Monthly Archives: September 2011

George W. Bush Wonders “What the Query?”

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just need a good laugh. If you have awesome co-workers like I do, then having a good time and a lot of laughs at work is pretty easy; so for me, finding awesome search queries in my day that make me say “What the Query?!” is just the icing on the cake. It looks like President Bush is wondering “What the Query?!” too!

Every month on PPC Hero, we like to post our top funniest search queries. Below are what I like to call our “gems” from September:

1)   kickass workstations

2)   beta photo publish

3)   are rabbits from the rodent family?

4)   hot looking music workstations

5)   taco bell refried beans product finder

6)   squirrel adoption center

7)   atomic bomb gift ideas

Atomic bomb gift ideas? Really guys?? What the Query?!

What funny search queries have you run into? We’d love to know! Just leave them in the comments section below.


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Our 3 Most Valuable PPC Metrics

Last week, Wordstream asked the Hanapin team to participate in survey to find out which PPC metrics account managers think are the most valuable. It brought me back to when I was first learning about pay-per-click and felt overwhelmed by all the metrics and 3 letter acronyms that were being thrown around. I had no idea how I was going to use all this data to make decisions. Over time I realized there were metrics I looked at once in a while (view through conversions anyone?) and metrics I looked at every day (CPL!).

To gauge our opinion, Wordstream asked us two questions:

#1: If you could only check three metrics in your PPC account, which three metrics would you choose? In other words, which three PPC metrics do you think provide the most complete picture of your performance?

#2 (Bonus Question): What PPC metric do you think is bogus/overrated/a waste of time?

Below are the responses from Jessica, Dave, and myself.

Jessica PPC ManagerCPA: If I’m not attaining a good CPA for my clients based on their goals, then I’m not doing my job. Depending on what your conversion is, it’s also important to follow through and understand what sort of ROI your conversions are getting for the client.

CTR: I like reviewing my click-through rates for areas to improve. I think it’s really easy to get too wrapped up in CTR, especially when looking at the ad level. Ads with a high click-through rate are great and can help your Quality Scores resulting in overall lower CPCs; however, if those high CTR ads aren’t ending in a desired result (conversion) from the user then you should rethink the ad.

Impression share: I like the group of IS metrics (IS, Exact Match IS, Lost IS Budget, and Lost IS Rank) because they provide some really great insights into optimization opportunities for your campaigns. Perhaps adding some more budget or bidding up can help you attain additional impressions and clicks, and of course, more conversions. Your campaigns will never have a 100% impression share, but it’s usually better that they don’t as you’ll be spending money on irrelevant clicks.

One metric I don’t take too seriously is first-page bids: I think it’s important to review your bids for those below the first-page bid estimate, but to take AdWords’ suggestions lightly, especially since most advertisers have noticed that their bids will be “estimated below the first page” but showing in an average position of say, a two. I’d suggest reading up on how first-page bid estimates work before you opt to up your bid to $80+ (I’ve seen this!) and understand how the estimates work with the exact match version of your keyword.

Dave PPC ManagerCPL/CPA. Most of my work is with clients who have specific CPL goals in mind. Being aware of this makes it easy for me to find problem campaigns/ad groups/keywords and increase overall account efficiency. The logic is simple: If your actual CPL is greater than your target CPL, there are issues in that campaign/ad group/keyword that need your attention. If your actual CPL is less than your target CPL, then your campaign/ad group/keyword is performing on par with your client’s goals.

CTR. CTR is an excellent indicator of how well your ads are performing. Once again, the logic should be clear: higher CTRs indicate that your ad copy is resonating with searchers (assuming you have collected enough click and impression data), whereas lower CTRs tend to indicate problems with your ad copy, landing page or even account structure.

ROI. Probably one of the most important metrics in the eyes of your clients, ROI is a great way to analyze your campaign’s overall profitability.It is important to remember that conversions sometimes have different values associated with them. By calculating your ROI, you can make sure your PPC efforts are profitable to your client without being fooled by seemingly attractive CPLs.

Bogus PPC Metric: Budget. Hopefully I’m not alone when I say this, but campaign budgets are misleading. Although PPC practitioners set budgets as a safeguard, spend can actually exceed your set budgets by up to 20%. This might not be as big of a deal with lower-spend clients, but becomes much more severe with higher-spend accounts. 20% of a $10,000 campaign could really add up! Perhaps budget would seem a little less bogus to me if they actually capped your daily spend at your set budget level.

Bethany PPC ManagerCPL. All of the clients I work with have a goal CPL (cost per lead) in mind. You want to make sure you are getting out of PPC more than what you are putting in. Having 100 conversions is great, but not if they cost $50 each and only generate $5 in revenue each.

Conversion Rate. Using this metric, you can determine the effectiveness of your landing pages. If you are getting a lot of clicks but have a really low conversion rate, then you know it’s time to update your landing pages.

