Are Google Changing The Rules Again?

As we all know Google is a money making machine. All the more surprising when their forth quarter earnings last year didn’t meet their forecasts. Especially when you consider that its core business, SEARCH, was at the core with an 8% cost per click decline!

Now perhaps advertisers are just getting better at their bidding..but bearing in mind that Bing, with less historical data at the disposal of advertisers, saw a 6% increase in cost per clicks, Google must be concerned.

So what are they doing about it?

Google plan to add to the existing broad, phrase and exact mach terms with near match, Near Match is designed to “enable you to safely extend the reach of your Exact and Phrase Match keywords to cover plural, misspelling, close rewrite, abbreviation and acronym variants only.” 

So what this means is that there is going to be a greater volume of keywords available to bid on, but with less data available on how to do it correctly. Unsurprising then that in some testing done  Google has suggested a 6.5% increase in click volume and a 9.8% increase in impression volume but also a 13% increase in click costs.

Could this be the perfect antidote for Google’s Fourth Quarter losses?

There’s nothing more that I can say, because quiet frankly google themselves aren’t saying anything at all except

“We actually haven’t announced anything on this and don’t have any more info to share at this time”

Google keeping quiet about new near match keyword term adwords





The Best blog Post I Ever Read – reblogged

I read this blog post today by Avinash Kaushik, and I have to say it is probably the single most useful post I have ever come across! I just had to re-blog it. It gives a great explanation of custom Google analytic reports and gives links that you can click on which will automatically create and save the reports for you to use in your own analytics account!

3 Awesome, Downloadable, Custom Web Analytics Reports

December 6, 2010 104 Comments

SustenanceIn a world where we are overwhelmed with data and metrics and key performance indicators and reports and dashboards and. . . sometimes all it takes to make some sense of all this “mess” is someone stepping up to share a tiny slice of wisdom from their experience.

That’s my plan for this blog post. To share with you three custom reports that I find to be super valuable when I am doing web data analysis. Not only will I tell you about them, I’ll give you downloadable links so you can get going right away!

I must forewarn you that my hidden agenda is also to expose to you metrics you might not be using, views of data that you might be ignoring, best practices that are of value and teach you how to fish. Consider yourself fully forewarned!

I love custom reports. They allow us to step away from the oppression of standard reports (/data pukes) and bring an increased amount of relevancy, calm and focus to our day-to-day work and to our beloved data consumers.

If your daily practice of web analysis does not hugely rely on custom reports (and advanced segments) then I am afraid you might be a lot more in the Reporting Squirrel mold and a lot less in the Analysis Ninja mold. Sorry.

With that motivational speech, :), below are three custom reports that are of incredible value. You can use them as is, or, better still, you can download and adapt them to your unique business needs. Either way I promise you’ll deliver actionable insights faster!

[While I am using Google Analytics here, you can do custom reporting in pretty much any tool you have access to, be it Yahoo! Web Analytics or Site Catalyst or WebTrends.]

#1: Page Efficiency Analysis Report.

I am often irritated by how fractured page level reporting is. Four or six or ten reports that all tell you how your website pages are doing, except that you don’t know which report to use and what the heck to do. So you, and I, do nothing. Faith rules.

My goal was to create one single report for you that would serve as a valuable starting point for page analysis for any type of website, especially a content rich non-ecommerce website. Here it is. . .


Optimally, to judge a page you’ll look at three different pieces which are often not on the same report or not in any standard report. We fix that above.

First, what we want to know is: How often does this page act as our home page (Entrances) and how well is it doing its job (Bounces)?

I like reporting by Page Title (hopefully you are good at SEO and have taken care of this). I can quickly see which pages have high/horrible bounce rates. In an instant I know which pages need emergency surgery.

[For the minority of you who believe high bounce rates are ok, I encourage you to see this post: I especially recommend reading comments #153, #157 & #164. Thanks.]

Second, we worry about content consumption: How many Unique Visitors came, how many page views were generated and what content was more consumed more / less?

A lot of focus is on measuring Visits, which in this case I don’t find to be of any value. I want to know how many People (approximated by Unique Visitors, plus or minus a few) saw a piece of content. Pageviews gives me a great proxy for knowing how often they might have seen it (not surprisingly more than once for my looooooong blog posts!).

The final metric in this bucket – and this is lovely – focuses on which pieces of content are really consumed. I write really long posts; it is gratifying that people spend 14 minutes reading one, but I can also easily see posts/topics people just skip (not good!).

Super awesome right?

Third, (the part almost everyone ignores), “show me the money!!!!”: What value was created by the content for our business? And by business I also mean non-profit, university, newspaper, government websites and chicken farmers!

I don’t care about page views if I am not making money / adding value to my non-profit or university. The data in the last two columns shows-pay attention please-differences in value created (for you!) when that piece of content was consumed.

