Matt Van Wagner

Matt Van Wagner


About Matt Van Wagner

Matt Van Wagner is President and founder of Find Me Faster a search engine marketing firm based in Nashua, NH. He is also a member of the programming team for SMX events. Matt is a seasoned sales and marketing professional specializing in paid and local search engine marketing strategies for small and medium-sized companies in the United States and Canada. An award-winning speaker whose presentations are usually as entertaining as they are informative, Matt has been a popular speaker at SMX and other search conferences. He is a member of SEMNE (Search Engine Marketing New England), and SEMPO, the Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization, He is member and contributing courseware developer for the SEMPO Institute. Matt occasionally writes on search engines and technology topics for IMedia, The NH Business Review and other publications, He also served as technical editor for Andrew Goodman's Winning Results with Google AdWords and Mona Elesseily's Yahoo! Search Marketing Handbook.

Matt Van Wagner's latest articles

Google Ads

The PPC Experiment You Never Dare Run

A question that PPC account managers frequently have to deal with is, “Why are we paying for this traffic? Aren’t we going to get that traffic anyway?” It’s a fair question, even if it is completely annoying to hear for the twentieth time by the twentieth new accounting manager you’ve had to break in. No […]


What’s In Your SEM Toolbox? I’ll Show You Mine…

A question I get asked pretty often is, “What tools do you use for managing paid search ad campaigns?” I love this question, especially when there are other paid search managers within earshot. Everyone’s got their favorite tools and everyone wants to add their two cents’ worth.  More often than not, I go home with […]

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Goodbye Enhanced Campaigns, Hello Bing Ads

Dr Shah has observed a 6% CPC increase from March through May. The report goes on to forecast another 5-10% CPC increase over the next two quarters, compared with the CPCs in the same quarters in 2012. These increases are being driven in part by enhanced campaigns.

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Getting Away From Our PPC Campaigns This Summer

Having just finished marching in three parades and playing Taps at Memorial Day observances to honor our deceased veterans, I find myself looking forward to the more relaxed days of summer, and wondering how in the heck I can get away from my PPC campaigns this summer. It’s a pipe dream, I know, because PPC campaigns […]

Google Ads

The Enhanced Campaigns Waiting Game

Like many of my fellow PPC colleagues, I feel uneasy about the impending move to Enhanced Campaigns and the lurking cutover deadline of July 22nd. Should we convert now and get it over with? Should we run a few tests with our smaller, simpler accounts? Should we abandon tightly-crafted, geo-segmented campaigns in favor of the new geo-bidding […]


How To Manage PPC Closely To A Budget

A few weeks ago, at SMX West in San Jose, George Michie of RKG, was talking about the challenges of managing enterprise-level PPC campaigns, and he made the interesting observation that you can either manage to ROI or to budgets, but not both at the same time. The context of George’s remarks was setting expectations […]


Enhanced Campaigns: Google’s Grand Unification Theory

Early last century, Albert Einstein turned the world of established physics upside down when he introduced his theories of special and general relativity. Newton’s Laws, which had successfully driven the work of physicists for hundreds of years, were usurped by Einstein’s new theories. At the heart of Einstein’s FIELD theories, which describe space-time, was his […]


The Zen Of PPC Campaign Reporting

Okay. It’s February. We’ve finally got all the year-end reporting and summaries for our clients done and delivered, and have set forth to meet our new plans and objectives for 2013 with big, fresh PPC budgets. And, except for the fact that it seems I am three months behind after only three weeks into the […]


A Search Marketer’s Guide To Google Display Advertising, Part 2

Last month, in A Search Marketer’s Guide to Google Display Advertising, I discussed recent changes to the Google Display Network (GDN) that are important to search marketers who use both search and display advertising to reach customers. This month, we’ll dig in and try to make some sense of GDN targeting options. Targeting Options On […]


A Search Marketer’s Guide To Google Display Advertising

Google has been hard at work again on the AdWords interface to the Google Display Network (GDN), adding all sorts of new feature and interface updates. Take a quick glance at the AdWords help files online and you may be surprised at how many of the GDN targeting help pages have been updated just within the […]


