Update to AdWords Ad Sitelinks Serving

17 01 2011

Ad sitelinks have become a big success since their release over a year ago, helping advertisers to increase their CTR up to 30% on average.  As a result of sitelinks’ success and popularity, Google decided to improve the way they serve their ad sitelinks.  As you know, Google allows advertisers to add up to 10 sitelinks at the campaign level, which are then applied to relevant ads (which meet AdWords policy guidelines) at the ad group level.  Up until last week, Google chose to display an advertiser’s sitelinks by the order in which they were added.  Very scientific of Google.

“In the past, we simply used the order in which you entered your Sitelinks to rank which ones to serve. For example, while you could enter up to ten Sitelinks for a campaign, we primarily used the top four for any ad in the campaign (as long as they met our policy guidelines).” – Inside AdWords

With AdWords’ ad sitelinks new serving enhancement, sitelinks will be shown based on historical performance data, rotating in the sitelinks with the best CTR more often.  While advertisers will continue to create sitelinks at the campaign level, performance data will be assessed at the ad group level.  While this new serving enhancement is fantastic, AdWords still does not provide advertisers with the performance data for individual sitelinks.  This lack of data is unfortunate, as advertiser’s currently have no way of knowing which sitelink is performing better, because the CTR is applied to the entire group of sitelinks and not at the individual link level.

In the meantime, at least AdWords is now rotating sitelinks into ads based on performance data, and here’s to hoping that sitelink level performance data will be the next update in Google’s line of ad sitelinks enhancements.





PPC for the Holidays

22 10 2010

If you have already begun to implement the recommendations and holiday tips from John, in his SEO for the Holidays post, great work!  Because SEO and on-site optimization tactics have a longer timeframe before you can expect to see results (but it’s worth it, as in the end you’re not 100% reliant on paid clicks for your traffic and sales), it’s never too early to get started.  However, with the holiday season approaching, consider pairing your SEO strategy with a PPC one if you’re looking to gear up your holiday advertising presence more quickly.  PPC campaigns have a shorter ramp up cycle and can be created, launched and up and running in just a few hours.  Nevertheless, don’t let this fast track to results fool you, PPC campaigns need to be crafted just as strategically as SEO campaigns.  Especially, for the holidays.

While the holidays can be a huge source of income for retailers, you can never assume that consumers are more likely “pull the trigger” and buy because it’s the holiday season.  In fact, numerous studies including a 2010 Post-Holiday Consumer Study by Google, shows that the shopping cycle of average consumers is lengthening.  This means that your potential customers are doing a lot of research prior to purchase, even for lesser-priced items like cosmetics and pet supplies.

Holiday Tip: Keep the lengthening shopping cycle and consumer buying habits in mind, and ensure that your PPC strategy includes broad and specific keyword variations that your potential customer would use throughout their research and buying process.  This includes general keywords, long-tail keywords and branded or product specific keywords.

Research and Review before Getting Started

Before you launch your PPC campaign for the holidays, you should review holiday campaigns from the previous season to see what keywords, ads and landing pages performed the best.  This will give you a good baseline for creating a high performing campaign this year.  If you did not run a holiday campaign last year, don’t worry.  Do some competitive research and see what your competitors, similar retailers and stores are running successfully this year.  Then, use similar tactics when targeting keywords and writing ad text.

Holiday Tip: Don’t forget to schedule your launch dates and advertising messaging around nationwide sales days like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas Day.  Online shoppers are out in droves, looking for deals and are ready to buy.

Create Ad Text that Speaks to your Customers

Use calls to action!  Don’t assume that your customers will do what you want them to do once they hit your site.  You will likely miss an opportunity to convert an undecided visitor into a sale.  It’s imperative that you give your potential customers a purpose and a reason to buy from you.  This includes highlighting your holiday specials, promotions and product value propositions for them.  And, based on your research, make sure that your ad headlines and copy include keywords that users are searching on, as these terms will be bolded in the search results and help draw a user’s eye to your ad.

Take a look at the ads below, the ad on the left is compelling a user to shop, and giving them a good reason to do so (i.e. Huge Sale and Free Shipping).  The ad on the left has done a good job at utilizing appropriate keywords, but does not include a call to action, enticing the user to click on their ad versus the competitors’ ad.  While first impressions can gain or lose potential shoppers, to generate a successful holiday PPC campaign it’s important for your ad to stand out from the crowd.

 

Holiday Tip: To get your ads to stand out from the crowd even further, consider adding convenience features such as Google Checkout or utilizing AdWords Sitelinks or AdWords Product Extensions through Google Merchant Center to display eye-catching imagery along with your sponsored text ad.  And, don’t forget to test your ads!

