Paid Search looks at search advertising programs and how to most effectively use them. Columnists cover topics such as bid management, managing multiple campaigns, search ad copy tips and landing page quality issues and other subjects.

AdWords Bid Management And Account Structure Mistakes To Avoid

google-adwords-numbers-featured On my one-year anniversary of working as an AdWords practitioner instead of a Googler, Brad Geddes interviewed me about Quality Score for his WebmasterRadio.fm show, Marketing Nirvana. He asked for my thoughts on AdWords now that I'm a user rather than someone building it, and I thought that was a great question and one worth covering in this month's column. I've always had plenty to say about the most common mistakes advertisers make, but now that I'm auditing accounts more in-depth and managing a few myself, there are some new mistakes I've seen that I think are worth sharing so that you [...]


A Paid Search Christmas Carol: Learn From The Ghosts Of SEM Past, Present & Future

shutterstock_119305342-bahhumbug ‘Twas the night before Christmas in the search marketing department and SEM Director Scrooge was heading out hours before his staff. “Director Scrooge,” said one of the young SEM analysts, Tiny Tim. “It’s Christmas Eve. The gang and I wanted to know if we could get a paid search management tool for the holidays so we can program bid changes and ad scheduling, as well as automate the optimization based on our ROI goals? I promise we’ll check on our campaigns remotely at home.” Bah, Humbug! “Bah, Humbug,” grunted Scrooge as he locked up his office. “We don’t need to sp [...]


4 Trends Paid Search Marketers Must Address In 2014: Audience, Relevance, Social & Mobile

Mobile Devices Upon revisiting last year's post on this topic, a couple of our bold predictions flopped and a couple turned out to be more reality than fantasy. Though we didn't see Apple monetize the search results served up by Siri, we did see ad formats evolve to increase relevance and user engagement. The inclusion of ad extensions as a factor in ad ranking and the expansion of Product Listing Ads (PLAs) to show on smartphone devices were less a result of explicit user feedback, as we had predicted, but more based on user behavior. Nonetheless, the changes have spawned a richer and more engaging ad ex [...]


Default Campaign Settings In AdWords — The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

google-adwords-featured Fellow SEM experts, how many times has this happened to you? A newbie joins your company (or a company with which your SEM agency is working) and is convinced that he is an SEM master. He's read a few SEM books, attended a conference or two, and gone through the AdWords tutorials, after all. It's just keywords and text ads! In a worst-case scenario, this genius has enough confidence to convince folks higher up in the organization that he can truly make positive improvements to the path of the company's SEM fortunes and suddenly has some control over the campaigns. My favorite example of thi [...]


Staying Competitive In PPC: Learning From Black Friday’s Most Popular Offers

black-friday-cash-mouse-featured The five-day Black Friday weekend from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday provided an insightful glimpse into how retailers are running their PPC strategies for the holidays. Particularly interesting are the variety of offer types run by retailers, ranging from the expected free shipping to 2-in-1 offers which include two offers in the same ad. Since shoppers were expecting to see a retailer's best deals during that weekend, we wanted to see just how far retailers were willing to go to get the sale. Using search engine results data gathered by Lighthouse (a partnership between The Search Monit [...]


3 Components Of Geo-Targeting Excellence For 2014

Google Enhanced Campaigns Smart use of the geo-targeting controls through Enhanced Campaigns in AdWords will prove to be the single largest opportunity for paid search marketers in 2014. Geo-targeting is nothing new. It has been a foundational element for local and regional businesses since the very early days of AdWords. What Enhanced Campaigns gives us is the ability to take a very sophisticated approach to geo-targeting and apply dynamically calculated bid modifiers at unprecedented scale. Up to this point, advertisers with substantial keyword lists operating over a range of geographies have had to take one of [...]


Don’t Dismiss Broad Match: It’s Come A Long Way

Broad match adoption impact on vertical industries within Bing Ads. A red car is a red car. Unless it's a maroon sedan. Or a crimson convertible. Or a burgundy truck. Or, for that matter, a red car. Search marketers know that bidding for exact search terms -- a [red car], for instance -- yields a high degree of precision, reaching searchers who are very specific with their query. But what about searchers that mean [red car], but choose to use different terminology? Or who perhaps even misspell what they are looking for? That's where broad match search comes in. Broad match uses search algorithms to determine when a user query is related to a marketer [...]


Traffic: How To Analyze Quantity Vs. Quality

google-adwords-featured1 Google has released some great traffic-boosting campaign types over the last year, such as dynamic search ads and product listing ads (PLAs). While it's great to be bringing in this additional traffic year-on-year, it's important to analyse this traffic increase against Analytics metrics to ensure that the quality of your traffic is also improving. Are You Checking Your Year-On-Year Data? It is easy to get distracted with week-on-week and month-on-month data, but you really should be looking at the bigger picture and seeing what's going on year-on-year. If you're not sure how to go about che [...]


3 Must-Dos For Landing Page Testing

multivariate-testing Great landing pages do not happen overnight or as a lucky happenstance. They are developed through many rounds of testing -- some successful, some not. My experience with conversion improvement efforts and landing-page testing has taught me three critical lessons that apply, regardless of the type of company or conversion: Don't settle for the first big win Run both A/B and Multivariate (MVT) tests Nothing is too small to test Below I’ve compiled results from several landing-page tests to help illustrate these three key points. 1. Don't Settle For The First Big Win Even if yo [...]


