Posted: March 5th, 2011 | Author: Olga Safonova | Filed under: facebook, keywords, marketing, PPC, SEM, social media | Tags: Advertising, campaigns, communications, facebook, keywords, marketing, online marketing, optimization, Pay-Per-Click, PPC, SEM | No Comments »
Facebook ads, unlike traditional PPC ads, might seem to be tricky to optimize. While PPC ads are in the domain of pull advertising, and banner ads are mainly pushing your message or brand, Facebook adverts are something like a mix between the two. Facebook pricing model resembles PPC, where you pay per click, and thus you’d need to make your ads interesting and engaging enough to entice the clicks. Quite similar to what you would do in PPC if your goal is to increase CTR of your ads. Targeting, however, is more like display campaigns targeting – you need to carefully select your audience to be successful. But on top of that, Facebook offers a very unique twist – a power of social sharing, peer exposure and possibility to use a “domino effect”.
Having in mind the similarities and differences of Facebook advertising to traditional search marketing and display advertising, you can start building a strategy for successful optimization of your Facebook ads.
- Find inspiration for your Facebook ad targeting in your search campaigns – i.e. you assumably would like to serve to the same core potential clients or customers, that you are trying to reach with your PPC campaigns
- Analyse your top converting PPC keywords – and use those as the basis for Likes and Interests targeting
- Consider the negative keywords you have in your PPC campaigns – sometimes the word X means Y in combination with the word Z – looking at the words meanings you will make sure that you increase the relevancy of your ads
- Find the right trade-off between going too broad and being too specific: with the former, you risk to incur unnecessary costs; with the latter, you will not reach all the potential clients you would like to reach. Use therefore a top-down approach – start with a broader terms when targeting interests and go deeper with more specific ones (for instance, “Yoga” and then “Yoga retreats” and “Ashtanga”)
- Do not forget about demographic targeting
- Use your competitors brand names when targeting Likes and Interests
- Use images in your ads rather than text only – remember that a picture is worth a thousand words
- Separate the campaigns where you drive traffic to your website – and to your Facebook page. Your primary goal with the website is likely to get conversions or increase sales. The goal of driving the traffic to Facebook page, however, is likely to create brand awareness and form a community. Different goals require different optimization strategies.
- Test copy in your ads – try different “calls to action” and different wording
- Test images in your ads – don’t just assume something will work because you like it. Others might not
- Make sure you don’t promote again the same message to the users whom you already got a “Like” from
Posted: January 17th, 2011 | Author: Olga Safonova | Filed under: AdWords, keywords, marketing, PPC, SEM | Tags: AdWords, campaigns, Google, keywords, Landing page, marketing, online marketing, optimization, Pay-Per-Click, PPC, SEM | 1 Comment »
In a broader sense, any optimization is an ongoing process, aimed at getting the best possible outcome with the resources available and goals set. Same applies to Pay-Per-Click campaigns. Managing many big PPC accounts over time, I’d been able to identify some best practices and core things that are important for PPC optimizations. None of them are revolutionary or extremely innovative, yet many people dealing with PPC campaigns easily forget to apply these basic rules.
1. Set the goal for your campaigns
So, first things first – before you start optimizing, you need to set up the goal of your campaigns. And these goals might be quite diverse – depending on the industry, client, seasonality, budgets available, business settings, competition and much more. You might want to get as many conversions as possible – or to decrease your cost per conversion – or create brand awareness – or get as many clicks as possible – this list can be really long. In any case the most important thing is to identify your goal, clearly write it down, communicate it to all the stakeholders and make sure everyone understands it.
2. Take a holistic approach to your campaigns
Identify what works and what doesn’t. Draw up a strategy. Implement this strategy. Monitor the outcomes, do a regular analysis and make adjustments as necessary. Easier said than done, right? Wrong! Once you know where you want to go (your goal) – you can elaborate on how to get there. This exactly going to be your strategy – and as you deep down to the details – you’ll get the perfect tactical plan supporting your strategy.
3. Step by step campaigns analysis
It proved to be efficient to use top-down approach. Start with overall account analysis. Look at the current performance of the whole account, and then move down to the campaigns performance, ad group performance, ad performance and granular keyword performance (for Search campaigns) as well as placements performance (for campaigns running on Display Network – previously known as Content network). To get even deeper insights, you might want to analyze actual user search queries – and then align your campaigns accordingly.
