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Display Placement Exclusions For All Campaigns

According to Google, the Display Network reaches over 90% of global internet users expanding across 2 million web sites. However, it’s also said that near 50% of all ad impressions on the GDN are never seen. A marketer can reduce the amount of wasteful spend by monitoring the site placements of the display ads. Excluding placements within the Google Display Network is an on-going necessity for any AdWords marketer. Essentially, placement exclusion is telling Google where you do NOT want ads to show.

Typically, Google AdWords placement exclusion can be done at the campaign level. As you monitor performance from campaigns, you’ll see placements that look, at best “suspicious”.

Display Placement Menu

Display Placement Menu

The exclusions can be easily missed if you are not careful. Underneath, placement performance is “Campaign placement exclusions” and “Site category options”. Marketers can manually add sites to exclude per campaign.

Campaign Placement Exclusions

Campaign Placement Exclusions

That’s the standard way to add placement exclusions. However, once you begin adding exclusions to campaigns, you’ll notice the same sites seem to appear again in other campaigns. This is where the Shared Library becomes very effective.

Shared Library Campaign placement exclusions

Within Shared Library, open Campaign placement exclusions

From there, it’s a few simple steps in creating an account-wide placement exclusion list.

  1. Click +List – To create a new list
  2. List Name – Give the list a name
  3. Placements – Enter multiple domains that you would like to exclude from display placement
  4. Click Save – You now have a list of placement to exclude. However, that list is currently not applied to any campaigns.
  5. Select list and Apply to Campaigns
Apply Exclusions to Campaigns

Apply Exclusions to Campaigns

“Apply to campaigns” will allow you to select the display campaigns that you would like to apply to the list. Keep in mind, when new campaigns are created you’ll probably want to apply this same list again. Making changes within Shared Library is still much easier to manage than at the campaign-level.

Need a good starting list of placements to exclude?

Recently, the teams at Seer, Hanapin Marketing, Distilled, and Wistia built a list of over 400 placements to exclude on the Google Display Network. These 3 companies combined their historical data of poorly performing sites. You can download the list and learn more about their formula for exclusion.

Keep in mind, this is just a starting point for you. As more impressions are delivered and more data arrives, you will find your own list. The list of placement exclusions is never done. It’s a constant work in progress, but using Shared Library should make the process a lot easier.

Reduce the Creepy with Remarketing Membership Duration

Google’s Remarketing has been a game changer to paid media since it’s launch in 2010. Features are constantly added every year. It’s because of these new features that customization and best practices are needed to keep from becoming that “creepy” ad that visitors fear.

Setting up a remarketing campaign is heavily dependent on business goals and industry behavior. Targeting is the difference between Remarketing and traditional display, but that targeting it also what concerns consumers. Like many tactics within Google AdWords, it’s all about the tweaking and the execution. One of those key tactics is Remarketing Membership Duration.

The key element to any remarketing campaign is the list, AKA the audience. A remarketing list is a essentially a collection of cookies from previous site visitors. The membership duration is the length of time you want to target this audience.

At the end of the duration period, the cookie is removed from the list. That visitor would no longer see ads that are using that audience list. If the user revisits the site the timing is reset.

Remarketing Membership Duration

Remarketing Membership Duration

The mistake many marketers make is extending the duration to the maximum amount of time. The maximum duration allowed for the Google Display Network is 540 days. That would likely mean that an ad could follow visitors around for a year. There is no value in annoying potential customers.

Determining Membership Duration
Unfortunately, like many things with paid media, there is no easy answer for everyone. Remarketing membership duration can vary by industry. A general rule of thumb is, the higher the purchase value the larger the membership duration.

Days to Transaction
A recommended way to determine membership duration length is knowing the average time it takes a visitor to convert. Google Analytics can help with that. The Days to Transaction and Sessions to Transaction fields in Google Analytics indicates the average number of days and sessions from the first website interaction to purchase. This helps a marketer understand how long it takes someone to convert. The Days to Transaction report can also be segmented. That allows the separation by products, categories, pages, or whatever makes sense per industry.

