Welcome back to Infinite Web Chat! Last week we talked SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
On Episode 2 we are talking all things PPC (Pay Per Click). Click to listen above or you can read the transcript below. You can also subscribe on iTunes »
Here are Some of the Highlights:
- Pay per click marketing should be viewed is a long-term investment.
- PPC can be useful for several different goals, whether you’re launching a new service and need awareness or you’re launching a new website and want to drive traffic quickly and raise awareness quickly to get people to your website to learn about your new products or services.
- You must have clearly defined goals, content and a funnel for your PPC campaign.
- Define your target audience, keywords and budget.
- Ad campaigns must have a clear call to action.
- Tracking and analytics is key to determining your ROI and adjustments that need to be made.
- Following Google’s best practices will ensure you receive more [quality] traffic.
Episode Links and Resources:
Amy DeLardi: Welcome to episode two. This is Amy and LeeAnn. Last week, episode one, we talked about organic SEO. This week we are going to talk about Google advertising and pay-per-click campaigns. LeeAnn, you with me?
LeeAnn Holmberg: Yes, I’m with you. Hi, everybody.
Amy DeLardi: Before we get into the best practices and the budget and the quality score and some of the different things that we’re prepared to talk about today, let’s just talk about when to use Google pay-per-click advertising. LeeAnn, do you want to answer that first and then I’ll give my perspective on it?
LeeAnn Holmberg: Sure. It’s important, if you’re going to use PPC, pay-per-click marketing, that you are in it for the long game. I think it is something, when we are working with clients, we recommend a minimum of six months and we would love to see them commit to at least a year before we can have a fully optimized campaign and seeing them reach the goals that we define in the very beginning.
Amy DeLardi: Yeah. Often time people think it’s a quick fix and so they really don’t have the budget for it, if they’re a smaller business. They don’t understand that some keywords can be very competitive, which translates to very pricey, so they don’t have a budget to compete over a long period of time. We could get more into that in a little bit. Last week, again, we talked about organic SEO. I prefer that method of attracting leads and traffic to your website, but sometimes you need a more immediate gratification, whether you’re launching a new service and you need awareness to it or you’re launching a new website and you really want to drive traffic quickly and raise awareness quickly and get people to your website to learn about your new products or services.
That’s when I find that Google pay-per-click or PPC is a good alternative solution to driving more of that quick traffic and leads, especially if you have a certain conversion or a certain goal that you’re trying to hit. Often times I like to consult people to run that in tandem with organic SEO strategies. Again, talked about that in episode one. Have a listen if haven’t to that. Again, I think that Google pay-per-click has a use definitely.
It’s more of that immediate gratification or a tougher arena to play in or to get organic ranking in, but it also is competitive and it can get costly. Let’s get into best practices. You’ve decided that you really need to pay to play and you really need to get awareness to a product or service quickly and you’ve decided that you’re going to use Google pay-per-click as a strategy to do so. Where do you start?
LeeAnn Holmberg: Sure. I would suggest the very first thing is something you’ve already touched on, and that’s having a very clearly defined goal. If you’re going to run a campaign, it really needs to be focused on one specific goal. If you have more than one, then we would suggest, obviously, more than one campaign. It’s so important because we want the end user to have one experience and we need to keep them on track to do what we want them to do. We don’t want to muddy the water.
Your goal, it can be to drive traffic. Like Amy said, if you need that immediate, get people to your page, if we are looking for them to make a purchase, if it is to make a phone call or if it’s lead generation: we want their name and their email, but we have to pick one. If you give them too many options, then they’re going to be all over the place and they’re not going to stay on track. They’re going to go down a rabbit hole and you’ll lose them. That’s lost money for you and that’s not helpful.
We need that clear, defined goal. Then next, who do we want to be looking at these ads? We need to define who that target audience is. Part of that is working with our clients and listening to who their audience is. Then part of it is doing some research based on that so that we can help guide and direct them. One of the reasons that we suggest running these ads for a long time is we also get data back once the ads have been running.
Once that information starts to roll in, we may think that your audience is this group of people, but really we can narrow that focus down based on some of the data that we start to get back after your ads have been running for a good period of time. When we are starting out, it’s the same as the organic SEO that we were talking about last week; we want to have very clearly defined keywords. We’ll help you with that.
We’ll take the keywords that, again, you think and then we’ll run them through some tools so we can get some numbers based on searches, tweak that, and then really come up with a clear list of what those are to help design a landing page. That landing page will be based on what your goal is. We know that you probably have a website and it’s beautiful and there’s probably lots of amazing things that you’re offering, but in order to reach this clearly defined goal, we want a clearly defined landing page.
