One of the things I’m always shocked by when I take on a new client for pay per click is when I find they’ve done little to almost nothing for their campaign in months. Even more distressing is when I review a client who was previously working with another agency and that agency did little more than create some new ads and add a few new phrases.
Pay per click management isn’t about maintaining the status quo. It’s about ensuring a campaign is doing the most to generate new revenue for a business. This means taking advantage of all the features Google AdWords offers, and which Bing As will soon be offering. It also means looking for wasted spend.
How often to update a Google AdWords campaign will vary greatly by industry and budget. Yet even with the smallest budget in the smallest market you should constantly be monitoring your campaigns and paying attention to the latest changes in Google AdWords and Bing Ads. Otherwise you'll find yourself falling behind in the race for customers.
Here are 6 reasons why you need to be constantly involved with your campaign or have it maintained by a pay per click specialist actively working for you.
1) The Competition Constantly Changes - Maybe you’re content with having a campaign on auto pilot, but most likely many of your competitors aren’t. They’re testing their ads, their trying out new features, and their adding to the campaign budget. This means they’re constantly staying ahead of you unless you’re just as active.
2) Google is constantly revising the features of AdWords – in the past couple of weeks alone, Google has added a number of new features to AdWords and made revisions to its ad platform. A couple of these have already proven to be extremely effective for marketers. Not using these and other features Google offers is giving your competitors a significant advantage.
3) You’re wasting money with many clicks – Even with the most targeted campaigns there are often clicks that are wasted spend. This is why you need to review the actual terms potential prospects used to trigger your ads. Often there are phrases that have little to no value for a business. By adding these words as negatives will help to prevent that from recurring.
4) You need to improve on your ads - Many businesses see that their ads are being clicked on and assume they’re doing well. Yet, if they’re not testing these ads, they don’t know if these are the most effective ads. And by improving click through rates on your ads, you’re not just getting more potential leads. You’re also improving your Quality Score, which in turn can lower your costs per click.
5) How people search is constantly changing - It seems like a few years ago, people simply searched on their laptops. Today it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, you’re seeing an increase in traffic from mobile especially. If your site isn’t optimize for mobile and you haven’t adjusted your bidding by device, you’re potentially wasting a lot of money. You’ll need to redo your site at some point, but until then you need to adjust your bidding.
6) Your promotions have expired - This to me astounds me and I've seen it with major players. They have online promotions and pay a lot of money to let prospects know about it. Then the prospect finds the coupon has long since expired. I ran across this when I was looking to get some brake work done. The ad seemed to meet my needs and was a great offer, but when I clicked on the ad, I found the sale had ended months earlier.
For a successful marketing campaign you need to be constantly reviewing and tweaking it. This could be large actions such as site audits or simply tweaking an ad here or there. If you don’t have the time or staff to properly manage a campaign than consider bringing in a specialist such as myself. The money spent will more than be recoupled through the eliminated of wasted spend and the discovery of new opportunities.
Whether you have someone working on your pay per click accounts or have been doing it yourself, an audit of your campaigns is something to be done regularly. It saves you money and also lets you know that your agency has been doing its job.
When I’m first approached by a prospect I ask to link to their ac
count so I can briefly look it over. This way I can at least point out some issues when we first talk. If I end up working with the prospect, then I’ll perform a more intensive examination of their campaigns. Yet, even the brief assessment that I do often reveals issues that are costing a company a tremendous amount of money.
Here are 5 things to do to audit your campaign. Some you only need to do one time, while others should be done a regular basis. They can save you money and maybe alert you to the fact that whosever responsible for your account isn’t doing their job. Even if that person is you.Check Search Terms
The search terms are the actual phrase that people used that triggered your ad. Of all the things you do, this should be done a regular basis. Google has eliminated some of the data for this citing privacy issues. Still you can often find words that don’t apply to your business. For example a client sells rubber tracks for machinery and in the beginning we found phrase related to exercise equipment and athletic wear. To eliminate these phrases we simply inserted negative keywords into our campaign.
