Live Blogging SES Toronto 2009: Introduction to Paid Search

Moderator: Amanda Watlington, Owner, Searching for Profit

Presenter: Matt Van Wagner, President, Find Me Faster

Overview from the SES Day 2 Agenda:

Paid search is a form of advertising that places your text ad near search results on engines like Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft Live Search. The ad systems allow you to choose which specific keywords you want to bid on. This popular session walks you through the key concepts, warns of you of key pitfalls in the setup phase, and explores strategies for maximizing profit now and going forward.

Session starts with definition of basic terms. Why you should love PPC: it’s all measurable. You can test stuff out; spend a little bit of money and see how things fare.

PPC and SEO are complementary:

  • Get going quickly
  • Discover what words convert
  • Manage risk for natural search ranking changes
  • Predictable, dependable traffic flow

PPC allows more control over messaging:

  • Control messaging through ad text; whereas with SEO, depend on snippet that Google uses in the SERPs
  • Determine what pages visitors first land on

PPC is not a set it and forget it thing. Should work in a disciplined manner. Use systemized thinking: align campaign goals with larger company goals. Increase sales, not visitors

This is not a media buy in the traditional sense. Spending money per click and want to get the maximum return on investment.

Track performance and make adjustments. Be methodical, measure, test everything. Don’t react too quickly, but don’t get analysis-paralysis

Set good goals and work towards them

Concentrate efforts on biggest PPC provider: AdWords. ( May 2009)

Two areas where ads will show:

  • Search engines and search partners. User types in a query; they are actively seeking answers, etc.
  • Content network websites. User does not type in a query; they encounter ads while doing something else (e.g., reading article on New York Times online)

Demonstration of where ads appear in the different search engines (Bing, Ask, Google)

Typical questions when starting out in PPC:

  • What’s best position for ad?
  • Does highest bid always get the top spot?
  • How much will I pay? (Max CPC vs. average CPC)
  • What’s AdWords Quality Score?

In general, higher your ads appear, the more clicks you get and the more you pay. You need to take both relevancy and bids into account. Ad rank equals your Quality Score multiplied by max. bid.

Quality Score is comprised of:

  • Relevancy: keywords, ads, landing page all relate to one another
  • Historical performance of your keywords, keywords and ads together, ad groups, campaigns, account
  • CTR

When starting out campaign it’s best to set higher max. bids so you can burn in a higher CTR from the get go.

With Quality Score you won’t always pay more than a competitor to be in a top position, if your ad and campaign are deemed more relevant by AdWords.

Setting up and managing campaigns. Know the primary goal of your campaign (leads, sales, branding?); how do you define success (online vs offline conversions); how do you measure success (conversion tracking offered by search publisher; third party analytics tools; phone calls)

Measure and manage actions, not just CTR or CPC

Structure of a PPC account. Campaign, ad group (keywords, ads), landing page

Demographic, geographic, day targeting. If not sure where to start out, just focus on your most likely best area, demographic to work in. Shows ads to most likely buyers. Constrain your spend. AdWords, Yahoo!, adCenter all offer ability to do demographic bidding as well as day parting (ad scheduling).

Building keyword lists. Start with a brain dump from what you already know. Keyword list works best with two to three word plus phrases. Absolutely buy your own brand names. Use search engine and third party keyword tools for further research (Google/Yahoo!/MSN; Wordtracker,; related, competitor websites)

Organize keyword lists. Segment word together into logical groups

Explained differences between keyword match types. Google and MSN use broad, phrase, exact, negative match terms. Negative match keywords very important for preventing ads from showing for things irrelevant to your campaign.

PPC ads. They serve two purposes: designed to draw clicks (ad should include strong offer, keyword being bid on); designed to filter clicks. Obvious, but to increase CTR, write great (i.e., relevant, enticing ads). Variety of ad copy styles: first person story; trusted authority; price appeal; convenience; get info; “we’re different from Brand X”. In AdWords, if tracking conversions, ensure that you set your campaign to rotate ads evenly (as opposed to by CTR, the default setting).

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