Paid Search Advertising Gets More Complicated In 2013

Last week, we assembled a group of paid search experts in NYC at the SMX East Conference for a conversation about where Paid Search Advertising was heading in 2013. I figured we’d hear some wild predictions about new mergers and buyouts, ad formats, campaign automation tools; and the usual whining about rising CPCs, Google’s quality […]


How To Look For Trouble & Find Opportunity In PPC Campaigns

As I start each day managing our PPC accounts, the same two questions always come to mind: “What problems do we have to address right away?” and “Where can we find more opportunities?” The more quickly I can get a handle on these two questions, the more quickly I can take appropriate actions. That’s why […]


The Current State Of PPC Keyword Match Types

I’ll start with a big thank you! It’s been a busy few months with advertisers and Google forcefully exchanging opinions back and forth on topics such as ad rotation, features needed/wanted in AdWords, and changes to keyword match types. In my column on the Google ad rotation change last month, I expressed my strong concerns about […]


Simple Tips To Make Miracles Happen In Your PPC Campaigns

Last week, millions of Americans flocked to buy a Mega Millions lottery ticket or ten, each hoping for their own personal miracle. This strategy worked for all of three people. Yesterday, in their annual homage to the April 1st prankster’s holiday, Google announced the miracle of a new ad technology, the AdWords Click-to-Teleport Ad Extensions which […]


Managing PPC Through The Fog Of Long Tail Keywords

PPC managers over the years have always struggled with the right number of keywords to have in their accounts. Should you build out a big inventory of long tail keywords, or keep your campaigns neat and tidy, with fewer terms that account for most of the volume? Honestly, I’d say that most accounts I’ve seen, and indeed, many […]


Tips For Managing Negative Keywords In PPC Campaigns

One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2012 is to do a better job of documenting our mature PPC campaigns, so that any new manager coming in can take advantage of everything we’ve already tested and learned from over the years, rather than repeating the same tests and/or mistakes we’ve already lived through. The AdWords […]

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7 Things On My Google AdWords Wishlist For Santa

Dear Santa, I hope you and Mrs. Claus are doing well. I have been an especially good advertiser this year, and so I hope you don’t mind that my asking for a few special gifts this year that will be greatly appreciated by all of us Google AdWords advertisers. Yrs Trly, Matt (P.S.  I hope […]


Using PPC Run Charts To Identify Problems & Opportunities

Back in the 70’s, when the World Wide Web was still just a glint in Tim Berners-Lee’s eyes, a pair of Stanford grads working out of their garage started a world famous technology company called Hewlett-Packard. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? What is it about Stanford students that makes them want to start businesses in their garages? […]


3 Great Questions That Can Improve Your PPC Campaigns

I hate people who claim to have all the answers. Well, okay, hate is a pretty strong word, so let me rephrase. People who are smarty-pants know-it-alls are ‘not my preference.’ On the other hand, I love people who ask great questions. Great questions are those deceptively simple questions that stop you in your tracks, […]


Tips For Spying On Your PPC Competitors

Spying is such a loaded word, isn’t it? Spying evokes images of stakeouts on dark streets, dumpster diving to dig up old phone records, elaborate electronic eavesdropping and bugged lampshades. In the corporate world, we prefer to use the softer, more professional reference to competitive intelligence gathering. What ever you prefer to call it, keeping track of competitors is […]


adCenter’s Transparent Quality Scores – Will Google Respond?

There’s an old adage that goes “It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it that counts.” Having been married for 31 years next month, I can attest to the simple, powerful truth of that statement. I feel the same way about the differences between Google and Microsoft’s approaches to quality score. For […]


3 Sure Signs Your PPC Campaigns Need Spring Cleaning

There is no mistaking the official arrival of spring in northern climes. I am not talking about the beautiful blossoms of the dogwood, apple and cherry trees, or the distinctive powerful fragrance of purple lilacs, our official state wildflower up here in New Hampshire. For me, the true sign of spring here in New England […]


How To Stay A Step Ahead Of Your Hungriest PPC Competitors

There’s an old story of two hikers who come across a hungry-looking bear in their path. The first hiker starts running for his life. The second hiker stops, sits down on a rock, takes off his heavy hiking boots off, reaches into his backpack and pulls out a pair of running shoes. The first hiker […]


Is It Time To Rethink Bidding On Trademarks?