To find the search terms go to your keyword list and click the details tab. Then look for all under search terms. This is something that should be done on a regular basis and which you should be a part of, even if you work with an outside agency or consultant. Often you might spot words that they could easily overlook. Check Change History
If you’re working with an outside agency or if you have staff that run your campaigns, then look at change history. You should see regular activity with the campaign such as tweaking ads or adding negative keywords. If you find that only a couple of actions have been done over the last month, then you need to address it. I’ve seen accounts where an agency billed a client regularly a steep fee each month then did less and less work over time. Even though the fee stayed the same. It’s easy to blame the agency, but you must take responsibility for not catching it sooner. Is Your Account Linked To Your Analytics Account
Analytics provides a great way to monitor your site traffic and to judge the success of your campaigns, as well as the effectiveness of your site overall. Yet, if the analytics account isn’t linked to AdWords, then you’re’ not getting a full picture of your campaign. Linking the accounts only takes a few steps so there is no excuse for it not having been done. Until it's done your missing out on data you can never get back.Check location settings
When people set up an account they must set where the campaigns run and think this is enough. Yet you should make sure this is set properly so only people in your market actually see your ad. Check the target settings and it’s most likely set to people in, searching for or viewing pages about my targeted location. Set it to people in my targeted location. For some businesses the first option might be important, but for many businesses it’s better to focus on the people actually in your targeted market.Are Ad Extensions Being Used
Ad extensions are a great way to improve click through rate to your ads and is now even part of how Google determines Quality Score. Ad extensions are everything from click to call numbers to sitelinks and location extensions. No matter what your business is, there is bound to be an extension that applies to your business. There is no extra cost to use extensions and no excuse not to use them. Have them incorporated into your campaign immediately.
There are a number of things that go into an audit and this is only the tip of the iceberg. Yet even doing these steps, which don’t usually require a lot of time, can help you avoid losing money on wasted spend and in, fact, help you lower costs.
In evaluating hundreds of pay per click campaigns I've often seen the same mistakes over and over again. Even with the clients I’m working with, they do things that often loses them money, either in wasted clicks or missed opportunities.
Here are the 10 most common mistakes I see clients make in setting up their pay per click campaigns.
Not Setting a Realistic Monthly Budget
When someone is attempting to develop their campaign, they often imagine what they want their budget to be and then divides it by 30 to set a daily budget. There are two problems with this. First it’s better to begin lower until you’ve determined what the cost per click will be for your targeted keywords. Second, Google can over as much as 20 percent each day so your total budget for the month may be 20 percent higher than anticipated.
Sending Everything to The Home Page
Ideally its best to have landing pages you can tweak for an AdWords campaign, but for many businesses this isn’t practical. Still, to simply send everyone to the home page isn’t practical either. If you sell a variety of products than develop ad groups based on each product or category and then have the ads link to these pages instead. By getting prospects as quickly as possible to the product or service their looking for, the better the chance for success.
Not Adjusting For Mobile
Another problem with many web sites is that they aren’t mobile ready. Yet, advertisers with no mobile sites have bids set to the same level as for desktop. This could be a lot of wasted clicks if prospects go to your site on their mobile phone and can’t navigate it or worse, it takes forever for it to load. If having a mobile site isn’t an option (even though it should be), then lower your bids for mobile.
Not Using Site Links
If your ads consistently run in the top of the page and you’re not using site links, you not only missing out on opportunities, but also most likely cost your company money. Sitelinks are calculated in your Quality Score and because of this not having them lowers your Quality Score. This means you could be paying more for clicks then necessary.
Not Using Negative Keywords
In almost any campaign there are going to be searches that occur that don’t apply to a business. It could be someone looking for a job in your industry, free products, or maybe it’s from someone looking for something in a city in another state that has the same name. Look through the search terms people used to trigger your ads and single out the words that don’t apply. Chances are others will perform similar searches unless you use negative keywords to prevent this from happening again.
Checking Often To See If Ads Are Running
Nervous business owners often worry that their ads aren’t running, especially if they’re not getting results. So they perform a search on their laptop or their cell phone. This adds to the number of impressions that your ads accumulate and will lower your click through rate (unless you make the mistake of clicking on your ad, which I’ve also seen). Instead use Google AdWords Preview Tool. Not only will this not count against your campaign, but if your ads aren’t running it will tell you why.