Per visit goal value column shows ultimately how much a page might have influenced impact on your business during a visit where someone viewed that page. So People who see Page 2 end up creating 0.82 value for you, and People who see Page 3 end up creating $1.15 worth of value. Hence content on Page #3 was more valuable to your users and your business during this time period.

I like having Total Goal Completions because sometimes raw $ value hides insights. For example see pages #3 and #4. See what I mean?

Initial job greatness, consumption / “engagement“, and value delivered to your business. Do you know this about your content?

Here’s how you can get this report:

  1. Log into Google Analytics.
  2. Come back here.
  3. Now click on this link Page Efficiency Analysis Report. It will open in Google Analytics.
  4. Click on the Create Report button and it will save it in your account.

If you want to share this report with others (say via Twitter / email) you can use this url:

Bonus Items:

You’ll note that I have pre-built two drill downs into this report. If you click on the Page Title you’ll see Visitor Type (New vs. Returning). I like to see for my great / awful pages if the behavior and data differs for those two segments. Then I like to drill down by City, again to see deltas. But you can change this to anything you want.

Remember you can apply segmentation (oh yesss!) to this report. Scroll all the way to the top of the report. Click the drop down next to Advanced Segments. Click on Mobile Traffic (or whatever) and. . . Boom! Mobile page efficiency analysis! Sweetness.

If you have an Ecommerce website you can replace Per Visit Goal Value with Per Visit Value and Total Goal Completions with Transactions.

If seven metrics seem to be too much to analyze click on the Comparison icon on top of the table (in Google Analytics) and you’ll magically get this:


An easy peasy fast way to compare two metrics of most value to you and quickly identify the winners and losers. In this case I am answering a common question: Which content is consumed the most by People on my site and of that content which is most “engaging,” i.e. cause them to read all of it?

Play with this feature; it is to die for. Change the pairings. Faster insights, guaranteed.

#2: Visitor Acquisition Efficiency Analysis Report.

We tend to be far too obsessed about Search Engines and Twitter and the Next Shiny Object.

Or we are organized by silos. Daniel’s responsible for email and Gemma’s responsible for Bing and Harun’s responsible for display. They never talk (there is no incentive to). There are a ton of reports of course. But everyone’s optimizing for their local maxima rather than for the global maxima.

Hate that.

My goal was to create one report where I can review the efficiency and performance across all streams of traffic to the site. Paid media (PPC, Display etc), Earned media(Social Media), and Free media (SEO, Referring Sites etc). I don’t want the Next Shiny Object nor the Current HiPPO Obsession to drive our acquisition strategy.

Here’s the report that is a fabulous starting point. . .


Let’s break down a report you are soon not going to want to live without. 🙂

First, it shows all traffic sources. This is key. Organic and paid search, direct traffic, Twitter and Facebook, Facebook display ads, email marketing, top referring sites etc etc. No more silos! One place to judge how all streams perform. No egos.

Second, we focus on input metrics: How many sessions (Visits) by how many Unique Visitors and how many existing vs. new?

Senior folks seem to love Visits; I find them harmless. I really care about People. So one column for each of us. Are your marketing dollars chasing visits from people who have already visited your site, rather than prospects? New Visits to the rescue. For example notice the delta between Facebook ads vs. Facebook referrals. Ouch. Cute to know this key performance metric, right?

Third, this one’s really important: How many people engage in behavior we value?

Typically you would look at metrics like Average Time on Site or Page Views per Visit. In this context why not use something significantly more insightful? I have created a Goal for the site where anyone who spends more than x amount of time or sees more than y number of pages is really giving me a precious gift: their attention. Regardless of whether they buy or submit a lead or do anything else of value, for me it’s success.

Looking at this Goal, rather than Avg Time on Page, is significantly more insightful in judging the initial blush of success. You see even if these people don’t buy on the website they might buy offline. Or even if they don’t donate or download, they’ll at least be much better aware of my brand. Or even if my acquisition campaign (Paid, Earned or Free) did not result in conversion in this visit, maybe they’ll come back later.

Use this type of clever behavioral goal measurement rather than Avg Time / Pages.

[Important: When you download this report, below, this column might have a zero or show something incorrect – if you have Goal 6 defined. To use the smart strategy I am recommending you’ll have to 1. work with your business leaders to identify what “engaged” behavior is in your case is, 2. create a goal for it and then 3. add that to the report you’ll download here, then 4. celebrate.]

Fourth, outcomes baby! How much business value was added.

I don’t have to teach you the value of using Conversion Rates and Goal Values. The whole point of this report is to prioritize our focus.

A vein should have popped in your head when you saw the conversion rates between google/cpc and google/organic. Good lord!

You can quantify that your Twitter earned media efforts yield 21 cents of extra value for every visit when compared to Facebook earned media efforts, and a shocking 62 cents more than your efforts with Facebook display ads! OMG.

Will that help you prioritize your efforts better? As Sarah would say: You betcha!

