How Competitor Research Improves Your Content Marketing

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A wealth of information lurks in the success (or failures) of the Other Guy.

Here are some ways you can improve your own content marketing results using competitor research tools and tips:

See What’s Popular

Your competitors are working in the same industry as you are, or so I assume. So they have the same audience that you do. This gives you an immediate view on what your audience is looking to read about, watch, view, or listen to.

It doesn’t take a lot to figure out what’s popular with your target demographic. Peek at what is trending on their site(s) and social media profile(s). Make a list of content that has gotten a lot of traffic, views, social media shares, and comments.

From there, you can develop a content strategy that follows the same general idea.  Take a note of:

Discover Where Competitors Are Lacking

In addition to seeing what they are doing right, you can see what they are doing wrong. I distinctly remember this competing podcast of a client I was working for. They released this video series connected to their show, but not really a part of it. The first couple got a decent number of hits, but then they got next to no views.

Wondering what the issue was, I did a quick viewing of all of their videos (which they continued to release in spite of the lack of interest from their user base). They were cheesy, badly written, and not close enough to their podcast format to brand it properly. It was a trainwreck, basically.

In addition to this travesty of video, the podcasts were suffering because too much effort was being put into a new form of content that didn’t work.

Guess what the client did? Avoided videos, stuck with the podcast, upped their promotion, and ended up poaching a lot of listeners.

Track Mentions

We all know that reputation management is an important part of overall branding. But tracking mentions of your competitors really work wonders, as well. You can keep track of announcements both major and minor, and also see what people are saying about the competition.

I worked for a startup once that setup mention tracking for three other platforms in the same industry, with a similar pat structure to their own. When the founder discovered a blog doing a review for a competitor, they asked them to do one for their own.

In the end, the review compared them to the last review and the startup I worked for came out on top.

Tools For Competitive Research

I mentioned before that you will have better tools at your disposal than asking Rebecca’s teenage sister the secret to her cookie selling success. These are some of those tools, though there is an endless supply of competitor research apps and dashboards out there to choose from.

  1. Google Alerts – The free option, and my personal favorite. You can create alerts that monitor any mention of your competitors across the web. It includes both social and web page results. I use it to monitor my competitors, my brand, and my industry. You can set your alerts to give you a digest of daily results, or to immediately let you know
  2. Spyfu – Don’t just monitor your competitors, flat out spy on them! Spyfu is a fun and informative dashboard that uses keyword research, mentions and more to keep track of your competitors. It is a combination of SEO and PPC research, so it applies to content and advertising.
  3. Compete – I don’t always recommend this tool because it is pretty pricey. But if you are a business with a decent budget, you can seriously improve results using this tool. You will learn a strategy to compete with competition on every level, including your social marketing. It is a very in depth tool full of data, and acts almost like a consulting service with a self service bent. It is an investment, but worth it if you have the cash on hand. Some businesses have reported a conversion improvement of 42% or more… seriously.

Do you have a tip for competitor research to improve content marketing? Know a tool that belongs on the list? Let us know in the comments!

The post How Competitor Research Improves Your Content Marketing appeared first on SEO Chat.

August 11th 2016 PPC

PPC + SEO = A Winning Team for Search Marketing Success

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A winning team requires the proper line-up, teamwork and the ability to fill-in the performance gaps. A winning team for search requires the proper line-up of Paid and Organic strategies to ensure increased visibility and growth. Many B2B companies pigeonhole PPC as strictly a lead gen or a sales tactic but now is the time to go from tunnel vision to full spectrum search.

Why do we all need to start paying attention to organic and paid search integration? With the recent changes to Google’s SERP results page, many companies are starting to see organic visibility slide along with organic traffic as paid advertisers are garnering more real estate on the page. Google continues to push more algorithm updates and while they many not all be as impactful as RankBrain, Panda, or Penguin, SEO and organic rank is becoming increasingly difficult to manage.

I cannot tell you how many times we hear, “Is paid going to impact our organic search performance?” or “Is it going to cannibalize our brand’s traffic?” Study after study has found that answer to be No! Strategic Paid Digital Media only enhances search performance and boosts organic activity.

And for skeptics, here are a few recent stats on the integration of paid and organic search efforts:

  • Integrating PPC and organic SEO efforts results on average in a 25% increase in organic traffic (Business2Community)
  • 50% of clicks by paid ads are not replaced by organic clicks when the ads are absent and the website has a first position organic search ranking (Search Engine Watch)
  • 27% Increase in Profit with Combined PPC and Organic efforts (Business2Community)

Search marketing should be holistic and strategic with integrated PPC and organic efforts. It’s time for marketers to start taking a look at Paid Search as a way to also grow visibility and traffic. An integrated search marketing program will allow you to conquer SERPs and take ownership of your priority keywords. SERP ownership equals authority in the consumers eye which equals success.

But where do you start? Let’s assume you currently have an SEO program in place and are looking at entering the realm of PPC. Here are a few tips and tactics for getting your integrated search marketing effort off the ground.

#1 – What do you HAVE to bid on keywords you’re already ranking for?

Every company has specific keywords or phrases that are ‘make or break’ terms for them. The queries driving the majority of your traffic, leads, sales or whatever you may be doing. These handfuls of keywords are typically LATE FUNNEL and directly relate to your product or service.

We always recommend owning these types of queries, even if you’re currently on the 1st page or in first position organically. The stats above prove that query ownership leads to trust and trust leads to additional clicks, leads and revenue.

#2 – What you SHOULD bid on?

Maybe rankings have started to slide. Maybe you’ve never ranked for the keyword but the term is an important component of your product or service. What do you do? BUY IT!

The SEO game is tough and if you should be visible for certain keywords but are unable to get a reasonable rank, the best, immediate solution is to start bidding on that term.

Remember that paid search is something you can easily turn off and on. If ranking improves and the ads activity doesn’t warrant the spend, turn it off.

#3 – How do you conquer keyword expansion & create a strategy?