4. Implement the insights based on your campaigns analysis
Make sure to separate Branded keywords and category keywords. If your campaigns have a significant history, create a separate campaign for top performing keywords. Having such a campaign of top performers will allow you to successfully apply Pareto principle, also known as 80/20 rule – using 80% of your time on the top performing campaign and 20% of your time on all the other campaigns. Make sure to have a very tight ad groups with a bespoken ad copy for specific keywords. Refine your traffic by carefully though-out implementations of negative keywords.
5. Stand out of the crowd
Look carefully at what your competitors do. Learn from their advances and when possible, from their mistakes too. Use ad extensions where it makes sense. Sometimes applying Site Links or Location extensions adds up to the perception of your brand as superior or more trustworthy than competitors’ brands. Spend time, money and other necessary resources (like, for instance, your copywriter time) on creating unique and appealing ad copy.
6. Leverage on user experience
At no point should you forget about what happens after the click. You get your customers on to the landing page – so make sure you at least meet their expectations when they arrive there. Better exceed those expectations! Landing pages should be consistent with the queries (what people were looking for) and the ad copy (what people clicked on because they formed an initial expectation they will get what they been looking for). So deliver what your users / potential customers want. Also, make sure it is easy for people to accomplish what you want them to accomplish on your landing page – simple and comprehensible layout and clear “call-to-action” are essential.
7. Trust your intuition and assumptions, but don’t rely on them alone
Always test! No matter how advanced and experienced you are, you might be wrong. So whatever brilliant idea you might get and whatever elegant logic for implementing this you might come up with – try it out to confirm it, dis-confirm it or to generate new insights.
Posted: April 22nd, 2010 | Author: Olga Safonova | Filed under: AdWords, keywords, PPC, quality score, SEM | Tags: AdWords, keywords, PPC, SEM | 4 Comments »
Quality Score is a special metric, calculated by Google for each of your keywords. Google strives to provide the best search experience to its users (why would we use it otherwise?), as well as its advertisers. The aim of this metric is to ensure that users get relevant search results and advertisers are encouraged to deliver efficiently targeted messages at the right time.
A quick explanation from Google sounds like this:
The AdWords system calculates a ‘Quality Score’ for each of your keywords. It looks at a variety of factors to measure how relevant your keyword is to your ad text and to a user’s search query. A keyword’s Quality Score updates frequently and is closely related to its performance. In general, a high Quality Score means that your keyword will trigger ads in a higher position and at a lower cost-per-click (CPC).
Quality Score is a dynamic metric, which updates often depending on:
- Historical Click-through-rate of the ads
- Landing page relevance for the search that user performed
- The ads, bids and landing pages of the other advertisers (the competitors) for the same keyword
- The relevance of the keyword to the ad text
Let us consider one of the PPC accounts I managed over time. The distribution of the Quality Scores for all of the keywords in this PPC account looks as follows:
Now, let us have a closer look at the performance of the keywords with Quality Scores, which are the most common for this particular account – these are Quality Score equal to 7 (61% of the overall distribution), Quality Score equal to 6 (11%) and a Quality Score equal to 10 (10%).
The click through-rate is one of the factors to calculate the Quality Score, so the better it is, the higher Quality Score keywords get:
Google claims, that each click costs you less, if you have a good Quality Score. The real costs for the account under consideration are re-calculated to the nominal numbers, to demonstrate the relative cost-per-click for the keywords with different Quality Scores. And below is how the those costs per click look like:
Note, that average cost-per-click is slightly higher for the keywords with Quality Score 10 – this might be attributed to the dynamic nature of Quality Score, but also to the fact of high competition.
Now, is there a dependency between the Quality Score and the actual performance of the ads? Look at the below graph, which demonstrates the relative performance (in terms of costs per conversion) of the keywords with different Quality Scores (again, real costs are re-calculated to the nominal numbers):
This graph above clearly displays, that keywords with higher Quality Score do bring conversions at more attractive prices.
