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.

An Introduction To Paid Search Conversion Tracking

If you asked most marketers what's the biggest draw of online advertising, you’ll often hear is that it is highly measurable. Interactivity (the ability to click and engage) is certainly a huge benefit as well, but if you’re a marketer who is spending significant dollars on your advertising, just getting people to interact with your advertising is not as important as knowing if it was achieving whatever goals or return on investment (ROI) that the budget was earmarked for in the first place. Since the first caveman got rich by spreading a word of mouth campaign that his clubs were bigg [...]


Campaign Settings, Part 2: Location Targeting

You’ve loaded keywords and ads into the engines via the desktop tools and have begun to go in to the platforms and tweak the various settings we have at our disposal. Last week, we began a dive into these settings that included ad rotation, dayparting, delivery method, etc. This week, we’re focusing on a single feature of the PPC platform, location targeting—also called geo-targeting. In general, location targeting lets you pinpoint the geographic areas you would like your ads to be shown in. How location targeting works It varies from engine to engine, but, as with last we [...]


Take Control Of Your Campaign Settings

Last week, in three easy steps, you uploaded your keywords and ads into your engine accounts. If you did it correctly, you will now have everything posted inside the engine platforms. Now it’s time to check and tweak the settings to ensure that your paid search campaign will launch exactly as you planned. Today, we’ll focus on the settings available to you in Google AdWords, as Microsoft and Yahoo are merging their paid search platform solutions and it's not entirely clear yet how that will all end up working. But first, a couple of notes. Some of these settings can be handled fr [...]


3-2-1: Launch! Uploading Your Paid Search Account

You’ve done the research. You’ve done the build. Now it’s time to launch! Step #1: Get an engine account If you don’t already have one, the first thing you’re going to need is an engine account. It's fast and easy to sign up with any of the three major engine platforms via these pages: Google AdWords Yahoo Search Marketing Microsoft AdCenter Use the self-service option with a credit card if your accounts are going to spending less than five thousand dollars each month. If you’re going to be spending more than that, contact the engines directly via the contact [...]


PPC Academy: A Midyear Recap

Well, the first half of this one-year search advertising course is in the books! This column was an idea that I hatched, and thankfully, SearchEngineLand.com’s executive editor, Chris Sherman had also been thinking about something similar, so the timing at the end of last year couldn’t have been better. So far, it’s been a wonderful experience. Not only has the column garnered some great reTweet love, but I have personally received more positive feedback on this column than any of my previous writing efforts. As well, I’ve been able to go back through my own fragmented, self-ta [...]


Two Advanced Tactics For PPC Copywriting

I received some great tips from SEM pros after my last two posts regarding paid search copywriting (The Left Brain Of Paid Search Ads: Parameters & Limitations and The Right Brain Of Paid Search Ads: Tips & Tricks For Creative Ad Copywriting). For example, one person offered the great tip to use a question as your copy. Think about it—what’s more engaging: Buy Cubs Tickets or Need Some Cubs Tickets? What about: Car Loans or Do You Need a Car Loan? Another person mentioned that smaller ads, ones that don’t take up the full character limits, might stand out on a SERP with your competi [...]


The Right Brain Of Paid Search Ads: Tips & Tricks For Creative Ad Copywriting

Last week we went through the left brain’s parameters and limitations of paid search ads. Frankly, you have to have a deep understanding of what’s allowed by the search engines in terms of copywriting to allow the creative juices to flow. Most people understand the character limits (25 character title, 35 character display URL, etc.), but there’s a lot more to successful search advertising than understanding the rules. Check out last week’s post just to make sure you’re really up to speed on specific editorial policies or even better, review the engine help guides on this topic. [...]


The Left Brain Of Paid Search Ads: Parameters & Limitations

As we’ve learned through this column, the three basic building blocks of paid search marketing are keywords, ads, and landing pages. For the next few posts, we’ll be focusing on the ads part of the equation. Next week, we’ll discuss the right brain of search—the creative side—but, first, you need to know the left brain’s parameters and restrictions of the medium. Ad parameters Ads can contain 25 characters for the title, 70 characters for the ad text and 35 characters for a display URL (all including spaces). On Google and Bing, this is displayed on four lines: a t [...]


Introducing The All-Important Quality Score

Throughout this column, the phrase "Quality Score" has popped up on different occasions. Understanding Quality Score is fundamental for successful paid search campaigns, but can be a difficult concept for beginners to understand. So the time has come to cover this topic so you can use Quality Score to your advantage and not fall into its traps. The early days before Quality Score In the beginning of paid search, auctions existed in a purely capitalistic marketplace where the advertiser who was willing to pay the most for a keyword was awarded first place, the second highest-paying adv [...]