Fifth, this is very important: What did it cost you to get this traffic to your site?

This column in the report will often be zero. If your AdWords account is linked to Google Analytics perhaps you’ll see Cost here. But most of the time it will be zero.

I still want you to have it.

Just to remind yourself, and your decision makers, that not all these rows have the same cost to bring that traffic to your site, to get it to engage and finally deliver the value you see in the Outcomes column.

Often we de-prioritize Earned Media and Free Media in favor of Paid Media (it seems sexy). That column is to encourage you to get cost numbers, even rough ones, and then, you’ll do this in Excel, add something like Cost Per Conversion or Cost Per Visitor to the report (in Excel). Then and only then will your company be making the smartest possible decisions.

Remember no acquisition is free. Even “Free Media”, it just costs less. It is your job to identify that and make your company smarter.

Are you providing this view of Acquisition Efficiency to your HiPPO’s?

Here’s how you can get this report:

  1. Log into Google Analytics.
  2. Come back here.
  3. Now click on this link Acquisition Efficiency Analysis Report. It will open in GA.
  4. Click on the Create Report button and it will save it in your account.

If you want to share this report with others (say via Twitter / email) you can use this url:

Bonus Items:

You’ll note that I have pre-built two drill downs into this report.


If you click on the Source/Medium you’ll drill down to Medium. For your email / search / display / social media / video / whatever else campaigns you’ll now see the next level of detail (banner ad or rich media ad or. . .).

If you click on Medium you’ll drill down to Campaign Name (certain size, duration, destination, promo code, whatever you have coded).

So you can hold all your $$$ accountable.

If you have an Ecommerce website replace the Goal Conversion Rate metric with Conversion Rate and Per Visit Goal Value with my favorite Average Value.

As with the above report you can apply segmentation to this report (please do!) and you can also use the Comparison view and, another love of mine, Advanced Table Filtering.

Faster insights, and massive increase in hugs and kisses, guaranteed!

#3: Paid Search Performance Analysis Micro-Ecosystem!

Allow me to kvetch for a second.  I pull my hair out, and a small part of my soul dies, every time I log into someone’s Omniture or Google Analytics or Unica NetInsight account. For the thing that greets me is a massive data puke. Tons and tons of reports created for God knows what reason.

They are the bubonic plague of our existence.

It is as if our lives were not miserable enough with the 80 or 100 standard reports we have no idea what to do with. Now those not savvy in the first place about Visits and Visitors have to wade through even more irrelevant nonsense.

I have championed the elimination of standard reports (who the heck is “standard” anyway? you?) and instead advanced the creation of focused custom “micro-ecosystems” that 1. reduce the number of reports 2. provide a one-stop destination for most answers on one topic, and finally, most importantly, 3. are hyper relevant.

Here are the three steps to creating a self contained micro-ecosystem of relevant data:

STEP 1: Identify & understand who will consume the data.

STEP 2: You are not going to believe this. . ., talk to them (!) to understand their needs and success criteria.

STEP 3: Insert two ounces of your raw brain power. What do they need, beyond what they want?

That’s it. I know it sounds simple. Trust me everything below is easy (actually I am going to give you the report for free!), the steps above are really hard.

The micro-ecosystem I have created for you is to analyze the performance of a Paid Search Marketing program. The above examples have been non-ecommerce; this one is focused on ecommerce.

There are three key parties I need to satisfy (as might be the case in your company). The SEM team, who actually spend all the paid search marketing budget day-to-day. The second party is the person who owns the website (Director). Finally the VP of Digital who is responsible for all the spend, across multiple efforts.

Following my three step process above I have noted what each party wants, and, this is important, I have, from my experience, identified what they need.

Here is the micro-ecosystem. . . piece number one. . .searchmarketingdataanalysiPPCteam.png

Everyone in the company goes to just one report to analyze the performance of the paid search campaigns. When they log in they choose their relevant tab. It’s that simple.

The first tab is focused on the SEM team. Four metrics on this page are what they directly asked for, things they watch every day, things their bonus depends on. I have added two more from my experience to prompt good behavior (Bounce Rate) and tie them to the bottom-line (Average Value).

First, we look at the “input.” How many ad impressions were served? How did our ad perform in terms of Click-thru Rate? The team obsesses about this. Match types. Ad Copy. Quality Score. Ad Position. Campaign Structure. Search query. So many things in play, this is where you find out where to start looking for problems.

Second, we look at activity. It is exceedingly rare that the SEM team (or, even worse, the Search Agency) is responsible for Bounce Rate. I think this is criminal. They can’t just be responsible for spending money and dumping traffic on the site. However painful, they have to work with the site owner to ensure landing page relevancy, ad message consistency from Bing/Google to website and quality of their ad targeting. This humble metric is to force them to do that.

