Evan Roberts is a well-known blogger in the pay-per-click industry. His blog, www.ppclab.com focuses on paid search and provides actionable analysis and insight into the world of PPC. Evan has been actively managing paid search for four years now. In addition to paid search Evan has extensive experience in search engine optimization and affiliate marketing.
We’ve chosen Even to participate in our interview for the obvious reasons listed above. I think there is a lot we can learn from him and his experience in paid search. We’ve asked Evan a series of questions we think everyone in the PPC industry should think about.
Which search engines do you think are making the most progress when it comes to SEM?
When it comes to progress, and I know I’m in the minority with this answer, but I’d have to say MSN. Google is obviously the market leader but for MSN to go from no system at all to where they are now in a year is amazing. While they are still building their search network and volume, from an advertiser perspective they give us the best tools and reporting to run successful campaigns.
Since the new Yahoo! Panama upgrade, what do you think is their biggest strength/weakness?
Panama has provided Yahoo with a lot of flexibility but I believe they have a lot of usability issues to fix.
Do you think MSN will ever catch up to Google & Yahoo! standards? If so, how?
As I previously mentioned MSN has made huge strides in the PPC arena in a short amount of time and I believe they will continue to improve. I don’t believe they will ever get to Google’s level of search volume but do believe they have the potential to be an equal to Yahoo. It’s hard to ever count Microsoft out of any race. They have the money and resources to compete in nearly any industry they enter. For example, people didn’t believe they could compete in the game console market with Sony, Sega, and Nintendo but they have been extremely successful over the last 10 years.
How they are going to take the next step is debatable. From a pure PPC standpoint they could buy market share via a Yahoo acquisition but we’ve already heard that’s not likely. Realistically they still have huge market share with IE and XP/Vista which gives them lots of potential to gain market share via desktop search. I still think there is a huge opportunity in mobile search (http://www.ppclab.com/2007/2/will-paid-search-live-mobile.cfm) and I previously suspected that Google would make a move to this arena first, Microsoft is developing their own phone and with the proper strategy there could be a big market share gained via the mobile web.
All in all, I don’t think people are loyal to a search engine, if you present the right data in a fashion that is easy and usable people will use your search. Mix in a solid branding campaign and people will take notice. You never want to count out Microsoft but whatever they do it will have to be extremely innovative and functional.
What is the biggest challenge you face in regards to PPC advertising?
The biggest challenge I face in PPC advertising is increased competition which in turn causes rising costs and slimmer profitability margins.
Can you give us your three biggest tips on improving PPC strategies that we haven’t heard yet?
While it’s no big secret, proper account organization is still the best thing anyone can do with their account. Since the short little snip of text is the only connection you have between the customer and your site, ad-text are the highest importance. To help find the best ad-text experiment with every single line to find the best performing combination. Lastly, make your ads stand out. It’s pretty easy to see what your competition is doing and unknowingly blend in. Use keyword insertion, unique titles and original copy to help add pop to your ads.
Thanks to Evan for participating in our interview! If anyone has any additional thoughts, agreements or disagreements regarding the questions we’ve asked please feel free to comment!