Let’s say you’ve been paying attention to Search Console and have started seeing particular search quires driving traffic or maybe you have a new product you’re launching or MAYBE you just have a hunch that content built around a particular keyword phrase is going to be the lead gen treasure. Test it out on AdWords and find out.

Launching small PPC campaigns is a great way to test the opportunity available along with getting a glimpse into how people are searching for a particularly topic or product so pay attention to your search query reports.

Just make sure that you’re not putting too many limits on these types of campaigns. You want to see what the general queries look like. I typically use broad match or broad match modified and run only crucial negative keywords. Use your best judgement with match types and negatives. You also need to give it some time so don’t start making too many changes and drastic bid adjustments, but keeps those ads no lower than 3rd position.

Optimizing PPC Performance

Now that you have a few guidelines for your SEO/PPC keyword integration, it’s time to take a look at performance.

Make sure you pay attention to the Search Query Reports in AdWords. At TopRank Marketing, our practice is to review these as a team to see if we have any new organic targeting opportunities, unqualified traffic issues and engagement vs. reach.

PPC Search Terms

Within the AdWords Dimensions Tab you’ll find the Paid & Organic Report. This report gives you a peak into how your Paid and Organic programs are working together or not working together.

The Paid & Organic Report will show you:

#1 – Co-Exposure – Overlap

Understand what % of traffic can be attributed to either paid or organic. This will also give you insights into how that traffic relates to the position. Maybe you can start bidding certain keywords to a lower position and see if organic is able to absorb the loss to paid traffic and vice versa.

You should also monitor engagement rates when both pair and organic search listings are at play. This will be a good indicator of the positive or negative value provided with dual listings.

#2 – Keyword Opportunities

The report is also going to show you where you are seeing organic presence or paid presence only. Use this report to help guide your expansion efforts. If you’re seeing great traction with a particular keyword organically, you may see improvements by including a paid as well.

If certain paid terms are seeing exceptional engagement rates or volume but you have no organic presence, it’s time to inform the SEO team and start building out content.

PPC Query

You will need to make sure you’ve sync’d your AdWords and Google Analytics accounts in order to access these reports. This should be step 1 whenever your creating an account.

Hopefully these tips for PPC and SEO integration will be the start of a new, beautiful friendship. A winning team that’s focused on an integrated approach to the quest for search success.

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July 11th 2016 PPC, SEO

3 Ways You Can Boost Your Brand Online

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When it comes to gaining visibility online, gaining traffic shouldn’t be the only goal. Sure, you can choose a few select keywords to implement in your campaign and get your site ranked. But, actually getting your brand name out there so that it resonates with the message you want to send, that takes a lot of work to do.

In addition to doing the basic SEO on-page steps such as including your brand in title tags, and using brand keywords in your blogposts, you also need to list your company on relevant directories, create branded social media posts, conduct product giveaways for your audiences, and the list goes on.

Ranking for a brand isn’t new. In 2009, Google released the Vince update which produced ranking for brands.  It wasn’t that Google was favouring big brands over small businesses. Google used the most common searched terms as basis for ranking sites and big name brands happen to be mentioned in most user queries which helped propel these brand’s places in search engines when the update happened.

With this in mind, it’s important that you begin building on your brand visibility right now. In this article, I will outline three steps to help you out so you can gain better visibility for your company’s name and get more people talking about you.

1. Take advantage of PPC

Take advantage of PPC

They say content is king but when it comes to brand awareness, one of the fastest ways to get your brand out there is through paid search ads. With these, you don’t need to get organic rankings for your site to appear on top. With the right keywords, bid, and headline, together with a reliable digital marketing company, you’ll have your brand name on top of the results.

PPC gets you quick visibility that is not available in other methods. Searchers don’t even have to click on your site. As long as they see your brand name, then you have already won. So when crafting copy for your PPC ads, make sure that they look catchy but friendly at the same time. No fluff, just important information.

PPC allows your brand to appear in front of the pages of your different target customers including those who are interested in your brand and those who already have purchasing power but just don’t have any idea of your brand yet. Manage your PPC wisely and target it towards brand keywords. This should help get your brand name out there in no time.

2. Get on social media

Get on social media

Find out where your customers are hanging out and post content that they will like. Social media presents brands with a very big opportunity to get their name in front of people’s mobile device screens. Facebook alone has 1.5 billion active users followed by Instagram which has 300 million and Twitter which was over 284 million.

This doesn’t mean you should just jump in on all three. There are more social platforms you can explore. The number of users is important but what matters more is the people that are hanging out in it. Research the platforms your target customers are using and build content according to their needs and interests. The more you post great content on social media, the more likely it is that people will remember your brand and will return to your site since they now associate you with quality content.

Work on your local SEO

Work on your local SEO

In April 2016, Google released an updated guide for Google My Business which gave everyone a chance, whether it’s small or big businesses, to rank in search engines. If you own a small business, take this opportunity to get your brand name to your local audiences.

The update’s help page outlines the steps you can take to improve your local rankings. The first step is to get your brand’s name in at least three listings. Make sure that the listings where you post your business are relevant to your niche and that the name, phone, and address are consistent.

Collect as many reviews from previous clients and respond to them accordingly. This helps Google define your business better and as a result, rank you for the keywords you are targeting.

Those are the three main steps you need to take in order to get better brand awareness for your business. Both ads and social media have become so closely embedded in our lives that it’s impossible not to yield results from the strategies we have listed above. And Google knows it too! Both ads and social engagement belong to Google’s long list of factors for ranking a site.

Any thoughts? Let us know in the comments.

The post 3 Ways You Can Boost Your Brand Online appeared first on SEO Chat.

May 31st 2016 Google, Keywords, PPC

Why the Coming Google AdWords Changes Are Mobile Advertising Game-changers

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Why the Coming Google AdWords Changes Are Mobile Advertising Game-changers was originally published on, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

  • Bigger text ads that get clicked more often
  • Ability to fine-tune your bidding by device type
  • Map ads that draw in mobile searchers near your store
  • New technology that better ties ad clicks to in-store visits
  • Ability to create similar audiences for search ad targeting

That and more is what’s coming to Google AdWords advertisers following announcements this past Tuesday. For our PPC SEM services clients and others, we’ll walk through the exciting opportunities coming out of Google Performance Summit.