It almost puts blinders on the user. It keeps them flowing and looking at exactly what we want them to look at. If our goal is lead generation, we need them to fill out a form that will get them a free downloadable and then stick them into a long-term email campaign to sell them, then that’s what we want them to do. We don’t want to say, “Do that or call us.” We want to keep them flowing and moving to our one defined goal.
Amy DeLardi: And something that is trackable, too, so that you know that your investment is working.
LeeAnn Holmberg: Absolutely.
Amy DeLardi: You definitely want that goal to be trackable.
LeeAnn Holmberg: Yeah. There are several ways that we do that. We can do that behind the scenes with the tools that we’re using, and we can do it with the type of form that we’re using on your website. Also, going to what we were saying, keeping them right there on that page and not letting them wander around. If they go to your website, if we just send them to the contact form on your website, for example, then they might see who we are, about us or what we do or what other clients are saying, and then they start to wander off, and then we lose them doing that.
If we include all of that information in a clearly defined landing page and we keep them right there and we don’t give them opportunities to wander, then we keep them where we ant them and we don’t lose them in our website. Now, of course once we have them reaching that first goal, then we can introduce them to the website and show them all of the other pieces that go along.
Amy DeLardi: Right.
LeeAnn Holmberg: We want to be able to track from A to Z exactly how these ads are doing, and that’s one important way to do that. One of the things that we specialize in is writing campaign ads. When we’re writing those ads that’s going to lead the traffic to those landing pages to reach our goal, we want to be sure that we’re using the keyword that we’ve targeted, want a very clear call to action, so not only do we want them to take a clear action on that landing page; we’ve got to give them a clear reason to go to the landing page.
There’s lots of ads out there, so it’s really important to be creative and stand out. If you are a regular user of Google or Bing, which I think most people are, sometimes it can get really easy to glaze over those ads that are at the top or on the right hand side. We need a reason to not do that. We work really hard with our clients to make sure that we stand out in those ad spots so that it will jump out and really show expertise, creativity, and a reason to click on us, on that ad there rather than scrolling on down into the organic.
Amy DeLardi: Oh, go ahead.
LeeAnn Holmberg: I was just going to say, all the stuff we just discussed, all of that factors into something that Google really values when it comes to Google ads, and that’s a quality score. I know we’re going to dive into that more in just a little bit, but all of those best practices play a part of that, so I think that’s really important: that they’re all on target so that Google sees that we’re playing by their rules.
Amy DeLardi: Yeah. The landing page a lot of people dismiss. I have found that clients dismiss the value of a landing page and they don’t understand how seriously Google takes that. Sometimes Google will shut your ad down as a result of that. I think we’re going to get into that a little bit more with talking about the quality score. You know what I get asked all the time? I’m sure you do as well.
Is “Well, how much money do I have to spend?” That’s such a hard question to answer because it’s nice that Google has allowed anyone to pay to play, but sometimes … That’s a hard question to ask, most often, because each keyword that you’re looking to play and get ranking for is different, so there’s no one size fits all or one budget fits all. Do you want to talk a little bit more about how to determine your budget?
LeeAnn Holmberg: Yeah, absolutely. I think one of the things you’ll find consistent through most of the things we discuss is that it is a long-term game. We have seen the best results out of long-term consistency. I think we mentioned even last week that there are people out there that will guarantee, “If you spend X with us, we’ll get you Y.” We’re just not the people for that. We will work very diligently and we’ll use your money like it’s our own, so we’re very, very ware of that, but if we haven’t run ads at all before, with you before, then we’ve got to get a little bit of data.
The places where I typically tend to start when we’re talking about the factors of your budget: “Let’s look at your overall marketing budget. What is your marketing budget for the year? How much of that are you willing to set aside just for this?” If we’re suggesting at least six months to 12 months, obviously we want that to continue on. It’s not something that you just get to the end of the 12 months and we just shut it off. How much of your budget are we willing to commit to that?
Then “What industry are you in?” and “What keywords are we targeting?” Because the higher your competition is in your industry and for the keywords that we’re choosing, then the higher your budget is going to be. Health and wellness is a highly competitive industry. If you have a very low spend per day, for example if you have 25 or $50 a day, which is a lot of money … I’m not saying in any way that it’s not. That’s a lot. That could be two or three clicks a day, depending on the keyword you choose. Is that worth it?