Third, I am sure you see a theme in all my work, outcomes! The team cares about Cost Per Click and total Cost. Give ’em that. But you’ll be shocked that most of the time they don’t care about conversions. So I add Average Value (essentially Average Order Size) so they can see which keywords to focus on more or less (see the range above from 82 to 211!) and not just clickthru rate, etc.

The SEM team / Agency will do lots of other reporting and segmentation and deep dive analysis. But they now have a simple and effective starting point.

Next up. . . the person who owns the process after the traffic shows up. This might be different in each company, but typically the website is owned by one person. Here is their tab. . . on the exact same report!


We shift our focus quite a bit as we move to the Director / Site Owner. They don’t care about all the upfront stuff. They care about what’s happening under their responsibility.

First, we focus on how many Visits occurred and what kind of Visitors they were? Specifically are we attracting just the same old visitors we have always seen or is our money being spent optimally to attract new people to our site? Percentage of New Visits is here as a conversation starter between the Director & the SEM Team / Agency.

Second, what’s happening on the website? Are the entry home pages great? Bounce rate is a joint responsibility. Then it is important to realize that sadly not everyone will convert (boo!). I have chosen Pages per Visit as a proxy for an activity of value completed by the Visitor to the site. We know what the Average Pageview per Visit is; this column tells us if by keyword the difference, and if people don’t bounce do they connect with our content? If not then why not? As a Director that is my job to figure out.

Third, surely my neck is on the line for ensuring that money (lots of it) is being produced. Hence the Revenue column. It takes less than ten seconds of eyeballing to figure out where there is a mismatch between crowds of visits and a mass of revenue (or not), and between non-bounce content consumption and revenue production.

Sweetness. One report. We are all on the same page!

The SEM team is probably logging into the system all day long; the Director perhaps a few times a week; the VP of Digital probably just a few times a month. But when She/He does they’ll go to the exact same report and click on Her/His tab.

Here’s what they’ll see. . .


[Note: Here are things good Analysis Ninja’s worry about. You’ll notice Impressions in all three personalized tabs. The Director and VP don’t really care about this metric. It is there as an “anchor.” Whichever tab you go to the data will always be sorted the same! Tiny detail, but it matters so much.]

The VP is greeted with a lot fewer metrics (remember: always fewer relevant metrics!).

First, they might pay a cursory glance at the summary view provided in the scorecard(which will be on top of the above report but I have cropped for clarity). They do care about traffic. Just seeing the sorting of the Visits, in context of the Impressions, will give them pause. Note the questions that might pop up, even to a VP, as you compare the queries “accuracy vs. precision” and “kaushik”.  Or “customer service questions.” What is up with that?

Second, VPs care about cost and they care about productivity. These are two columns they use to praise you and get you and themselves a bonus. What is the Cost per Click and, for that expense, what is the Revenue per Click? I don’t have to tell you what to do with these two columns. Love them a lot.

Third, VPs care about their bonus. Sorry, I mean they care about company revenue. 🙂 Knowing RPC is important, having Revenue right there is fantastic context about overall achievement. You could have stuffed number of transactions or orders or conversion rate or all that other junk. You don’t need to. Remember: fewer relevant metrics!

Your effort into the three STEP process above pays off rich dividends by killing data pukes, focusing on what’s important, and creating one destination for everyone to go to and for everyone to point to.

It is so amazing when this works.

Here’s how you can get this report:

  1. Log into Google Analytics.
  2. Come back here.
  3. Now click on this link Paid Search Analysis Micro-Ecosystem. It will open in GA.
  4. Click on the Create Report button and it will save it in your account.

If you want to share this report with others (say via Twitter / email) you can use this url:

[Update: Rob Taylor has created a nice version of the above paid search report by applying filters to it, a feature of Google Analytics V5. You can download Rob’s version here: ]

Bonus Items:

If you click on the Keyword you’ll drill down to Campaign. This is important because your campaign structure has so much influence on your ultimate performance. If you click on Campaign you’ll drill down to Ad Group level (which needs constant love and caring).

You can easily create a micro ecosystem for your Email campaigns. For your Social Media efforts. For your. . . any place your company is spending money.

This report is for Ecommerce. It will work just fine if you’re a non-profit or a government entity using AdWords or adCenter. Just swap the outcome metrics with ones mentioned in the first two reports.

You can do segmentation, advanced table filtering and all other good stuff here. Do it.

Extra Special Bonus Items:

Except for the last report, you can create all the above reports in five minutes in any web analytics tool you are using. You will not need to touch the JavaScript tag or go on a date with the IT team or update the contract with your Paid Vendor. If you are using Omniture or CoreMetrics etc you can still create the third report in Excel. Please do.

If you are using Google Analytics check out the delightful quick start guide to Custom Reporting. It covers designing, building and viewing a custom report. Tip: Check out the super useful graphic under Building Your Custom Report.


