Paid search engine marketing

7 Aug 2008

New keyword research tool: Google Insights

The newest keyword research tool available is Google Insights for Search.

This new tool lets you type in a search phrase and graphs out interest over time. While the graph will tell you how many searches have been done for a particular term over time, the numbers aren’t absolute search volume numbers, just a gauge of popularity.

You can also see regional interest for a particular term, either targeting a country, or if you choose the United States, you can see search popularity for that term by state. You can even get a breakdown by city.

So how is this helpful? Here’s one way to use the tool. If a client wants a paid search campaign, and the campaign lends itself to geotargeting, we can run the advertisements in popular areas to get the biggest impact.

If you advertise locally via paid search, you might also find the search phrases that give you the largest number of impressions in your market.

Of course, the trend graphing feature is impressive. You can learn how many searches occurred for a particular phrase over time, and you can learn about related top searches and searches that are on the rise.

23 Jul 2008

Advanced pay per click tip: Getting real keyword detail in Google Analytics

Companies have been throwing money down the drain using Google Adwords for years, partly because they use broad match for their ad campaigns. Even if you’ve discovered exact match and phrase match options in Google Adwords, wouldn’t it be great to see the visitor’s actual search query in Google Analytics? Here’s a tip — albeit an advanced one — to get real keyword detail from your Google Adwords campaign using Google Analytics.

First, though, I’ll start with why this is important. These are in no particular order.

  1. Keyword detail helps you discover negative match options. If you’re bidding on “dog food” and someone searches for “how to make your own dog food,” your ad is going to appear. You may be selling dog food, and a visitor like this is not going to find information on your site on how to make dog food. You don’t want that click. After seeing this keyword detail in Google Analytics would perhaps want to add “make” as a negative match option for that ad group. This helps you hone in on buying traffic that’s going to convert, making your campaign more profitable.
  2. You’ll get revenue and conversion rate data on every search, which helps you make decisions about the keywords that you are bidding on.
  3. It may help you generate ideas for new products, services, blog posts or other search phrases that pertain to your site but you haven’t thought of yet.

For a step-by-step explanation of how to set this up, browse over to the Get Elastic ecommerce blog and read the instructions.

11 Jul 2008

Big SEM news: Google Adwords Keyword Suggestion Tool now showing search volume data

The big news of the week in internet marketing, in case you missed it, is that the Google Adwords Keyword Suggestion Tool is now showing actual search volume data. Specifically, the tool is showing the number of times keyphrases were searched the previous month and also the average search volume.

Many keyword research services, like Keyword Discovery and Wordtracker, collect search volume data from many search engines, but you must pay for these services.

So what does this mean for internet marketers and search engine advertisers? The Google Adwords Keyword Suggestion Tool was a great tool even before it provided actual search keyphrase data, but now why pay fees for a subscription service when you can get real numbers from Google?

2 Oct 2007

How much should your company spend on search marketing in 2008?

Is your company planning to increase their search marketing spend in 2008? If you said yes, you’re in good company. MarketingSherpa’s latest Search Marketing Benchmark Survey reveals that search marketing will see double-digit growth next year, but not to increase reach. Rather, marketers are raising their budgets to account for rising keyword prices.

According to the survey of over 3,000 marketers and agencies, Google Adwords will be the most popular pay-per-click (PPC) spend.

Companies are also focusing on improving their landing pages to optimize the effectiveness of their PPC campaigns and site conversion rates.

Other interesting facts from the survey:

  • Just over 1/3 of companies will increase their search engine optimization (SEO) budgets for 2008.
  • Despite reporting relatively high value from SEO, some companies are still having difficulty measuring effectiveness.
  • E-mail marketing remains the most effective marketing tactic, while online banner ads and print marketing have the lowest value.

19 Jul 2007

Google Adwords to offer expanded newspaper ad service

Newspapers, who have recently struggled to retain advertising revenue, are getting a boost from an unlikely source: Google.

Over the last few months, Google has been piloting a program that offered newspaper ad space to Google Adwords advertisers. That pilot program is likely to lead to an announcement today that Google Adwords advertisers can now buy newspaper ads via their Google Adwords account, reports the New York Times.

More than 225 newspapers are said to be participating in the program, with coverage in 91% of the top 35 media markets.

While newspapers will ask for “rate card” ad rates, advertisers can make a lower offer on the ad space, which will help newspapers fill spaces normally filed by “house ads” which don’t generate ad revenue for the newspapers.

This expanded program will offer online advertisers the opportunity to venture into the print world. I see this as good news for advertisers that want to advertise in print, but it’s either too daunting or expensive when working directly through the newspapers. There’s also the possibility of getting less-than-rate-card rates, which is attractive for small businesses trying to get more advertising coverage in their local markets.

12 Jul 2007

Paid search vs. SEO, and why I’m trying traditional PR with a twist instead

The June 24 New York Post article called “Search & Destroy: Audit Could Siphon Ad $$ from Google,” reports on a soon-to-be-published audit by UK-based firm Internet Search Metrics. The audit claims that spending money on Google Adwords, Google’s text-based advertising system, could be the worst-spent marketing dollars on the Internet. Instead, the Post article hints that search engine optimization activities would be a better investment.

In the context of small business, there are a couple of points that I wholeheartedly disagree with.

First, the article states that “most executives, with little regard to how well their companies fare in the more important natural search results – the top sites that come up after an Internet search – overspend on paid search because it is the one area of the search market they understand.”

In my experience, most executives don’t have a clue about paid search or natural search. That’s why they hire consultants to run these campaigns for them. This, too, can be problematic. While there are certainly some firms out there that do great work, I’ve known some Google Certified Consultants who couldn’t run an effective campaign if they tried, and I’ve encountered some SEO gurus who charge their clients thousands per month while their clients’ sites actually drop in the search results.

The article (and the study) says that money is better spent on SEO. For small businesses, I disagree. Good SEO costs thousands of dollars per month, while good results can be obtained from a pay per click campaign for hundreds per month. Many small businesses can’t justify spending thousands every month on an SEO campaign, which is never guaranteed to work. Pay per click marketing, on the other hand, only costs companies marketing dollars when a customer is delivered to their web site.

I’m not saying that SEO is “snake oil” and that it never works, but for many small businesses, it’s just too expensive.

While the argument between paid search and SEO may not be solved any time soon, I’m focusing on what I feel is potentially a much more powerful promotional tool.

I’m currently experimenting with PR and strategic communications as a more effective way of promoting companies. My approach is traditional PR with a twist — utilizing traditional media releases with blogs, email marketing, print marketing and more. This PR 2.0 approach — this combination of online and offline media exposure — can naturally improve online search engine rankings while driving web site traffic and improving mindshare across mediums. Good PR efforts for small business can be much cheaper than search engine optimization campaigns as well, all while reaching more potential customers. This approach also eliminates “tunnel vision,” projecting a consistent message across media.