Leveraging Google Social Extensions In Your Ad Copy

Apr. 30

A few posts ago, I wrote about how Google+ Shows Up In Paid Search. Google+ is actually showing up in paid search two different ways. First, as you can see in my prior post (and by simply searching for “insurance” on Google), organic Google+ profiles are showing up in the right rail, displacing paid search ads. Second, Google+ is actually showing up right within paid search ads. You can see that in the screenshot below. When you search for “mortgage refinance”, Quicken Loans has a really sweet integration of their Google+ profile, via Google Social Extensions (also known as Social Annotations). I’ve been researching these opportunities over the last week and today I’m going to provide some quick tips on how you can take advantage of both of them!

First and foremost, a bi-directional link is required to take advantage of these Google+ advertising opportunities. It’s quite simple, and this allows you to verify to Google that you own your Google+ page. All you need to do is link to your Google+ profile from your homepage. Then, you need to also link to your homepage from your Google+ profile. Specific information on how to do this is located on Google’s Social Extensions Tutorial.

Once your bi-directional link is in place, you will want to get as many followers as possible and regularly update your Google+ page. The more relevant your Google+ page, the more likely it will show up within the organic search opportunity. On the paid side of things, not sure this affects things as much, but it’s still important because your ad is likely to have a higher CTR if you have more followers.

Once you’re ready to start leveraging Google+ in your paid ads via Google Social Extensions, it’s as simple as setting up a new ad extension in your AdWords account. Add that extension to the campaigns in which you’re interested in testing this exciting feature. I wanted to share two interesting benefits of Google Social Extensions.

  • First, Social Extensions are complementary to your other extensions (such as Sitelinks). If you already have Sitelinks activated, you can also activate the Social Extensions in parallel. You can see this firsthand in the Quicken Loans copy below. Personally, I think the combination of both extensions is unbeatable.
  • Second, Social Extensions will improve your CTR. Sources tell me that the CTR improvement can be as high as 5%. Just having that Social Extension there adds credibility to your ad.

So, there you have it! Are you using Google Social Extensions yet? If not, I highly recommend trying this great strategy. Personally, I still have a lot to learn about Google+ but I feel like I’m on the right track!

Google Social Extension

Image in this post © Google

The San Francisco Giants and Online Marketing

Apr. 25

BaseballHey everyone, PPC Ian here. Today, I’m thrilled to share a fun guest post from my good friend Hillary Read, Marketing Manager at PPC Associates. Let’s jump right into it…

With baseball season upon us and San Franciscans sniffing rawhide, it’s time for a fun blog post: if the Giants starters were SEM channels, which would they be? (Based on Ian’s recent weekend musings about trips to AT&T, I’m guessing he’ll like this topic.)

One fan’s take:

Tim Lincecum – All the rage. The people’s choice. A merchandise-moving combo of style and substance. And like Timeline and its page-loading issues, Timmy’s fastball doesn’t get there quite as quickly as it used to. Yeah, he’s the Facebook of the starting five.

Matt Cain – Steady. High-performing. Reliable. Consistent. He’s not the flashiest choice, but he sure gets the job done. Sounds like AdWords to me.

Madison Bumgarner – He’s young, he’s developing, he’s already had a big impact, and just about everyone (Giants check-writers included) is betting on him going from star to superstar over the next year or so. Madison = mobile.

Ryan Vogelsong – He’s been around for a while (longer than you’d think). And while his performance used to be underwhelming, he’s better than he’s ever been, thanks to a trickle of adjustments and improvements, including better (retargeted?) control. Display it is.

Barry Zito – He was a whole lot more valuable 10 years ago, and just when you’re ready to write him off for good, he pulls out a gem and keeps hope alive. Do you Yahoo, Barry? (They also love him on Pinterest.)

Batter up…

- Hillary Read is the Marketing Manager at PPC Associates and is thankfully not in charge of any SEM accounts. But she is a huge baseball fan.

Image of baseball © iStockPhoto – 33ft

My Lending Club Investment Strategy

Apr. 23

If you’re in the world of online marketing (or any other career for that matter), it’s important to have both a short and long-term plan when it comes to your finances. This year, I set the goal to save money and invest wisely (you can check out my 2012 goals here). Each and every day, I try to remind myself to save as much money as possible.

