Re-defining Success with a PPC Brand Awareness Campaign

As an Online Marketing Company, we know the dynamics of an acquisition campaign are fairly simple. You bid on keywords, users click on your ads, and then do one of the following: complete the call to action, become a lead, make a purchase, or move on. Given that, it’s fairly easy to define success and justify the spend, whether it’s click through rates, cost per clicks, cost per leads, or return on ad spend.

However, when you use paid search for branding, rather than Web SEO, things are not so straight forward. Yes, you give users more freedom to interact with your site. However, it comes with a price: inability to track pure conversions. This can be scary territory for most search marketers. That’s why it is so important to redefine your success metrics. Not only will it help you accomplish your objectives and justify the spend, but it can also help eliminate the risk of not getting the campaign off the ground, or getting your budget cut due to either tough economic times or a less-than-convinced boss sceptical about the investment.

Successful branding PPC Campaigns: 6 key steps

1. The first step towards re-defining success is to segment your keywords into different buckets, depending on the intent of the user. To do this, you first need to put yourself in their shoes. Then, based upon the queries they conduct, think about how familiar they are with your brand. You can have several buckets, but in its basic form, you want to divide the keywords into groups of branded and non-branded terms. As you do this, try and assess what action or meaning the words denote. For example, with the non-branded terms, does the query indicate that they are a prime candidate to become a lead or make a purchase, or does it demonstrate that they are too new to the company to be ready to convert yet? You’ll need to take a close look at the branded keyword list as well, only here you’ll want to assess whether they are actively seeking what you have to offer, or if they are simply looking for information about the company or its products or services.

2. Once you have your keywords bucketed, start thinking about what would be important to know about your users. Fortunately, there’s a veritable goldmine of data available at your finger tips. Not only can you tap into data from the engines, but your Web analytics program should provide interesting data as well, and then there’s still more data available — though you may need to do some digging for it.

3. You should also examine what’s going on with your site. And while onsite metrics seem simple on the surface, most companies’ analytics packages are not set up to track these effectively. Given that, here are a few metrics to consider: the clicks your ads receive, page views, the bounce rate, and the percentage of returning visitors as compared with new visitors. In addition, you’ll want to track certain elements of your site that you deem more valuable than others, whether it’s a specific area, or a type of interaction such as downloading a whitepaper or starting a shopping cart. Remember, often the set up for such tracking will take some heavily lifting from your analytics. Also, aim to track each of the above metrics by engine, keywords, and channel. However, don’t mix-up your total site or organic efforts in this new tracking.

4. Next, you should consider looking off-site to track and monitor your competitors’ PPC activity to understand your share of voice for particular keywords or groups of keywords. Doing so will help you understand your brand impression share. Fortunately, there are some offsite metrics that are easy to track and use. For example, impressions and average ad position are two of the most basic, but Google now has a way for you to track loss of impressions.

5. Then there are conversion metrics that you can use to help guide the branding success metrics. For example, if you have an acquisition, add that into the mix, cost per lead, return on ad spend, call tracking, increased sales, or interactions at physical locations. This gives you data about how many times someone may visit the site from the branding campaign before they convert, or the downstream value of a user that does click on certain keywords.

6. Once you’ve decided on the data you want to track, start thinking about the best combination for the different buckets of keywords you have, and the weights you want to assign to each. Remember, no metric should carry equal importance in the overall definition of success. For example, visits to certain sections of the site, or increased pages views might be more important to you than the percentage of returning visitors. Then test. Tracking a PPC branded campaign takes a lot of effort and will require you to test the various combinations and weights in order to get the most out of your budget.

Putting it all together

To make the above work, you need to be creative; try different combinations and weightings of the vast amount of data available to you. And keep in mind that you get to define success metrics here, so it’s up to you to go and be successful.

Overall, a PPC marketer looking to leverage paid search for branding purposes needs to take the time to first redefine success. Not only will it help you accomplish your objectives and justify the spend, it can also help to eliminate risk, and instill the value.