10 Things RTB Rookies Can Learn From SEM Vets

ppc-paid-search-200px If I were to describe to you a digital media channel in which marketers bid on ad inventory in an auction-based model, would you think of paid search? Of course! But this also describes the relatively new online display category of real-time bidding (RTB) in which banner impressions are sold in a similar fashion. eMarketer recently released Programmatic Advertising Forecast and Future Growth Trends, in which it projects that RTB digital display ad spending in the US will reach $9.03 billion by 2017 and will represent 29.0% of total U.S. digital display ad spending. Although RTB has been [...]


When Should You Overhaul Your PPC Account Structure?

Don't you feel smarter? Let's start by looking at a hypothetical scenario: You've just been put in charge of a PPC account -- either in-house or as part of an agency shakeup. It's an account with a lot of history, and it is hitting goals, but... After a few days spent familiarizing yourself with this account, you come to the conclusion that it's not structured the way you would like. You sense a lot of opportunities for improvement: ad groups with too many keywords, budgets being eaten up by broad terms, keywords cannibalizing traffic from each other... and so on. It's at this point you need to come to a decision [...]


Meet Bing Ads Express: The Auto-Pilot PPC Solution For Small Businesses

bing ads express logo When it comes to marketing for small businesses, PPC is among the most leveraged and most profitable marketing channels out there. With smart PPC insights and some time spent on ongoing optimization, PPC can drive a ton of valuable leads and sales! Unfortunately, that's also the challenge. With so many new PPC features being released every week and a general lack of time among small business operators and marketers, advertisers often get tripped up and make all sorts of rookie mistakes. As a result, small businesses often fail to realize the full potential of paid search engine marketing. [...]


Black Friday – A Cautionary Tale From An Online Retailer

Trendline shows how Harry & David's 2012 Holiday season was expected to play out. Editors' note: This column has been removed because retailer Harry & David apparently threatened legal action against a former employee quoted in the article. The company apparently claimed that, despite her having been given permission to speak about these issues at a public gathering, in hindsight, the company doesn’t want them discussed. We like that former employee, so we’ve pulled it down for the moment as a courtesy to her rather than because of any demand that Harry & David made to us. [...]


3 Ways AdWords Scripts Will Make Your Holidays Merrier

bing-ads-google-adwords-featured The holidays are officially upon us, and if you're reading this, I must give thanks to you for your time. When I still worked at Google, this was the time of year when new product launches came to a crawl since most advertisers were too busy to deal with change, and only the most persistent product managers would dare mess with the way AdWords worked, lest they face the risk of angering advertisers that had spent months getting everything ready for Cyber Monday. This is also a time to be thankful for our family and friends and spend more time than usual with the people we like and those [...]


Optimizing For Seasonality: 4 Critical Paid Search Strategies

Holiday Snowflakes November and December are the most seasonal months for search marketers. For retailers, this holiday shopping period continues to be the most profitable time of the year. In fact, in 2012, over $42 billion was spent online by consumers in these two months alone, a 14% increase over 2011. For other online advertisers, however, the holiday season represents a significantly quiet period as consumers shift their focus toward retail shopping. Regardless, seasonal shifts in customer behavior throughout the year, such as during the holidays, influence ad performance and result in opportunities [...]


How & When You Can Turn SEM From A Checkbox To A Core Business Component

check mark Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is no longer a "nice to have" for businesses, but rather a "must have." This wasn't the case 10 years ago, when SEM got dumped into the "test budget" if there was any money left over after TV, radio, print, out-of-home, display, email, SEO, PR and sponsorships. It turns out, however, that simply having room in the marketing budget does not mean that SEM is truly valued by C-level executives -- or often, even by the VP of Marketing. Broadly speaking, I've found that there are two types of companies: companies where SEM is core to their business, and companie [...]


Getting A Better Read On The Value Of Smartphone Paid Search

google-adwords-mobile-featured The increasing ubiquity of mobile devices has been a mixed blessing for paid search advertisers. On the one hand, most industry stats show smartphones and tablets driving nearly all Internet traffic growth, while volume from traditional desktop and laptop computers has begun to fade. But as more consumers have taken to using new devices for browsing the Web, their propensity to buy products or otherwise convert still appears much weaker on smartphones than it does on computers or tablets. This has left many advertisers facing a marketplace where their fastest growing audience is often their [...]


How Recent Organic Search Changes Will Affect Paid Search

changes-ahead-exit-sign Search marketers were pitched not one but two curveballs recently which have forever reshaped the landscape of search engine optimization (SEO). The industry saw the first one coming a mile away as Google began encrypting organic search queries two years ago. Now, there's almost zero visibility into the organic keywords which drive visitors to websites (other than what is offered in Google Webmaster Tools). Understanding the granular relationship between a website and its organic keyword traffic has been the core of modern SEO. Without this deep level of insight, it becomes clear that or [...]


Case Study: How Should You Be Using RLSAs?

RLSA Set Up If you were paying attention, you might recall that Google launched Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSAs) at the end of June this year. Now that we've had a few months of experimenting with how to best make use of this feature, we've managed to come to some interesting preliminary conclusions. First, let's revisit a couple of the basics: What Are RLSAs? RLSA campaigns use your remarketing lists to remarket to users on the Search Network. In layman's terms, if someone has been to your website before, you can now use RLSA to set up a separate strategy for targeting them on Google.com an [...]


3 Tips To Fine-Tune Your Paid Search Program For The Holidays

holiday-stockings-300x114 With Black Friday and Cyber Monday around the corner, it is high time search marketers got their paid search program ready to scale up efficiently. In this column, I'll outline and dive into three tips you should consider to get the most from the holidays in paid search. [caption id="attachment_175738" align="alignright" width="300"] Modified stock image used by permission from Shutterstock[/caption] From my experience, most of the success during that time of the year really comes from only three things: building out seasonal campaigns to best leverage incremental search queries; rotatin [...]


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