Those are things that we look at and evaluate together. If we’re targeting one keyword, just a very small group of keywords and we can only get a couple clicks per day, we don’t want to just take your money and spend it. We’ll tell you Google will do that. That’s how Google has opened it up and allowed for everybody to play because there’s so many people that are in there that play and aren’t necessarily doing it in the most optimized fashion. We want to make sure that we’re using your money wisely and you are too.
Amy DeLardi: Right.
LeeAnn Holmberg: There’s keyword tools that can help guide you to determine each. Like I mentioned, if your keyword is highly competitive, then we can back into what the estimated spend would be so we can plug that in. Of course, those tools give us what it would look like if your account, entire campaign is fully optimized. That will give us kind of a benchmark to work with. I know that that’s not necessarily what our clients want to hear.
A lot of them want us to say, “We suggest you spend $500 or $1,000.” If we do that, then we try to give those numbers and say, “If you use these keywords and you spend $500, this is what we’re estimating.” However, that includes doing all the things we just talked about, all those best practices above. If we don’t follow those, then we end up with leaks and then the marketing dollars kind of fall away, and we definitely don’t want to see that.
Amy DeLardi: Right. I know that Google has settings where you can run a daily budget or a monthly budget or you can also let Google decide how to spend that budget and when to display and all of that. It sort of has a little bit of a wizard, built-in brain aspect to this. Can you talk a little bit … I don’t want to take up too much time. … a little bit about that and what you feel is the best use of that, of those settings?
LeeAnn Holmberg: Sure. As far as the spend, the daily spend or the campaign-wide spend, it’s really important that you pay attention because if you have the wrong information there and you set your campaign budget as the daily budget, then you’re in big trouble. We’re going to talk about managing and monitoring your campaign too. Yeah, that’s important to set that, double-check it. It really is kind of setting that cap on your account. Like you mentioned, Google, they do have an option to run ads and optimize based on their algorithms.
That’s what I use. Even as a professional that runs these ads, typically I don’t stray from that. I feel like they have so many eyes and people working on this and algorithms that are running that they really know what they’re doing and are going to spend it in the best way possible. Now, I may see that at 4:00 A.M. it’s not a good use of time based on some results that we see, so we may adjust over time, but typically I will use that and I would suggest using that because this is their game, they know what they’re doing.
I don’t think that going in and trying to set all that up upfront is really a smart use of your time. Also, if you do that, then you don’t really let Google tell you the information. If you narrow the scope up front, we don’t get to see that big picture. I like to let Google run it. Then we can evaluate overtime and decide if we need to make some tweaks. There is an option to run ads advanced, so if you want to blow through your budget as quickly as you can, you can do that. That may mean in the first three hours of the day, then your ads are done.
It works off of your timezone, so it starts where you start. If you’re in the Eastern Timezone, it will start at your time there. There are use and reason for that, but typically what we want the ads to do is run over time and see how they perform. Then, like I said, we can narrow down a focus. If they’re performing the best over lunch or just after lunch, then we can really hone in on that. Especially if you have a smaller budget that you’re working with, then we can start to target that. I wouldn’t narrow that focus without data first.
Amy DeLardi: Okay. A little while ago we talked a little bit about quality score. Let’s describe or explain what quality score is and then talk about some factors that play into that score.
LeeAnn Holmberg: Sure. Quality score, it’s something that you’ll find. It’s a measure of how your campaign is doing, how your ads are set up, how your landing page is set up, how the overall campaign and your entire account is. There are lots of factors that go into that. It’s kind of Google is grading you. They’re saying, “Hey, you’re doing well. Hey, you’re not.” It’s really important because the better your quality score is, the higher on the page you are. When it comes to ads, that’s extremely important.
We want to be in the top ads or in the top two to three places. If you are below the fold or below where people have to scroll, your chances of being seen get significant diminished, so we want to make sure that our quality score is good, Google sees that we’re following their rules and we’re doing what we’re supposed to do. There’s three main factors, really, that determine it. There’s lots of factors, but three of the big ones that we see are the ad relevance to your target keywords.
Before, I mentioned that the ad copy needs to include those target keywords, your expected click-through rate, which is a part of what Google thinks you’re going to get based on all of the factors that go into the campaign, and then the landing page experience. Amy touched on this earlier. She said clients will want to overlook this and they’ll just say, “We’ll just send them to my webpage,” or “Just send them to this specific page on my website.”
That right there will automatically cause an issue with Google because they want to see that narrow focus. They want to see the content on the page matches what the ads are, what the keywords are and that it’s a good experience, that you’re not making false claims, that you’re not making outrageous claims, that it’s relevant information, that there are good images and it’s clear where you want them to take action, whatever that action or that goal is.