We followed up this article with an on-air discussion of AdWords’ new game-changers:

“Mobile-First” Means Greater Reach

This week at the Google Performance Summit keynote we were introduced to a “completely re-imagined and rebuilt” AdWords system for a “mobile-first world.”

Both the AdWords advertising platform and Google Analytics are getting major redesigns to help search advertisers better meet mobile consumers’ needs. Advertisers are getting some new opportunities to interact with people specifically in those “micromoments” when a person wants to know something, do something, or buy something.

The bottom line is this: Marketers will have new ways to be present at critical points when an ad can perfectly answer a searcher’s intent and context.

Bigger Text Ads to Get More Clicks

Text ads longer: Recent formatting changes in the Google search engine results page (SERP) paved the way for what Google announced as “the biggest update to the ad creative” in many years.

(Quick review: Ads stopped appearing in the right-hand column, and the main search results column increased from 512 pixels to around 600 pixels wide.)

Now AdWords text ads can have much longer headlines — up to two lines of 30 characters each — and descriptions can hold up to 80 characters with the new formatting on both desktop and mobile SERPs.

Here’s a comparison of existing text ads and the new expanded text ads:

Google AdWords text ads comparison

—> Dramatic change here. With 50 percent more room for ad text overall, text ads can do a better job of delivering compelling messages highlighting features and benefits. PPC managers should take a look at expanding their current ad copy. Use additional words to give more info and more specifically engage target personas, which will increase CTRs (click-through rates). Google claims that testing has shown a 20 percent increase in CTR — that’s huuuuge!

Fine-Tuned Device-Type Bidding for Optimized CPA

Bid modifiers for ALL devices: Our prayers have been answered! Advertisers will be able to set individual bid adjustments for each device type. For instance, if your tablet ads are exhibiting poor performance, you can adjust the bid downward while leaving your other device bids the same, all within a single AdWords campaign.

—> This new bidding flexibility deserves the big applause it got at the AdWords Summit. Fine-tuning for optimal CPA can finally be accomplished via bid adjustments on every device. Better ROI!

New Ads in Google Maps to Drive Foot Traffic

Google Maps receives 1.5 billion destination searches per month. Using location extensions, advertisers can be found by nearby searchers by including a new promotional message within a local map result. For example, when someone searches in Google Maps for electronics stores, Best Buy could feature “10% off phone accessories” in local map results.

Promoted pins can show a logo and a special promotion or other ad message to a nearby person who’s looking at a map. For example, someone walking while searching might see a Starbucks offer pinned along the route. The opportunity here is huge for driving foot traffic to brick-and-mortar establishments. Google says that 30 percent of mobile searches are related to location, and location-related mobile searches are growing 50 percent faster than other types of mobile searches.

—> The ability to highlight a physical location on Google Maps is a game-changer. As an advertising platform, Maps can help local businesses get noticed by people who are nearby and drive in-store visits.

Mobile Responsive Display Ads Will Always Look Good and Require Less Work by Advertisers

Google-designed display ads: The new AdWords will do the work for you of building display ads. As the advertiser, you’ll need to provide only a headline, description, image and link; the system will then automatically design a responsive ad that appears differently for each platform throughout the Google Display Network (GDN). Google promises that such ads will be “beautiful and easy to click/swipe.”

—> Responsive mobile ads are the future. Letting Google auto-design ads may not suit every advertiser, especially if branding is a priority. The layout modification to fit each different platform will be convenient. The wording and image creation, where the real skill comes in, remain the advertiser’s job. But the production values of Google’s auto-generated ads are surprisingly high, and perfectly well-suited to constructing similar ads while testing ad messaging.

Reaching more GDN customers: Google shared a rather astonishing statistic: Advertisers on the GDN, which now numbers two million publisher sites, can reach a whopping 90 percent of all internet users.

Not to sit on their laurels, Google announced that the GDN reach will exceed that 90 percent by allowing advertisers to spread ads to “cross-exchange inventory.”

—> They weren’t specific about which ad exchanges or sites would start displaying GDN ads, but more sites = more conversions per GDN campaign — great for remarketing efforts!

New Tech to Tie Online Ads to In-store Activity

Google studies found that three-fourths of local mobile searchers who clicked an ad visited a store within a day, and 28 percent of those visits resulted in a purchase. It’s clear that AdWords is accountable for an increasing amount of in-store activity.

Beacon signals: Beacon signals will improve existing location data and track store visits better, letting advertisers measure the impact of online ads on in-store activity to build a local strategy. According to Larry Kim, Google will simply look at phone location history to tell whether the person who searched and clicked on your ad ended up walking into the store.

—> Tying online ad clicks to purchases in a physical store has so far been difficult, but increasingly this is how people shop. Beacons will help track a local advertising strategy.

Similar Audiences and Remarketing to Extend Your Targeted Ad Audience

Savvy advertisers know that GDN remarketing campaigns, whereby ads are shown to previous site visitors, are essential to maximizing traffic and conversion volume. An under-utilized variant that’s been around for a while, Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSAs), helps boost the performance of search campaigns. And Google has announced a new feature that will make RLSAs even more powerful …

Similar Audiences for Search: Reaching searchers who have similar interests as those who’ve already visited your site allows you to expand into bigger “similar audiences.” Google said this new feature will automatically create a similar audience for each remarketing and Customer Match list. These additional lists can be used to target RLSAs.

Demographics for Search Ads: Another format that’s currently in beta is DFSAs, which allow advertisers to target search ads using Google-inferred demographics data like age and gender.

—> Applying similar lists and demographic targeting to search campaigns will certainly boost traffic and conversion volume. Keep an eye on CPAs, though — these new audiences might convert at a lower rate than “non-RLSA” campaigns.

