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Welcome to Josh Baker's Practical Advice for Optimizing Your Internet Marketing blog. Here you will find internet marketing optimization and online strategy articles full of tips, tricks, discussions, and thoughts to help you take your marketing and business to the next level of success.

Archive for Paid Search – PPC

Upper Funnel Keywords in paid search (or even in organic search by definition) are those keywords that do not bring in visitors that convert in a traditional sense into an immediate purchase or lead, but rather are the keywords that convert the potential customer to the next stage of the “interest cycle”. These Upper Funnel Keywords typically bring potential customers or leads into your website that have not made up their mind to make a purchase (or fill out a form or take a trial) because they are still in their “considering their options stage” of decision making and are possibly not yet familiar with you or in some instances not familiar enough with you to complete a conversion during that visit.

Example:
You are going on vacation to a cold climate (let’s say the North Pole). You know you need to buy something to keep yourself warm, but you’re not sure exactly what options are out there because you live in a year round warm climate. So you do a search on the keyword phrase extreme cold weather coats. You end up at a website by clicking on a paid search ad that appeared when you typed in the phrase and notice that they have a section for cold climate coats and even list the temperatures they can withstand.  You think to yourself, wow this is great, now I have a better idea of what’s available and I kind of like Brand X Model 4567, but I am not going on the vacation for another 4 months so I am not going to purchase anything today because I don’t have the extra money. Forty-five days later you win $200 on a scratch-off ticket that you found and decide that you are ready to purchase a coat with your extra money, you do a search on Brand X Model 4567 since you knew the exact coat you wanted to buy now and end up back on the same website as before and purchase the coat.

The difficulty in measuring the value of these Upper Funnel Keywords is that they don’t produce single visit conversions -you can’t see the whole picture of entrance to conversion in your analytics data in a linear fashion.

For instance, a single visit conversion would show start to finish in one visit from entering your site to making the purchase. Here you easily have the whole picture from the PPC keyword that triggered the ad that they clicked on to enter your website and their entire path to the purchase.

With Upper Funnel Keywords, a typical scenario would be that the visitor arrives at your site from these keywords or phrases,  looks around, leaves, comes back another time reads more information, exits your site again, then finally comes back a 3rd time and makes a purchase.

Most only know how to measure the keywords that produce single visit conversions and thus deem these Upper Funnel Keywords more or less valueless because their value isn’t easily seen in a typically known fashion. The ROI isn’t easily visible.

In the example given earlier, the keyword phrase you searched on first, extreme cold weather coats, was the Upper Funnel Keyword phrase. You didn’t purchase during that visit of your initial search, but you did eventually go back and purchase based on the information you learned during that first visit. Had another website come up with a different but possibly similar featured coat that you liked, you would have purchased from there and a different coat. So there was definite value in that first search as it gave you the information you needed to make a decision, but you just didn’t purchase then. Now imagine if you were only looking at single session conversions, you would only be able to confirm that Brand X Model 4567 was a valuable keyword because a sale was associated with it. But in reality, without having a presence in paid search for extreme cold weather coats a sale wouldn’t have been made – thus showing the importance of being able to look at multi-session conversions to contribute back value (and ROI) to the Upper Funnel Keywords.

Avinash Kaushik on his Occam’s Razor blog this week made a powerful and very instructionally clear post on how to measure the success of Upper Funnel Keywords and I suggest you read his post for the details on how to do so.

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If you’re investing in Paid Search then it will most certainly and profitably make your wallet happy if you clearly understand how to optimize your landing pages that visitors arrive at after clicking on your PPC display ads to increase conversions.

Of course you will need to perform testing on your landing pages to determine the best page combination of elements statistically speaking-but it’s important to understand or to at least be reminded of the importance of carrying your message through in landing page optimization.  Understanding this concept will help you in choosing initial test elements to test.

IMPORTANT: Your message needs to be carried over from your display ad to your landing page.

If someone is on Google or any other search engine doing a search on Apple products and your display ad copy influences them to click based on its references to your special deals on Apple products, but the landing page features and talks about Microsoft products, the visitor in most instances won’t spend the time to find out where you have that information placed or hidden, it’s just too easy for them to use the back button. Additionally, if you are presenting information on your special deals (your offer)  as I mentioned above, and your landing page has the right products, but no mention of the special deals (offer) you can also lose the visitor for many other reasons such as the frustration of feeling they were mislead.