You will fail at all the above reports if you have not identified your Goals and Goal Values. If you are starting from scratch use the Web Analytics Measurement Model to identify your Goals. If you need more tactical examples from different types of websites please refer to my blog post on Macro & Micro Conversions.

Gentle reminder: No Goals, No Glory.

I had a lot of fun creating these special reports for you. I hope you’ll have just as much fun adapting them to your own companies and their unique needs. But most of all I hope you’ll release your data customers from the tyranny of data pukes and irrelevant standard web analytics reports!

Ok it’s your turn now.

Do you have a favorite custom report? Care to share a downloadable version with the super smart audience of Occam’s Razor? Do you have some version of one of my reports above that is even better? Care to share that one?

IncentiveThe person who shares the best report will get a personalized signed copy of Web Analytics 2.0!  Please share the report via comments, I know we all would love to benefit from your wisdom and experience.

There were some wonderful reports submitted, please see the comments, but the one I loved the most was by Peter van Klinken [comment #41]. It was a very clever report and the use of pivot tables in GA was particularly cool. I’ll be sending Peter a signed copy of W A 2.0.

Thanks to all of you for the wonderful submissions.

Chirpify – Will People Buy Things On Twitter?

With Facebook’s IPO on the horizon and the success stories of other tech companies like Google, Apple and even Netscape still fresh in our minds, there seems to be increased media attention on the latest start up’s potential tech stars of the future. I recently blogged about Pinterest, the fastest growing social platform online, and today I wanted to have a quick look at another company which has caught my eye.

Facebook IPO Social Commerce, Start Up Companies, Chirpify

Chirpify enables businesses and consumers to buy, sell, donate and exchange funds on Twitter, turning Tweets into transactions. Everyone keeps saying social commerce is the next big thing. On a basic level this means giving people the ability to purchase products directly through social media sites. This is already relatively prominent through the likes of Facebook even if a lot of these products aren’t actually real. Last year Zynga made up 12% of Facebook’s massive revenue, and that was largely through the sale of virtual components for their games.

Looking to the not to distant future though companies are likely to leverage the concept of influencers by offering people the ability to earn discounts by sharing products they like or have bought and thus encouraging others to buy them too.

Lockerz, which has received a whole bunch of funding itself over the last two years has just recently launched a Pinterest like pin board platform, where users can actually gain points which can then be used for purchases, by pinning items to their own boards.

So with these media rich social platforms all trying to coax people out of bricks and mortar stores and online to make their purchases, what hope does a company aiming to use 140 characters to get people to buy have?

There is already a certain degree of selling happening through Twitter. Brands send out links to discounted offers, or celebrities use the micro blogging site to flog their own merchandise to their followers but all of this happens outside of Twitter. People click on a link and are brought some place else where they can make purchases. The whole process isn’t exactly seamless.

What Chirpify does is to allow people to buy, sell, donate and transact directly on Twitter simply by replying to a Tweet. This is done by integrating Chirpify and Pay Pal directly with your Twitter account. Users can then purchase an item on Twitter by simple replying to a Tweet listing with the word buy. This could certainly make for some interesting drunken purchases if it is in fact as easy as this to transact.

Social commerce, buying things drunk, Chirpify

There also seems to be potential for donations and with the every tech savvy Obama camp gearing up for another election campaign, being able to get set priced donations directly from people on Twitter simply by them replying donate, seems like a huge benefit.

Another feature which I thought was cool was that it provides an easy platform for people to exchange money. For example if you and a friend or splitting a bill. One of you can simply pay the other person by directly responding to a tweet.

However the fact of the matter is that most of these things can be done already,directly through Pay Pal, but leveraging the huge user base of Twitter might just catch on.

Some start up’s get millions in funding, and the fact that Chirpify, formally known as       sell got their first investment of just $50,000 recently, might suggest it is small scale. But with social media sites determined to do all it takes to keep users on their site rather than sending them elsewhere, perhaps…Twitter themselves might come knocking?!

Twitter interest in start ups

Facebook Insights Explained !!!


I have just gone through a fantastic interactive tutorial for the new Facebook insights which has just been launched. By getting you to answer questions on the content you watch as you go through It gives you a great understanding of how the the application works! I would highly recommend anybody to give it a go.

One thing of note was what Facebook said about the type of posts that gets the greatest interaction

  1. Post between 100 and 200 characters (less than 3 lines) receive about 60% more likes, comments and shares than posts greater than 250 characters.
  2. Rich media content such as videos and photos have about 120% more interaction
  3. Post regularly. Your fans are more likely to engage with you if you stay on top of mind
  4. Ask for your fans opinions. Use your page as a place to have conversation. Use the info you get to get feedback on your marker
  5. ask questions using the Facebook question app. This makes it easy to get lots of information quickly.
  6. Try posting fill in the blank posts. Fill in the blank posts enjoy about 90% more engagement than other posts
  7. Give your fans access to exclusive information by liking a post. Make them feel special. Give them first look at products, or discount prices
  8. Reward your fans with deals and perks. Make these offers only available to fans
  9. Be timely. Your audience are more likely to engage with your post if it is about topics that are already in the front of their mind
  10. Localize your posts if the content is only relevant to certain fans. Use the Geo targeting feature to target specific areas

Display Network Marketing

Breakdown of time Spent on internet. Search. google. PPC. display

Despite Google being the most visited webpage in the world and its absolute dominance in the world of search, what this diagram reminds us is that in relative terms we spend very little time on their site. Out of the average hour a user is online, just over 2 mins of that is spent searching.