Letting Your Campaign Run on Autopilot
Even the best designed campaigns need tweaking on occasion. Simply setting up a campaign and then leaving it to run on its own is a mistake. Some of the reason’s I’ve already listed, but Google and Bing are also constantly rolling out new features. Many of these can improve a campaign and not taking advantage of them gives your competitors an edge.
Bidding on Broad Match Keywords
In the beginning there might be some value to using broad match keywords in order to generate more keywords to target. Yet, you should make the transition pretty quickly to either modified broad match or phrase match. With broad match you’re going to see a lot of searches that are totally unrelated to your business.
Getting Attached to One or Two Words
Many business people have a pretty strong idea of what search terms their prospects are using. The problem is that it’s often a one or two word term. This means it can be very broad. I have clients all the time tell me to focus on words like these and while we can incorporate them into a campaign. It’s almost always better to have longer phrases that might contain these particular words. Many advertisers like these words because they appear to have a lot more searches. Yet, it’s very rare anymore that a searcher types in one or two words.
Putting All Words into One Basket
Once people begin setting up a campaign, they begin to add words to it. Google has might even suggested some terms. The problem is they begin to put them all in one ad group. It might not be long before they have dozens, then hundreds of keywords. Keep an ad group to 10 to 20 words at the most. If you have more than that begin moving some out to new ad groups.
Targeting Search and Display
There can be value in advertising on display, but almost no value in ever putting them together. Even though Google AdWords has made improvements with the targeting options on display, it’s better to have two separate campaigns. As the name implies people are searching on one format, but with display it like a billboard that people come across. They're not expecting it, but if you do display right you can capture their attention. Just remember they're two different formats.
Many of these mistakes can seem like simple fixes and often are. But not doing them costs you money and business.
Few marketing platforms allow a business to fully target their market like Google AdWords does. A billboard is effective for people driving by, but not for people who aren’t in the area yet. Telephone books are seldom used and almost never by tourists. Like billboards, newspaper and radio ads reach locals but not people who are making plans to travel to your location.
With Google AdWords and Bing Ads, as well, you can target people down the street or thousands of miles away who will soon be in your town. Or perhaps are researching businesses online in which their family members live, such as hospice care.
Here are some ways in which you can create ads that only those relevant to your local business will see, no matter where they’re logging in.Target by zip code
. Some people use zip codes to ensure they find places in the area they’re interested in. So target the zip codes that your business serves. Just make sure to use phrase match here as broad match could result in the wrong zip codes being targeted. Incorporate landmarks in your keywords.
Another way people search, particularly tourists unfamiliar with an area, is to use nearby landmarks in their search terms and ad text. For example someone might type in restaurants near Wrigley Field
or hotels on Broadway
. Use location extensions.
This is one of best ways to alert a prospect as to where you’re at. If you have multiple locations then Google will try to show the location nearest to where they’re located. The best way to set this up is to link your AdWords account with your Google My Business page (formerly Google Plus pages). Run a national campaign that incorporates your city into all search terms.
If someone types in just the word restaurant in New York City, they’re probably looking for something nearby. If they type in Chicago and restaurant it means they’re planning something for when they travel. Yet, if your business isn’t something a traveler is looking for, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use geographic modifiers. For example, someone in New York City could be looking for a dentist in Chicago, not for themselves, but perhaps for a relative there. Use negative match to eliminate the wrong locations.
There are a number of communities that have the same name. If you serve a community that has a name the same as a city in another state, you want to make sure your ads not showing there. So use that states name, as well as its abbreviated form as negative phrases. There are 37 Greenville’s in the United States, 2 in California alone. So if you’re a restaurant in Greenville Illinois you don’t want your ad being clicked on by people in the other 36 Greenville’s. Radius targeting.
To target the people who are just typing in single words like restaurants or hotels in your area, then run ads that only those in your service area can see. Have a radius for your ads that incorporates the area you serve. For some business this might only be a couple of miles, but for others that offer something unique, it could be significantly larger.
The beauty of pay per click is that you can target prospects for your business while they are on their laptop in their home, on their mobile phone as they arrive at the airport, or on their tablet as they research their trip. Just make sure you’ve set your campaign right so you’re not missing out on prospects or reaching the wrong market.