Use Targeted Landing Pages

Once you’ve captured your potential customer’s click, what’s next?  Your messaging has done its job, but the user experience has just begun.  To improve your chances of converting your visitor, their experience upon landing on your site must align with their expectations and provide them with the tools and content needed for them to buy.  Now, it’s up to your landing page strategy and conversion funnel to close the deal.

The content on your landing pages should align with the promotions and keywords in your ads and ad groups.  Prominent “Buy Now” or “Shop Now” buttons should be used to grab the visitor’s attention immediately.  Simplify their navigation options on the page and make their path to conversion easy.  And, don’t forget to include relevant imagery that aligns with what the user was expecting to find by clicking on your ad.

 

Holiday Tip: Use your landing pages as an opportunity to merchandise by recommending other items that pair well with the product they’re considering buying.  This improves the potential to increase the final order value and drive additional revenue for related items.  FInally, don’t forget to test your landing pages!

For an immediate online presence during the holidays, PPC advertising can extend your visibility quickly through targeted keywords and strategic holiday messaging throughout your potential customer’s research and buying process (helping them choose to buy from you versus a competitor).  However, before you throw budget at a PPC campaign for the holidays, make sure you’re planning ahead and have time to optimize key elements properly, to ensure that you generate the sales revenue you’re seeking.  By utilizing the PPC best practices outlined above, you will be well on your way towards getting in front of your target audience when they’re looking for what you offer and converting them into holiday sales.  Cha-ching!





Yahoo! and Microsoft Search Alliance: What it Means for Small Business

28 07 2010

While the approaching merger between Yahoo! and Microsoft, officially known as the Yahoo! and Microsoft Search Alliance may not be news to many in the industry, there are several things small businesses should be aware of.  Fundamentally, the merger will not change how end users receive and employ organic and paid results, as Yahoo! and Bing will keep their unique, branded interfaces as separate entities.  Consumers will still perform search queries and utilize the results on the search engine of their choice, Yahoo! or Bing, and receive a differentiated consumer experience on each.  The main point of difference will be in the way organic and paid results are served.  Bing’s algorithmic technology will power both Yahoo! and Bing’s organic results, while Microsoft’s adCenter will generate the paid listings for both engines.

Overview: Elements of the Alliance

Yahoo! and Microsoft have been looking towards this transition as the key to solidifying a competitive future in search, predominantly paid search (against Google).  The algorithmic technology of Bing combined with the larger market reach of Yahoo! will provide consumers with sustainable search innovation and relevant, reliable results, while businesses can count on a more competitive advertising alternative (to Google AdWords).  This transition will primarily affect Yahoo! and Bing’s individual PPC programs by bringing them under one umbrella using Microsoft adCenter.

  • Essentially, SEO strategy will not change.  However, small businesses should expect to see variations in traffic and organic position as Bing’s algorithm is rolled out across Yahoo!.
  • What will change is how the  individual Yahoo! and Microsoft PPC advertising interfaces will become a unified advertising marketplace.  Ultimately, this consolidation will simplify the current PPC interfaces into one advertising program, powered by Microsoft adCenter.
  • Small businesses will be able to effectively distribute ads to Yahoo! and Bing through one platform.
  • To better compete with Google AdWords, Microsoft adCenter will be adding usability features and functionality similar to the AdWords platform and Editor product, to make the experience more intuitive for the majority of advertisers who are already familiar with the AdWords interface.

What’s Next

The timeline for the Search Alliance rollout is early fall, prior to the 2010 holiday advertising season.  Should there be any delay in the transition, Yahoo! and Microsoft will push the merger to the first quarter of 2011, to ensure holiday advertising is not affected.  To prepare for this initiative, small businesses should be aware of and ready for the transition to happen.

  • Existing Yahoo! accounts will need to be transitioned to Microsoft adCenter prior to the merger.
  • Start planning the transition now and get an expert involved (whether that be an agency or Yahoo!/Microsoft rep) to ensure accounts are properly transitioned, optimized and conversion tracking properly set-up.
  • As is the case with any PPC initiative, Formic will be carefully monitoring performance during this merge and helping clients make a smooth transition to adCenter.

With the Search Alliance transition slated to take place in a couple of months, Formic advises small businesses to gear up for new innovations to take place on the search front later this year.  Stay tuned as the Formic team provides updates and recommendations throughout the process.

We will touch on the Yahoo! and Microsoft Search Alliance in our upcoming Formic Media Seminar Series: PPC Fundamentals (register today as space is limited).