In that spirit, I have been embracing some new investment vehicles, one of which is Lending Club (affiliate link). What is Lending Club? It’s a peer-to-peer lending platform that allows normal people like you and me to lend money to others. Those who need to borrow money (often for such purposes as consolidating debt) get a much lower interest rate than credit card companies. Those who lend the money, get a much higher interest rate than is available anywhere else. In short: Both lenders and borrowers win!

I started investing on Lending Club in October of 2011, wrote my first post on PPC Ian about Lending Club in late February (check it out here), and am now ready for another exciting update! As you can see in the screenshot below, my current net annualized return is 12.99%. I’m excited about that because it’s only down a little from 13.04% in late February. Since I’m newer to Lending Club, I expect my net annualized return to dip over time since some of my loans will default. In addition to my consistent high returns, I’m now invested in 173 loans (2 of which are in funding).

I wanted to briefly highlight my Lending Club strategy today because I feel that it will be core to my continued success with this peer-to-peer investment platform. The best way to illustrate my strategy is through numbers. My total Lending Club account value is $4,137.27. Of that amount, $4,048.66 is invested in 173 loans. If you divide $4,048.66 by 173 loans, I’ve got an average of $23.40 in each loan. However, if you’re new to Lending Club, you may know that the minimum you can invest is $25. That is absolutely true. However, the real magic here is that your loans get paid off each and every month. If you start small, consistently add more money, regularly reinvest your profits, and grow your portfolio over time, you will get into a sweet situation where you have less than $25 in each loan, on average.

It’s really as simple as that. You don’t want to drop down a large amount of money all at once. You want to invest slowly over time, also known as dollar cost averaging. As your loans get paid off, you want to invest the proceeds is more loans. Eventually, you will have diversified into many different notes, with different start dates, and will have less than $25 in each loan. It’s all about persistence, diversification, and longevity. It’s not rocket science, but it definitely works (based on my experience so far).

So, there you have it, my Lending Club investment strategy. If you are thinking of investing in Lending Club (affiliate link) and enjoy reading PPC Ian, I would truly appreciate it if you signed up via my affiliate link. Thanks so much and best of luck in your own investing! I’m looking forward to my next update.

Lending Club PPC Ian

Important Note: I’m not a financial advisor and this is not financial advice. Please consult your own financial advisor before making any investment decisions.
Image in this post © PPCIan.com

Bing Offers Rewards Just For Searching

Apr. 22

In my last post, I was just writing how Google+ Is Showing Up In Paid Search, in a major way. Today, when performing my Daily Checks, I noticed a major change on Bing too. I noticed a little number in the upper right hand of my screen that kept going up with each search. Then, I clicked the little number and went to a page about Bing Rewards. You can see a screenshot of the Bing Rewards page below.

So, what is this Bing Rewards? Basically, Bing is allowing you to earn points just for searching. As you get more points, you can redeem your points for rewards such as gift cards, Xbox LIVE points, and more.

I think this is a really neat idea. I’m sure that Bing Rewards will draw some more attention to Bing and increase loyalty. People love freebies and rewards. That said, Bing Rewards could also potentially lower click quality. Some people may search just to get more points. Some may go as far as creating automated bots to search on Bing. With those increased searches, it is possible that some of them click paid search ads with a lower propensity to convert. It will all come down to Bing’s click quality monitoring, which in my experience is quite good. My end conclusion: This is a really neat concept, hopefully it will increase volume over time, and (especially in the short run) it will be important to keep an eye on click quality just in case Bing Rewards affects click quality.

Bing Rewards

Image in this post © Bing

Google+ Shows Up In Paid Search, Big Time

Apr. 17

Check out the screenshot below, you’re going to be amazed at what you see! It’s the right rail of the search results for the keyword “insurance” on Google. As you can see, the map and then the Google+ integration are taking over in a major way. Not only is there a section featuring businesses with a large number of followers, but it even has the number of +1′s under the Progressive ad. Two takeaways:

  1. If you’re not on Google+, make that investment now. Make sure to get in as many people’s circles as possible. Make your Google+ profile great, and get lots of interaction happening. This is going to be another major source of traffic to your site.
  2. If you’re a big paid search advertiser, make sure to get in the top, yellow bar if at all possible. The paid results on the right rail are getting pushed down. If you can make it into the yellow bar, you’re set. Otherwise, your traffic is going to drop on such terms as “insurance”.

Insurance Google Results

Image of this post © Google.com