Google Analytics Days To Transaction

Google Analytics Days To Transaction

3 Ad Extensions Every Adwords Campaign Should Have

What is your advantage? How does your ad stand out in the crowd? That’s where ad extensions become essential. They provide a great way to increase click-through-rate. There are multiple types of extensions including review, locations, apps, and more. However, there are 3 that I find mandatory for every campaign that I create. Let’s dive deeper.

Sitelinks Extensions

Sitelinks ad extensions are additional links that can be added beneath the text of ads. Sitelinks can be at the ad group or campaign level. They allow advertisers the the ability to deliver additional options to the searcher.

Sitelinks are probably the most commonly used and known extension, but for good reason: They are awesome! Sitelinks provide enhanced visibility in search results. They also allow the advertisers to present a shortcut to other pages on the site,

I have found there is always an opportunity to use site links.

Call Extensions

In short, call extensions provide the ability to add phone numbers to ads … and who wouldn’t want that?

With AdWords Call extensions, Google forwarding numbers can be used to track performance of received calls. Call extensions can be tweaked to match office hours, weekdays only, or whatever schedule works best.

Now with Call-only campaigns, campaigns have the ability to increase click-to-call directly from ads. Call-only campaigns allow the same cost-per-click bidding that traditional ads utilize

Call Only Campaigns

Call Only Campaigns

Callout Extensions

Callout extensions are another must have extension. They provide additional text options for ads that are not connected to links. Callout extensions provide more business details to the main ad. They can be added to multiple levels of the account structure, allowing the ability for customization and tweaking.

PPC Blog Hop – The Best and Latest in PPC News – March 2015

Here is a list of some of my favorite PPC blog posts over the past few weeks.

  • Need Fast Growth? How To Ramp Up Your PPC Program Quickly – Jeff Baum blogs about the pros and cons of sudden increase in funding to a client’s PPC campaigns. Jeff discuss the common nervousness of spending someone else’s money.

    I was very worried that our sudden spend ramp up would fall flat on its face in terms of performance. The thought of driving spend without increasing business nearly made me break out in a cold sweat. Explaining to the client’s leadership team how a large spend increase failed to grow business terrified me.

    As a PPC expert, it is a responsibility I do not take lightly.

  • 5 Ways to Take Advantage of Location Targeting in AdWords – Katie Grossenbacher lays out the the options for using locations in Google AdWords. She provides a nice straight-forward approach to share with clients or novices. There are many articles on this topic, but I found Katie’s post one of the best on the topics.
  • 3 AdWords Ad Extensions Every Account Needs (And 4 Business-Specific Extensions Too!) – Michael Bartholow with LunaMetrics writes about the must have ad extensions in your campaigns. What to use? When do they show? How will you know?

    Michael sums it up as follows: Ad Extensions help your ads perform better & can raise your Quality Score, so use them! Because Ad Extensions are served algorithmically, you should use more than one and let Google choose which ones will show. You shouldn’t worry about overlap as they each serve a unique purpose, which we’ll discuss below.

  • 8 Retargeting List Uses For Campaign Success – Michelle Morgan lists some great ideas for remarketing lists. It’s a good post to bookmark and refer back to as your audience begins to grow.

    Extra tip: Remarket visitors that read posts about remarketing. Stay tuned to see future banner ads. You’re welcome. 🙂

Four Ways to Use AdWords Editor for Better PPC Management

When you first start managing AdWords campaigns, you probably worked strictly in the web interface. While quite robust, you soon realized how unwieldy the web interface can be for building large scale campaigns and making bulk edits. AdWords Editor is Google’s offline solution for speeding up bulk work, serving as an indispensable tool in the PPC manager’s chest.

Even though Google has made great strides in improving access to bulk changes in the web interface, Editor still offers capabilities not matched in the browser. Let’s take a look at some handy uses for AdWords Editor.

Location Targeting
Location targeting can quickly become complex, especially for some businesses that require precision targeting to a market area. When a campaign’s target locations include a lengthy list of regions, searching for and selecting these manually in the web interface can take significant time. You can quickly insert a list of zip codes, cities, states, or whatever else your preferred method of targeting is for a campaign, as well as quickly copying locations from one campaign to the next.

Besides targeting locations where they want ads to reach, many AdWords managers find it important to exclude negative locations, preventing ads from showing up in areas not applicable to the business. With AdWords Editor, you can quickly add negative locations in bulk.

