Pay Per Click Persistence

Aug. 30

Over the last few months, my wife and I have been running a lot of great races! The first one was back in May, the 5K San Carlos Fun Run. One week ago, I’m pleased to announce that I ran my first 10K race, the San Mateo Bay Vista Run. You can see some pictures from the race in this post. The 10K is definitely an endurance race, one that requires a lot of persistence both during the race but also in training. My persistence certainly paid off and I finished the race with an excellent time and more excitement for running than ever! In addition to my running career, persistence has been absolutely critical in my pay per click career and today I’ll tell you why!

Persistence, A Requirement For New PPC Campaigns

Right Before Bay Vista Run

Pay per click is very different than it was in 2004 when I started. Back in the day, I could simply launch new campaigns and they would turn to pure gold relatively quickly. Sure, there would be some optimization required, but profitability usually came within a few short days or less.

These days, however, profitability typically takes some time. That time is typically anywhere from one week all the way to a month. Why? Two big reasons: competition and quality score.

The competition side is simple enough. The pay per click marketplace is saturated. The bids are high, the landing pages are outstanding, and most of the keywords have been discovered. Because of all this competition, it takes a lot longer to really figure it out and make your new campaign profitable.

Now, let’s add the concept of quality score on top of that. Not only do you have to optimize around the fierce competition, but you need to establish a strong quality score from day one. I’ll keep it short because I recently posted a video about launching a new AdWords account where I cover this very topic. The takeaway: It’s always smart to go out the gate with strong bids so you establish a great quality score from day one. The downside? This will definitely lower your profitability in the short run (but will dramatically increase it in the long run). When you launch new campaigns, it’s all about persistence. The rewards will come, but it definitely takes time!

Persistence and Career Longevity

Running In Bay Vista Run

I’m a huge fan of the pay per click career path. I’ve made it big in online marketing. How? Hard work and persistence.

There are two main reasons persistence will pay off handsomely in your online marketing career. First and foremost, this is a difficult career path. We’re managing multi-million dollar budgets and have a lot riding on our shoulders. As such, pressure can exist. I actually embrace the pressure (I view it as excitement) and harness its power to my advantage. It’s a rush for me.

However, many people don’t look at it this way. They can’t take it and leave the industry. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen leave a great PPC gig because they didn’t have the persistence. What happens when you’re the last one standing? You learn a lot really quickly and have the opportunity to get promoted very fast. Leverage persistence to your advantage, career longevity is your secret weapon.

The second reason persistence pays off in your online marketing career: It’s all about stock options. My stock option batting average has been simply amazing. However, to really cash in on stock options you need to vest as many of them as possible. What does it take to vest a lot of options? Persistence!

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Optimization Beyond Bidding Whitepaper

Aug. 26

I’m a huge fan of whitepapers! In fact, I just wrote a FREE 12 page whitepaper all about buying SEM software. It actually took me nearly an entire day to write, edit, and publish that whitepaper so I have a ton of respect for anyone writing great PPC whitepapers. Today, I’m excited to share with you a great new FREE whitepaper I just discovered, Marin Software’s Optimization Beyond Bidding.

What Is Marin Software?

Optimization Beyond Bidding

Before I discuss this great whitepaper, I wanted to first take the opportunity to introduce Marin Software. Marin software is the leading pay per click search engine marketing software solution. It’s the package of choice for corporate search engine marketing organizations. Recently, Marin Software announced that over one billion dollars worth of annual spend is managed by their system. That’s simply amazing.

Want to learn even more about Marin Software? I highly recommend reading my exclusive interview with Matt Lawson, VP of Marketing at Marin. Want to learn more about Marin and other amazing SEM tools? Check out my recent article about my favorite four SEM software solutions.

My Key Takeaways From Marin’s Whitepaper

Optimization Beyond Bidding is absolutely packed with great information, 16 pages of great information. My favorite part of the whitepaper: It’s the perfect mix of strategic and tactical. This is very important in the corporate world. It’s not enough to simply execute and grow the numbers. You also have to explain the strategy behind it all! Some of my favorite highlights:

Tres Agaves With Marin Software

Lunch at Tres Agaves San Francisco with my friends Robby and Chris from Marin Software

  • The whitepaper defines the exact mathematical equation behind your CPC (as a function of quality score and also bid of your competitors). I’m always getting questions about this at work, it’s an equation you definitely want to have handy.
  • It offers several tactical workflows for optimizing your quality score and ROI. My tip: Print these out and post them on your cube. These are workflows you want to live by!
  • Optimization Beyond Bidding identifies the reasons you should focus on exact match as opposed to broad and phrase. This methodology has been core to my personal paid search philosophy for many years and is extremely powerful.
  • Offering real world case studies, Marin’s whitepaper ties its tactical tips to your personal business situation.
  • The whitepaper is sprinkled throughout with handy statistics that will help you in communicating strategy with your executive team.

