Monthly Archives: August 2009

Utilize Category Exclusions to Enhance Your Content Network Performance


Refining your performance on the AdWords Content Network requires diligence and a varied approach. We have written previously on excluding specific sites on the Content Network, as well as restructuring your campaign to gain additional exposure. Now I’d like to discuss how you can further optimize your performance by excluding entire categories from your distribution.

Within the Google AdWords interface you can exclude entire categories. First, let’s discuss where you can find these options. Go to the Networks tab and under the Search and Content Network data you will see the “Exclusions” information. This is where you’ll see these options:

Screen Shot 1

As you can see above, you can exclude placements and/or categories at the campaign level. For our example today, you’ll want to click on “Exclude category.”

When you choose this option, a widow will pop up, here is a screen shot below:

Screen shot 2

There is a set of standard categories that is included within your Content Network distribution. Within this screen you can choose entire categories from which you can exclude your ads.

For this example, you can see that I previously excluded certain categories, and I have a feeling you may want to review these categories as well:

  • Military & international conflict
  • Juvenile, gross & bizarre content
  • Profanity & rough language
  • Sexually suggestion content

I have excluded other categories as well but I doubt these 4 categories are applicable for most of your campaigns. I’d give these a look to see how they are performing for your campaign.

This method can help refine your Content Network distribution, increase your conversion rate and decrease your cost-per-conversions.

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Increased Bid Transparency with Google’s Bid Simulator


Ever wondered how a bid change is going to affect your AdWords account? Will it send my costs through the roof? Will it sacrifice clicks? What will happen to impressions? You’re in luck! The days of bid uncertainty are behind us, sort of. Google has made it a little easier to estimate the potential impact of bid adjustments with the Bid Simulator. While this tool can’t predict the future, it gives advertisers insight into the potential impact of changing a bidding strategy.

Google has been testing this tool for awhile now, but just last week the Bid Simulator was made available to more AdWords accounts. To find out if you have access to the tool, go into the AdWords interface and navigate to view all campaigns, then click on the keywords tab. Sort your keywords based on click volume. If you have access to the Bid Simulator, you will see the blue icon next to the current CPC for all high-volume keywords. Google does not provide this option for low-traffic keywords because there is generally not enough data on low-volume keywords to draw meaningful results.

The Bid Simulator bases its projections on past account performance. It uses data from the previous seven days and recalculates the number of impressions, clicks and costs based on a chosen CPC. This number tells you the estimated amount of clicks and impressions you could have gained/missed had the CPC been different.

The tool adds some transparency to the AdWords bidding process, showing advertisers what could happen to impressions, clicks and cost for selecting a particular CPC. This information can add more insight into bidding strategies and takes some uncertainty out of the bidding equation. Depending on your pay-per-click advertising objectives, this tool can help guide you in the trade-off between increasing click volume versus having higher costs. However, Dan Friedman of the Inside AdWords blog warns that while the Bid Simulator tool can help you explore the possibilities with a different CPC, “past performance does not guarantee future results.”

Don’t see it in your accounts yet? Check out the Google Bid Simulator video to learn more:

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Submit Your Landing Page to the PPC Hero Landing Page Optimization Podcast!


As you may know, we discuss landing pages rather frequently here at PPC Hero. They are a crucial element of your paid search marketing campaign and we feel that your (and our!) landing pages could always be better. Your landing page has the ability to convert at a higher rate, generate more sales, and engage your audience at a deeper level – and we would like to help you with all of these! After all, that’s what superheroes do, right?

We are seeking new submissions to our PPC Hero Landing Page Optimization series! “How does it work?” you might ask. It’s simple:

  1. Just submit your landing page to us with the pertinent information (see below).
  2. We’ll choose a landing page that we feel we can help leap tall buildings in a single bound.We’ll record a podcast where the PPC Hero team has a discussion about your landing page and it will be loaded with helpful tips and insights.
  3. And the podcast will be posted to the blog.