It seems so deceptively simple to create ads on Google AdWords. After all, you just need to begin typing in some text and if you go too far, you’ll receive an alert. Once you’re done you ad will likely go live. Then you can sit back and wait for the calls or the business to begin rolling in.
The problem is, unless you have surprisingly good instincts, the phone won’t begin to ring. Unless you’ve put some thought and some research into creating your ad, it’s not likely to be very effective. A good ad will entice relevant prospects to click on it, while dissuading non relevant visitors from clicking it.
With an ad you have less than 100 characters in total to work with, including spaces and punctuation. This isn’t a lot to work with. There are ways to add to this figure if you utilize sitelinks, for example. I’ve already talked about how sitelinks help make your ads stand out, so with this article I want focus on the word and punctuation that will make up your ad.
Neither will I discuss keyword research, which must be done to determine which words prospects are using to potentially find your ads to begin with. I’m assuming you’ve already done this.
Include the keywords into your ad. A person is typing in some product or service they need so they’ll respond first to ads that have this phrase in their title or in the text. Google will bold the keywords from their phrase in your text so even if it’s not the title, it will stand out. This may seem obvious, but a surprising number don't do this or have too many different phrases in their ad group to do this.
Use punctuation to make your ads stand out from the competition. I’m not talking about using a lot of exclamation points (which is prohibited) or out of the ordinary punctuation. If your ads are showing in the top position, then adding punctuation at the end of the first line will allow this and the title to show as one long sentence. Likewise have no punctuation will make the second and third lines show together. Test which of these works best for your click through rate.
Use best or number 1 if you can back it up. If you sell a product for example that has been rated the best by a third party organization you can include this in your ad text if you have the recommendation on your landing page or within a couple of clicks to it.
Include pricing to eliminate prospects that aren’t viable candidates. If your fees can be an issue for some prospects than consider incorporating it into your text. It will help keep those who can’t actually afford your services or products to not click on your ad.
Write separate ads for mobile. For many businesses mobile has become a huge source of business. Yet, they don’t write ads targeting this market. You can create ads and then check the box below them to show up on mobile. Incorporate a call to action unique to them such as call us.
Do something to make your ad stand out from the rest. Ever look for an item and when you see the search results all the ads look the same. If this is happening with your own ads, then find a way to differentiate them. There has to be some benefit or feature that your can highlight that your competitors are overlooking.
Don’t get too creative with your ad copy. It’s one thing to make your ad stand out from the competition. It’s another to have something from out of left field that your prospects either will not understand or misinterpret. It can either lead to a lot of wasted clicks or none at all.
Test ad copy. Do you think you've created the perfect ad? Then prove it. Create a second ad and then see which ad has the better response. It could be the ad you expected or it might be the second. Either way, tweak the one with the lower click through rate to continue to improve its click through rate.
There are other things you can do to improve your click through rate from the previously mentioned sitelinks t tightly themed ad groups. Remember that your objective is not to get people to click on your ad. It’s to generate business. Each click costs you money and its important to remember that. Is each click closer to getting you business, or is it just eating up your revenue. If you’re not sure, then consider hiring a professional to help.
It wasn't that long ago that businesses were clamoring for links to their website. The reason was that Google's ranking algorithm was heavily influenced by links. Now, however, many sites are finding that the links they have to their site are potential threats. Companies as large as JC Penny have been negatively impacted because of their links and now many people wonder if their sites are at risk.
What many businesses are finding is that the SEO company that was generating links for them in the past used unscrupulous methods to generate links. To understand why these links are bad, one must first understand what Google was looking for in links. Ideally they wanted the links to be an endorsement of a site. That someone found value in something on a site and was linking to it because of it.
If the links were meant to be an endorsement, what many took them to be as a vote. And that the more votes you had to your site, the better it would do. Like an unscrupulous politician they didn't care how they got the votes and this became the problem. Suddenly these sites were caught with their hand in the cookie jar. Unfortunately, many businesses were naive politicians and didn't realize how their campaign managers were conducting business.
If you're concerned about the links to your own site, you need to begin review them and look at what type of links they are. The easiest way to find many of the links to your site is to look at what Google has listed in your webmaster account. This will only be a sampling, but its a very good place to start.