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Analytics, Testing and General Landing Page Tips

Here at SEO Liverpool we often hear ‘so how does this testing lark work’?

Well.. It’s really simple. Now that you have these reports, what should you do? I am a big fan of Google Analytics – because it’s free – and you get great stuff from it, and maybe you decide to pay for a product later on. Anyway, the basic concept is, let’s take all the traffic coming in to your page and split it among the different sections of the page. Take a script at the top of the page, track at the bottom of the page, and track your goal page.

Every single hyperlink out there is a contract between you and your visitor. Listen to this, it’s very important and the top seo companies should constantly reinforce this point “Different people might type in the same keyword but have a different intent”. Web Analytics measures these things. Some people will get rid of the keyword, say the keyword didn’t convert. But it’s not the keyword – you need to understand the intent behind that keyword.

Example
Take a look at big retailers and how they are selling digital cameras – by brand, megapixels, features. They have been selling cameras the same way for many years. What about by shuttle refresh rate? What people are actually frustrated about with the camera? No one mentions that a specific model is the fastest, takes 5 pictures in 5 seconds!

Tip
There is a great plugin for Firefox that pulls the reviews – but nowhere in the ad copy does it talk about the topics that people are mentioning in their reviews! If this is what matters, why aren’t retailers putting it up front… Do it!!!

How people gather information and how they make decisions: this is what it’s important to an online marketing company. For example an advert for automated strapping banding machine, which is more logical/methodical and which is more emotional. People act differently with your content! Some look straight at the image and leave. Others look at the content. You don’t need to be an expert in personality types to understand this. Jakob Nielsen says there are 4 types of eye tracking when people come to your site. Spontaneous, humanistic, methodological, competitive (people coming in quickly and leaving quickly if they don’t see what they want). So, now that you know that different people act differently, how can use it to optimise your page?

Start simple. The analytics may say that 90% of people who came to a page bounced. Let’s look at the personality types and think about what they would want to see on the page. You need to appeal to them. Every day that hole is not fixed in your site cost you money. Go through every page and make sure the pages appeal to all personality types.

Also look at reviews and see what people saying about the product: the way it looks and feels (emotional) vs. the functionality and practicality (methodological) and you can adjust the product copy accordingly. Use their voice to give back to them. Use the voice of customers and integrate into product descriptions.

Using product images – also applies to videos, not everyone will respond to videos – 24% of photos in a study did not allow the customer to enlarge a product image, and 65% did not offer multiple views of a product! That will have an impact on the consumer.

Some sites focus on the glamour, that they miss the basics.

Let’s talk about credibility issues: some examples – who are you? People care about the “About Us” page, it will establish some of the confidence. Contact information – have it! Put the contact info in various places, it will inspire more confidence and legitimise the site. Does your site look professional? Even if you are not a design person, you can tell. Other examples of breaking confidence: small font type in gray! Be conscious of these things.

What can you add in to build confidence? Point of action assurances: We value your privacy. How long it will take for a customer service rep to contact someone who fills out a form. Return policies, guarantees. Make sure it’s all there for the consumer.

Other points: 59% of sites according to a recent Nielsen study did not provide shipping costs early in the check out process, and 35% have a checkout process with more than 4 steps! 41% do not provide assurance points in the checkout process. Many sites do not offer in stock availability. Make sure you offer estimated delivery date, etc.

Others credibility points to add to your site: certifications, awards, other review sites that look your site.

Testimonials can also be very effective, but also can have no impact on you. Look at different styles and see what works best for you.

What kind of financial impact can this have on you? You can double your sales just by adding policies.

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Let’s get your website ranking quickly

At Summit, our online marketing company we’re always asked to speed up the process.

If your site is brand new and you want to compete against established sites directly on their most important keywords then you need to be good at public relations, have a better brand strategy, or have some remarkable feature that makes people want to talk about you. Without conversation and links it is hard to pass up sites that have been accumulating links for years.

