Originally published on WebMarketCentral between August 2008 and January 2009.
Everything But Google: Alternative Search Marketing Options: SES San Jose by Search Engine Journal
Blogging a session on alternative search marketing outlets at the SES conference, Darrell Long provides bite-sized updates on pay-per-post (boo!), Superpages, Facebook, Quigo (interesting), ContextWeb, LookSmart, ASK (lower CPA than Google? hmm…) and MSN.
Why Google keywords cost more but deliver less by iMedia Connection
Dave McCarthy explains how Google uses its quality score to reward (or punish) advertisers, how to improve your quality score, and what types of landing page offers to avoid. All of which explains the interest in Darrell’s post above.
Killer PPC Ads: The Fundamentals by Search Engine Watch
An outstanding post from David Szetela that walks you step-by-step through the process of turning a boring, unproductive search ad into a “killer ad” that stands out and performs. Among his tips: speak directly to your audience, sell benefits not features, and use a clear call to action.
10 tips for scrutinizing paid search agencies by iMedia Connection
Noah Elkin offers thoughtful advice to organizations looking for search marketing help. Among his recommendations: think about your goals and budget first, so your needs are clear; think about the size of agency you’ll be most comfortable working with (“Do you want to be a big fish in a small pond, or a small fish in a big pond?”); and finding an agency that has experience solving your specific type of challenge is sometimes more important than finding one with similar industry experience.
Howard Sewell lists his ideal criteria for measuring the success of SEM campaigns. Of course, any search marketing program should do more than just generate clicks—without some measure of ROI, it’s too easy to spend money unproductively. Still, even Sewell admits that his list is an ideal that few if any programs fully meet. For example, “generates a cost per acquisition (CPA)…competitive with other advertising vehicles” is an extremely reasonable goal for almost any advertiser, while few organizations really have backend systems in place sophisticated enough to measure ROI on an individual keyword basis.
Optimize PPC Campaigns by SEM Scoop
A short but useful (particularly for SEM newbies) post on how to maximize results from paid search campaigns. Basically, 1) use keyword tools to help develop a solid list of PPC search phrases, which will be pruned over time; 2) test keywords, ads, landing pages—everything; and 3) understand and utilize broad, exact, phrase and negative matches.
The 5 Biggest Mistakes in PPC Testing by Search Engine Journal
The biggest mistake advertisers can make in an SEM campaign is not testing. Without full conversion tracking in place, there’s no way to measure ROI—and without testing, there’s no way to maximize return. Brian Carter notes both of those points and explains three other common PPC testing mistakes.
7 Tips to Save Money on Pay-Per-Click Campaign by Saad Kamal
Great advice on how to set up an AdWords program that produces positive ROI, though written more for newbies than seasoned pros. Among the recommendations here: understand keyword match types and use wisely, bid in odd amounts, and avoid the content network—at least until you have the search side performing effectively.
5 Keyword Strategies for B2B PPC Campaigns by High Rankings Advisor
Andy Komack offers five valuable, practical tips for improving web marketing results, such as “Users Do Not Search for ‘Solutions'” (so true!) and “Apply Your PPC Intelligence to SEO.” This is a relatively quick but highly worthwhile read.
Cookies, Milk & Kramer: Converting Visitors Into Buyers @ SES by aimClear Blog
Charlene Jaszewski, self-described “Internet Consultant and Word Wrangler Extraordinaire,” provides an excellent and detailed summary of presentations by Mike Moran, author of Do It Wrong Quickly; Michael Sack of Idearc Media Corp.; and Howard Kaplan, COO of Future Now. I particularly like this piece from Moran: “What can I change on my site to improve conversions? Answer: everything, and right now…Most of what we do is wrong. Everything we do is an experiment. Let the market tell you what works and what doesn’t. Tweak something every day. See how it performs. If it works, keep it. If it doesn’t, change it again.”
Challenges of Paid Search Marketing in 2008 by PPC Blog
PPC guru Gordon Choi outlines the challenges that pay-per-click advertisers will face as this space becomes more competitive, and provides strategies for addressing these challenges, including how to structure and retain PPC staff, monitor click fraud and write more effective ads.
Using PPC for Conquesting Your Competitor’s Brand Keywords by Search Marketing Sage
As Tad Miller explains, “‘Conquesting,’ as used in the Advertising Industry, is a means to deploy an advertisement for one’s products or services adjacent to editorial content relating to the competitor or the competitors’ products. In the online world it usually means bidding on your competitor’s ‘brand’ keywords on a Pay Per Click Advertising platform.” As a PPC tactic, it tends to have a high cost but also a high value per conversion. His post outlines five challenges of keyword conquesting along with six solutions to those challenges.
This post shows how to use the Google AdWords Search Query Performance Report to generate new keyword ideas as well as to identify negative keywords for exclusion from your campaigns.