Types of Bad Links to Look For
1) Comments posted on blogs. This was a popular tactic a number of years ago and which eventually caused many blogs to use no follow on the comments on their blog. That doesn't mean this stopped companies from using the tactic. And saying that comments are being left is a misnomer. Often what unscrupulous companies do would either post the same comments on hundreds of blogs no matter what the subject matter. You'll see if the company you hired did this as many of the same comments will appear over and over again as your review different blogs. Even today I have agencies post on my blogs, hopeful that I won't delete it. I do.
2) Blog Networks. Agencies began to think that if comments on a blog were valuable, then maybe the entire blog had value. They began to build a network of blog writers who would develop content for their blog, which incorporated a link in content specifically developed for that link. It often was poor content that no one read and which no one was expected to read. Today most of these blogs lie abandoned.
3) Link Exchanges - I'll admit I did this in the past for clients. In this instead of buying votes you exchange them with another business. You'd put their link somewhere on your site and they'd reciprocate. When I exchanged links I did so only when it related to the products or services of my client. So for an RV rental company I might exchange links with a campground or a tourist destination. Many agencies weren't so responsible and exchanged links with any site they could. The result would be a furniture company with pages and pages of links to all variety of sites.
4) Hidden links. Perhaps more than anything these type of links demonstrate an agency would use any tactic to develop links. If you go to a page that is supposed to have a link to your site on it and see nothing don't think it’s necessarily been removed. Look at the code of the page and see if the link is there. Agencies would make the link the same color as the page so it wasn't visible.
5) Paid links. For Google this was considered to be the biggest transgression a site could do, to buy links. This is also harder for the average person to detect unless they've received bills from them in the past. Many sites that sold links in the past are now trying to make money by being paid to remove them. Avoid doing this, but state that this occurred when later disavowing some links.
6) Link farms. This is probably the equal of buying links on a bad scale. Sites were set up for the sole purpose of links. These sites are nothing but pages and pages of links to sites with no rhyme or reason or assessment of quality. There are many directories that seem like link farms, but at least these have some sort of system. Whether or not it's from a link farm or a bad directory, it's not a benefit to be on either one.
These are only a few of the links you need to be concerned about, but most likely doing something to distance yourself these type of links will be a great start. Most likely if you have thousands of incoming links to your site you're going to need a professional to assist. Yet, it must be done or your website could become like a disgraced politician alone with no constituents.
If you find you have thousands of bad links, it might be time to bring in a professional. Part of my Local SEO services is to assist businesses with link management.
Pay per click is constantly changing. The old days of simply coming up with a text ad and picking out some words to target is long gone. Google Adwords is constantly rolling out new features and often Bing Ads is right behind with similar features. If you’re not taking advantage of many of these, then chances out your wasting money and losing potential customers.
A case in point are ad extensions. Google introduced them a couple years ago and they’ve rapidly become an integral part of pay per click. Since that time they’ve dropped some extensions and made modifications to others.
The advantage to Ad Extensions are that they make your ads stand out.
What are Ad Extensions?
Ad extensions are additional features that you can add to your text ad. They not only make your ad stand out more, they can often impact conversion rates. In some cases my clients have seen an increase of 50% in click through rate. There is no additional cost to using extensions, but to have them show you have to be in the top 3 spots. If you’re not, then they won’t display. When someone clicks on a sitelink the cost is the same as if they'd clicked on the ad.
Here is a breakdown of the ad extensions currently available.
In the past you could put your telephone number in your ad, but with call extensions this was prohibited. The trade off, however, makes up for this. Now prospects have the option to click to call your business instead of going through your website to make contact. You have the option of using your actual number or a forwarding number provided by Google. With this forwarding number you can track the success of your ads.
Mobile App Extensions
Like click to call, you can have customers download your app directly without having to go to your website. You can also take them to a specific page in your app.
It takes only one review for this extension to kick in. The reviews have to come from a trusted third party source. Review Google AdWords policy on reviews to learn more.
Dynamically Generated Ad Extensions
These ads are used in conjunction with dynamically generated ads, which I seldom use. The ads shown are based on the content of your site and which content the search terms matches.