Understanding Keyword Match Types

In paid search marketing, users searching on specific keywords will trigger ads by advertisers who have indicated those keywords are relevant to their business by participating in the auction on those terms. Beyond just bidding, though, there are many variables that come into play which you can use to tactically enhance the effectiveness of your online campaigns. One of the most important tactics to understand as a search engine marketer is how keyword match types work. Let’s say your advertiser is a bank who offers a special high-yield checking account that they’d like to let consu [...]


Things To Consider When Organizing Your Ad Groups & Campaigns

If you've been diligently following this column for the past three weeks of keyword posts, your list should be quite large by now. You’ve exhausted all of the research resources available and basically looked under every rock you could find (and then some) to find terms that might have even the slightest relevance to your advertiser’s target audience. Now you have the laborious task of organizing this list into ad groups and campaigns. There are so many things to consider when grouping keywords. Here are some hard-earned tips, tricks, and best practices that I can share with you help [...]


The Giant List Of Keyword Tools

We’ve talked a lot about keywords in the last few weeks. We went over how to drill down and uncover your core list and then how to take those top terms and generate many variations of those terms using keyword modifiers. At this point, you should have a fairly well-developed keyword list, but there’s always a chance to expand and find new terms, new iterations, new misspellings, new topics, etc. One of the most common questions I am asked is about which tools I use for keyword generation. Well, here you are! Right from my own Firefox bookmarks folder. I've certainly shared some of [...]


PPC Magic: 3 Steps To Turning Hundreds Of Keywords Into Millions

A couple of weeks ago in this course, we talked about The Blueprint Of The Modern Paid Search Account and what factors affect the way we build keyword lists. Basically, the long tail approach dictates that we not only use high-search volume, general terms, but also load up our accounts with many, many niche terms—the theory being that these tail terms are cheaper due to less competition and also more relevant so they drive higher engagement with users. I've seen campaigns with a few hundred terms perform very well. I've also seen campaigns with millions of terms perform poorly. R [...]


Keyword List Building 101

After doing all of your research, you now have a pretty good crop of data to sift through. Remember, during the Research Phase, we collected every keyword we found during our various investigations. Check out this article for a comprehensive recap of Research Phase posts from this column regarding PPC research. Some of sources used for the initial keyword research were: The kickoff meeting with the client A preliminary search of the major engines Previous (or current) paid search campaigns The advertiser’s site(s) and competitor sites The advertiser’s site level web analyt [...]


The Blueprint Of The Modern Paid Search Account

Last week, we went through a series of frequently asked questions that often come up before launching a PPC campaign. But there are some things you still need to know at this stage in the game that will dramatically increase your understanding of paid search and will certainly give you more direction and confidence to begin the Build Phase of PPC. Two foundational concepts of PPC account creation are the buying cycle and the long tail. Master these concepts and you will be on the road to mastering search engine marketing. Concept #1: The buying cycle The buying cycle is not a new c [...]


10 Crucial Questions Before Building Your PPC Campaign

Congratulations! You have completed the Research Phase of your advertiser’s PPC account. You should already have a ton of data on your advertiser’s keyword landscape, including details about your preferred keywords, competitor campaigns, ads and landing pages that are being used in paid search marketing efforts relevant to your category of interest. Now begins the fun part of building the actual elements of your campaign—the keyword list, the ad groups, the campaigns, the ads—in short, everything needed to launch your paid search program. Before we start, let’s revie [...]


Paid Search Research In Action

Because this column, PPC Academy, is a one-year search advertising course, it made sense to spend the first few months on research. In the real world of tight deadlines and downsizing, it can be easy to want to do everything quickly, but deep research can yield tremendous dividends for your account so it’s important not to overlook this step. It can literally be the difference between success and failure. Train yourself to not dismiss any data until everything’s been collected as you never know what’s important until you have the complete picture. It’s easy to delete data once it [...]


Build Out Your PPC Toolbox With Non-PPC Tools

Here are some tools that aren’t specifically related to paid search, but are nonetheless valuable additions to your your search marketing research toolset.


Essential Competitive Intelligence Platforms For Your PPC Toolbox

It’s important to keep a well-stocked search marketing toolbox. Third party technology vendors offer a wide variety of discovery and management tools and are absolutely vital in the research phase. A few weeks ago we took a look at some tools that allow you to upload and then track keywords on major search engines to give you visibility on when your advertiser’s ads are showing up, how often, and who the other players are in that keyword landscape. This week, we’re going to check out some competitive intelligence tools that can help take your research to the next level. At this po [...]


Using Web Analytics For Paid Search Research

You’ve now learned a lot about the keyword landscape of your advertiser. You know their goals for paid search marketing, what their expectations are from you and how to best proceed. You also have some of the logistics down such as timing, budget, an initial keyword list and who their competitors are. Last week, I dove into some of the keyword monitoring tools on the market and how they can help during the research phase. This week, I’ll focus on how an advertiser’s very own web analytics tool can help discover more intel that will help you with their paid search campaign. In shor [...]


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