While We Wait …

Google is filling advertiser arsenals with some powerful new tools to be rolled out in coming months. At BCI we’ll be using them to boost our clients’ conversion volumes and profitability.

Why these changes now? We’re in the AI age of course! Google’s artificial intelligence-based technology, which uses machine learning, is making sense of the search giant’s vast amount of user data. From this, we advertisers are getting ground-breaking opportunities.

These changes will be rolling out through the year. Talk to us today to get your Google AdWords account in shape for when these hyper-targeted, mobile-first opportunities unfold for your business.


May 27th 2016 PPC

7 Must-Have Tools for PPC Managers

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While the digital world can be highly changeable, some things remain the same. One of those constants is that PPC is still a primary profit generator, and a lucrative way to monetize. When you look at the methods of the highest earning websites across the web, what is often at the very top of their earning strategies? PPC.

If you are looking for a way to optimize your own website for higher earning potential, these tools are must haves.



Ringostat is an intelligent call tracking tool that increases the performance of the advertising and optimizes business workflow.

Ringostat multi-channel report shows the sequences of interactions that brought the user the phone call. With this type of reports Ringostat clients see how previous referrals and searches contributed to their sales, what traffic sources were the first in the consideration process and what sources ultimately converted the user into the lead.

Moreover, these reports show the number of visits from each advertising channel. The call log allows to evaluate the efficiency of advertising campaigns and properly re-allocate the advertising budget. Showing the source of each phone call up to a keyword level, it helps to determine the campaigns that really generate calls.

Obviously, you can glean a lot about your customer  base this way, which can really help you with ad planning. It is expensive, but worth it if you have a decent sized business.

Adwords Editor

Nothing is as frustrating as having to manually go in and edit a bunch of different campaigns in Google AdWords. So your best bet is to make it possible to mass edit and make changes faster.

Adwords Editor gives you the power to do that. It is a super simple tool, maybe so simple it doesn’t seem like it would be that helpful. But it is…oh, yes, it is.

Keyword Planner

Keyword Planner

Speaking of Google, have you used their Keyword Planner yet? If not, you are insane. This is hands down the best free research tool on the web.

You can find the best keyword combinations and monitor your campaign progress, making changes along the way until you have the best possible keywords targeted. Start using it, and thank me later. If you are already using it, use it more. Then thank me again.

Answer The Public

This is a great secondary keyword research tool to use in addition to Google’s Planner. You can generate questions related to your business, and come up with some awesome target phrases. Plus, it is free.

This is out of the usual scope of PPC tools, but is still really valuable and can inform your strategy later on.


How do you keep a leg up on the competition? Spy on them, of course! This tool is a handy little app that will do the detective work for you.

You can find out what keywords they are targeting, how much they are spending on campaigns, and a lot more. Sometimes knowing what the other guys are doing is the best possible way to improve your own efforts.


Trello is kind of my collaboration and project management tool of choice. I use it for everything from professional projects to personal ones.

I find with PPC campaigns it is a great way to organize keywords, track data, and make future plans. Especially if you are working with a team that needs to stay involved.

Adwords Scripts

No one really likes spending all the time needed to run an effective PPC campaign. It takes ages, and so much energy.

These scripts written by BrainLabs automate several of the tasks that take up the most time. Every one of these is a lifesaver, and you should implement them immediately.

Have some tools to add? Let us know in the comments!

The post 7 Must-Have Tools for PPC Managers appeared first on SEO Chat.

May 20th 2016 Keywords, PPC

4 Ridiculously Awesome Ways Search & Social Ads Magnify CRO by 3-5X #ConvCon

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4 Ridiculously Awesome Ways Search & Social Ads Magnify CRO by 3-5X #ConvCon was originally published on, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

You’re tuned in to Conversion Conference. Larry Kim, founder of WordStream and 2015 Search Personality of the Year, explains the situation. A diabolical villain has abducted our conversions. Our boss at the impossible mission force (IMF) is trying to frame us. Larry’s going to help us avoid danger and get the conversions BACK!

Larry Kim

Larry’s A/B #1 Testing Epiphany: The Great A/B Test Is a Fairy Tale

He’s done this test thousands of times for hundreds of customers. The early lead disappears and the gains don’t persist over time. The reason is that the reason it worked was because it was new and exciting and then eventually it’s not exciting.

Larry’s #2 A/B Testing Epiphany: There’s a Confirmation Bias

Small changes usually result in small changes.

Larry’s #3 A/B Testing Epiphany: CRO Just Increases Quantity of Leads at the Expense of Quality (in Lead Gen)

You might have more leads but it takes more time to figure out if they’re any good.

Larry’s #4 A/B Testing Epiphany: Average Conversion Rates Are Low and Haven’t Changed Much in Years

Everyone is doing all this A/B testing, why isn’t the average going up?

What is needed are new CRO weapons and strategies.

Use PPC weapons:

PPC Weapons

In addition to the focus on landing pages, there should be an equal or greater focus on up-stream activities.

Larry will equip us with the weapons of success for this impossible mission. Larry’s background is in electrical engineering. He’s also got an impossibly adorable 2-year-old #ppckid.

Larry’s #5 Crazy PPC CRO Hack: Focus on the Click-Through Rates

Generally, the higher the click-throguh rate, the higher the conversion rate. If you can get people excited to click, you can get the conversion.

What’s the big difference between click-through rate and conversion rate? A conversion rate is biased. You must use CTR to figure out if your offer sucks or not.

How to write unicorn ads: the top 1% of ads based on CTR (like 20-40% CTR)

He built a program to detect what these ads are and what the qualities are:

  1. Focus on keywords with HIGH commercial intent (as opposed to informational queries)
  2. Use ad customizers to create urgency and fear of missing out (FOMO) [img]
  3. The hack: use EMOTIONAL triggers in ad copy. The best ads aren’t written in the persona of the company. There are four voices that the ad might be written in:
    • the bearer of bad news
    • the hero/villain
    • the comedian
    • the feel-good friend

Here’s an example ad that is a unicorn:


Key takeaway: Ads CRT tell you if people are into your offers or not.