To utilize locations extensions you have to have a Google Place listing for each location you want to use and then import the business locations from your Google Places account into AdWords. You can create a filter if you don’t want to use all of your locations
Instead of having prospects go to one page all the time, you can send them to various pages depending on their needs. This to me is one of the best feature to use.
They give more information about your business. For example, a plumber can list emergency plumbing, sewer repair, grease trap cleaning, or other services. When they are looking for a plumber when they have an emergency they may have more than just a leaky faucet. It could be a backup sewer and they’ll click the ad of the plumber that lists that service and doesn’t’ just say 24 hour plumber.
One thing to keep in mind is that each sitelink is most likely the first time a prospect will be exposed to your business. So whatever they type of page you send them to, make it serve as an introduction of your business. Also have a clear call to action so that even if it’s a testimonial page, they’ll know to fill out a form or contact your business.
Ad extensions have the potential to lower your costs, first by providing you with a better Quality Score. Google recently announced these are a factor in determining Quality Score. By having a higher Quality Score your cost per click could be lower.
If you're not utilizing Ad Extensions, then you should be. If you need assistance with pay per click and with ad extensions in particular, then contact me today.
One of the biggest decisions a business must make with pay per click is how much to bid for a keyword. Most businesses have a set budget they want to spend on pay per click and a list of keywords they want to target. The problem is how to get the most out of that budget and that begins with how much to bid on each keyword.
Determine Your Monthly Budget. And then Lower It
How much you bid is often determined by how much you can spend. Let’s say your budget is $1000 a month. And you want it to go the entire month. So if there are 30 days in the month you set your daily spend at 33 dollars a day. You assume that even if you reach your daily spend each day you’ll be at $1,000. Yet, Google can go over your daily limit by 20% so your actual spend for the month could be $1188. So set your daily budget at 30 and then monitor it. You might need to drop it to 20 for the second half of the month.
Now that you have daily spend, figure out how many words to bid on
Let’s stick with your $1,000 budget. You are spending 30 a day and have a list of 10 words you want to target. Type these words into Google Keyword Planner to determine the average cost per click on them for your market. If you find out that the average cost per click is 10 dollars for some words, then you could hope to get 3 clicks for this amount. If you can bid eight dollars on these words, then you might four clicks. That’s still not very much when you might have conversion rate of 2 percent. You could go the entire month and get 2 customers. That’s fine if these two customers more than pay for your spend. If not then you need to start bidding lower, even if it means you’re not on top. And limit the number of words you're bidding on. You can always add more in the future.
Don’t get caught up in Being Number 1
I hear customers all the time tell me that they need to be number 1 in order to get business. And the data does show that the top 3 spots usually convert the best. Yet, that doesn’t mean you need the top spot right away. Most likely the most competition you’ll have is at the beginning of the day when everybody’s daily budget hasn’t been spent. As your competitors get clicks they may start to drop out of the competition. Halfway through the day you might get that top spot without spending nearly as much as what it would have cost earlier in the day. Begin bidding lower for the first few days and see if you’re moving up as the day progresses, and most importantly, getting cheaper clicks.
Remember your bid could be your real cost.
Google AdWords determines your bid based on your maximum bid and the bids of your competitors. Basically its one cent higher than what your competitor is willing to spend. So if your bid is 20 and your competitor’s is 10, then your bid is actually 10.01. Unfortunately, this can create a misconception when people place their bids. They overbid thinking it will give them the top spot, but that they won’t actually have to pay that amount. Yet if a competitor suddenly increases their bids or a new competitor enters the market, your actual cost could increase dramatically. What you bid an hour ago may have doubled by now and at the end of the day a single click could have eaten up your entire budget.
Lower Your Costs Through Quality Score
Part of Google’s pay per click algorithm is quality score. Your AdRank is partially determined by both your bid and your Quality Score. If you have a high Quality Score you can actually have a lower bid then your competition, but still show up in higher position. Google is interested in the ads that people click on, not the ads that someone bids high for, but which no one clicks on. Click through is the main criteria and this comes down to how people respond to your ad. Spend some time on your ads to create something that captures the attention of your prospect and compels them to click on your ad.