So what should we take from this? Despite PPC being a really effective tool to drive business, we need to focus as well on the other 58 mins int he hour. We do that through display advertising.

Display Network Marketing or Adsense used to be all about poor ad placement and targeting and really wasnt worth the hassle. But in recent years a lot of that has changed meaning its possible to get a great return on the money you put in to it.

The reason search advertising is so successful is that you target people when they are ready to buy. This is know as the value moment. But focusing in on the other two marketer’s aims is important too. First, people need to know who you are. they need to be aware of you in order to purchase. Second they need to be enthusiastic about your brand. Really they need to like you. Using Display network marketing (DNS) helps address both of these.

PPC Query stage ready to buy Value

The reasons to use DNS are similar to search which I talk about in my previous post. It gives you great control, you can vary your budget and there is an incredible ability to track. You also get to reach your market before they begin their search. When people are reading blogs, looking at news or videos, their intention isnt to search out information. But by being present there at those times, when they come to the first stage of the purchasing process, you have an increased chance of being part of their initial considerations. Studies show that people are more likely to click on search PPC ads when they have seen display ads too.

When you consider search advertising Google is the only show in town. They have such dominance that you can really focus all your efforts with them. However with display, its not as clean cut. Yahoo and AOL both have decent offerings and need to be considered.

What are your Goals?

  • Branding- in this case using pay per impressions is the better option (CPM) (i know those initials don’t really work out!)
  • Reaching a specific market. Cost per click (cpc) will probably work better. this is the default setting of a Google campaign
Who are where are you targeting?
  • Geography
  • language
  • Where are your competitors
Targeting choices
  • Content based ads. These will use keywords to target ads.
  • Placement Ads. You will chose specific sites to place your ads
Text and Display
  • Sizes and Styles of your ads. There are 7 different size options. It is advised that you make ads for all 7 because most websites only take certain ads, so not having the appropriate size will limit your options.

Tools ( I will follow up this post with a blog about these tools)

  • Google placement tool.
  • Double click ad planner
  • Google Display Ad Builder

When you set up a campaign as default your ads will be displayed on both search and display. It is advised that you change this. The behaviour of people you are targeting, the keywords you may want to use and the ads you use will all be different. So there for having different campaigns is a better idea.

Content Ads work by choosing a selection of keywords. Your ads will then be placed on sites that use these words. It is best to create a a bucket of terms similar to what you would do in PPC advertising. However it is often the case that you will need less terms as you want the ads to appear on specific type websites rather than being more vague if you choose long tail words.

Placement ads work by selecting the specific sites or the type of sites you want your ads to appear. You can use the double clicker ad planner tool to find out info about a site in advance. This is a real useful tool that tells you traffic to the site, type of visitors and even other sites that they have visited.

When creating Ads for placement it is important to use action words. However these call to actions will be different than those used in search ads. Your targets are in a different frame of mind so using phrases like “learn about” “discover” “find”, are all less aggressive and shown to have better results.

Call to action action words

It is also important to envision your ad on the content page. It may look great on its own, but once it is surrounded by text and other content it may appear too busy. Make use of white space. Your ad must also be less than 50k in size.

When starting a campaign, start small and then commit more resources as you learn. Use conversion tracker to see how many click throughs each ad is receiving. Obviously this will be most important for CPC campaigns but by having this function switched on it also allows you to enable view through tracking. This is an incredible feature that allows you to tell if some who has come to your website, has seen your ad before. it works by enabling a cookie one the ad has been displayed to them, and you will be notified if they come to your site within a specified time period after that. This really helps to hammer home how effective your cost per impressions branding tactics are working.

You should use analytics to see which sites are driving the most traffic to your website and also which of them stay the longest on your site. You will quickly then be able to see which sites are worth focusing on and which sites you can specifically omit

Pay Per Click Advertising. John Barron Webinar Summary

I was able to watch a recently archived Techspectations Webinar that John Barron Hosted, so I thought I would do a brief summary.

Why Use Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising?

There is lots of talk about social these days, but in reality lets be honest, who heads straight to facebook when they are looking for information. Search is still King

According to a study done by Engine ready people who arrive at your site via a PPC link as opposed to an organic link are 30% more likely to buy. The conversion rate stands are about 2% in comparision to 1.26% for organic.