Click-Through Rate. You might think you’ve written the best, most creative PPC ad ever, but if it doesn’t resonate with users it doesn’t matter. CTR lets you evaluate how well you are communicating with potential customers. I wouldn’t be able to improve PPC performance without it.

Bonus question: Average Position. Don’t get me wrong, average position is a helpful metric, but I think too many people get caught up in trying to be in the number 1 spot without evaluating cost/benefit. If you have a tighter budget it will likely make more sense to appear in positions 3-4 to generate traffic at an acceptable cost per click.

What would your top 3 PPC metrics be? Let us know below and be sure to read the responses from all of the 17 PPC managers interviewed.


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It’s World Gratitude Day – What Are You Grateful For?

In my 25 short years on this Earth, something I’ve realized is that sometimes it seems easier to complain than to show gratitude and have a grateful heart. I really don’t know why this is the case, but today is the perfect time to turn those complaints into thankfulness! Obviously, PPC Hero is grateful for the world, and everyone in it; he’s such a great hero! Chances are though, that there are specific people in your life who you’re grateful for – those who have stuck with you through hard times and celebrated with you in good times. Let’s tell the people we care about how grateful we are for them today!



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Top of Page and First Page Bid Estimates

If you use AdWords, I’m sure you’ve noticed a status called ‘First Page Bid Estimate’ and maybe even decided to opt in to the newer ‘Top of Page Estimate’ that you can now make a column in your interface.  These bid estimates can give some great insight into an optimization opportunity, but it’s also important to know how AdWords calculates these estimates and some alternatives to take rather than constantly raising your bids.  In addition, with the new Top vs. Side segmentation that AdWords introduced too, the top of page estimate can help you make a more educated decision on how high to bid up for those keywords that seem to do really well above the search results.

First page bids:

First page bid estimates have always kind of irked me with AdWords.  According to their help section, a keyword’s first page bid estimate is an approximate bid needed to reach the first page of Google’s search results.  I’ve heard a lot of people say that they’re confused as to why AdWords issues this status for keywords that have an average position that is clearly on the first page of the results, like this example below.

The keywords highlighted in pink are all ‘below the first page bid’ but have average positions that are clearly on the first page.

first page bid estimates

This second shot is of the keywords that were considered ‘below the first page bid’ three weeks later.  The ones I’ve highlighted in pink are keywords that were below the first page in the latter report.   They are all branded keywords and the first page bid estimate went from .20 (which I moved them to from .10) to .30 now.  This could be the result of an increase in competition for these keywords as they are branded and have decent Quality Scores.

Your estimates are based on a search query that matches your keyword exactly and is based on both Quality Score and competitive atmosphere meaning that your first page estimates may not be completely accurate.  So before you get ahead of yourself and continually raise to the first page bid, take a step back and look at what it’s asking you to change – what are the rest of the metrics like in the ad group for this keyword?  Like I said, Quality Score is a factor that play a part in these estimates, and you can improve your average position and lower your cost by optimizing your account versus raising your bids.


Top of Page Bids:

A handy, newer feature in AdWords is the top of page bid estimate for your keywords.  When Google introduced top vs. side segmentation in your accounts, you were able to see how well your ads and keywords were doing over the top of the search results versus the vertical bar on the side of the results and now, it’s easier to bid appropriately for those keywords to reach the top of the results.

Top of Page Estimates

Here’s an example with the estimated top page bid added in.  According to AdWords, you’ll sometimes see a bid that has an estimate of $100, which is a hint from the system saying that you really need to optimize this keyword.  In other accounts, I’ve noticed a lot of keywords with decent Quality Scores (like 6/7) with pretty high top page bid estimates as well but they’re usually considered ‘low search volume.’ In this example, you can clearly see the dreadful Quality Score of 2 and some nice little statuses from AdWords letting you know how awful the keyword is in terms of QS.  Obviously, you’re not going to up the bid for a keyword to $100 and you need to start making adjustments.


Improving Your Rank:

Everything in paid search comes back to your account structure and fundamental best practices.  With both first page bid estimates and top of page estimates, we can begin to make improvements and lower CPCs with the structure of our keywords within their ad groups and corresponding ads/landing pages.

Start with the issue – First, look for ad groups with a high ratio of below first page bid estimates and check out the corresponding Quality Scores for those keywords.  If you can break out ad groups into smaller, more targeted groups, you have a good chance of improving your QS and average CPC for those keywords.

If you’re seeing a lot of low search volume keywords that are receiving high bid estimates, it may be time to re-evaluate the effectiveness of these keywords and value to your overall account strategy.  If you need some ideas on how to further improve your Quality Scores, check out PPC Hero’s Ultimate Guide to Google AdWord’s Quality Score.


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