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April 10, 2007

Advanced Paid Search Techniques

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Jessie Stricchiola is moderating this afternoon’s Advanced Paid Search Techniques session that features Jon Kelly (SureHits), Sharon Crost (Red Brucks Media) and Eduardo Llach (SearchRev).

[Just a note while I wait for things to get going: To the people in control of "heating" the session rooms, can we make the rooms a tad warmer tomorrow? Like 30 degrees maybe? I’m typing a mile a minute and I’m pretty sure I can make out a blue tinge to my poor fingers. Also, I don’t think I’m supposed to be able to see my breath. I’m just saying; it’s cold.]

Okay, okay, we’re going. The goal of today’s session is to teach marketers how to tap into the long tail and highlight some pay per click targeting techniques you may have been overlooking. You want to make sure you’re getting the most out of your paid search campaigns.

Eduardo Llach is up first. Bring on, Eduardo! (I think my toes are turning blue.)

Eduardo will focus on the kind of techniques you want to use during a campaign’s "early term" (i.e. how to get the most out of your more popular keywords).

To get the most out of your campaigns you have to expand on the traditional variables you’re using in your campaign. Yes, you’re creating keyword lists, you’re tweaking ad copy and your landing page, and you’ve decided on which network you’re going to run your ads on. But are you taking advantaging of the advanced techniques?

The search marketers who are getting the most out of their pay per click campaigns are utilizing syndication, geo-targeting, keyword match type and day parting.

Eduardo uses the keyword phrase "online dating" to show the benefits of multi-variable targeting. (I’m taking this as a personal attack on my single status.) Okay, so say you’re running an online dating site and you want to see how well that term performs in various cities. You can go ahead and do all the traditional testing but that’s not going to help you drill down your campaign. You need to know how well that term does in various cities because the bid rates and conversation rates may be drastically different.

Once you have the city information identified, you’ll want to segment based what engine you’re using for that city (Google in New York, Yahoo in San Francisco, MSN in Boston), and then by what time of day offers the best conversion rate. Are lonely people searching for dates on Friday night in New York using Google or at work on Monday morning on Yahoo after a sad, lonely weekend? I don’t know but I don’t run an online dating site.

Eduardo offered some information on the various types of targeting:

  • Geo Targeting: Works using the user’s IP address which is included in the HTML header for Google, Yahoo, and MSN servers to see. Country mapping is very accurate, while state mapping is accurate up to 50 percent of the time and city mapping is accurate approximately 30 percent of the time.
    Users can also do location mapping using Latitude & Longitude coordinates and a radius. There is some Geo targeting that is based on cookies.

  • Syndication Targeting: You can split the traffic that comes to you from Google. For example, you can elect to have ads only show up on Google’s SERP, syndication sites (like AOL search) or on content sites (AdSense).
  • Day Parting: Track the results for each day. Focus on the conversion rate. You can look not only by day, but by time as well. Do customers search in the morning, afternoon or at night? Once you track the conversion rates, you can tell Google to only run your ad on certain days and/or times. You can also change the bid price up or down per day.

Jon Kelly is up next to talk about managing tail phrases.

A tail phrase is a keyword that doesn’t get a lot of volume. Why are they important, you ask?

  • If you aggregate up all the small phrases you get a big number. For serious.
  • Clear intention/Long winded keywords (ie "new york manhattan kid friendly yoga studio) = more targeted = better conversion rate
  • Less competition = lower bids

What do you do when users have entered in those long-winded keywords and shared their intent? Use the information to calculate what that click is worth to you (probability of conversion (x) the likelihood of conversion). Reward their choices, but watch out for long tail dangers. When you wrongly assume that you know what your customer wants you can do more harm than good. Ask any guy who’s ever given his girlfriend a gym membership for her birthday. Ouch.

Also be cautious of dumping all your long tail phrases into one bucket. By doing so you’ll lose the detail of your info by putting them into arbitrary groups. Instead, think of your phrases as a series of tags. Tag keywords as you’re going through them. Is it a city phrase? Is it a car phrase? Is it a company phrase? You can then use that information to estimate what the conversion rate is going to be and the value of the conversion.
(Jon reveals when he was doing his research for this presentation he clicked on the top 30 ads for a particular query. The audience laughed. I hope the advertisers who had to pay for those clicks are laughing. Good, God.)

Up next is Sharon Crost, which is pretty lucky for Jon. I had my shoe off and was ready to fire. (Thirty ads? Really?)

Sharon instructs the audience on avoiding the pitfalls of PPC aka how to get more ROI by dragging your tail. (Rimshot. Sharon’s killing the audience.)

The allure of PPC is that it generates conversion, customer information and sales. However, there are also some pitfalls.

  • The Poor Shoppers Effect:
    • Symptom: Paying too much for what you can get cheaper.
    • Cure: Move expensive terms to SEO. This will reduce what you have to pay for CPC and increase ROI
  • The Laryngitis Effect:
    • Symptom: Losing your share of voice. (Share of voice means you want to get your voice out there at least equal, if not more, than your competitors.)
    • Cure: Even if you’re smaller than your competitors, you can still find ways to be the "bigger" voice, especially using both head and tail terms.
  • The Coin Toss Effect:
    • Symptom: Having to choose between focusing on heads or tails
    • Cure: Realizing you don’t have to choose. You can target both broad and long tail keywords. Fear not; you can have your cake and enjoy all the yummy frosting. (I’m hungry) Strategically it often makes sense to look at both sets of terms to analyze the keywords.
  • The Rudolph Effect:
    • Symptom: Isolating PPC from the rest of the marketing mix
    • Cure: Don’t forget about all of your other marketing campaigns because you got caught up in the allure of PPC. Your search engine optimization campaign is equally important. Use PPC as a way to light the way for the other marketing disciplines.
  • The Beginning Golfers effect:
    • Symptom: Selecting the wrong driver by focusing only on traffic, on revenue, on user interaction, or some other pre-defined driver.
    • Cure: Don’t assume you know what’s driving your campaign. Conduct testing and let the results speak for themselves.
  • The New Love Effect:
    • Symptom: A click doesn’t always last forever
    • Cure: Refresh, renew and reinvigorate your campaigns. Don’t let the passion fade. When was the last time you checked your conversion peak? When was the last time you tried out new keywords? Pay attention to your campaigns; don’t make your PPC campaign a bitter ex-wife. She’ll take half your stuff. And your dog.

(Note to Self: Hire Sharon whenever I need to name something. She has much knowledge and awesomeness.).

And that’s it. I’m going to go pester Bruce to feed me. Or at least caffeinate me. Oops, I think my nose fell off. Frostbite must have finally set in. [You’re this punchy and it’s only the first day? Oh dear.–Susan]

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