Archive for October, 2010
While the world of paid search quickly began to formulate a strategy around bidding tactics, we saw early on that marketers could obtain better performance and greater profits from search by expanding their thinking two ways:
- By using all of the 30-plus search marketing tactics, instead of just bidding.
- By better aligning marketing with the process and strategy.
To illustrate the many pay-per-click (PPC) tactics that have proven successful in generating billions of dollars in revenue for our clients, we created a PPC tactics chart that serves as a guide for marketers looking to squeeze efficiency, blow-out volume, and create wildly profitable paid search campaigns.
We’ll explore these tactics in detail in this four-part series. Let’s begin with creative.
Why Ad Copy is Vital to Performance
Google, and all the search engines, want the best content to rise to the top. Best content is always that which is most relevant to users’ queries.
Targeted creative, varied by keyword, is the most powerful set of tactics that can be employed.
Fourteen, fully 40 percent, of the best PPC tactics we’ve uncovered are creative, designed to make the ad more attractive to a searcher and more relevant to the search query.
The most obvious tactic in creative is to use keyword insertion. Keyword insertion pushes the actual query used by the consumer into the title of the ad.
When users scan their search results, they instantly queue onto the search ads that have their search term in the title. In Google, the inserted keywords will also display in bold, making ads even more noticeable to the searcher.
If you’re selling a product, use price points and percentages off. Test both. Displaying them in the title improves CTR and quality score, ultimately lowering your CPC and improving overall efficiency.
When a shopper sees a price like $79 in the ad, they are trained to know that this is an e-commerce site and they can buy the product there. That improves the click mix to include more shoppers and helps drive more conversions.
Lastly, always add a sense of urgency as the offer comes to a close. “Ends Tomorrow” always boosts CTR.
Watching the search landscape evolve these days, I can’t help but think of the real estate agents’ mantra: “It’s all about location, location, location!”
The emergence of location-based services, such as Facebook Places, Twitter Places, and Foursquare, is clearly a game-changer on the web. Social networking sites are more locally focused. Online media are now the primary source of local business information and a huge competition is underway to determine who becomes the dominant force in local search.
In Search Marketing, “It’s All About Local-Mobile-Social!”
Even more compelling is the fact that this rivalry is taking place in the midst of several other equally powerful trends — rapidly growing smartphone usage and an explosion of social media and viral strategies. Increasingly, these trends are tied together and feed off one another.
Lately, Facebook’s EdgeRank, mobile apps, and HTML 5 have been hot topics. “Old school” search engine optimization (SEO)? Not so much.
Consider these statistics:
- The fastest growing categories of online advertising are the local segment and everything related to social media, according to Borrell Associates.
- Total online ad spending will rise 14 percent in 2011, but local online advertising will be up 18 percent.
- Mobile web adoption is expanding eight times faster than the desktop Web did two decades ago. By 2013, mobile devices are expected to be used more often than PCs to access the Web, according to Morgan Stanley.
- More than 100 million people a month use Google Maps from mobile phones to find directions and information.
- More than 100 million people “actively” use Facebook from their mobile devices every month.
What Does All This Searching and Sharing Mean For Marketers?
More consumers are using social networking sites and their mobile devices to find nearby local businesses and things to do (e.g., restaurants, movies and shops).
Consumers are choosing where to go and what to do based upon online recommendations and reviews from their friends and connections, the people whom they trust the most. This is true whether they’re close to home or they’re traveling.
If you’ve done a search on a mobile device, most of the results are powered by Google Places or Yahoo Maps. Many people don’t realize that a local search marketing strategy indirectly translates into a mobile marketing strategy.
Many people have heard of the term “latent semantics” and know Google uses it in their rankings. But few really understand it.
Latent semantics isn’t the sexiest topic. Usually, the reaction is a nod and then the eyes glaze over. But search engine optimizers should know a little more about what it is, and a little trick to help you check it in Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs).
What is Latent Semantics?
Latent semantics basically explores the association between words. Words can have multiple meanings, so latent semantics is used by search engines to gather a more accurate picture of what the website is really about based on which keywords or terms are grouped together.
A good example to understanding this is the term “foreign exchange.” If a website about a foreign exchange also mentions “exchange rates,” then you’re looking at currency related site. But a different foreign exchange site that contains the word “student” indicates an entirely different set of associations.
Once you begin to understand latent semantics, it will help in building on-page content in a way that doesn’t result in losing the tie to the keywords you’re looking to rank better for.
Knowing what terms Google, or any search engine, associates together could help improve your rankings. Making more use of these can show the engines exactly what your content is about.
You would also be able to use these terms and not just repeat the ones you’re concentrating on. This diversity could also score you points with the engines as they’re used to websites repeating variations of a specific keyword.
So how to get some insights in to the actions of Google? Have you ever done a tilde search? This search hack isn’t too well known, and actually shows some of Google’s latent semantics.
What is shown doesn’t seem to go too deep, but it can help you gain an understanding. Let’s have a look at [forex].
Here, you can see the association with “foreign exchange” and “fx,” which are terms that fit the definition of forex.
Your search engine listing has a big impact on the traffic ultimately driven to your site. It’s not enough to rank highly if you can’t convince people to click. A number of methods to improve your listing are available to you.
Elements to Include
Your listing is made of up your page title, meta description (usually), and a URL. All of those should be tweaked as part of your search marketing efforts. To stand out, include:
- Keywords in your titles, descriptions and URLs: Google and Bing will bold words in a listing that match the search query.
- Your brand name: People like to click on familiar sites.
- A call to action within the description: Something like, “Book your vacation now!”
- Your selling points: Do you have a big selection, unique tools, or expert reviewers? Do you offer the lowest prices or free shipping?
- Top products, departments, features, subheadings, or a first sentence from an article in the description: Remember that you can only have about 150 characters before you text will get truncated.
Now that you’ve made your listings, you need to see if they work. Paid search allows for lots of testing with some pretty clear results of what works. Testing your organic listings is much harder, but still worthwhile.
- PPC Ad Testing: Because paid ads are so easy to test, use them to get some general ideas. Do people respond better to 15 percent off or free shipping?
- A/B Testing: If your site allows, you can do some A/B traffic testing of your listings. To reduce the influence of other factors, tests should be run concurrently on a set of pages you can split into reasonably equal groups. Comparing just the traffic pulled from A and B will take rankings and click-through rates (CTRs) into account.
- Search Queries Report: One of good newer tools for testing is in Google Webmaster Tools. The “search queries” report will actually give you a number for your CTR and average position for specific dates.