And it’s just that easy. What “pertinent information” do you need to include? When submitting your landing page for critique consideration, please include the following:

  • Landing Page URL
  • Sample PPC advertisement that sends users to your URL
  • Top 5-10 keywords that you are targeting for this landing page
  • Overall business objective (the goal of the landing page)
  • Current challenges you are having with this landing page

Here are the terms and conditions for submitting to the Landing Page Optimization:

  • The individual who is submitting to the PPC Hero Landing Page Optimization podcast has the proper authority to make this decision and provide this information.
  • The individual’s company is aware that a landing page critique has been requested and this podcast will be posted publicly to the PPC Hero blog.
  • The PPC Hero blog is indexed frequently by the search engines and this podcast may appear within search result pages.

How do you submit? Just go our contact page and submit your information!
This will be a new on-going series so we’re excited to get things kicked off!
We look forward to hearing from you!

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Happy Elvis Week! Hunk of Burning Love Edition


Elvis was great. Obviously, he’s the King. If you’ve never been to Graceland, you’re missing out. It’s a sight to be seen simply for the Jungle Room. This week, fans and fanatics alike are celebrating Elvis Week. And PPC Hero salutes those who still worship at the feet of the King!

As you can see, PPC Hero has embraced the post-1969 comeback area of Elvis (OK, we’ll call him Vegas Elvis). As for SEO Boy, he prefers the Jailhouse Rock area of Elvis.

I’m just a hunk of burning love!



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PPC News Roundup for Friday 8/7/2009

  • Search Engine Journal posted some screenshots indicating that Google is testing their results layout. The post, Sponsored Ads Get Closer to Organic Result in SERPs, shows screenshots of the paid results pushed a little to the left.
  • Interested in more details on the Yahoo-Microsoft agreement? Search Engine Land’s post “Micro-Hoo: The Details Emerge With SEC Filing” highlights some of the specifics from the SEC filing. Interesting read if you can wade through some of the legal language.
  • When was the last time you went into a store, filled your shopping cart, and then just decided to walk away – leaving your cart behind? This doesn’t happen much in brick-and-mortar stores, but in online retail, this happens with approximately 20% of shoppers. A post from the Yahoo Search Marketing Blog discusses the reasons shoppers abandon their carts and what can be done to change them.
  • You might have been poking around in Google Analytics recently and noticed the “Advanced Segmentation” option. I personally love it, but it can be a little difficult to get started with in the beginning. Watch this video from the Google Analytics agency blog on Segmenting AdWords traffic: Google Analytics in 60 seconds. It will demystify this extremely useful tool.
  • To help give us a little more insight into the “what ifs” of the AdWords world, Google launched its bid simulator earlier this week. This new feature shows you what could have happened – in impressions, clicks, and cost – if only you had set a different bid for your keywords. Pretty useful, if you don’t mind learning from the past.
  • Here’s the start of a series that promises to be cool from David Sztela re: the science and art behind successful PPC advertising. This week he’s offered some resources to get you started learning about successful copywriting and using scientific methods in your advertising efforts!
  • Yesterday, the AdWords crew posted on the new custom alerts feature as part of their New Interface Thursday series. Now you can customize alerts all the way down to the keyword level, allowing you to know exactly when important changes occur within your accounts. You can even set up email notifications! I’m going to add some of these right now!
  • If you’re using Google’s Website Optimizer, I’m sure you’ll want to know that you can now auto-disable bad experiments. You can auto-disable your losing variations depending on the preferences. This can help if you have a variation that is doing terribly! Here is a good write-up at Search Engine Guide.
  • Do you the difference between interest and intent when it comes to your landing pages? You should. Scott Brinker has written an interesting article over at MediaPost in regards to this topic. This could shed some light on how you view your landing pages.

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How Can Help You Reach Your Lead Goals


With all the talk about Google, Yahoo and MSN all the time, the little guys tend to get left out.  By little guys, I mean second tier search engines like,, etc.

I’m currently using for one of my clients and I’m getting decent results.  It’s important for PPC advertisers to realize there is more to this world other than Google, Yahoo and MSN.  If you’ve exhausted all of your options and really need to generate additional leads, do yourself a favor and check out some of the more popular second tier search engines.

