on search engine sites, but rather on partner sites elsewhere on the web. Web publishers set up accounts with search engines to display ads on their sites (you may have seen Ads Powered by Google around the web). Inside the ad box a snippet of code scans the page every time it loads. This code determines what kind of content is on the page in a similar manner. Advertisers can reach these [...]

An Introduction To Content Targeting

We’ve spent virtually this entire year on buying paid search through the engines and now it’s time to dive into some of the other products that they offer for marketers. As a search marketer, you’ll be able to tap into some very powerful tools and ad inventory sources that can help supplement and compliment your current paid search efforts. One of the more successful non-search triggered products that the engines offer is content targeting. The major search engines have shown a very good track record for developing marketing services and have made partnerships with millions of publ [...]

PPC Testing Part 4: Google’s AdWords Campaign Experiments Tool

For those of you just getting into paid search, count yourselves lucky. You’re lucky not only to have landed in one of the hottest fields in marketing, but also lucky not to have gone though some of the major workflow frustrations that have now been addressed and fixed in the first ten years of paid search. One of the major advances that is now a luxury for search engine marketers is the wide availability of desktop editors such as Google AdWords editor, as well as Microsoft and Yahoo versions. "In my day..." (said in dusty old grandpa voice), we had to use the engine bulksheet uploaders [...]

PPC Testing Part 3: A Campaign Optimization Walkthrough

In the first two posts of this series (PPC Testing Part 1: The Ground Rules and PPC Testing Part 2: Optimization Cheat Sheet), the basic rules have been set and you’ve learned some of the optimization points you have to work with in order to gain more efficiencies in your accounts. However, for some, the thought of going into your accounts and making a bunch of changes might still be a bit intimating. I think most of us learn best by doing, so lets go through an AdWords optimization together. First, let’s review the PPC testing ground rules. You will them see displayed during the wa [...]

PPC Testing Part 2: Optimization Cheat Sheet

If you’ve been reading this column this year, you know that I have repeatedly pushed you to regard your campaigns as being in a continuous testing environment. Frankly, if you just load up some keywords and put down your credit card there’s a good chance you might just waste your money. Successful paid search requires a very systematic approach to evaluating your accounts, strategic bidding and a research mindset. But first, you need to have a clear understanding of what optimizations are even available to you to try. This all might be a bit intimidating those of you who are new to p [...]

PPC Testing Part 1: The Ground Rules

Repeat after me, then repeat again: success with paid search requires an always testing mindset. Why is this so important? I think that most of all, it is a continuous reminder that the difference between great search engine marketers and just good ones is that the great ones are always trying to get more efficiency from their accounts. They’re never satisfied because they know that even if they’re able to get an account humming through many optimizations, paid search is a constantly changing environment. Bids change. Competitors enter and leave the landscape. It’s never fixed, so [...]

Your Daily, Weekly & Monthly Paid Search Routine

Now that you have your paid search account up, running, and are able to pull basic reports, it’s time to start setting up your schedule for handling all of the various tasks required to truly steward a successful SEM program. The amount of work you’ll be putting in will mainly be dictated by the scope of work you and your advertiser (or boss) settled on before the account was launched. If this PPC account is supposed to be a big part of your job description, you’ll most likely be spending a lot of time working in it to ensure success. However, if you have several accounts under your s [...]

8 Crucial AdWords Reports For Measuring Success

Reporting is a very integral part of search engine marketing (and digital marketing in general). Of course, it's important to be able to show the return on investment (ROI) of the digital budget. However, by using reports to analyze performance, search engine marketers can optimize their accounts by changing bids, adding or pausing keywords, rotating in new ad copy, etc. Needless to say, it’s important to be very familiar with the reporting options that are available. Last week, in Step-By-Step: Your First Keyword Report, you learned how to pull your first PPC report at the keyword leve [...]

Step-By-Step: Your First Keyword Report

To really dive into the nitty gritty of your account performance, you’re going to have to generate some custom reports. That's because while the engine dashboards provide some top level data on your reports, they're too general and non-specific most of the time to be really useful. Today I’ll take you step-by-step through your first keyword report in Google AdWords. It’s not difficult, but I know that technology can sometimes be a little intimidating—and good reporting is crucial to your success as a search engine marketer, so it’s worth taking the time now and making sure that [...]

A Successful Launch—What Next?

So, you’ve actually launched a PPC account! Woo-hoo! I think back to that great IBM commercial from a few years ago where an anxious boardroom launches the company website and the first sale appears on the monitor. They all cheer. Then another sale. And another. The boardroom is going wild. And then, the sales counter starts to spin every second and the group stops. Suddenly, the ticker blurs wildly as the sales begin to mount up in the tens of thousands. The boardroom pauses in fright as the glee of new sales turns into paralysis as the realization that now the hard work begins. [...]

Ignition! Your PPC Launch Checklist

The big day has finally arrived. You, my friend, have put in the hard work to get to this point. Launch day. Congratulations! Hopefully, you haven’t pushed this off too far and are ready to go live with your PPC accounts. Before you launch, however, let’s make sure that you have everything in place. You’ve focused on detail, made sure that your campaigns are grouped well, your keyword list is comprehensive, and your ads are pure poetry ready to increase purchase intent upon any who dare to read them. Remember, search marketing is all about analyzing performance and then optim [...]

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