Try AdWords Social Extensions To Raise Your CTR

May. 28

Back in April, I wrote how Google is Integrating Google+ Into Paid Search, big time. At that time, I was particularly impressed that Google was leveraging paid search real estate (the right rail) to highlight Google+ pages. Since then, I have seen Google run a number of such experiments. How do you show up in such experiments? You simply need a bi-directional link from your homepage to you Google+ page and one from your Google+ page to your homepage. One thing is for sure: Google+ is here to stay and Google is spending major resources promoting Google+.

In today’s post, I wanted to highlight something really cool: Google AdWords social extensions. Check out the screenshot below. Quicken Loans has an extra line of ad copy highlighting their Google+ page. How do you set this up? It’s super easy. Just go to your ad extensions in your Google AdWords account. Then, go to the social extensions. Create a new extension and input a link to your Google+ page. Last, you simply need to wait for verification before your ads start displaying the social extension (just like the Quicken Loans ad). How do you get approved? It’s as simple as creating a bi-directional link (the same as mentioned earlier in this post).

Here’s the cool part: You get an extra line of ad copy. You will note that Quicken Loans has four sitelinks displaying AND the social extension. Social extensions are incremental real estate and a great way to promote your Google+ page while also improving the CTR of your ad copy. In fact, I have heard that social extensions can increase your CTR by ~5% (that is, your CTR will increase by 1.05 * your current CTR). Have you tried social extensions yet?

Image © Google and Quicken Loans

Check Out My Weekend Checks Guest Post

May. 24

One of the really popular posts here on PPC Ian is my post about Six Essential PPC Campaign Checks. These checks are great and make sense any day of the week. However, let’s say it’s the weekend and you’re super busy. Let’s say you don’t have a lot of time for paid search. That’s ok, but there are still some essential checks you just need to do, even if you are on a tight schedule. As such, when I got the opportunity to guest post today on the PPC Associates Blog, I wrote a post about Four Essential Weekend Campaign Checks. I highly recommend checking it out. I’m passionate about the checks, especially the part about Protecting Your Brand Keywords (link hijacking tends to ramp up on weekends). I want to take this opportunity to sincerely thank David, Hillary, and the entire PPC Associates team for the opportunity to guest post on their awesome blog. If you’re looking for a PPC Agency, I highly recommend contacting PPC Associates. They are awesome!

Update: Hillary from PPC Associates just informed me that my guest post made it to Marketing Day for May, 24 on Marketing Land. You can check it out here – just scroll down to the “Search Marketing” section. Sweet!

Four Essential Weekend Campaign Checks

Image of PPC Associates ©

My Mid-Week Musings

May. 22

I really enjoy writing my Weekend Musings posts. It’s been a while since my last weekend musings so I thought I’d go ahead and do a mid-week musings post. Here are a few exciting updates in my life / thoughts going through my mind right now…

Twitter Ads PPC Ian

  1. I’m now advertising on Twitter! Thanks to the American Express / Twitter partnership, I was able to secure $100 free Twitter advertising credit and get my Twitter account (@ianlopuch) set up for promoted accounts and promoted tweets. My campaign is already off to a great start and I know that the insights I learn will make me a better online marketer (and will be directly transferable to my corporate role). I’m especially excited because this will help me achieve goal three of my Twitter Advertising Challenge. (You can read about my results so far here.) I’ll definitely do a follow-up post when I have more insights from my Twitter advertising.
  2. I have a major speaking event scheduled for next week. I can’t wait. Public speaking is really thrilling and rewarding for me. In both 2010 and 2011, I spoke at Stanford Graduate School of Business. So far in 2012, I spoke at SVForum’s CXO Forum. I will definitely do a recap of my speaking event in a future PPC Ian post. I’m truly thankful that people are thinking of my when it comes to these speaking opportunities.
  3. My blog, PPC Ian, may have had its most major success ever. PPC Ian is really about you, my readers. I blog here due to my passion for helping others and giving back to our industry. Thanks to PPC Ian, I have formed some amazing friendships and business partnerships. Just last week, I was able to connect a PPC Ian reader who has become a personal friend to a really stellar job opportunity. That PPC Ian reader ended up landing the job! Of course, all credit goes to this person for landing the job, but I like to think that I helped out in a small way by connecting two parties that I respect incredibly. Without PPC Ian, it’s unlikely I would have formed such a great relationship with either party. This news really made my day/week. Helping others always puts a smile on my face and is the goal of PPC Ian.
  4. Surround yourself with positive people who have a “can do” mentality. Remember and document the positive feedback you receive. Winners work with other winners. Ignore the haters, but also embrace them because they are a direct reflection of your success (more haters = more success). Here are some of my Sources of Inspiration.
  5. I was over at Google’s Mountain View campus today. My team and I met with several members of Google’s product management team to give client feedback. Earlier this week, Microsoft met with my team to collect product feedback. There is a clear trend in our industry of soliciting feedback directly from the end user, via in-person meetings. I’m a huge fan and can’t thank the search engines enough!
  6. I have been building great friendships with SEM Agencies such as Rocket Clicks and PPC Associates. I’m a huge fan of SEM agencies and recommend working with agencies even if you have an in-house team. They provide such a valuable perspective and value-add. If you’re looking for a great SEM agency, these are two awesome ones to contact.