To find locations where ads have shown up, you can review the User Location report under the Dimensions tab, you can see where your ads have shown up. Exporting this report to a CSV file will allow you to then grab a list of locations where you did not want ads to show up, copy this list, and paste it in to add as negative locations.

Here’s an example showing Negative Locations in the AdWords Editor interface, where we’ve excluded countries and states not relevant to the campaign. You can use the “Make multiple changes” button to access a window that lets you paste in multiple locations to add.

Sitelink Setup
While ad group level sitelinks have increased the opportunity for relevance, they have also increased the level of complexity in setting up sitelinks. Managing sitelinks can consume a great deal of time and effort, especially by adding them one by one in the web interface. Editor lets you add sitelinks, even providing access to the Shared Library to add ones you’ve already set up. You can easily select sitelinks and apply them to multiple ad groups.

At the bottom of the left navigation bar within AdWords Editor, you’ll find “Shared sitelinks” under the “Shared library” section. Within this section, you can view all sitelinks you’ve created for the account, add new ones, and edit existing ones.

Clicked the “Associations” button while your desired sitelinks are selected will allow you to assign those sitelinks as many campaigns or ad groups as you’d like.

Powerful Copy/Paste Options
The web interface has added more advanced support for copying and pasting elements over time, but AdWords Editor offers much more robust options for selecting items to copy and pasting them into one or more other places. If you manage campaigns for multiple businesses in similar industries, you may find yourself reusing components between campaigns. While you should, of course, tailor ads to each specific business, you may want to copy campaign structure and some keywords from one account to another.

For example, if you manage campaigns for car dealerships and work with two different Ford dealers, campaigns across both accounts will likely have ad groups for vehicle models like Ford Fusion, Ford Focus, etc.

Also, if a business has locations in multiple regions, they may want to run similar campaigns in different regions, requiring a fair amount of duplication. You can select a set of keywords you’d like to use and select multiple ad groups across multiple campaigns where you’d then like to paste these.

Replace Text
The ability to replace or append text can save much time in building larger accounts. For our car dealership example, you may have some local keywords carry over when you copy a campaign from one region to another region. You can use the “Replace text” button below the search bar to change the mention of one city to another.

For example, let’s say you have the following keywords scattered throughout a campaign:

+ford +focus +atlanta
+ford +fusion +atlanta
+ford +explorer +atlanta

You copy this campaign, but you are now targeting Charlotte. You can run the “Replace text” function to then replace any mention of atlanta with charlotte. In addition, you can choose whether to change any fields, or specific fields such as keywords or ad description lines. This can be handy for reusing similar ad copy where you just want to change one word, such as the mention of a town.

As you can see, AdWords Editor offers a number of powerful features allowing you to save time, especially in working on larger accounts. If you haven’t yet delved far into using Editor, take some time to look around at features while working on your own campaigns and find ways that you can improve your process for AdWords management.

AdWords Video Remarketing

Video’s role in marketing is dramatically increasing every day. Recently, Twitter added promoted videos as an option. Last year, Facebook enhanced video metrics.

Video remarketing is another great option within Google Remarketing by opening up your audience to a much larger list. Expanding the audience provides great value when you have a list of people that have expressed interest in your services by watching a video. In fact, it’s not just video viewing. YouTube remarketing provides multiple actions that can be targets.

Available Remarking Actions

  1. Video view or interaction (likes, comments, shares)
  2. YouTube channel visit and subscription
  3. In-stream ad views

Linking AdWords and YouTube
The first step before starting any video remarketing is to make sure YouTube is connected to AdWords.

  • Choose Video Manager -> Channel Settings -> Advanced
  • Open your Google AdWords account in a new tab, sign in, and copy your Customer ID
  • Assign a name to the AdWords account. It’s often best to use the same name you are currently using for you for your existing AdWords account. This will prevent confusion when alerts our sent to all users that a name has been changed.
  • Set permissions for the account. I tend to allow all permissions. It provides more options down the road when looking for more targeting areas.

Creating a Video Remarketing Campaign
Once all the connectivity is working then the real fun begins. Now, you can setup AdWords campaigns that utilize your YouTube audience. This process becomes as easy as another remarketing campaign that you have setup in the past. Video viewers just becomes another audience option.