Remember the visitor clicked on your ad because it drew them in by what it had to say, be it a specific product, your offer, your brand, your verbiage, etc. You don’t want to let the visitor bounce and go back and click on the next display ad. And unfortunately, in most cases that next ad will be your competitors’ ad.  You wouldn’t have a sign on your brick and mortar store that says Tire Sale and only have toothbrushes on the shelves.

When you don’t carry over the message, you’re throwing a good portion of your PPC money away on unproductive clicks that won’t convert as often as those who carry over their message from PPC to their landing page.

Therefore it’s extremely important to keep the continuity of your message all the way from your display ad through to the landing page to increase your chances of influencing a conversion.

On a final note, you should know that just carrying over the message isn’t the magic bullet where you don’t have to worry about anything else. You still have to be concerned with your page layout and presentation, your offer, your images, the style and content of your copy and so on. Carrying over your message is just one major but important factor in the process of landing page and landing page optimization success.

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Use Google’s Impression Share report to get the metrics to determine if you have room to grow your Google AdWords PPC campaign in your target market. Impression Share reports on the percentage of times your ads were displayed out of the total number of page impressions possible to you in your market. For example, if your report range chosen was last week and your impressions are showing the number 1,000 and your Impression Share is showing 10%, you can infer that there is a possible 9,000 more impressions available to you to go after. Compare impression data over selected time periods to see if you are losing or gaining ground in your available market, or if there is more room for you to grow.

Google Adwords Impression Share Column

However, make sure you also compare this to your backend data and align with your marketing strategy as there may be available ground to gain in impressions but with less benefits to receive in gaining those additional impressions. Those who are using their PPC campaign ads as part of a branding strategy may want to gain more impression share than others for instance. With a highly profitable keyword or group you may want to test gaining more impression share.

So I bet you are wondering just how to improve your Google AdWords Impression Share? Google gives a few quick tips to improve your impression share such as improving ad quality, increasing you budget or bid, adjusting your keyword match type, and adjusting regional or placement targets.

Want to know how to view the Impression Share metric? View detailed steps in AdWords Impressions Share Reports FAQ .

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It’s a no-brainer that it is undeniably more important now so than ever before to be consistently and aggressively optimizing your websites for conversions (both macro and micro-conversions) when the economy is tough as it is right now.

For many online businesses, paid search is one of their primary acquisition sources of new customers, sales and leads. Paid search competition is equally as tough right now as the customer has less money to spend to make their purchases.

Simply and sadly put, it will cost more to acquire the customer who spends less. No one likes to hear those words, ever.

According to this press release from SearchIgnite, who reviewed trends from January 2006 to September 2008, Paid Search growth was strong in the third quarter of 2008 revealing an increase of nearly 27% compared to the same quarter in 2007. The release stated that intra-quarter retail spend showed a decline – and even with a small increase in conversion rates the AOV (average order value) showed a decline.

Two primary solutions with your paid search campaigns are to work on converting more customers that are already coming to your website via this channel or to increase AOV (or both) in your short-term and long-term plans. This is of course involves the incorporation of optimizing your paid search campaigns too.

This is where the familiar “which comes first the chicken or the egg” syndrome comes in. Do you optimize your PPC campaign first to reduce unnecessary spend going out and then optimize your website for better conversions from that traffic? Or, do you optimize your website first in attempt to maximize the conversions from the traffic you are getting and then optimize your PPC campaign from there, or do you do a combination of both at the same time?

Searching the web and depending on whom you read and what theories you subscribe to, you will read many viable reasons why each of these three starting points are the best solution. In the end, most agree the right solution is the one that fits your marketing strategy and goals. But almost all agree that if your testing and optimizing, no matter which end you start with, if results are statistically sounds and financially trustworthy, you are headed in the right direction.

In the end, this is definitely not the time to make guesses on what you think might work to improve your online results (nor was there actually ever a time to make guesses). Rather, this is the time to get proven answers via testing and optimization strategies and to use this data to make the changes needed to increase your online website performance to get closer to your goals.

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Today Google announced in their Inside Adwords Blog that they have increased the level of detail available to you in the Summary section view to help you gain better understanding of your Google Campaigns and Ad Groups performance.

Previously, you could only view performance of just the Content Network and Google Search (which combined Google Search with Google Search Partners such as AOL, Ask.com, and others). But with this update they have broken out Google Search Partners into a separate metric allowing you to more finely tune your account to peak performance.

The also announce that this level of detail will be available soon in the Reports Center.

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Categories : Paid Search - PPC
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