Monthly Archives: August 2007

Landing Pages Should Be Made For Humans and Machines

There has been a lot of chatter recently regarding what kind of relationship your landing page has to your AdWords quality score. Without a doubt your landing page is one of most important (if not the most important) aspects of your PPC campaign. Each landing page is assigned a quality score which crucial to your overall score – however, there are a myriad of factors that contribute to the quality score, and none of them should be disregarded. When managing you PPC campaign you need to make sure that you are focused on your click-through rate, keyword/ad text relevancy as well as your landing page/keyword relevancy.

I agree with Anna over at NoMoreLandingPages who says that a landing page should create a unique human experience, rather than cater to search engine crawler bots. Your landing page needs to engage your audience, clearly describe what action you want them to take, as well as support any promises you made in your PPC advertisement (such as free information, great deals, free shipping, etc.). However, to appease the AdWords quality score overlords, your landing page should contain the majority of your high traffic keywords.

In order to be human and bot friendly you may need to create multiple landing pages. You can use the same shell for your design (navigation), but craft your copy to be keyword group specific. For example, if you have campaigns for sports marketing, event marketing and mobile marketing keywords, you need multiple landing pages for each group because you’re high traffic keywords will vary between campaigns. Utilizing this strategy will help your quality score and conversion rate.

When it comes to lowering your cost-per-click and increasing your ad rank by enhancing your quality score you need to focus on your click-through rate, keyword grouping structure, keyword relevancy within your PPC ad and your landing page. You can work on each element individually but you need to keep your eye your score as whole.

Want a detailed list of how to make your landing page more human than a human? Check out this post!

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Google Top Ad Placement, What You Need to Know

Two weeks ago, Google announced that they were set to change the ranking formula for top ad placement. Initially, I had mixed opinions on the subject and was unsure if the motives behind the change were for quality or for Google’s financial gain. Bloggers across the board wrote on the subject and had theory after theory of what was Google’s “true” intent. Instead of posting further hearsay, the team here at PPC Hero contacted our trusty Google reps to get to the bottom of this update! After numerous discussions with our reps, and discussions with our team, we made a few discoveries. First of all, the confusion surrounding this change stems from a misunderstanding of the current formula for ad rank. In all reality, the two are not that different. Here’s a side by side comparison:

New Top Ad Placement Formula

Old Top Ad Placement Formula

Rankings Formula: Quality Score X Maximum Bid = Ad Rank (raw number, not actual ranking)

Rankings Formula: Quality Score X Maximum Bid = Ad Rank (raw number, not actual ranking)

Highest ad rank gets #1 spot, 2nd highest gets #2 spot, etc.

Highest ad rank gets #1 spot, 2nd highest gets #2 spot, etc.

Actual CPC is determined by adding $0.01 to the actual CPC of the advertiser immediately below you

Actual CPC is determined by adding $0.01 to the actual CPC of the advertiser immediately below you

If ads in the top 1-3 positions meet a minimum threshold for quality score and minimum price, they are then sent to a human editor

If ads in the top 1-3 positions meet a minimum threshold for quality score and minimum price, they are then sent to a human editor

If they are approved by that human editor (quality), then they move to the left hand side

If they are approved by that human editor (quality), then they move to the left hand side

N/A

At this point, the rankings of the top 1-3 ads are then determined by a second ad rank formula of Quality Score X Actual CPC (not maximum) = Ad Rank (still a raw number, not actual ranking)

N/A

The rankings are re-ordered (if necessary)

All ads, on the left and right sides, are then displayed in the SERPs

All ads, on the left and right sides, are then displayed in the SERPs

As you can see, the basics of the Google Ad Rank formula will remain the same. What has changed is the promotion of ads from the right hand column of ads to the coveted top three spots on the left. To help ease your minds, think of this shift as a change in “promotion formula.”