Obviously it is vital to have a site that is built with SEO in mind. But by have a dual SEO and PPC tactic you can turn up on search results pages more than once. This helps you appear as a leader.

  • PPC allows you a lot of control of your the experience that will be had. By having having specific landing pages for different keywords and ads, you can decide what you want your potential customer to see.
  • PPC also provides the ability to do fantastic analytics. As I have mentioned before in previous posts. Tracking is king. By knowing what is working and what isnt you can drill down on the tactics that work best for you and increase conversions and sales.
  • PPC also allows you to have a varying budget. Whether this is for seasonal sales, days of the week, times of the day or general location you can alter your budget to suit your needs.

The search landscape is evolving and PPC is changing with it. More emphasis is now being placed on local and mobile search. PPC offers things like directly clickable phone numbers which are hugely important for local businesses targeted local traffic.

When a search is entered now results can contain shopping pages, local searches, images, videos, reviews. As the information that is available in organic search improves, it is harder for PPC ad to stand out. Therefor is is vital to make your PPC campaigns count.

  1. Define your goals :  What do you want to achieve? Leads, sales, promoting a product or event? These will then become your Key performance indicators (KPI’s) which will in turn help with your tracking.
  2. Tracking : Tracking is key. at the very minimum you should be tracking leads and sales. Other useful indicators are bounce rates, page views and time on site.                         Tracking phone calls clicked on directly from ad will become more prevalent. Right now there is no Irish company doing it. Perhaps displaying a unique phone number not displayed anywhere else will help measurement.

Building a Campaign

Create Buckets – these are groups of 30 – 60 keywords which can be used for ad groups.

  • Use Google Keyword Tool
  • Ask customers
  • See what your competitors are using.
  • Use common misspellings
  • Competitor names. By law you cannot use their names in your ad typebut you can use them as keywords. You may receive a lower quality Score for the Ad from this, but if conversions are good, then its worth it
  • 4 words plus works best. You may get less traffic but you will get a better conversion rate
  • Negative Keywordsbuilding a ppc campaign

Ad Copy and Landing Pages

  • Use Keywords in your ad. This will help to improve your ad quality score as well as standing out.
  • Use specific landing pages
  • Use compelling language
  • Highlight your key selling points. Bear in mind though that you may have to prove your claims to the Google editorial board.
  • Think outside the box slightly. For example John gave the example of using keywords of funeral homes for his florist client and making purchase and delivery there easy.

Track Early And Often

  • Dont set your budget to high at the beginning. You can always ad to the budget later.
  • Test your searches. Do manual searches for keywords and see where you turn up.
  • Make sure your keywords are targeted enough. If your terms are too broad you are going to get low conversion rate.
  • Make sure your metrics are working. Is Google analytics tracking your page properly.
  • Add to your keywords for phrases that are bringing the wrong traffic.
  • Cut out words that are not working
  • Use tools like Conversion Optimiser that helps you optimise your bidding.
  • Use multiple ads so you can test which ads are clicked on the most.

It is also worth noting that certain things are set as default on PPC campaigns. for example broad search is automatically used. It may get you better conversion rates by using exact term searches. Also your ads will be displayed both in search and display (various websites participating in Google display network). John suggests that you change this to just have search ads, as the ad type that works best for the GDN is different and should be done separately.

Ad extension allows you to extend out the size of your ad and take up more real estate on the page. This allows you to stand out more. Ad extension can be used for

  • Location – the address takes up an additional line
  • Site- menu items from your site appear on an additional line.
  • Phone number
  • Specific productsAd extensions PPC Google Adwords

You can get more of John at presentation is available at

Optimising Your Landing Pages

Ok Last post I spoke about Sensible Google  Advertising and what I had learnt from a session we had with Google themselves.  What I am going to go over today is how to optimise your landing pages.

Optimize your landing pages

Optimise your landing pages to get the most from your advertising. The golden rule is tracking tracking and more tracking. Use the tools that are available to see what works. A bounce rate of less than 25% is solid. Anything over 50% and you have a problem.

These are the areas you should focus on

  1. Confirmation – When someone lands on your page do they know immediately that they have reached where they want to be. You can’t help the inevitable bounces that are always going to occur but you can keep the people who want to be on your page page making it clear to them that they are on your site. Branding, colours, logos are all key here.
  2. Speed – How fast does your landing page load? G to to see how fast your page loads. Anything over 2 seconds is not acceptable. You will lose business.
  3. First impression – You only have about 10 seconds for some one to decide if they want to stay or not so make the first impression count. Make sure you bring them to the right landing page.
  4. Design – Use your space wisely. Do not have the page cluttered. White space also draws peoples attention. We also know that people look at certain areas, such as the top left of your page, the most. So use your page real estate well and make what you want people to notice the most, the most prominent.
  5. Visuals – But place them in the right places. No point having your most important area taken up with a picture. Also be wary of SEO. Any images should use alt text titles.
  6. Text – Tailor your text to your audience. Say the right things in the right way. Make use of headlines.
  7. Call to action – tell people very clearly what you want them to do.
  8. Value proposition – Tell people why you are better. Whats your USP
  9. Persuasion -Which is made up of the following
  • Reciprocation – give them something in return – discount for signing up
  • Commitment – Reduce the risk for them. For example money back if not satisfied
  • Social proof – Show that other people have been happy
  • Scarcity – Put urgency into it
  • Authority – Be Credible, trustworthy, secure