Trademarks are in the news again. Last week, Microsoft announced an update to its trademark policy. Now, you can poach off your competitors’ trademarks by bidding on them as keywords on Yahoo and Bing, just like you’ve always been allowed to on Google. Okay, so now you can bid on someone else’s trademarks in both AdWords and […]


From Adwords To AdCenter: Cross Platform Compatibility, Part 2

This month, we continue our exploration of cross-compatibility issues between Google Adwords and Microsoft adCenter, and how understanding the subtle and not-so-subtle differences, PPC campaigns managers can design and build portable and easier-to-manage campaigns that take both networks into account. In last month’s column, we explored strategies for dealing with negative keywords and made a […]


How To Develop Cross PPC Platform Strategies Using Negative Keywords

Managing PPC campaigns became a little easier last year when the Yahoo platform was retired and replaced with Microsoft’s adCenter. Now, instead of three sets of rules for keyword match-types, text ad rules, and so on, we now just have just two, with adCenter and AdWords, which, thankfully, share a lot of common characteristics. Of […]


How To Fight PPC Campaign Brain Fatigue

December can be a tough month for paid search campaign managers. On one hand, it’s a time to be tightly focused on hour-by-hour tactical engagement with our PPC campaigns to make sure we have a strong holiday selling season to make up for an otherwise lackluster year. At the same time, this is also the […]


Black Friday? Bah! Cyber Monday? Humbug!

We are now just days away from the “official” start of the 2010 holiday shopping season with those two notorious leading economic indicators, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, ready to jump-start the season even before we’ve cleared the table from our Thanksgiving dinner. I am going to go out on a limb here and predict […]


Surviving The Impending Yahoo-Bing Ad Transition

After a year of planning, engineering and collaboration by teams at Yahoo and Microsoft, it’s go time for the search alliance. Within two weeks we’re told, all paid search ads appearing on Yahoo will be powered by Bing through Microsoft’s AdCenter servers. For members of the search alliance team, these next two weeks will almost […]


How Google Saved $100 Million By Launching Google Instant

It seems fitting that from the moment it was announced, Google Instant became an instant headline news story. For the past few week, industry pundits have been talking, tweeting and writing about Google Instant and offering their theories on its implications for SEO and paid search. On one hand, there are Googlers like Marissa Mayer […]


Back to School Time: A Refresher Course on Writing Great Ads

In this month's column, we'll take a quick refresher course on what goes into writing great ads and then we'll evaluate a few recent ads to see if they make the grade. Well-written ads define your brand, differentiate your products from competitors, give searchers important information about your features and benefits and create long-lasting competitive advantages for your campaigns.


PPC Mad Scientists Prove Google Right… And Wrong

At the SMX Advanced 2010 conference in Seattle, we invited four leading paid search experts to share some of their recent experiments in paid search in a new session entitled The Mad Scientists of Paid Search. The panelists were encouraged to add a bit of academic rigor to their presentations by including their hypotheses, design […]


Pitfalls Of A/B Ad Testing, Part 3

Over the past two months in this column, I’ve discussed some of the pitfalls of A/B ad testing, and in this third and final installment, I’ll discuss a new PPC ad optimization model I’ve been working on and have lovingly entitled, the Van Wagner Ad Sets Optimization Model. The model is completely new and thoroughly […]


The Pitfalls Of A/B Ad Split Testing, Part 2

In last month’s column, Pitfalls of Paid Search, Part 1, I raised the question of whether A/B Ad split testing, taken to the extreme, can be detrimental to ad group performance. Using the example of over-breeding of show dogs as an analogy, I suggested that our quest to discover the best ad of all time […]

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