  • Old Promotion Formula:
    • Quality Score X Actual CPC > Threshold Value
    • With this current formula, some high quality ads cannot be promoted to the top ad placement because the advertisers below them are not bidding very much.
  • New Promotion Formula:
    • Quality Score X Maximum CPC > Threshold Value
    • An example of where this can help advertisers is when you are the only ad displaying on the page but are displayed on the right side of the SERPs. Since the new promotion formula uses your max CPC instead of your ultra-low actual CPC, you would then qualify to be moved to the top ad spots.
  • In both instances, Quality Score is still weighted to reward high quality ads.

All of this information was presented in the AdWords help section, though it was vague and a little loose on the details. Though, after discussing this formula change with our Google reps, we feel at peace with the information. We were told that there is a definitive list of AdWords accounts that will see an obvious change in performance. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the accounts you manage, take the time to call your representatives for clarification. Now that this update is live within AdWords, I will take a look at a few of my campaigns to see how (or if) my performance has been affected. Check back next week for an update with numbers!

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12 Do’s & Don’ts on Increasing Landing Page Conversions

We all know that the landing page is one of the most important aspects of increasing your conversion rate. Below I’ve listed 12 “Do’s” and “Don’ts” to keep in mind when looking at either constructing a landing page from scratch or revising an existing landing page. Any one who is involved with Search Engine Marketing should read this post and use it as a set of guidelines when it’s time to make changes to your landing page.

  1. Don’t write copy that is too industry specific! In my experience, reading copy that is so industry specific is copy only an expert in that industry can understand. Why are people wanting or needing to use your services if they’re already an expert in your industry? Write professional, but readable landing page copy just in case someone who isn’t familiar with your business can read and clearly understand. For example, it is not unlikely that a marketing director, president, or executive manager is asking an administrative assistant, intern or new office employee to look for services their company needs. An intern, assistant, or new office employee may not be familiar with your industry terms, and may get frustrated and abandon your landing page if they don’t understand your message.
  2. Use a bullet-pointed list of advantages and attributes when comparing yourself to your direct competitors. I don’t mean slam your competitor, but clearly state the advantages of hiring your company over them. Bullet-pointed and numbered lists are easy to read, and they stand out amongst a large grouping of text. This will help the ‘seeker’ find clarity in the services you provide, in addition to why they should choose you.
  3. Project a professional image. There are many people who believe in keeping landing pages short, simple, clean and neat, which I agree with. But adding one image of a professional nature will overall enhance the customer perception of what your company is about. It could be an image that portrays your companies’ brand and/or services, an image that gives someone the idea that you offer professional, creative and friendly services/products.
  4. Don’t have an obnoxiously long contact form. This is obvious, but I’ve spoken to many clients who want to ask potential customers as many questions in the contact form to see if they’re a good fit for the company before they make the effort to contact them. You’re only deterring people away from your landing page when you do this. However, if you’re concerned with having only qualified leads, making the questions in your form more specific will help.
  5. Whether your response time for following up with a potential client is 2 hours or 24 hours, say so. Don’t allow the customer to wonder when they may receive that phone call. Instead, simply say: “Response time may take up to 24 hours.”
  6. Clearly state what potential customers will receive once they fill out your contact/request information form. Are they getting a phone call? Email? Don’t make customers guess when and how they will be contacted with the next steps. Be clear. An example of this could be: “Fill out our information request form and one of our customer service representatives will be in contact with you via phone within 24 hours.” Or, you could ask the customer how they prefer to be contacted: Phone or email?
  7. Tell the customers what they should expect when someone follows up with them. Are they getting a whitepaper download via email? Are they getting a phone call from a customer service person looking to set up a day and time to meet? Are they getting an email of basic information? Be clear from the beginning why they should fill out your request or contact form. An example of this could be: “To receive your FREE book publishing guide via email, fill out the request form below!”
  8. Don’t have the form and submit button below the fold. Make the form and content of your landing page visible above the fold, and test this on several different browsers and screen resolutions. This is especially important for that ‘submit request’ or ‘contact us’ button at the end of the form. Don’t let your customer see your landing page and assume the form is 20 questions long. Show them there is an end.
  9. Have good organization. Again, this may seem like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many companies try to cram as much information on one page as possible. If you need to create several separate landing pages for each component of your services then do so. Landing pages should be kept to a minimum of 2-3 small paragraphs, one professional image, one short form with submit button and one small bullet or numbered list of advantages of your services.
  10. Don’t give the customer a reason to navigate away from your landing page. Remove additional navigation from your landing page. This includes links to other services, links back to the homepage, etc.
  11. Directly address problems customers are looking to solve by searching for your services. For example: If I were creating a landing page for PPC services, I could say: Do you need to drive more traffic to your site? Are you looking to increase revenue?
  12. Test different styles of landing pages. Make sure your correctly performing A/B testing though. A/B testing is when you have two identical landing pages, but you only change one element to test at a time. For example, if I want to test to see if using images actually helps conversions or not, I would create two landing pages exactly the same, only one would have an image and one wouldn’t.