Larry’s #4 Crazy PPC CRO Hack: Remarketing on Google Display Network and Facebook Ads

Greater brand exposure dramatically increase conversion rates. Users may be less inclined to click on an ad that is following them around BUT if they do click on it, they’re highly likely to convert. With precise ad targeting, you can boost engagement rate. Refine ad targeting for specific purchasing behavior:

  • media
  • mobile device user
  • purchase behavior
  • residential profile
  • seasonal and events

Larry thinks demographic ad targeting in Facebook is like super remarketing. You’re targeting people who visited your site and also are in your target audience. Behold the power of super-remarketing on Facebook & Twitter:

  • Behavioral & Interest Targeting: they’re interested in your stuff
  • Remarketing: they recently checked out your stuff
  • Demographic Targeting: They can afford to buy your stuff

Super remarketing allows you to target a narrow audience that meets all three of the above criteria … resulting in $$$.

“Well Larry, how do I know who my target market is?” Use Facebook Audience Insights to determine target market. Upload your best customer emails and Facebook will analyze your audience for you.

Larry’s #3 Crazy PPC CRO Hack: Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA)

Remarketing lists for search ads = Google search ads shown only to people who recently visited your site.

Target search ads only to people who recently visited your site. Users visit yoru site, get added to your remarkeitng lists. Show them customized ads when they search on Google. People familiar with your brand are 2-3x more likely to convert than people not familiar with your brand.

You can also target by email. Email audience targeting = 10X CTR vs. generically targeted keywords.

larry 2

The greatest strength of RLSA is that you’re cherry-picking the awesome cheap conversions. The drawback is that you’re not targeting all the other people who aren’t familiar with your brand. How do you solve the problem of getting conversions for cheap and lots of them? Social media ads!

How advertising REALLY works:

  1. Promote inspirational/memorable content about your brand to your target market
  2. People see the ad, but don’t necessarily take action right away (but become biased)
  3. Later, when the need arises, people either do a branded search for your stuff or do an un-branded search but are still biased toward clicking and buying from you.

Larry’s #2 Crazy PPC CRO Hack: Video Ads on Facebook

We like RLSA because conversions were cheap but we couldn’t reach enough people.

We want:

  1. Strong brand recall (lots of ad impressions)
  2. High CTR (high ad engagement)

Video ads provide both!

LovePop Cards did a video ad to remarket to people who visited their site. It’s saturated with product and color and movement and leverages emotional triggers.

Here’s Larry’s video ad targeting stack:

larry kim

Larry’s #1 Crazy PPC CRO Hack: Lead Ads on Facebook

This is a new ad format that lets people sign up with stuff on mobile with one button tap. There’s only one field needed, email. What this does is eliminate the landing page — the biggest bottleneck in the funnel.

Email unlocks over 10k interests, demographics and behaviors. The email that gets sent to you is their Facebook login email which allows you infinite ad segmentations.

You have to pay money to target these people, but it’s like $3 or $4 for thousands of impressions.

Larry’s Bonus Hack: Change Your Offer in a Big Way

WordStream changed their offer from a free trial to a free AdWords performance grader. There’s big and little changes. If you only think of the on-page elements, you’re taking your current offer and finding a local maximum. It might be better to throw out your current offer and find a different, completely different offer. PPC gives you the perspective of different data to find out how your offer is resonating in the world.

There’s tons of leverage around higher in the funnel. A lot of the tools Larry shared here have only been around for 18 or 24 months. We get to adjust!

Subscribe to the blog to get all the news coming out of Conversion Conference 2016!


May 19th 2016 PPC

PPC AMA: Paid Search Ask Me Anything — An Hour of Q&A with David Szetela

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PPC AMA: Paid Search Ask Me Anything — An Hour of Q&A with David Szetela was originally published on, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

PPC AMA with David Szetela

Last Thursday on Reddit, David Szetela offered an AMA to the r/PPC community. An AMA, or “Ask Me Anything,” is just that — an anything goes Q&A with someone of some interest, whether a celebrity, an expert, or someone with a unique role or experience set. David, our VP of Search Marketing Operations and the director of our PPC services, kept it short and sweet, opening the floor to questions for an hour.

Then he and I talked about highlights in part 2 of our podcast SEM Synergy this week.

Life After the Removal of Right-Side Ads

Give it a listen or read a transcript-recap combo here. As David described, it was a conversation marked by diverse PPC topics. Jump to the question and answers with the links below.

Google’s Removal of Right-Side Ads

Seokingindia: David, what will be impact of removing sidebar ads in Google search?

David: Unfortunately, there are winners and losers already. The winners are the companies that can afford to some extent buy their way to the top of the page. But, even more pertinent, they’re using all of the ad extensions and maximizing the amount of real estate that their ads occupy on the search results page so that they can sometimes push their competitors down further on the page.

As we know, more real estate equals better click-through rate. Better click-through rate equals better Quality Score. Better Quality Score leads to lower CPCs which is directly related to profitability. So, it’s important to be up there with all of your ad extensions.

The losers are those advertisers who are in very competitive markets. This is frequently a local business — a law firm or financial firm, even plumbing and HVAC — where there’s a lot of competition locally and for that reason the keywords are very expensive, the CPCs for the keywords are very expensive.

Before this change it was possible for an advertiser in this situation to get some clicks and conversions despite the fact that their ad appeared low on the page or even at the bottom of the page. They’re being priced out of the market. I think there’s going to be some fallout for advertisers in those industries.

I’ve also read recently that the first-page bid amount (Google lets advertisers know how much they would need to pay to show up on the first page) is going up and that’s because there are fewer ads on the page.

I heard from Frederick Vallaeys when I interviewed him on my show PPC Rockstars this week, that when he was with Google they did experiments that led to this action and they found that the ads at the bottom of the page outperformed the ads at the side of the page. So they talked internally about trying to convince advertisers to shoot for the bottom of the page even though their ads were not high on the page. Google concluded that was counterintuitive and people wouldn’t believe it. Meanwhile, here we are.