So, what are you waiting for? Go download your FREE copy of Marin’s Optimization Beyond Bidding whitepaper. I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

Google Is Advertising On Yahoo!

Aug. 23

I was absolutely shocked to see Google advertise on the last Superbowl. Recently, I saw something that shocked me even more. I really can’t believe it! Google is advertising on Yahoo Search Marketing. I’ve got the screen shots below to prove it, just read on!

Google Shows Up On "Mortgage Rates" On Yahoo!

The other day, I noticed that the word "mortgage rates" was trending on Yahoo’s homepage. As someone who used to manage multimillion dollar campaigns in the mortgage vertical, I couldn’t help but click through to the search results to see what was happening in the category. Mortgage sure has changed since I was in that category: Google showed up in the first position on Yahoo Search (see screen shot below).

Google Advertising On Yahoo

Google’s Mortgage Tool

I wouldn’t want to be in the mortgage lead generation business right now. Why? Google now offers their own mortgage rate comparison tool. Whenever you search for a major mortgage keyword on Google, you’ll see Google advertising their tool at the top of the page. Honestly, it’s a really cool tool and provides some serious competition for mortgage lead generators.

Google Mortgage Comparison

Google Is Tracking Their Yahoo Search Marketing Campaign

My last screen shot for today is really neat! After I clicked Google’s ad on Yahoo Search, I took a close look at their tracking URL. You can see in the URL bar screen shot below that Google is definitely tracking their campaign. The two parameters that stand out to me are s=3 and kw=mortgage+rates+today.

I believe the first parameter indicates that Yahoo is identified by "s=3" (perhaps "s" stands for source?). In terms of the keyword parameter, it seems like Google is advertising via advanced match since they showed up for the keyword "mortgage rates". Moreover, "mortgage rates today" is a bit longer tail so it shows that Google is not just going after the top, obvious keywords.

Google Tracking URL

It’s funny: I’m really glad I took these screenshots when I did! Today, Google is no longer showing up on Yahoo for popular mortgage queries. One thing is for sure: I’m going to keep a very close eye. What’s even stranger about all of this: Yahoo Search Marketing is going away very soon. Shortly, Yahoo! search results will be powered by Microsoft adCenter via the Yahoo Microsoft Search Alliance. Perhaps Google will be advertising on adCenter next?

Images In This Post © Yahoo! and Google

Google Testing New AdSense Formats

Aug. 20

If you’ve been reading PPC Ian for a while, you know that my posts tend to be very long. In fact, I average about 800-1,000 words per post. As such, it’s become an intimidating challenge for me to post more than one or two times a week. However, it became very apparent to me at SES San Francisco that I absolutely must post at least two times per week to maximize the potential of PPC Ian. I have very big goals for this blog! As such, I’m going to start incorporating some more concise posts in my mix, such as this one. I hope you find the shorter format equally entertaining and helpful!

Google’s Awesome New AdSense Leaderboard

So, for my first shorter format post I wanted to highlight a fascinating change I’ve seen with Google AdSense recently. Basically, they are testing an awesome new format for their leaderboard where you see three horizontal ads rather than the four standard ads (image below).

New Google AdSense Leaderboard

My AdSense Earnings Started Spiking Recently

How did I notice this change? I actually pulled this ad from one of my personal sites from the financial services vertical. I own a portfolio of websites that drive passive income via affiliate earnings, IJL Productions LLC. AdSense is one of my favorite affiliate programs and it drives the lion share of my passive income. The other day, my earnings started spiking due to an improvement in CTR (my page impressions stayed consistent). After a quick audit of my sites, I realized that the new format could very well be the driving force behind this!

Higher AdSense CTR At The Expense of Advertiser Conversion Rate?

So I’m super happy right now (more money is good). However, I have two points. First and foremost, I don’t want to get too happy because this could go away. The jury is still out whether this test will turn into functionality that Google decides to keep.