But what if you could roll back the clock, and quickly grab those top search engine placements. You can.

The easiest way is to buy an old site that is not well maintained, and then build it up. But if that is outside the scope of your budget or marketing strategy and you are trying to rank a new site the key is not to attack directly, but to attack indirectly.

Of course many of your product pages will contain keywords that are the same or similar to that which the competition is targeting, but the more obscure long tail words are going to be easier to rank for. Here are 6 strategies to help you get lucky with your ranking quickly:

Tip 1

Use the less popular version of a keyword. If most your competitors are targeting Knowledge Management but nobody is targeting Knowledgemanagement then it is going to be easier to rank for that alternative version. And even if the alternate version only gets 5% or 10% the search volume of the related keyword, you are still going to pull in more traffic by ranking #1 for it than you would ranking #30 for the more popular version of the keyword.

Tip 2

Use many keyword modifiers. If you can’t rank for the core keywords then try to add some related keyword modifiers to the page title. Is credit cards too hard of a keyword? Then consider targeting a phrase like best credit cards. Cheap search engine optimization contracts will usually concentrate on this particular tactic.

Tip3

Mix up your on page optimisation. Rather than placing your keyword phrase all over the page consider mixing up how you use it. If the page title contains best credit cards consider using something like compare top credit card offers in the on page H1 header. Notice the change between plural and singular versions of the keywords. Popular CMS programs like WordPress have plug ins like the SEO Title tag plug in that make it quite easy to vary your page title and on page heading.

Tip4

Go deeper than the competition is going. In some fields I have been lucky enough to find niche low volume keyword topics that bring in a couple searchers each day. The ongoing maintenance cost of this content has been negligible, but as an added bonus for ranking for these long long tail keywords is that some of the people who search for them are people who really care about those topics, and many of them link to our websites. And so my new sites start benefiting from the self reinforcing effects that older sites benefit from, even though it is still new.

Tip5

Move away from the commercial keywords. If you stay within a small basket of well known commercial keywords it is hard to compete with strong competitors that have been targeting them for years. Niche how to content that solves a searcher’s problems is likely to build inbound links. These inbound links boost your domain authority and pass PageRank internally to other pages on your site, which is much of the general goal of many SEO linkbait projects…some pages are good at building inbound citations while other pages leverage that link authority and generate revenue.

Tip6

Buy traffic. If you build high quality niche content and it does not rank as well as you would like it to then you need to actively market it. Mention it to a couple popular bloggers in your space and ask them what they think of it. Another option for instantly getting relevant traffic to featured content is to buy targeted ads. StumbleUpon (you’ll end up paying for SEO services in dollars) sells category based traffic for 5 cents a visitor, but this traffic is nowhere near as potent as search traffic – many of these visitors come and go quickly. You can also buy pay per click traffic for your quality content. If you are buying it for commercial keywords the cost per click can be significant, but if you are trying to promote a quality non-commercial topic that is linkworthy you can often get visitors from search and AdSense ads for less than 10 pence each. With the buying traffic to build links strategy, it can take hundreds of clicks to generate an inbound link, but when you consider how time consuming and expensive link building is, then $50 or $100 for a good link can be an outright bargain.

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Adwords Quality Score Help Part 1

As an Online marketing company with our web SEO and PPC training it’s very common to get questions on Google Adwords quality scores.

More and more, ranking positively in paid search listings is less about how much you pay and more about the “quality” of your ad campaign. But what goes into making up your quality score? We’ll take a closer look at quality factors and give tips on increasing the perceived relevancy of your campaigns.

What is a Quality Score? The old model is kind of a bid to position situation. Quality score essentially is a dynamic value assigned to each keyword, and is the basis for defining quality and relevancy of your ad. So the higher your quality score, the lower your minimum bid and the higher your ad placement.