AdWords Reporting for Assisted Conversions and Tracking Store Visits

Petpiranha: Hi David, what’s the most common mistake you see regarding assisted conversions and/or what’s your take on AdWords tracking store visits?

David: The data that AdWords reports on assisted conversions is interesting but not actionable. There isn’t a lot you can do with the information you have at hand. Google Analytics multi-channel funnel reports give you a lot more information about the number of steps that someone takes before they actually convert, and that’s actionable because you can break it down by campaign, ad group and keyword.

AdWords Tracking Store Visits, I haven’t tried yet. We haven’t had any clients that are brick and mortar places, so I’ve read about them and they seem like they would work, but I can’t say from experience.

SEO & PPC Synergy and Collaboration

ginnymarvin: Hi David, Thanks for doing this. Now that you’re heading up PPC at Bruce Clay, I’m wondering how/if the agency’s deep roots in SEO has influenced your approach to paid search at all. Are there any synergies or differences in the way teams or clients look at PPC in as it relates to the overall marketing strategies?

David: I suspect it’s different than other agencies because communication between departments even in small companies is frequently less frequent or deep than it should be. Especially recently, the SEO team and the PPC team have started to meet regularly, share reports regularly, and it’s already helped immensely.

We pull up channel reports when we are reporting on monthly performance, and we show the client not just the number of conversions and the average order value, etc., from PPC, we show those data points for organic, direct, any channel that is pushing traffic to the site. So, frequently, we’re able to say, for example, all the other channels suffered but PPC saved the day. Or, all of the channels suffered so maybe there’s something wrong with the site or maybe its seasonality.

Virginia: Or, maybe we stopped a PPC campaign and organic also suffered, so maybe there’s a synergy with the branding.

Lessons from Szetela’s Personal Approach to PPC

SamOwenPPC: What have been the biggest changes in your personal approach to PPC over the past 15 years?

David: My answer pertained to client satisfaction. I’ve learned an immense amount about how and when and what kind of information we need to share with clients and especially how to resolve issues with a variety of client personalities

Another thing I think has changed a lot is the mantra up to two or three years ago was: the more keywords the better. I remember when I was very proud to have built my first million keyword account. We had covered every possible long tail keyword, and quickly found that dealing with a million keywords imposed a huge overhead on managing the account, trying to pull it into AdWords Editor, trying to find things in the native interface. So we actually started to pursue a different approach called “keyword lite,” where we would start a new account advertising with the very obvious and very important core terms, and then we would wait to see which were the ad groups that gained the most traction with conversions and conversion rates. And then we would start to build those out with more long-tail terms.

When we do audits now, one of the things we do is calculate the number of keywords that have never converted and the number of keywords that has never accrued any impressions. Frequently we see accounts where there might be 22,000 keywords and only 100 of them have ever converted. That usually means the account has spent a lot on clicks that didn’t convert. So, we also calculate the amount of money lost to clicks that didn’t convert. That’s usually an indicator of things that need to be tackled first.

15-Minute PPC Audit

Virginia: What are the high-level areas of a quick, 15-minute audit?

We have a very detailed process, it’s a 4 page document with many different check points that we look at, trying to find mistakes and missed opportunities. We look at the ads, the ad copy, the messaging and provide feedback on that.

One of the most frequent mistakes I see is that advertisers are running too many ads per ad group. They think that’s a good idea because they think they’re testing those ads against each other. The fact is that almost always they let that test go very wrong and as a result they might be running five loser ads against one clear winner. The easy quick win is just shut off the ads that are not performing as well as the winner.

We look at ads, we look at keywords, we look at keyword match types. Another tip is that we’ve settled on using only broad match modified and exact match keywords. We’re no longer using phrase match because for some reason the cost of phrase match clicks has risen over the past year especially, and the search terms are pretty much covered by the broad match modified keywords.

We look at all the ad extensions. I would say that 80% of the audits reveal that ads are being served outside of the geographic target that the advertiser has chosen. So we look at that and calculate exactly how much has been spent on ads shown outside of the geographic location. We frequently find thousands, tens of thousands of dollars that the client wasn’t even aware of.

Why would an ad be served outside of the location an advertiser has set? The fact is that by default, there’s an advanced geographic setting that, paraphrased, says something like, show my ads to people in my location AND to people outside my location that might be interested in my products or services. That sounds innocuous but what it does is gives google carte blanche to spray the ads all over the world. It’s easily fixed, but you’ve got to know what you’re looking for. It’s in the dimensions tab.

Targeting on the Google Display Network

David, what are your preferred targeting methods on Google’s Display Network. Keyword, topics, placement, interest?

On Reddit, David wrote: I love custom affinity audiences — they provide the best possible precision. Second: remarketing lists. Third: Placement. Keyword and Topic are the least-precise targeting, but they’re great if you want wide reach.

mynameistaken: What do you mean by “best possible precision” here?

David: The ability to hyper-target ads to people in your target audience or even a subset. For example, I can target CFOs of companies in the food processing industry.

In the podcast, David expanded: Regarding custom affinity audiences, I haven’t seen a lot of resources by third parties. I’ve seen a handful of articles, one I’ve written myself. I’d say the best resource is the set of help pages right in AdWords. They still don’t go as far as they should in supplying examples; they might provide one example but it doesn’t leave the person educated about their situation.

PPC Certifications Worth Having

Dirtymonkey: How do you feel about digital marketing certifications? Any value to these? If so what which ones would you recommend?

On Reddit, David wrote: I’m a big fan. They’re great for bringing new employees up to speed. I recommend everybody pass at least the two Search exams, the Display one, and the Google Analytics one. The video, mobile and shopping ones could be optional depending on whether you intend to offer or specialize in those areas.

On the podcast, David expanded: I love the AdWords and Bing Ads certifications. Bing Ads only has one, but AdWords offers 7 if you include Google Analytics. They are difficult enough that they require study. We’ve found them to be a great way to bring new hires up to speed quickly. Even with senior people that we’ve hired, I’ve never seen somebody with a complete set of certifications on all the topics that Google offers, including myself. I’m going to pass the Shopping certification this week.