Amy DeLardi: I think also, too, we’ve recently seen this with some clients who came to us that were running ads unbeknownst to us and they weren’t working. They didn’t have a landing page, so they were pointing them to the website. Google gave them a bad grade or quality score because the site speed wasn’t loading. That’s another factor that they look at. When you have a landing page, it’s reduced images, faster loading time, again putting the blinders on. You don’t have a navigation, really, to all the other parts of your website. It’s just a faster avenue to the call to action that you want them to do. I know that I’ve recently seen that site speed is one of the factors that goes into your quality score as well.
LeeAnn Holmberg: Absolutely.
Amy DeLardi: So keep that in mind.
LeeAnn Holmberg: Yeah.
Amy DeLardi: Okay. We wanted to keep these chats to a digestible timeframe. I’d love to wrap up and talk about monitoring and measuring as the last topic. I think we’ve given our listeners some quite valuable information. Let’s talk about that before we close.
LeeAnn Holmberg: Sure. AdWords provides some really great tools to monitor and measure your campaign performance. This, in conjunction with Google Analytics, will really give you a good overview of how your campaigns are doing. Again, after you have a good amount of data, you can make some tweaks and edits. Now, when you make those tweaks and edits, again, we suggest you give that some time so we can see that performance and then continue on.
Some really important factors to look at are cost per conversion, click-through rates, the cost per click, and your conversion rates. As we talk about all this stuff, AdWords is really a time-sensitive or, I’m sorry, time-intensive endeavor. It’s also time sensitive. When you’re in there, you need to be making good adjustments and smart adjustments because we’re spending your money every day, so we suggest that you monitor as much as possible and set a schedule.
On our team, we set a schedule to go in and monitor … For smaller accounts with less than five campaigns, we suggest that you’re in there three to four times a week and then scale from there. Of course, all of that’s dependent on how competitive your campaigns or your industry is. Then you’ll scale up from there. It takes a lot of time and there are a lot of good tools, but it can be really overwhelming if you’re trying to run this and run your business, so we’re here to help.
Amy DeLardi: A lot of people will come to me and they’ll have tried it on their own, they’ll call Google. Google is a great resource to help you, but they only help you to a certain point and then they expect that you either manage it yourself or hire a professional. I think that hiring a professional actually will save you time and save you money because they know the ins and outs of how to set up a campaign, use the best practices, and read the data so that we can make adjustments and we know how to measure the return on investment and understanding how to read that quality score and whatnot.
I think we’ve shared enough information. We can keep going and talking about this topic. If we haven’t hit on a specific area that you, as a listener, is interested in learning more about, you know where to find us: infinitewebdesigns.com. Our number is 203-307-5107. We are on social media. Hopefully, we gave you enough information to either help you along or know that we can be a resource to you. With that said, next week’s topic or chat is going to be on social media advertising. LeeAnn, are we going to talk about organic and paid or just paid social media advertising?
LeeAnn Holmberg: We can talk about a little bit of the differences between the two. Then I think we can probably spend a good amount of time covering the paid and then circle back around in another episode and discuss organic and all that goes into all of that.
Amy DeLardi: So stay tuned for our next week’s episode. Thanks for listening today.
LeeAnn Holmberg: Absolutely. Thanks, guys.
Google continues its ongoing efforts to improve the quality of the search results it returns. Google’s head of web spam, Matt Cutts tweeted the release of Panda 4.0 earlier this month and the web went crazy. Panda is designed to lower the ranking of what it determines are lower-quality content sites. But like previous versions, this update sometimes unfairly penalizes high-quality sites.
Panda penalizes spam and copied content. Its algorithm looks for certain words and phrases and webmaster attempts to fool the algorithm, as well as content spinning. Content recognized as general rather than specific is considered of low quality. Inbound links also are examined for quality.
So, what is quality content? Generally speaking, high quality means content at the level of published books or in popular magazines.
But what does that mean?
Panda has been known to be less than perfect and this is why a Panda false positive is possible. How the updated Panda algorithm was developed and validated, and how it performed in its testing phase before release has not been not publicly divulged. This makes upgrading a web site that has been negatively affected by this release more of an art than a science.
Complicating things with this Panda 4.0 release is that at virtually the same time Google released its Payday Loan 2.0 spam algorithm. Webmasters are exercising all of their skills to tease out which algorithm forced a site downgrade and what specific page content was the cause.
Do you have concerns about how Panda will effect your business’ website?