Google rolled out Quality Score in 2005, and they revised the algorithm in 2007 to incorporate landing page relevance, and then later on allowed their users to see it

The key thing is that Google believe that delivering more relevant ads would create more value for users. If search engines can deliver more relevance that makes them look good and then you look good.

So Quality Score is a way to make searches more relevant.

Where to find the Quality Score? You need to drill down to the ad groups and specifically shows each of the keywords, you need to click on “customise columns” and then quality score. So it gives you a feeling of how good or poor your keywords are.

Historical click through rate for each keyword affects your Quality Score, the relevance of the ads and the quality of landing page. Also your account history, history of all click through rates and ads in your account. Of course there are factors as well that won’t be revealed to us.

Relevance and landing page are the key things.

Case study: We had a client who came to us as part of their whole SEO outsourcing requirement. They were managing their own campaign and they currently had an average minimum bid of 40 pence, and 5 ad groups, and each ad group had 100 keywords. It turned out that 72% of their keywords had poor Quality Scores.

So the first thing we did was come in and create more, smaller, more relevant ad groups. Then we developed more relevant ad copy for each group. Then we optimised the landing page using Google’s web optimiser. And we tested to see what was and was not working. So some results: the average minimum CPC went down to about 8 pence, click through rates went up about 11%, conversions went up from 2.6% to 4.2% within 2 weeks, the quality score for over 50% of the keywords went from poor to great. And then after a month, anything that still had a poor rating, we just deleted them altogether.

So the key thing is you need to test and keep an eye on quality score. Many people miss out on this.

Hot tip: You probably should allocate about 10%-15% of your budget specifically to testing. You will learn what’s working and what’s not working.

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More content… really?

Content. At SEO Liverpool we’ve noticed this buzzword in the SEO space has grown to astronomical levels. As I speak with companies on a regular basis, they constantly tell me that they’ve been advised by an online marketing company to write new and unique content by the boatload — no matter the Web site or space they’re in.

It’s time we review the advantages of content, and where it may be applicable. Let’s look at a few sites that will either need heavy amounts of content or little to no content.

These sites need content:

* Affiliate sites, which typically add little to no value by simply copying from others. These sites need a specific value-add, to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack.

* Sites with heavy amounts of graphics, Flash, video, or any other site that may be difficult for a user requiring a screen-reading program to view.

* E-commerce sites that use a set amount of content from a massive distributor, like Ingram Micro or Tech Data. Each merchant has access to the exact same data — what makes your site different from the rest?

These sites don’t need heavy amounts of SEO-specific content:

* Sites with a large community of content contributors who spend a good portion of their time writing about the topics surrounding the subject matter of each site.

* Sites that generate content on a regular basis, such as news sites or blogs.

Instead of trying to manipulate search engines, consider providing a way for your users, distributors and/or manufacturers to give you unique and well-written content. It’s likely that they have written marketing materials that won’t make it to their standard (and usually expensive) forms of distribution. This content could add a great deal of value to products and/or services that may be offered by many other online dealers with either the same or slightly different data.

When creating content to enhance search engine placement, keep in mind that it can come in multiple forms — services, contests, games, video, and even news . It’s critical that the content is interesting and compelling, so it has the chance of being linked to by a “fan.”

It’s very important that if you offer a special guarantee, such as a price match, you honor it to any possible level. By having complicated terms that make it nearly impossible to use… you’ll wind up upsetting your client base. While you may get links to your site, it will hurt your reputation.

It’s also extremely important to have a “yes we can help” customer service attitude. Your loyal customers can be solicited to come back and write about their experience. This most important feature has helped companies such as eBay and Amazon.

The retail sector, some stores have lost this attitude. In many cases, no matter how small the request, they just say no. You wind up spending an enormous amount of time arguing with them that you’re right.

However, if you buy the same product at a sites like ASOS, with their very friendly customer service attitude, you’ll be satisfied through the entire process and come back to buy more.

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