Video Remarketing Is More Than Video Ads
If you Google video remarketing all articles are quick to point out creating video ads for remarketing. It’s important to distinguish that video remarketing does not have to mean video ads. That’s certainly an aspect that can be used, but not a limitation. After the video marketing audience is built and grown to a significant number, the options are much wider than video ads. You can still create banner ads like you would any other remarketing campaign.

Dive into video remarketing. There is a wealth of data that can expand any audience.

Remarketing Lists for Search Ads – Best Practices

If you have attended any of my presentations of have read any of my blog posts over the past 3 years, you’ll know that I am big fan of Remarketing. One recent new addition to Google is Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA). This allows you to create unique search ads for previous site visitors.

Of course, I say “new”, RLSA was first introduced in 2013, allowing you to create unique messaging to previous site visitors. Being able to dive deeper into the search traffic, will allow you to create unique messaging and bidding strategies to previous site visitors. This opens the doors to multiple strategies:

You can bid on keywords that you don’t normally bid on just for people who have recently visited your site, or have converted on your site in the past. This can help you increase your sales. For example, you could bid on more generic keywords only for people who have previously purchased from your site.

You can optimize bids for your existing keywords for visitors on your remarketing lists. For example, you can increase your bid by 25% for those who previously viewed your website in the last 30 days. Or, you could show a different ad to site visitors who have placed items in a shopping cart but have not purchased them. – Source:

If you are using Remarketing, then you are practically already there. If not, then you should be. Stop here and implement Google Remarketing on your site. Below are several great posts on getting started with Remarketing

More on RLSA

Diving deeper into those AdWords Remarketing audiences, you will see a column called “List Size (Google search)”. It’s been there for a while and now may be the time to stop ignoring that column.

To use Remarketing with a search campaign, the audience needs to be associated with the campaign or AdGroup. Although, like most things with PPC, separation is key. I recommend creating a separate RLSA campaign. Measurement and comparative data is much easier measurable with separation and segmentation.

Best Practices for RLSA

Knowing how to implement RLSA is only the starting point, the real value is in the practical uses. Here are some best practices to keep in mind:

  1. Use Unique Ads – Remember, these searchers have already been to your site. For whatever, reason they probably did not convert. Now, they are searching again. Give them something different. Show them a new message, new deal, new value, etc.
  2. Product Interest / Higher Bidding – If it’s clear that the audience has visited a product or service page, then you are more than half way there. Knowing there is interest helps tremendously. From there, it makes sense to increase bidding for product-specific ads.
  3. No Frequency Capping – One of my favorite features of Remarketing display ads is Frequency Capping. That allows you to reduce and maybe eliminate the “creepy” factor. If done well, users don’t feel like ads are following them around. Although, may not needed in search ad much, it’s still not available. To prevent searcher fatigue, use multiple messages.
  4. Go Broad – Normally within search campaigns, having too many broad keywords would result in higher spend and often lower conversions. It’s not the best spend of the dollar. However, going broad with RLSA is recommended. The audience is already narrowed down because of Remarketing. Opening up that search audience larger should result in even higher conversion rate.

Informing AdWords Campaigns with Google Analytics

The AdWords interface offers an incredible amount of data about campaign performance. However, through AdWords’ default data alone, you only see what happens up to the point of the click (apart from conversion tracking, once you’ve set that up). You need to understand the full paths and experiences users encounter, from the point they search, to when they click an ad; from the point they land on your site, to when they leave, with or without converting into leads. Google Analytics adds another level of data about performance beyond the click.

Linking AdWords and Analytics

First of all, make sure you link your AdWords account with Google Analytics to ensure data is transferring properly. See Google’s documentation for detailed instructions.

Once you’ve connected the two accounts, you can now view AdWords data directly in Analytics under Acquisition > AdWords. In addition, you can view select metrics from Google Analytics right in the AdWords interface once you’ve linked your accounts. See these instructions for more details on adding columns to AdWords showing Analytics data.

Once you’ve linked your Analytics and AdWords accounts, the next question involves uncovering what value you can get from the connection. What are some insights you can gain from connecting AdWords with Google Analytics?

