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Archive for Search Engine Marketing’ Category



Should I Forget About PPC And Concentrate on Search Engine Optimisation?

Firstly, don’t listen to Search Engine Optimisation guys/girls who tell you that the number of clicks you will get from Google AdWords / PPC are insignificant compared to the free clicks you will get if you rank well in the organic search results.

A study from Optify concluded that, for more valuable keywords, the organic click-through rate for page 1 placement on Google was 37.3%!

This means that PPC ads can get around 60% of available traffic!

There are many people who would have you believe that you would be lucky to get a Click Through Rate fo 1% for PPC ads. Here are some real world examples from campaigns that I am managing (and the average position on these ads is relatively low):-

Ad1 – approx 44,000 impressions – avg. pos. = 2 – CTR = 14.18%
Ad2 – approx 1 million impressions – avg. pos. = 3.8 – CTR = 6.79%
Ad3 – approx 120,000 impressions – avg. pos. = 6.9 – CTR = 4.52%

Secondly, don’t listen to people (mostly Search Engine Optimisation guys/girls) who tell you that you are paying money for clicks on PPC ads when people would have clicked on your organic result anyway if your ad was not there.

A recent study from Google (OK it is bound to be slightly biased but you can be sure it is not fabricated) showed that “a full 89% of the traffic generated by search ads is not replaced by organic clicks when ads are paused“.


Update – March 2012 A study from Google found the following:

  • 81% of ad impressions and 66% of ad clicks occur in the absence of an associated organic result on the first page of search results. All ad clicks in these situations are incremental.
  • On average, for advertisers who appear in the top rank organic slot, 50% of ad clicks are incremental. This means that half of all ad clicks are not replaced by organic clicks when search ads are paused.
  • For advertisers whose organic search results are in the 2nd to 4th position, 81% of ad clicks are incremental. For advertisers appearing in organic position of 5 or lower, 96% of ad clicks are incremental.
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The Google Display Network

When it comes to a direct return on your investment – in the vast majority of cases, the Google Search Network will easily beat the Google Display Network.

But that is not to say that the Display network is never worth using.

With that in mind – here are some pre-recorded webinars by Google that will be of interest if you want to use it for Branding or Re-Targeting/Re-Marketing (and perhaps even *sometimes* for getting a great direct return on your investment):-

Creating Effective GDN Campaigns:

Advanced Optimization Techniques:

Remarketing on the GDN:

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Increase Sales With AdWords Seller Ratings (Customer Review Stars) On Your Ads.

Example :-

The easiest way to get these little yellow stars if you have an e-commerce site is to allow the use of Google Checkout as a payment option – once you get 30 reviews, your seller ratings will start showing on your AdWords ads. (Also – having Google Checkout badges on your ads can also increase your CTR by 10%.)

Have a look on the internet and you’ll probably be able to find a lot of articles about how important good customer reviews are. But there do not seem to be any articles on what sort of increase in sales you might expect if you were to get those little yellow stars (seller rating extensions) attached to the majority of your AdWords adverts. So,  to leave no-one in any doubt that customer reviews are important here are some real world figures:-

The following increase in conversion rates for one client were observed after 5 star ratings started appearing on their AdWords ads :-

27.5% ! ??



  • This was not a split test.
  • Many other factors can affect conversion rate.
  • This figure may go down when more data comes in (though there is a pretty big sample of data already).
  • *** Update – 31st May 2011 – This is the most important note – having taken the figures for a longer period before and after the ratings starting appearing on the AdWords ads, the original figure of 27.5% looks very much like a fluke. I’ll come back and update this figure when I have a bit more data in. Hopefully there will still be an increase – though it is definitely looking like a *lot* less than 27.5%.  (This is an important lesson to everyone with regards to believing everything you read.. :-) ***

But even while taking this figure with a (very large)  pinch of salt – I have never seen such a big improvement in conversion rate for AdWords traffic before.  Put it this way – if I had my own online shop, then getting glowing customer reviews would currently be my number one priority!

(Even if the increase in conversion rate is not amazing, I would still put getting good customer reviews near the top of my list of priorities… :-)

If anyone else has had any similar experiences, please let me know!

PS – Here is the link for more detailed information on how to get Seller Ratings appearing on your Google Adwords ads:-

PPS – If you have really bad customer service you can ignore this article.

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Save Thousands A Year On Your AdWords Bill

If you ever login to your AdWords account and see a message beside any of your campaigns that says “Limited By Budget” then keep reading….

Do NOT Control Your AdWords Budget With Your ‘Budget’ Settings!

This was touched on in a previous post – but it is so important that I want to mention it again…

You can see in the illustration above that you can save a LOT of money or get a lot more clicks for the same price by decreasing your bids while leaving your budget alone.

If you spend more than a few pounds a day on AdWords – this can amount to either a huge saving or a lot of extra business for no extra cost.

PS – if you are using CPA bidding, and are making a profit on every sale, then make sure your daily budget is *big* so you don’t miss out on any profitable sales.

