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Amazing Pay Per Click Strategies – From Fredric Vallaey – Google Adwords Evangelist

Listen to Fredric Vallaey Interview during SES New York 2009During SES New York, I had the pleasure to interview Fredric Vallaey from the Google PPC team. Fredric works in the Google Adwords team as a product Adwords evangelist and gave us some great tips on PPC strategies. Thank you so much Fredric for taking the out time to meet us.

Q: Our very first question is focused on a small business. As a small advertiser with a little budget, should you be going national or should you be geo-targeting?

A: So if you are an advertiser with national reach, then you definitely, at some point, want to make sure that you go national. But if budget is a constraint, then a good way to make sure that you are testing in a smaller way is to start doing regional targeting first. If you are a hotel company, and you only have properties in New York or San Francisco, you can actually regionally target your ad campaigns. Only show campaigns in the region you feel your target audiences are searching for.

Q: What are the three most important criteria according to Google that should drive your CTR higher? Is it how much you pay?

A: CTR stands for click-through rate, which means how many clicks you get per impression. CTR is not really influenced by price. Now the one thing that does influence CTR is how high up you are on the page, so if you are in a ‘top hat’ position, obviously you are going to get a little bit more clicks than if you were on the bottom of the page.

Q: What are the key factors influencing your CTR?

A: Well, CTR can be influenced. It’s really a measure of relevance. The more relevant your ad appears to the user, the higher the click-through rate will be. Here are few things that can boost your CTR.

  1. Your ad groups should be correctly structured. For example, if you sell three different types of products, make one ad group for each of those products. Make sure that the key word is closely related to the ad text and that there is super high relevance between those two.
  2. Key words should appear in the ad text. If you have a campaign about New York hotels, then make sure that the title says ‘New York Hotels’. It should be very clear to the user right from the start that your ad is super relevant to the key word that they typed in. But, if you had a more generic ad that just said ‘find hotel deals here’, and it wasn’t clear that you actually had New York hotels from the ad text, then your CTR probably would be a little bit lower. Bottom-line, a more relevant ad will drive a higher CTR.

Q: What about when they land on your website? Would you typically want surfers to come and land on your home page, or do you want them to land on a landing page designed specifically for that adgroup? Let’s say if you are selling wedding packages, should you be driving people to the home page of the hotel website or should you be getting them on a landing page?

A: Really it depends on the key words you choose. If you have a generic keyword phrase such as “photography services”, then it would probably be okay to take people to your home page, but when you are selling specific things or surfers are looking for something specific, then the surfer should land on the specific landing page designed for that query.

In some cases, it might be better for online buyers to get to the category page. For example, if a consumer is looking for a video camera and has one specific model in mind, maybe they could be convinced to buy a different model, right. So, in those situations it might actually be better to take people to a category page which is about video cameras. It’s not your home page. It’s not too general, but it’s also not so specific that it really only tells people this is your one option; but instead it says to people if you are looking for a video camera, here are ten different options and here’s why these are good ones. So, ultimately, it’s really about testing and seeing what works best for you. Google also offers great testing tools such as ‘website optimizer’ which helps you test landing pages and identify the best conversion factors.
Q: Would you be able to give us five tips for small businesses to do, to get great conversion on Google AdWords campaigns?

A: Sure. I think the first one is definitely to put yourself in the shoes of the user and figure out what it is they’re going to be typing in when they search for your type of product. And as part of that, make sure that you use the right match types. Google has three keyword match types i.e. broad, phrase, and exact. Based on which one you choose, you are going to get either wider exposure or more narrow exposure. Typically, what I like to do is have some very relevant key words to your business, but run them as broad matches to start with. Once I have enough data, I can add negative keywords to improve CTR or even do phrase match.

If you are selling sailboats, there may be lot of people who are looking for pictures of sailboats, so ‘pictures’ could be a negative keyword to add. You do not want your ad to show for people looking for “pictures of the sailboat”.

The second thing would be geo-targeting, so again it’s part of targeting, making sure that your ad shows to the right user at the right time and that you are not targeting too broadly and spending money on people who are not likely to buy from you.

Third would be the adgroups structure. I think that it is super important, and really break it down so that you are showing the right ad to the right person at the right time.

Fourth would be landing pages – you should really focus on that, because that is where you either win a customer or lose a customer. Once they come to your site, what do they do next? If you paid for that customer to come to your page, make sure they also buy from you or do what you want them to do.

The fifth good tip will be to have a great bunch of tools. So there are tools for finding new keywords and geo markets called ‘Insights for Search’. That one lets you see what people on the internet are searching for these days, and what are up-and-coming topics. And that gives you some insight into how to get ahead of the curve and maybe be the first one.

Q: Google insight can probably tell you feeder markets to target. Correct?

A: Yeah, exactly. So if you didn’t realize that people in Nevada searched for your product proportionally more than in another state, maybe you could have a separate campaign for that state and really boost your business that way. And then, we also have a really cool new keyword tool which is a search-based keyword tool. If you are running out of ideas of what to do keyword research on, use this tool to get ideas! Just enter in your domain and let Google Search-Based Keyword Tool do the rest. They will crawl through your website and identify keyword ideas based on your site’s content.. So, that tool kind of does everything I’ve just said. It tells you which ad group to put the keyword into and what landing page to use. It’s all automated, and it goes into the long tail. So it really tells you the keywords where you have an opportunity that maybe you haven’t taken advantage of yet. And then I’d throw in a sixth step which is to manage your bids and your costs. We have the Conversion Optimizer for that, which automatically sets your CPC bids and how much cost-per-click you pay based on your conversation rate.

Q: Since we talked about conversion, I would ask you one last question. What are the four most important reporting metrics? Assume often times it’s very hard for us to get true conversion, because we don’t control the booking engine. So, let’s say if you don’t control your shopping engine in the backend, what are the three or four most important performance metrics for your ad campaigns?

A: If you don’t control the final step in your conversion process, it’s a little bit difficult to get that data and feed it into the system, so I would definitely look at the click-through rate that you are getting and the cost-per-click. So, even if you can’t tie directly into AdWords at least what you can do is, on a daily basis, look at how much you spent and how much revenue you’ve made and the cost of those revenues and then figure out whether you actually made a profit on that day or not. Based on that, you can really tweak your CPC to be at the right level. With the click-through rate costs that you are spending, make sure your daily budget is under control. If you are trying something new, set a reasonable daily budget. Don’t set it too high, because if things aren’t working the way that you expected it to, then you could be losing a lot of money in a given day. Also, don’t set it too low, because then you are restricting yourself a little too much.

Q: Set up the daily budget at a campaign level?

A: Exactly, daily budget at the campaign level. So, I think those are the metrics that you really should be looking at to be successful.

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Contributed by: Benu Aggarwal, Milestone Internet Marketing

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