The conclusion here is to think smarter about constructing a landing page. Think about the customers wants, needs and business goals. Don’t overwhelm them, but be sure to give them enough information to make an informed decision about contacting your company for further information. And most importantly, these are elements that have helped me and the team here at PPC Hero, the key element is to test your own landing pages, and see which works out best for you and your company.

How to Work with A Paid Search Agency

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PPC News Roundup for August 17, 2007

  • Fitting a clear, concise message within the allotted 70 characters of a PPC advertisement is always challenge. However, the AdCenter blog has posted some very helpful information on ad composition. Be specific, direct and professional are just a tips they give, and I agree. They also discuss how you can exclude your ad from users by clearly stating who you want to click on your ad, for example, “Homeowners Only.”
  • What do you do with your best performing keywords one advertiser asks? He was told to delete his best performing keywords and move them into a new ad group of their own. However, a Google adviser has a different opinion and suggests that you leave your best performing keywords where they are, but delete or move your not-so-great performing keywords into a more specific, smaller ad group. More here.
  • The Search Marketing Standard is trying to demystify the conversion rate. This lengthy article separates various methods of calculating and increasing your site’s conversion rates. From a PPC perspective, they made good points concerning increasing conversion rates without increasing sales volume. It’s about decreasing costs (CPC) and irrelevant traffic (clicks) while maintaining volume (conversions). Additionally, the point about conversion rate improvement not always meaning a site/landing page redesign especially rings true.

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Jeremy Mayes, from PPC Discussions has this to say

Jeremy Mayes is a well known blogger in the PPC industry. Today he shares with us his thoughts and opinions on hot topics in the PPC world.

Q: Do you foresee any advancements occurring in the next year that will change the way people manage their PPC accounts?

A: Yes, over the next 12 months I believe Google will add features that support rule based management of campaigns within AdWords. It’s needed – and Google knows that the more effective advertisers can be with their campaigns the more they will use them.

Q: You write about Google Pay-Per-Action campaign and how you’ve received more invalid leads. Did you end up turning off your PPA campaign or lower the amount you’re willing to spend per lead? What do you think Google can do to improve PPA campaigns?

A: I still have a number of PPA campaigns running. While Google can (and no doubt will) continue to refine their PPA platform I feel the advertiser can take a number of steps (especially with their landing pages) to improve the effectiveness of the program. You can read more about Jeremy’s thoughts on this subject here.

Q: How important are landing pages in managing your PPC account? How often do you make changes to your landing pages? Do you think that even with a poor landing page you can manage an effective PPC campaign?

A: I think the landing page is critical to the success of a campaign. By simply swapping landing pages I’ve seen huge and immediate swings in conversion rates and overall campaign profitability. Losing campaigns can become winners and winners can become losers, instantly. The landing page is the one area of an AdWords campaign where you can really separate yourself from the competition.

Q: Besides the big 3 (Google, Yahoo and MSN), are there any other search engines out there right now that are giving you effective results in your PPC campaigns?

A: Not worth mentioning.

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