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Opportunities For The Online Travel Market In The Run Up To Christmas And Beyond…

An interesting article :-

For all you SEO type people who reckon that natural search tends to convert better than paid search – there is an interesting line in the article which says :

“Paid search signals purchase intent as those who use sponsored links are 1.5 times more likely
to purchase.”

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Increase Online Sales – use Google Checkout!

Fast Checkout Through Google Checkout
Google Checkout Accepted

I think that Google Checkout has some way to go before it is a popular as Paypal.

But regardless if anyone actually uses it as payment option on your eCommerce site or not, the fact remains, that if you are running a Google AdWords campaign, and you link your AdWords and Checkout accounts, then you get a nice shiny Google Checkout badge attached to all your AdWords adverts (on Google search results in the UK if you you signed up for a Google Checkout account in the UK).

Google say that this can increase Click Through Rate by 10%.

This means that you should be able to make 10% more sales without having to pay any extra money for each sale (whether you use CPC bidding or CPA bidding).

But is it true, or are Google exaggerating just a little bit?

Well, I can confirm after trying this out, and with with some fairly large campaigns that CTR has increased by 10.3%!

Also, if you have a Google shopping feed (and you should), then you also get a nifty little Google checkout symbol beside all of your items in the Google Shopping listings, and a ‘Seller Ratings’ link, which has to help at least a little bit as well (unless you have terrible customer service)…

If anyone would any further info on any of these things, then please leave a comment.


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Google AdWords Conversion Optimizer – Increase Sales Now! (Probably)

Just for the benefit of people in the UK and Ireland:

“Google AdWords Conversion Optimiser”.

Here is the official Google Link:-

Which has some pretty useful information.

It can be a fantastic time saving tool if you have any AdWords campaigns that have had 15 or more conversions in the last 30 days, and more often than not – it can get your more sales or leads with less effort than if you are using manual bidding on your Google AdWords campaign.

I also read an article recently by Perry Marshall where he said (and I tend to agree) that CPA bidding is here to stay, and online advertising will increasingly move towards this model.

The documentation on Conversion Optimizer makes it pretty clear that it can use historical conversion data on an existing campaign to target a specific CPA (one-per-click).

OK, that sounds logical. So it can tell from historical data how well certain keywords convert for you and use that to target a certain CPA. It can also tell (if you re targeting more than one country in a single campaign) how well each country converts, and again use that data to automatically decrease bids in countries where your conversion rate is not so good.

BUT (and this is what I could not find any information on), what if your campaign has never been opted into the content network? Can you just turn the content network on for that campaign, and expect Conversion Optimizer to do a good job of getting you extra conversions on the content network even though it has no historical data about how your campaign performs on the Content Network? If you do just turn on the content network, how long will it take for Conversion Optimizer to learn enough to give you good value for money?

ALSO (another thing I could find no information on), what if you have a campaign that converts much better on the Search Partner Network than it does on Google Search. Using normal CPC bidding (as far as I know) your hands are tied in that you cannot have separate CPC bids for Search Partners, so you just have to let Google waste a lot of money on your behalf on Google Search where you are not getting good value conversions. So…. if you turn on CPA bidding, it will now be in Google’s own interests to get you as many conversions as it can (more conversions for you means more money for Google). So……will Google now automatically increase your position in the Search Partner results to get you more conversions?

Since I could not find any definite information on either of these two scenarios, I decided to test them out on one campaign of a very understanding client.

Here are the results*:-

First, with regards to Conversion Optimizer being able to quickly work out which content network sites will convert well for you, well….  Lets just say that it doesn’t do a great job of this if it has no historical data to go on.  It looks very much like it doesn’t “cheat'” by looking at conversion data that it already has for sites similar to yours.  So, unless you are prepared to set a *very* high Max CPA for ad groups to start with, it is more likely than not that Conversion Optimiser will give up trying to get conversions on the content network before it wastes too much of your money….

NB – if you are in one of the (few) niches where the content network works well for you, then, no doubt, the story would be different, but if you are in a niche where you have really struggled to make the content network work for you with CPC bidding, then Conversion Optimizer is not a magic bullet..

Secondly, with regard to Conversion Optimizer being able to get you more conversions on the Search Partner Network by giving you more impressions there and less impressions on Google sites, the results seem to have been much more impressive:-

Before Turning On Conversion Optimizer

After Turning On Conversion Optimizer

You can see that the campaign is now receiving around 4 times as many impressions on the Search Partner Network as on Google Search.  Prior to turning Conversion Optimizer on it was only getting around 1.7 times as many impressions on the Search Partner so… (as you might say on Twitter #win !)

*This is only one campaign, targeting one country, over a short period of time.  Results will almost certainly vary wildly, and you always need to test things out for yourself (but I still think it these are some very interesting observations)…

If anyone else has any interesting observations regarding Google Conversion Optimizer / CPA bidding please leave a comment!

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