In this post I’ll go over the one I’m working in right now,

businesscom main is a search engine and a B2B directory. The search engine aspect of works closely to how the top three work with Paid listings and organic listings. allows you to add ‘listings’ instead of campaigns. And within each listing are the keywords and ads. You have the same flexibility within as you have within Google and Yahoo; you can add keywords to your listing, edit your keywords, change their bids, write new ad texts, and pause under performing ad texts.

You can also set up conversion tracking within as well as Google Analytics.  You can even set up destination URL’s for each keyword if needed.  Reporting provided is more than necessary with status of your listing, CPC, position or rank as they call it, clicks, cost, total conversions, conversion rates, cost-per-conversion and conversion revenue.  The one thing they don’t give you however is the impression count.

Your ad text or the actual listing in is slightly different from Google and Yahoo. Your listing title can include up to 60 characters and the description can contain up to 150 characters.  You have your typical destination URL and a display URL.  But then there is a multilink area where you can fill in separate page names and their URL’s.  What this does is allow for more links to page of your site that you have listed directly under your main listing.  This gives the user more flexibility and more of a chance that you’ll get a click to your site.


When it comes to reporting you can generate a traffic and lead report for any date range. You can view the report immediately and even export the data into Excel.

Last month for one of my clients I was able to generate a total of 19 leads at a cost of $26 per lead. My CPL goal was $55.  The extra 19 leads helped me reach my monthly goal for total paid search leads at a super cheap cost.  I could probably increase my keyword bids and get even more traffic which I plan to do here in August.

The point is as a PPC advertiser, we should be looking into all opportunities to increase leads and sales for our clients. If we’re only ever work in Google, Yahoo and MSN we’ll never know what kind of results we can receive from other search engines.  If your client has it in their budget I would recommend giving a try!

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Our Greatest Hits for July 2009


The page views have spoken! Below we have gathered PPC Hero’s four most visited, and hopefully most valuable, articles from July. Whether you’re a new or long-time subscriber you may have missed these insightful and helpful pay-per-click management tips. Enjoy!

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5 PPC Tasks to Start Your Month off Right!


As I’m sure you are aware, it’s a new month! Now is the time to kick off your PPC campaigns with a bang. There are a few tasks that you can accomplish quickly in the next day or two that will help improve your performance for the rest for the month.

When optimizing your PPC campaigns, you should always make positive changes all month long. However, you should front-load as many of your tasks toward the beginning of the month as you can. Why? This way, when you make some great changes, your account will feel the effects for the  longest amount of time possible.

Here is a list of five tasks you can accomplish quickly to get your month started successfully:

  1. Run a keyword report and focus on your top 10 keywords. It’s easy to get caught in the mire of hundreds keywords, especially if you’re managing a robust campaign. For this task, you should look at your most valuable keywords to see how they’re performing and what you can do to improve their performance right now. This can include bids, ad texts, ad group restructuring, negative keywords, etc.
  2. Are you testing multiple landing pages? Run a URL report to see if you have any weak performing variations that can be removed. This will also allow you to devote more traffic to your best performing landing pages. This way, you can get those weak landing pages out of rotation to start off your month right.
  3. Are you running ads on the Content Network within AdWords? Run a placement performance report and focus on the 3-5 websites with the lowest conversion rate and the highest cost-per-lead (or sale). I am sure there are other sites that may not be performing well, and there are sites that are doing great that you want to specifically target – but for this task, just remove those 3-5 sites that are hindering your performance.
  4. There is always room to expand your keyword list. Conduct a quick review of your website to see where you can add at least 1-2 new ad groups. Now, you don’t have to do all the extensive keyword research right now, but can you find a few core terms/phrases that could be expanded upon? You can then do the full research and expansion later in the month.
  5. Create new automated reports. Staying on top of your performance is crucial to maintaining your performance. You should create one report that provides the vital stats for your account and have it sent to you daily. Don’t overload this report with data because it will become a hassle to review each morning. Only pull the vital stats you need. This way, when you get into the office, you have an email waiting for you and you can review the previous day’s performance.

Of course, there are many other tasks to complete in any given month when managing a PPC account, but these are a few tasks that can improve your performance quickly. As you complete these tasks I’m sure you’ll see other elements of your campaigns that require attention. You should build this list and get to these tasks ASAP. This way, you’ve jumpstarted your PPC campaign for the month!

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