Determine the Value of Each Keyword to Your Business
Whether you have a list of 10 keywords, or a million, you’re going to find some keywords have a higher potential for conversion. If you’ve set up each ad group with bids for that then you’re essential saying all the keywords are the same. That’s never the case. Monitor your words thorugh various means, including Google Analytics. Once you determine what words work best focus on these. If you need to raise the bids on these, then do it if you can without losing ROI. If it eats too much of your budget, then begin pausing the lesser performing words.
I’m Confused. Have You Said How Much To Bid on Keywords?
If you were looking for a specific number or algorithm to determine the optimal bid for your keywords than I’ve likely disappointed you. Every keyword, in every market, is going to be different. The Google Adwords Keyword Planner will give you suggestions on what the average cpc will be provided you type in your specific market. Even then, however, that data will likely be out of date. Often keywords in the same market will change over time. I’ve offered suggestion in how to approach your bid and now not to overspend. But you have to determine the bid your comfortable with.
Monitor, test, and evaluate all the time. Your bid is often going to change, so work to make sure it's of value and not breaking your budget.
This spring businesses around the country are coming to an important decision, whether or not to take out an ad in their local telephone book. They’re not just deciding on if they should renew their ad, but also are hearing from these companies about the online directories they offer. Often these are being bundled together, making them seem like a great deal. But for many business it might not be the deal it seems.
In the past, it was often critical that a local business have an ad in the telephone book, as this was the primary way prospects could find them. Yet, this has changed and even the publishers of phone books realize this. That is why their pushing hard for business to reup with them and in the process buy advertising online.
Three years ago Forbes Magazine was already asking Should Small Businesses Still Book Yellow Page Ads? The situation hasn’t gotten any better for telephone books.
If you're a business owner and debating about where to spend your marketing dollars, then evaluate carefully whether the offer they are making will benefit your business enough to justify the cost.
Here are some things to consider when deciding on your marketing plan for the upcoming year.
Evaluate How Are Your Prospects Finding You Now
Each business is different and each community is unique. How much your business might benefit from telephone books is something you must decide on your own. The more data you have the easier it will be to make a decision. Now that more people use smart phones then computers, you want to make sure you’re in front of the people who need your services or products.
It might be too late to gather data for this year, but you should start collecting information for next year to make a better decision. Here are some ways to gather data, both on the print ads and the paid listings.
• Ask customers how they found your business
• Look at your analytics to see referring sites. Do you see yellowbook.com or yp.com among the drivers of traffic to your site?
• Have a special promotion code that only shows in the print edition.
• If they offer call tracking, then take advantage of it and keep track of the data for the year.
• Monitor your own use of the telephone book. How much are you actually using it to look up numbers?
Are People In Your Community Actually Using the Online Directories
Part of the push for renewal involves the online directories that these companies now have. For larger communities there may be a portion of the population using these directories, but for smaller communities people are simply going to Google and Bing in their search for local products and services.
Compete is one site that measures traffic to sites and while It’s not a perfect source, it does give insight into how popular sites are in comparison. This is the February data for some of the local directories. And one thing to remember these aren’t even the main directories people turn to. That would be Google and Bing.
The data on Google also shows the interest in these directories is on the decrease, even while searches for Yelp and Foursquare increase.
One thing in favor of the online telephone directories is that they are taking out paid ads on Google for many local services. See if this is occurring in your area and this might make this a better investment.
What Do You Actually Need to Purchase
Most Online Directories have a paid platform, but they also offer a free listing. For some businesses this free listing might be enough. If you service a small community, with few competitors then chances are that people using these directories will find your business anyway.
Yellowbook.com is pushing some clients to purchase a website. This is fine, if you don't already have one. Unfortunately, some sales people are saying businesses should get a site even if they already have one. I had one client decide to end my services because she was getting a new website and new url from Yellowbook.com. It was a small client so I wasn't worried about my loss. I was more concerned that their current site already ranked number 1 for all their key phrases and their url was on all their marketing material. Now they were starting from scratch.
Don't Be Misled By Wrong Information
My main concern with the push for telephone directories is that the information I've heard about some sales people is concerning. I already referenced the client who gave up their current site, even though it was a main driver of leads for their business. One sales person said that having a new site. "With all of the claiming that is done on the 400 plus different online directories/search engines when the listing pops up AND you have your url part of your profile it will help your organic relevancy for your website."