Marketing lessons learned form pay-per-click analytics by John W Ellis
How PPC analytics take the guesswork out of marketing, providing precise, quantitative feedback on elements like ad messages, geo-targeting and keyword selection.
Olivier Silvestre provides guidance on optimizing landing pages, ad copy and keywords through the proper use of actionable SEM metrics.
Campaign Maintenance – Removing dead keywords by CDF Networks
A very brief post that doesn’t say a whole lot but provides an important reminder: while it’s important to experiment with new keywords to try to maximize campaign results, it’s also critical to periodically prune unproductive keywords in order to maintain high quality scores.
The Great (And Completely Ridiculous) ‘In-house vs. Outsourced SEM’ Debate by MediaPost Search Insider
Dave Pasternack hammers home the value of using an outside specialist firm for search marketing by looking at the possible reasons some executives might still believe their in-house teams can do this just as well. There is no explanation, however, for the incredibly wrongheaded statement about SEO in the last paragraph; typo?
Yahoo Smart Start – A Handy Guide For Yahoo Advertisers by Google Analytics Blog
PPC specialist Katherine Anderson recommends the downloadable Yahoo Smart Start manual as both a valuable guide for beginners and reference for experienced search marketers, saying “the book reaches out well to its target audience and addresses common concerns of new and experienced advertisers in an easy and understandable way.”
Google Analytics Keyword Sleuth vs Search Query Performance Report by Google Analytics Blog
Mark Curtis offers up a detailed comparison of these two helpful PPC keyword research tools. Both are free, but one is considerably faster and more thorough.
SEO and SEM Shortcuts, Spying and Stats to Dominate Google! by SiteProNews
Writer Michael Small supplies some now-slightly-out-of-date but still useful statistics on usage of the leading search engines as well as advice on tools to help improve both SEO and search marketing results.
The AdWords Content Network – Better Than Ever by PPC Discussions
Reflecting the experience of many search marketers, blogger Jeremy Mayes gives 10 reasons why the Google content network no longer sucks for advertisers. Thanks to improved quality of sites in the network, along with other factors, the content network can now provide reasonably good lead generation performance often for considerably less than the cost of search-driven conversions.
Whats the best keyword match type? by CDF Networks
Broad match, exact match, phrase match, negative match…ever wonder when to use which? This brief yet helpful post provides some answers.
Four Tricks to Gain An Unfair Advantage on AdWords by Search Marketing Standard
“Unfair advantage” may be stretching the case a bit, but author Andrey Milyan nevertheless presents four tactics that enhance your SEM results with Google AdWords.
With A/B Testing – You Don’t Think, You Know by Find Resolution
In this articulate and well-researched post, Jeff Campbell lays out a 10-step program for scientifically performing split tests to optimize campaign copy.
Why YOU fail with Google Adwords by SiteProNews
Leighton James ticks off ten common mistakes to avoid in PPC campaigns, from including too many poorly targeted keywords and failing to optimize landing pages to improperly using phrase matching options and modifying bids for the content network.
Avoid Scope Creep Money Pit SEM Jobs by aimClear Search Marketing Blog
In kind of an inside-baseball piece for search marketing agencies, Marty Weintraub shares his firm’s goals and scope document, which is designed to set clear expectations, avoid expensive scope creep and, in the end, make projects fair for both agencies and their clients.
PPC Automation: Robots vs Humans by StraightUpSearch
This post makes the case for using a real live PPC manager instead of PPC automation software. In practice, both are probably needed. Particularly for large, complex campaigns, automation software can improve efficiency and reduce total costs. But the software itself is just a tool; for best results, it needs to used in the hands of an expert search marketing professional who can use it to streamline tedious tasks while applying human judgment in areas such as optimizing ad copy and aligning SEM programs with overall marketing goals.
Pay Per Click Advertising Tip #11 – Conversion Tracking by semvironment
Okay, it’s kind of basic, but conversion tracking is essential to determining and optimizing ROI from search marketing programs. This post walks readers through the conversion tracking process on AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing and Microsoft adCenter.
Website Visitors Read Your Copy, Right? by Search Marketing Standard
Uh, no. Kevin Gold offers a couple of examples demonstrating that ad clickers don’t read landing page copy in detail. In other words, they respond to what they think the offer is rather than what it actually is. As with all other elements of search marketing campaigns, the key is to test, test, test landing page copy to not simply maximize leads but also disqualify resource-consuming non-prospects.
Writer Tim Schaden makes a compelling case that PPC efforts should precede and guide SEO efforts. Because PPC produces almost immediate results—while SEO changes need weeks to take effect—it’s the ideal testing ground for the productivity of various search phrases for a particular offering. Armed with analysis from PPC testing, SEO efforts can be focused on optimizing for the most valuable terms for a specific company, product or service.