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April 8th 2016 PPC

Infographic Looks at ‘Man vs. Machine’ In PPC

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Man vs Machine has always been a complicated argument. In every industry, machines have replaced jobs and turned them into automated functions, but there’s one thing technology will never replace: creativity. The one thing that can’t be programmed is intuitive creativity: the key piece to advertising.

In the enormous world of marketing, creativity is king. It takes a human to properly strategize, while it takes a machine to turn that strategy into something scalable. The two of these powerhouses working together doesn’t translate anywhere better than within PPC. Bid management, the foundation of PPC, works similar to the buy/sell model of the stock market, targeting the prospects in the “I want it now.” Machine helps to automate the lowering and rising bids across a large scale by taking past performance into account. Meanwhile, the creative types are taking this info into consideration and are molding the campaign to make it work at its highest capacity.

Fifty percent of PPC ads shown on Google in the US are managed by one of the top bid management platforms. How can you utilize machines in tandem with creativity to optimize your advertising? Check out this infographic on how you can combine machine and man for a killer PPC ad campaign.


The post Infographic Looks at ‘Man vs. Machine’ In PPC appeared first on WebProNews.

April 7th 2016 Marketing, PPC

How to Care for Your Shopping Campaigns #SMX

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How to Care for Your Shopping Campaigns #SMX was originally published on, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Ecommerce paid search pros! This is the moment when SMX West becomes all about you!

Moderator Ginny Marvin (@ginnymarvin), Contributing Editor, Search Engine Land


Ginny Marvin Purna Virji Susan Wenograd Kirk Williams

From left: Ginny Marvin, Purna Virji, Susan Wenograd, Kirk Williams

Kirk Williams: Setting Up Shopping Campaigns for Success

Initially, if we think of how to optimize our shopping for the future, the cold, hard reality will eventually hit: you can only optimize as far as you stop that. Don’t be a dung beetle, who starts with dung and optimizes that. He’s going to suggest a setup strategy that sets up success.

Why is your current campaign setup bad? Because, bidding. You’ll bid the same for general queries as you are for long-tail high-intent queries.

Is there a way to setup campaigns so you’re not bidding on products but rather separating queries by intent? Yes! This idea was originally shared by Martin Roettgerding (@bloomarty).

Filter shopping queries by four essential aspects:

  1. Campaign priority
  2. Negative keywords
  3. Shared budget
  4. Product bids

Six things learned:

  1. Ad groups trump product groups. “Let’s make keyword funneling great again.” Because of negative queries you can filter the queries in campaign structures.
  2. You Be You. SKU might not work for you, and that’s OK. Identify natural query groupings by profit.
  3. Bids can overrule priorities. (Google no-likey timid bidding.) Be aware you can’t bid so low you’re not appearing in the auction anymore.
  4. Beware of dangling negatives. This might be a query that comes through and it’s horrible and you don’t want it to appear (like the letter “M”). Add [-m] to non-brand, branded and all other campaigns.
  5. The Bing effect. You should be importing your shopping campaigns into Bing because it’s really easy to do. But there’s no shared budget in Bing and he explains that this can cause a problem with general queries jumping into your campaigns, so this kind of ruins the strategy on Bing.
  6. It takes a while to soar. You have to get your client/boss on board. It takes time, build out time, but it’s awesome.

Susan Wenograd: Google Shopping Ongoing Optimizations

Let’s assume you have something set up. Now what do you do with it?

Paid search tools can often feel like a bunch of valves and you can tighten and open up different levers and valves. Shopping campaigns are like a fire hose. You tell the search engine what NOT to match to.

Air Traffic Control: Query Mapping

Negative keywords all the tings. Create negative keywords to funnel search queries towards the groups that are the most profitable. This ties back to ad groups being more important than product groups. Ad groups give you the control to negative and match queries where you want.

Don’t Burn Money: Structuring for ROAS

Evaluate your strongest ROAS performers. This is where Ad Groups come in handy vs. Product Groups. Test grouping strong ROAS ad allocating budget.

Remember, there is no Product Group tracking in Analytics.

Also note: you are not bidding on a search query. You are bidding on a product.

Evaluate product attributes beyond standard feed fields:

  • Inherent attributes: physical attributes
  • Client-made attributes: seasonal, sales, determined by the business as an attribute that accounts for business decisions

Use custom labels so you know what ad group to place a product in. You’re not limited to the labels they give you. Although, there will be products that could possibly live in different ad groups. So, plan your structure ahead of time. When you have the right structure, where something should live is a lot easier to figure out. Structures can evolve over time as you analyze performance. Granular tends to be better.

Bid Strategy Fussing

There’s no one best way:

  • Manual CPC
  • Maximize clicks
  • Enhanced CPC
  • Target return on spend (newish; your mileage may vary)


A missed opportunity: if you have physical storefronts and you show inventory in a store, set up a bid modifer to a radius around your physical locations to capture nearby searchers.

Make sure your Google My Business is linked to your AdWords. Regularly evaluate performance by distance.

Check out seasonality wins and weak spots.

Wrapping it up:

  • Query map and negative keywords like crazy.
  • Consider grouping items based on ROAS/margin to drive how aggressively you bid.
  • Utilize Custom Labels to create more specific groupings and increase your control.
  • Evaluate mobile user performance based on distance from physical storefronts.
  • Evaluate mobile performance vs. competition.

Purna Virji: 3 Shopping Campaign Tips That Would Make Paris Hilton Proud

The first mental image that comes to mind when she thinks of shopping is Paris Hilton. So we’re going to take inspiration from Paris.

Our agenda:

  1. Labels are important — feed optimization
  2. Don’t be boring — creative optimization
  3. Hire bodyguards — defensive strategy

Labels Are Important

Custom labels give you more control. Utilize optional attributes for more powerful segmentation.