Really, there are 400 directories out there? That people are actually using? This is like something shady SEO people used a few years ago. More importantly they were using this as an argument to get a second site. Again this was with a client whose current site also ranked number 1 for their services.
They also boasted that their company was only one of 19 premier partners with Google Adwords. This is true about the business, but it's not the case about the person actually handling their account. I'm a Google Certified Partner and to achieve that I had to pass their exams and meet their criteria. The person calling on this business likely didn't do any of this.
Make An Informed Decision
I'm not saying advertising in telephone books isn't a good investment. For many businesses they still are. But if you have a limited amount for your marketing business, consider if putting most of it toward print and online directories is worth it. If you’re business is one of them, then sign on for another year. If most of your leads are coming from online sources, however, then a simple listing may be the better investment for your business.
I called into Google Adwords last month to talk to one of their specialist about the new Google Shopping Program. I had some questions about the setup on a client’s campaign, but when I brought up the question he wondered what I meant by the shopping program. He was a member of the team assisting with Product Listing Ads so he should have been the person to talk to. Instead he put me on hold even though I hadn’t even told him what client I was calling about.
The program was just being released to all advertisers, but I was still surprised at the lack of knowledge the “expert” had. Luckily I called back a little while later and this Google person was knowledgeable about the program. As she walked me through the program I realized why so many advertisers who had tested the new format were so excited about it.The Evolution of Product Listing Ads.
Product listing ads had once been a free service offered to business that sold products online. Instead of their wares showing up as text ads, people could see what they offered with both a photograph and their price. Many of my clients benefited greatly from PLA’s, so needless to say we were disappointed when it became a paid program.
From Google’s perspective it was obvious why they made it part of their Adwords program. Many consumers were finding PLA’s a great way to search for items and the number of searches increased dramatically. Today billions of items are listed in the shopping program.
If you’ve been running the Product Listing Ad, switching over to google shopping doesn’t require a lot. You can use your existing feed, although you’ll find you’ll want to make additions to it in order to take full advantage of what Google Shopping offers.
Five Ways To Get The Most Out of Google Shopping.
Use keywords in your titles
This is a carryover from the original program, but still key to your listings success. Try to include the main phrases people might use for searching for each specific products in its title. Yet, try to be descriptive. Simply throwing in a bunch of keywords could result in a nonsensical title. Get the Most Out Of Your Descriptions
The terms you use in your description is often what triggers your ad. So include in the description, not just terms related to the product, but also its OEM You can have up to 10,000 characters in the description, but according to one person I spoke to at Google, it is the characters between 500 to 1,000 that have the most impact. So don’t get too carried away.Take Advantage of Custom Labels.
The main benefit of the Shopping Program is that you can now bid higher for certain items. For example you can break your listings down by product type and bid higher on those items that have a higher ROI. More importantly you can create custom labels (up to five). So you can label some products such as Big Ticket Items, others as low profit. Then adjust your bids accordingly. Everything that doesn’t fall into one of your custom labels are grouped together as “all products.” You can get very granular with your bidding, just as you would if you were pricing your items in a department store. Be careful though, as you could create too many labels and in the process create confusion about your bids. And don’t remove the current labels Google has created, even if you’re not using them at the moment. They could be important later.Don’t Duplicate What Your Competitors Are Doing
It’s not like text ads where ads are positioned in a specific order and which you want to be in the top 3. For products the items are grouped together in a box. So to stand out here, use unique photos if possible. Price is another factor in click through rate, as well as the title.See What The Competition Is Doing
Another big feature of the new Shopping Campaign is the competitor’s benchmark. You can see benchmarks about your competitors for specific products, from the average cost per click to the average click through rate. This is a great way to get your products to appear more. Unfortunately you can’t download this information as a report yet, and to see the date you often have to have large sample size, such as the last 30 days of your campaign.
One thing to keep in mind is that because the Shopping Campaign has some great features, don’t let it disrupt what you’re currently doing with PLA’S if they are working for you. Review the data on your PLA’s and determine what if anything needs to be changed.