Understanding Engagement from Ads

First of all, you can connect engagement statistics such as bounce rate and average session duration directly with AdWords data, down to the level of specific keywords and ads. This information proves valuable in determining whether or not users are finding your landing pages relevant to the ad copy directing them to your site.

Campaign Analytics

For example, say you are assessing low conversion rates. You note that clickthrough rates look decent, but people are not converting after landing on the site. Analyzing behavior from AdWords visitors once they land on your site will prove valuable in better explaining user performance.

If an ad shows a high bounce rate, that stat may indicate users are not encountering what they expected to see. Either you should revise the landing page or point to a different page.

When you run ads on the display network, you can evaluate the performance of various site placements in Google Analytics. You may be receiving a high clickthrough rate from a particular news site but then find that most of the visitors from that site are immediately bouncing off your site and not converting. In that case, you would likely want to exclude that placement.

Adwords Placements

Tracking Value Across Channels

Besides looking at engagement statistics, you can gain insight into how AdWords works together with other channels to drive conversions. Even if you are just managing AdWords out of a client’s many marketing efforts, PPC never functions in a bubble. While some customers may encounter a site for the first time via an ad in Google search results and immediately convert, others may arrive first via an ad, and then come back again via a social media link or organic search before converting.

Google Analytics shows this data under Multi-Channel Funnels. You can see what combinations of channels (organic search, paid search, display, etc.) were most likely to lead to conversions, as well as in what order the contact with the site occurred. This data is helpful in showing “assisted conversions” where you may not have given AdWords credit for a conversion, but it contributed at a point of the user’s contact with the site before conversion.

Top Conversion Paths

In this example, we show a report of the top paths users take to convert (Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Top Conversion Paths). Based on this data, you can see at what stage of the marketing funnel most of your prospects are arriving. Note that paid search combined with organic search for several conversions, sometimes with paid first, and sometimes with organic first.

By evaluating the data in Multi-Channel Funnels, you may strategize ways to better reach people that have initially arrived via one source and may be likely to come back via another. For example, you could set up a remarketing campaign with a goal of seeing more people come back via a second time to convert.

Act on the Data

As you can see, connecting Google Analytics with AdWords provides a wealth of data to help improve your refinement of campaigns as well as reporting value to clients. First, ensure that you have accurately linked accounts to see the proper data. Next, evaluate the data and act on it to revise poor performing landing pages, exclude poor-performing display placements, and brainstorm additional campaigns to keep potential customers in the marketing funnel.

Google Display Network Targeting: Loss of “Other Interests”

Google Display Network-Other InterestsInteresting category marketing has been used  by advertisers since 2009 to interact with people across the Google Display Network. However, the options will change soon. The ability to add the “Other Interests” options disappears on January 15, 2015 for both new and existing audience campaigns.

So why is Google making this change? According to Google, other more sophisticated options have been added. The newer solutions will provide better performance and reach than “Other Interests” because they will be more targeted. Besides, “Other Interests” overlap them.

What Solutions Does That Leave?

Google will continue to provide a portfolio of audience targeting solutions:

  • Affinity Audiences – Drive brand awareness by reaching TV-like segments at scale. Extend your television campaign to an online audience. Mazda Canada used them to advertise Mazda 6 to the “technophile” segment and reached 10X more users than with previous campaigns.
  • Custom Affinity Audiences – Get niche audiences to consider buying your product or service. Unlike Affinity, you can better tailor your audience to those interested in your product or service. Electronic Arts used them to engage fans of specific NFL teams with real-time display ads related to field action in its Madden GIFERATOR campaign.
  • In-Market Audiences – Grab shoppers’ attention while they are actively shopping and researching. This audience is made for converting people most likely to make a purchase. Wayfair used them to increase ad response rates by 20% and power short-term behavior by 10-30%.

These three audience solutions cover the entire sales funnel from brand awareness to consideration to conversion. (You will still get to use remarketing, which is favored by Crescent Interactive.)

What Does This Mean for My Current Campaigns?

Here’s a quick recap of what will happen:

  • Starting January 15, 2015, you will no longer be able to add “Other Interests” to your new or current campaigns.
  • Current campaigns that use “Other Interests” will continue to run until June 2015 when they will automatically be upgraded to the new audience solutions. You can upgrade them yourself starting January 15, 2015.
  • You will still be able to pause and restart criteria in your existing campaigns.
  • You will not lose any performance data on campaigns targeting “Other Interests” but will notice the addition of data on new criteria. 