Posted: April 16th, 2010 | Author: Olga Safonova | Filed under: AdWords, keywords, PPC, SEM | Tags: AdWords, Google, Google Adwords, keywords, Pay-Per-Click, PPC, quality score, SEM | 9 Comments »
Building up a smart list of negative keywords might make an extremely positive impact on your PPC campaigns results. Negative keywords are the search queries for which you don’t want to expose your ads.
You get multiple benefits out of an effective implementation of negative keyword lists:
- More precise targeting of your campaigns
- Optimized spends and decreased waste of money on irrelevant clicks
- CTR increase
- Quality Score improvement
- Better conversion rate
As any other PPC optimization activity, building up a list of negative keywords is a continuous process and requires time, efforts, a bit of common sense and a pinch of analytical skills.
So, how do you start?
1. Do I really need to invent the wheel?
The quick-and-easy method is to go and google for the list of the most common negative keywords, download or copy-paste it and implement in your campaigns. This, however, will not get you very far. Such commonly available lists might be too broad for your industry and the products you advertise. They might also be too specific. Finally, they might not be available at all, especially if you are running your campaigns in some obscure languages. So yes, you do need to invent the wheel. Because you know that one size never fits all.
2. Common sense and basic filtering
Now, since you know that your campaigns need customized approach, you rather want to start with brainstorming. Still, having a commonly available list of negative keywords could ignite your inner ideas generator and serve as a source of inspiration Such lists will most likely include words as “scam”, “fraud” and the like. Do you want to have your brand associated with them? I’d bet you don’t. So here are our first candidates to the effective list of negatives.
Then think of the keywords you are bidding on. Does any of them have multiple meanings and may be interpreted in several different ways? Are there any related words, that in combination with your keywords would change your keywords’ meaning? Are there any characteristics you don’t want to have your products associated with (“cheap”, “free” “for beginners”)? Think of it as a filter of relevant versus irrelevant traffic to your business website via clicks on your ads. You can waste way too much money on PPC campaigns if you are bidding on too broad terms and do not filter out the garbage via negative keywords.
3. What do people look for?
A very useful technique is to explore what people were actually searching for when they clicked on your ads. Run a Search Query report in Google Adwords, or look at the Keyword Suggestions if you are a happy user of monstrous and powerful Search Center by Omniture. Those reports are the precious gems mines! And they can be eye-openers too! Dig through them and highlight the queries of which you would think: “No way, I am not selling / promoting this!” or “A-ha! My keyword X actually means Y as well, if combined with Z!”. Then form the list of words you want to add to your negatives. But be careful when applying match types (Broad, Phrase or Exact) on the negative keywords and do it wisely. Being too frivolous with broad match in negatives can diminish your campaigns performance, since you might exclude potential relevant clicks. Being over-concentrated on exact match negatives might save you only peanuts, and you still will waste your bids on the clicks you don’t need.
4. OK, I got it. Show me some examples.
Sure. An account that advertises software for operating on stock exchange markets in Italy. The word ‘stock exchanges’ in Italian is spelled exactly as the word ‘bag’. What an interesting revelation for me, provided that I do not speak Italian! First of all, I included the different fashion brand names, who produce bags, as negative keywords. “Prada”. “gucci”, “burberry”, “louis vuitton” are only a slight piece of the big bag brand pool. Secondly, I found a lot of different bag types in the Search Query report, and made them join the bag brands in the list of negatives. “Handbag”, “shoulder bag”, “shopper”, “leather bag”, “fabric bag”, “satchel”, “hobo”, “backpack”, “purse”, “messenger bag”, “tote”, “travel bag”, “sport bag”… you name it. Lastly, the words like “outlet”, “online shop” and “boutique” were added to the collection. By the way, the Search Query report that I run regularly for this account constantly improves my knowledge of bag brands and gives some insights into latest fashion trends
5. Is it worth the trouble?
Absolutely. For instance, with the mentioned above account, both click-through rate and conversion rates increased twice after implementation of negatives. I’ve started building the list of negatives beginning of March and was doing this regularly until mid April this year. Look at the numbers.
February 2010, campaigns did not contain any negative keywords:
March 2010, I’ve been building and optimizing negative keyword list during the month:
April 2010 up to date, refining of the negative keywords continues:
Similar pattern of improved performance that comes with negatives implementation is clearly visible in many other PPC campaigns. Let negatives make positive impact on your PPC campaigns – start building your list of negative keywords right now.