Landing Pages are for Winners

16 07 2009

Ever wonder why your perfectly targeted and optimized PPC campaigns which are generating good Impressions and stellar click through rates (CTR) are NOT converting?  Chances are your company needs to investigate where your ads are taking your visitors.  Let’s talk about landing pages!

Landing pages are likely one of the most important components to creating a successful PPC campaign.  Without the use of targeted landing pages within your campaigns, you are doing your visitors a disservice and quite possibly losing a conversion, sale/purchase, form submission, etc.  When a user clicks on your ad, clearly:

  1. Your ad was highly relevant to their search query.
  2. Your ad copy and headline were enticing and resonated well with their online needs/intentions.

Success!  This user has now clicked on your ad.  However, if you are dumping all of your visitors onto your home page or some other general and irrelevant page – this can be confusing, frustrating and downright inconvenient for the user.  In short, you don’t want there to be a disconnect between the ad that a visitor has clicked on, and the page that the ad takes them to.  Online user attention spans are very short, because everyone wants to find what they are looking for instantaneously.  If you make what your ad was advertising hard to find, visitors will most likely bounce from your page immediately.

The purpose of targeted landing pages is to eliminate these problems, by making it easy for a user to complete a conversion.  Depending on what your conversion goals are (sale, download, form submission, page view, etc.) landing pages and conversion funnels will vary; however, the same basic principles will apply:

  1. Make sure your landing page has a Call to Action!
  2. Make your call to action button or link is as big and bold as possible.  We all like big, bright, shiny things – and this will help with kicking off the conversion process.
  3. Keep it Simple.  The fewer items, pictures, videos or unnecessary text on the page that could distract your visitor from converting, the better.
  4. Limit navigation.  Make it hard for users to leave your page – trap them if you have to. :)  However, ensure that users can navigate to your home page (a logo linking to the homepage works well here) or basic top/side navigation that matches your website.  For example, they may want to do some more product research on your site before they buy.
  5. Keep all copy above the page fold and add in relevant PPC keywords.  This not only helps with your AdWords quality score, but it improves relevancy for your visitor.
  6. Brand your landing page to your website.  This helps makes your page recognizable and builds user confidence in your company, so that the landing page is not just seen an advertising/sales ploy.

We hope this helps shine some light on the importance of landing pages and why they are essential to every PPC campaign.  Happy PPC’ing!

Ever wonder why your perfectly targeted and optimized PPC campaigns which are generating strong Impressions and stellar click through rates (CTR) are NOT converting? Chances are your company needs to investigate where your ads are taking your visitors. Let’s talk about landing pages!

Landing pages are likely one of the most important components to creating a successful PPC campaign. Without the use of targeted landing pages within your campaigns, you are doing your visitors a disservice and quite possibly losing a conversion, sale/purchase, form submission, etc. When a user clicks on your ad, clearly:

a. Your ad was highly relevant to their search query.

b. Your ad copy and headline were enticing and resonated well with their online needs/intentions.

Success! This user has now clicked on your ad. However, if you are dumping all of your visitors onto your home page or some other general and irrelevant page – this can be confusing, frustrating and downright inconvenient for the user. In short, you don’t want there to be a disconnect between the ad that a visitor has clicked on, and the page that the ad takes them to. Online user attention spans are very short, because everyone wants to find what they are looking for instantaneously. If you make it hard to find what your ad was advertising, visitors will most likely bounce from your page immediately.

The purpose of targeted landing pages is to eliminate these problems, by making it easy for a user to complete a conversion. Depending on what your conversion goals are (sale, download, form submission, page view, etc.) landing pages and conversion funnels will vary; however, the same basic principles will apply:

a. Make sure your landing page has a Call to Action!

b. Make your call to action button or link is as big and bold as possible. We all like big, bright, shiny things – and this will help with kicking off the conversion process.

c. Keep it Simple. The fewer items, pictures, videos or unnecessary text on the page that could distract your visitor from converting, the better.

d. Limit navigation. Make it hard for users to leave your page – trap them if you have to J However, ensure that users can navigate to your home page (a logo linking to the homepage works well here) or basic top/side navigation that matches your website – for example, they may want to do some more product research on your site before they buy.

e. Keep all copy above the page fold and add in relevant PPC keywords. This not only helps with your AdWords quality score, but it improves relevancy for your visitor.

f. Brand your landing page to your website. This helps makes your page recognizable and builds user confidence in your company, so that the landing page is not just seen an advertising/sales ploy.

We hope this helps shine some light on the importance of landing pages and why they are essential to every PPC campaign. Happy PPC’ing!








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