Sensible Google Advertising

We had a gentleman Google come in and talk to us recently to give us some advice on search engine marketing. We have covered organic search so this was to focus on paid advertising through Google.

I can’t even attempt to cover the whole area, and this is a very simplified version.  The basis behind Adwords is

Bid price x quality score = position

Google’s aim is to display the most relevant ads to searchers. Quality score applies to both your key words and your account and is affected by a whole range of things including

  • The click through rates of your ad. The more people are clicking on your ad, the more relevant that google deems it, meaning the click cost will reduce. A click through rate (CTR) of 3% is considered good.
  • The load time for your landing page can also effect your quality score.
  • How closely does your ad copy reflect your keywords
  • The use of Keywords in the Ad title will effect quality score
  • Whether the landing page contains the keywords searched.  Every time someone does a search, they are looking for an answer. Does your page help them find that answer?
  • The overall account quality score. This will be affected by the history of the account.

His stand out advice was that tracking is key. The more tracking you do the better success you will have. You need to focus on where you are doing well and realise where you are not, and then remove your efforts from that area. Makes sense really. Particularly with all the tools that made available to you.

Tracking your adwords progress is Key. Use Google tools

Using tests to optimise your landing pages is really important. Amazon do so much testing on their pages that they know that having some one with a blue jumper will effect click through rates over some one wearing a green one say. Now this is just an example, but what is fact is that orange encourages the most click throughs out of any colours. It stands out like red, but its not as aggressive! Ah so thats why amazon is so orange! When your talking about the volumes that they deal with these things can have a huge impact.  But even on everyday websites making little changes like these can help.

You can use split tests where people who click on your ads will be brought to alternate landing pages. This means you can makes changes and decide wheich works better A or  B.

Alternatively there is multivariance testing, which allows you to change a whole range of layout, fonts, colours etc. But this is complicated stuff and perhaps we should leave this to the amazons of the world…for now.

Because of the cost associated with traffic from Pay Per Click (PPC) it is important to discourage the wrong kind of searcher. If you aren’t going to be able to convert them to a set goal whatever you decide that to be, well then they are simply costing you money. It is important there for to use negative keywords.

Negative keywords are words and phrases that you do not want searchers to associate with your products and services. When you add negative keywords to your PPC campaigns your ads will not be served if those words are part of the user’s search query. For example if you are selling a high end luxury cruise, you dont want to attract people looking for cheap/low cost holidays. So by having cheap as a negative keyword, any one who includes that in their search query won’t be served your ad.

Putting a price in your search ad will increase conversion rates too, as people who are out of your targeted price range won’t waste their time clicking through.

Mobile Search worldwide is predicted to be US$3.3 billion in 2011 sky rocketing to $20.6 billion in 2015. Its surprising then that so few companies have adapted their websites for mobile usage.  Mobile search is different with 70% of queries being fulfilled within a few hours.

By including a phone number in your mobile ad and enabling lcick to call, you will increase conversion rates.

Google Display Network, or Adsense is different from Adwords, as you are targeting people who are not actively searching. Therefore the click through rate is going to be lower. There are some techniques that you can use though to help improve this.

Remarketing allows you to target people who drop off in the conversion process. Because Google can track people through cookies, it is aware if people begin a transaction and don’t complete it. for example, if you decide to purchase a book and place it into your shopping cart, but then realise that you don’t have your credit card and don’t make the purchase. You can then be directly targeted on other websites to encourage you to buy the book again. The cost of acquisition for somebody that has already demonstrated a desire to buy the book, is lower than someone who hasn’t.

Google also automatically scans your emails, using their content to target ads. You email your friend about going on holiday in France. Hey presto loads of ads start appearing about things to do it France. I know, I think its a bit freaky too!!

Google indexing your emails. Remarketing. Cookies

Some other techniques you can use for targeting on the google display network

  • Contextual – target people based on clusters of Keywords
  • Placement – put your ads on specific sites
  • ICM – target people who like certain topics. Type in to find out which area you are most interested in!
  • Topics – Target sites of a particular topic.

GDN ads can be pay per click or pay per impression (usually 1000). PPI is used more for branding, which in turn can positively effect your search numbers

In my next post which will hopefully be soon I will talk about  how to get the most out of your Google advertising