Google will provide more information to advertisers via the Inside Adwords blog and email so you will likely get all of your questions answered.

What to do now? If you have been using “Other Interests” to target, now is the time to start focusing on using affinity audiences, custom audiences and in-market audiences on your new campaigns. For existing campaigns, consider how you want to change the audience and make those changes ahead of the automatic upgrade to maximize results.

The Importance of Negative Keywords

As the foundation to any PPC campaign, keywords are incredibly important in order to get in front of the right customers. If you are diving into a new account, be it taking over from the previous manager or creating one yourself from the ground up, don’t undermine the power of your negative keyword lists.

What benefits do negative keywords provide?

Just as with regular keywords, examine user data, incorporate them into your campaigns, and reap the rewards of reaching your target audience more accurately. By using negative keywords, it will significantly reduce irrelevant ad impressions so that you can improve your quality score and lower your cost per click. In addition, your cost per acquisition and ad spend will decrease while causing your conversion rate to increase. Not to mention, it will enhance user experience with your brand. It’s an all around win.

Where do negative keywords reside within AdWords?

As you are getting started with negative keywords in your AdWords account, you can choose whether you would prefer to add them at the campaign or ad group level. If you are looking to get more granular, adding negative keywords at the ad group level would be more suitable for your campaign needs.

To add negative terms, go to the “Keywords” tab, scroll to the very bottom of the page and click on “Negative Keywords” to the left. Enter one keyword per line and save when you’re ready. As a reminder, be cautious of the match types you use here. If you add terms that tend to be more on the broad side, you may lose out on good qualified traffic and customers. Stick to exact and phrase match for better results.

Methods of research negative keywords:

The most common issue with negative keywords is not regularly considering the addition of new ones. If you are building a new campaign out from scratch, do not proceed to launch it without adding negatives right out the gate.

Make it a habit, that every time that you are spending time researching regular keywords to add to your campaigns, you should be keeping an eye out for potential negative search terms to add as well. Here are some resources that can assist you in building out well-rounded negative keyword lists:

  • Search Query Report – To locate and download this report in AdWords, go to the “Dimensions” tab, click on the “View” drop down, and select “Search terms”. Here, you will find some excellent candidates for your negative keyword lists.

  • Competitive research – Conduct a search for your keywords in Google and Bing as sometimes they may vary. When reviewing the results, if any terms appear that are irrelevant to your primary keywords, be sure to add them to your negative keyword list.
  • Google AdWords Keyword Planner – Within your account, you can use the Google AdWords Keyword Planner to build out new or expand existing keywords lists and campaigns. This gem of a tool can help you search for not only keyword ideas, but it will also suggest ad group ideas, provide you with historical statistics, predictions on how keyword lists may perform, and insight on choosing competitive bids.
  • A thesaurus – Sure, the physical book is great to have on hand, however, an online version may be much quicker to reference. The online advertising space is competitive and missing a variation of a negative search term may cost you impressions, clicks, and budget. Don’t leave any behind that may deter you from optimal success.

Do negative keywords matter when using Dynamic Search Ads?

While on the topic of negative keywords and their importance, Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) come to mind. Unlike many other search ads who use keywords, DSA’s do not. If you are looking to gain additional traffic with a lesser amount of campaign maintenance, these are fantastic, however, keeping an eye on them is a must because your budget can evaporate rapidly if you don’t add to your negative keyword list.

If you are able to, it is good practice to pick one day each week and comb through keywords in your campaigns, especially those that are DSA’s. Search for the week prior, or since the last time you checked and go through the search term list to make sure you aren’t wasting impressions and clicks on irrelevant keywords that may be consuming part of your budget and providing no return. For example, if you are selling shoes online and clicks on light bulb related search terms come up; you will want to add those as negative exact match keywords at the DSA campaign level.

The bottoms line is, bad matching will cost you money. Make it a habit to continually review your search query report, do some competitive research, and add negatives to your keyword lists. Doing so will continue saving you money, your conversion rates will improve, and irrelevant clicks will be far and few in between.

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