I hope you’re having a super week. Thanks so much for supporting PPC Ian!

Image of Twitter Ads © Twitter

Exact and Phrase Match Changing On AdWords

May. 18

Google recently announced that they are Improving Exact and Phrase Match on Google AdWords. This is a really important change that’s happening right now (mid May). If you’re advertising on Google AdWords, today’s post is going to be super important for you.

So what’s Google doing? Basically, they are expanding the reach of exact and phrase. In addition to their classical definitions, both exact and phrase will now match to close variations (such as plurals and misspellings). An example: Let’s say you’re buying [mortgage]. It could now match to [mortgages] or even [mmortgage].

For advertisers who are smaller and have fewer overall keywords in their accounts, this could actually help. You’ll automatically match to more keywords (which should perform more-or-less similar since the variations are really close). You’re going to get more traffic (and hopefully conversions)! However, if you have a larger account with all the variations, this change could create some mapping and bidding issues. Why? When you’re large, it’s all about control. While a small advertiser may just have the word [mortgage] in their account, the large advertiser may already have [mortgage], [mortgages], and [mmortgage]. Moreover, the really savvy advertiser will have these split into separate adgroups with custom ads (and will have all three variations bid at different levels depending on their performance). With Google’s change, you don’t know which one will get triggered and you may therefore potentially deliver the wrong ad to the user. Moreover, you may overpay on some variations if you have lower bids set for them.

However, don’t worry! Right now, you can go into your advanced campaign settings and opt out if you’d like. My advice: Whether you are a smaller advertiser or larger, I recommend testing selectively. You’ll want to opt out for most campaigns, but opt in a few test campaigns. Then, you’ll want to test and see how the new exact and phrase matching do in your test campaigns as compared to the controls.

Also, keep in mind that the new matching will not affect quality score. Quality score is only calculated on for the exact query you are buying. That is good news! The net effect: I think this is a good change Google is making and I’m thrilled they give the advertiser the control to opt out if they’d like.

Image of Match Box © iStockPhoto – janka3147

Poor Organic Results Taking Over Insurance

May. 14

Check out the screenshot below. It’s the Google organic search results for the keyword cheap auto insurance. As you can see, three out of the top six results are low quality affiliate sites. The savvy online marketer can tell right away. For me, it was the excessive use of caps and the fact that the sites are non-brand names. These days, especially for competitive insurance terms, it’s typically the brands that rank (with maybe one or two really high quality affiliate sites mixed in).

While the screenshot below highlights the Google organic results, I am experiencing the exact same phenomenon on Yahoo!/Bing as well. Someone is definitely going aggressively after the insurance industry. And, it’s been going on for a while. I have seen such results for at least 3 to 6 months.

A few key takeaways from this situation:

  1. If you’re in the insurance industry, keep a very close eye on your organic program. It may be suffering due to these low quality results pushing down your organic program.
  2. The search engines need to figure out how to stop this stuff, it’s just embarrassing from a user standpoint.
  3. I dislike seeing this stuff because makes a bad name for affiliate marketers and affiliate programs.

So, what do you think? Have you been noticing similar low quality results in your vertical?

Cheap Auto Insurance

Image of Google search results © Google