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Google Launches New Ad Formats for the Holidays November 25, 2009

Posted by nadzent in Intermediate - SEM 201, Search Engine Marketing.
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Today Google launches a few new ad formats. Some are targeted to local advertisers, others to online retailers. It seems their timing is just right to get the kinks out before CyberMonday. This is Google fulfilling their promise to deliver the most relevant results to any search query. It also keeps the searcher on the SERP longer and creeps into non-Google-like territory.

What this means to advertisers is that you have more options than ever to reach Google’s audience through the AdWords platform. Once you grasp the basic auction-based ad model you can explore your creative options and varying strategies around ad targeting and what content is most important to your target customer. You can learn more at the Google Blog. Or please comment below and let’s open a dialogue.

I will watch the Google space over the Holiday weekend and on Monday in particular, and report back with whatever insight I can glean. Until then, Happy Thanksgiving!

5 Simple Ways to Improve Your SEM Results – Right Now November 11, 2009

Posted by nadzent in Intermediate - SEM 201, Search Engine Marketing, Strategy, Tips.
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OK. So you’ve set up a Google AdWords account. You’ve created a long list of keywords, asked your associates, friends and maybe even relatives, what sort of keywords they might use to find your product or service. You’ve written some witty ad copy and set your bids. You’ve seen some increased traffic to your site but not the high ROI you expected. In fact, the SEM experiment has turned out to be much more costly than you’d anticipated. Now what? How can you make this advertising model work for your business?

Fortunately, search engine marketing is flexible and responsive, and with a few simple tweaks you should see marked improvement in performance. Try the suggestions below and let me know how they worked out for you. If you have any questions please feel free to email me and we’ll see if we can work it out together, because this is what I love to do!

1. Brand and Category Campaigns:

When setting up your campaigns within the AdWords user interface, always begin with two: Brand and Category. Your Brand keywords will always perform differently than your Category keywords, and be priced differently as well. The competition on your Brand (i.e. Nonna’s Restaurant, Mr. Jones’ Video Rental, Mary’s Travel Agency, ABC Realty, etc.) keywords should always be less than on the more general Category type of words (i.s. travel, real estate, auto insurance, movies, restaurants, etc.). This means that your bids and CPCs will be lower and your position on the search engine results page will be higher. Typically, click through rates, conversion rates and ROI will be higher on these Brand keywords.

So what do you need to do? Separate your keywords into ad groups based on whether they are Brand or Category focused and then put those ad groups into Brand or Category campaigns. Allocate your budget between the two campaigns based on the amount of exposure you are willing to risk on each type of keyword, keeping in mind that Category keywords will offer a higher volume of impressions but Brand keywords will offer a higher click through rate (CTR). If your goal is to extend your brand awareness or introduce a new product, allocate more budget to the Category keywords. If you are looking for qualified site traffic and/or conversions, put more on the Brand keywords.

2. Thematic Ad Groups:

Group your keywords into tight thematic groups. The tighter the better. For example, if your business is selling insurance all keywords related to insurance quotes should be grouped together. Then, go one step further and break down the insurance quotes ad group into two ad groups, online insurance quotes and easy insurance quotes (assuming you have keywords that fit those criteria). Add one more layer of specificity – online insurance quote keywords that mention your Brand should be separated into their own group, Branded online insurance quotes. Each ad group will perform differently and the searcher, or consumer, will expect a different user experience based on their search. The search engines will reward you as well (see #3).

3. Ad Group-Specific Ad Copy:

After you have organized your keywords as described in #2, it will be easy to write Ad Group-Specific Ad Copy. By writing specific ad copy based on the search query you provide the user with the most relevant user experience. In addition, you will be rewarded by the search engine’s Quality Score algorithm (the thing that determines how much you actually pay per click and what position you are on the page). The more closely related your ad copy is to your keyword and your landing page (web site) content, the higher the Quality Score and the lower your cost per click (CPC).

Example 1 – Easy Insurance Quotes:

Easy Insurance Quotes
Get a quick, easy insurance quote.
Free quotes from a name you trust.
http://www.ABCInsurance.com

Example 2 – Online Insurance Quotes

Online Insurance Quotes
Get a free insurance quote online.
Free quotes from a name you trust.
http://www.ABCInsurance.com

4. Performance Tracking:

If you don’t track what is working and what isn’t how will you know what to change? You can use free performance tracking tools from Google or Yahoo! All it takes is a little skill at using the copy and paste function. Do this immediately!

5. Yahoo!, Ask, Bing – Go Beyond Google:

When we think of search who do we think of? Google, of course. And when advertisers divvy up their ad budgets, Google always gets a piece of the pie. What would happen if you look beyond Google for your online advertising? Well, you might find less competition, lower cost per clicks and higher conversion rates. Sure, your message won’t have the same massive reach as it might on Google, but your ROI or CPA might be a lot better. And if your budget is not unlimited why not take it where it can have a bigger impact on your bottom line?  If you get a great return on the other engines, great! Take what you learn and all that revenue from your efforts and reinvest it in Google. It’s the big fish in a small pond idea. I suggest trying Yahoo! Search Marketing first, though in some verticals you may find the CPCs are actually higher than on Google. Then branch out to Bing (MSN/Microsoft) and finally Ask.com.