Second, who knows what this higher CTR is doing to advertisers (I’m also on the advertiser side) on the Google display network. It’s always possible that the higher CTR is at the expense of conversion rate. I’m hopeful that it’s a true gain (CTR up while conversion rate flat to up). In fact, I think this is very possible because AdSense, in my opinion, is overdue for some format changes. It’s been the same too long and some users are getting immune to it. By shaking things up a bit, Google is doing the right thing, both for publishers and advertisers.

Image of Google AdSense © Google, Ads Within AdSense © Their Respective Advertisers

SES San Francisco 2010 Rocked

Aug. 18

Search marketing conferences this year have been great! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed TRAFFIC Las Vegas, SMX West Santa Clara, SMX Advanced Seattle, and now SES (Search Engine Strategies) San Francisco. Today, I’d like to recap my experience at SES San Francisco this week and some of my exciting takeaways. SES was absolutely packed and it was a tremendous conference!

SEM Automation Is Hot
Click Equations SES San Francisco

My Friends Craig and Alex From Click Equations at SES San Francisco

If you’ve been reading PPC Ian for a while, you know that I’m a huge fan of pay per click automation. I even wrote a FREE 12 page SEM Automation Buyer’s Guide. SEM automation is constantly on my mind, it’s the only way to gain the leverage to succeed when you’re managing multi-million dollar PPC campaigns.

Excitingly, SEM automation was everywhere I turned in the expo hall! It was truly remarkable. SEM automation is hot! It was really great to see both old and new friends in the automation game. I got the opportunity to sync up with the Marin Software team. I met the amazing ClickEquations team for the first time in person. I even had the opportunity to learn about American Express getting in the game with their new OPEN SEM platform. I was totally floored when I learned about that!

Being a Celebrity Executive Is Cool
Marin Software SES San Francisco

PPC Ian and My Friend Dan From Marin Software

The keynote yesterday by Jeffrey Hayzlett, former CMO of Kodak, was awesome! There were several takeaways around people management, especially motivation and turning organizations around. However, that’s not what impressed me the most.

What really impressed me was Jeffrey’s delivery. This guy is truly talented. He’s basically an expert presenter and actor. As my personal career progresses, I’m setting my sights high. I’d love to become a celebrity executive one day and pick up some acting skills myself. It’s really captivating stuff! It’s also a completely different skill than my Stanford Computer Science roots. I’m definitely a leader and expert people manager. I’d also call myself a stellar presenter (just check out my Stanford Graduate School of Business speech all about online Marketing). However, Jeffrey takes it to a whole other level!

I Picked Up A Few PPC, SEO, and Blogging Tips

To close out, I’d like to highlight some of my lower level notes. I was writing very quickly yesterday and jotted down some awesome stuff, a lot of it very actionable.

Yahoo SES San Francisco

It Was Great Catching Up With Mike From Yahoo

Perhaps most excitingly, I learned about the concept of citations in Google’s new organic caffeine algorithm (launched in June). Apparently, Google is now looking quite a bit at social networking sites and how many times your website or blog has been cited (mentioned or linked to). This is really great to learn from an SEO standpoint. It’s not all about links anymore, you also need to focus on citations! As a side note, I’m a big fan of blog commenting. While most comments have a nofollow tag on the link (unless you get on the top commentators), I’ve long been a believer that Google gives these nofollow comments some kind of weight. Now, I’m seriously thinking these comments could be counted as citations!

I was also really excited to learn about Google’s definition of a blog: Any website with a feed. When I typically think of a blog, I think about your typical WordPress blog like this one! It really opens doors when you start thinking about a blog as any site with a feed. Basically, you now have the option to add a feed (or feeds) to your "static" website and turn it into a blog. The speakers were making the point that this could have an SEO benefit because Google’s new caffeine algorithm is giving weight to blogs because they offer up to date information (caffeine is all about the real time). At the same time, I think this only makes sense if you update your site (and feeds) regularly. Otherwise, Google will now view your "blog" as one that doesn’t get updated frequently (which is worse than a static website that doesn’t get updated, in my opinion).

Yahoo is doing some seriously great stuff. Shashi Seth dazzled the audience with his discussion of Yahoo’s focus on the front end of search. The last 12 years, in his opinion, have been all about the back end of search. Now, Yahoo is partnering with Microsoft so Microsoft can take over the back end of things. This will allow Yahoo to focus on what they do the best: Optimizing their front end user experience. Shashi pointed out that there’s far more to the search results page than the actual results themselves. Yahoo will still be really focused on search, more from a front end perspective in terms of adding valuable experiences to search that aren’t there right now. Something else that blew me away: The "trending" topics on Yahoo’s homepage now account for 5 percent of searches on Yahoo.

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