Heres an optimization for product feed and campaign organization. There’s nothing wrong with this structure:

OK shopping campaign structure

But this is more efficient:

better shopping campaign structure

  • Bids can be applied independently
  • Targeting adjusted to top geos
  • Increase budget for top selling products
  • Monitor low-inventory and move products out

Here’s a checklist of possible custom labels:

  • Price range (like: high end, low end, sale)
  • Popularity (like: high demand, low demand)
  • Profit margin (like: high, low)
  • Stock level (like: limited supply)
  • Seasonal products (like: winter clothes, swimwear)

Don’t Be Boring and Dress Cute Wherever You Go

Make sure your shopping campaigns look good. This comes down to picture, price, store. The picture is what jumps out. Don’t use boring colors. Check to see that your product image stands out in the field.

Core creative elements for shopping ad image:

  • Show multiple colors
  • Show product in use
  • High resolution images

Bing research has showed that white background tends to perform better. You can’t use text on an image. If there’s more than 60% white space, your image might not show.

These are the core creative elements for a shopping campaign: image, price and enhancements.

  • Start with regular price
  • Add sale price
  • Or price competitively against each other

Core creative elements for a shopping campaign ad extension/enhancement:

  • Use local, product reviews and merchant promotions
  • Use promo text
  • Create more than one ad per ad group

Hire Body Guards: Defensive Strategy

Key defensive strategies:

  • Negative keywords
  • Campaign priority settings
  • Bids and bid modifiers

Negative keywords save you money. Campaign priority settings let you prioritize high/medium/low and filter products. Bids and bid modifiers through custom labels will allow you to focus the majority of your time and energy on the items that work for you. Adjust by smartphones and tablets, “everything else,” and geographic bid modifiers.

Bonus tip: misattribution is not hot. One of the top pet peeves they see at Bing is importing a shopping campaign from Google but not updating tracking codes.

March 5th 2016 PPC

PPC Q&A: Paid Search Roundtable at #SMX

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PPC Q&A: Paid Search Roundtable at #SMX was originally published on, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

You’ve tuned in to Q&A for PPC lovers. Questions covered in this SMX West session include:

How do you think speech search will impact ads?

What video ad tips, strategies, success stories do you have?

What tools do you use?

How do you find work-life balance?

How do you create space with your clients? How do you manage clients?

What is the biggest weakness in the PPC industry?

What are your suggestions for testing text ads?

Andrew Goodman, David Szetela, Christi Olson and John Lee

From left, Andrew Goodman, David Szetela, Christi Olson and John Lee


Matt Van Wagner, President, Find Me Faster (@mvanwagner)


Matt starts out with a quick story. In 2002, he got started in the business. Paid search is fascinating and you want to do it day and night. And as it turns out, you do end up doing it day and night. (Everyone on stage is nodding their head). Matt says he doesn’t have a good work-life balance.

How do you find work-life balance?

John: It’s the biggest challenge. The fact that it bothers a lot of us is that we care. We want to be driving performance. His wife is the voice of reason that reminds him to spend time with kids.

David: His balance has been found in age. You learn to not sweat the small stuff and there’s an awful lot of small stuff in everyone’s day.

Christi: In having a perspective from in-house, agency and on the Bing side, she sees all sides. At an agency, there’s always something to be doing. You have to prioritize. You could do all this stuff, but will it make that much of a difference if you do it. You have determine for yourself. If you’re in a busy season, you may accept 18 hour days.

John: The biggest thing is understanding the line between working and being aware because you can control campaigns from your phone.

Matt: Do you ever turn your phones off? How do you unplug?

Audience member: A group of entrepreneurs she knows meets every Tuesday for dinner and they all put their phones in a stack and no one touches their phone and instead they all have good conversation.

Andrew: The book “The Millionaire Next Door” shows that people in an environment who save (vs. spend) are more likely to be happy. Living in a small city is an environment where people aren’t stressed. His company has a lot of remote workers and they aren’t going to jump off a cliff if you don’t get a click.

How do you create space with your clients? How do you manage clients?

David: Be reasonably responsive to email. That diminishes the amount of times that they want to speak with you. Sometimes it takes actually saying to the client, “I’m not able to respond to 8 emails before 8 am.”

John: Consistent, regularly scheduled calls are a pinpoint on the map where they know they can get a hold of you.

Christi: You can set hours. Send a response so that you know you’re looking into it if the question requires in-depth research and that you’ll be getting back to them with the answer in X time frame, then meeting that time frame.

Andrew: Educate clients about the method behind the madness.

Christi: If you’re on the fifth email response in a long thread, pick up the phone.

John: Email doesn’t convey emotion and it can push you into panic mode.

Brad Geddes in the audience: If you’re getting an email response ready at 2 a.m., don’t send it then. Batch send/schedule it for 8:30 a.m. so they don’t think they can get you at any time.

What tools do you use?

John: They all have their own shortfalls.

Christi: Different tool for different clients.

Andrew: Optmyzer is the the best out there. The entry level is like $50 a month.

David: Automated ad testing on steroids: Adalysis.

Christi: Can we have a panel of tool users and not tool reps talking about what we like and don’t like about tools, and the pricing models?

David: I have a controversial view about automated bid management. I’ve said: prove to me that you can do better than Google’s automated bid manager. Vendors only have data from their own pool of users. Google has all the data, including conversion attributes on the keyword and the searcher. So how can a third-party vendor possibly do a better job than Google?

John: I wrote an article about all the little utilities and tools he uses, and he filled pages.

On Google AdWords, my call extensions are disallowed because of DKI that doesn’t match the page.

John: Use Google Search Console to blanket approve your site. This is the same issue with call tracking. The instructions are in the AdWords Help.

How do you think speech search will impact ads?

David: It’s not our problem yet. It’s becoming a problem. Stats he’s heard — people 18-24, 55% use voice search exclusively. Search engines are going to be figuring out how to monetize voice search, have ads for voice search.

John: The idea of conversational search, you start with a long-from question that has a root term, and then it will perform additional searches pivoting on the root term. One idea is that there will be another match type, like contextual match.

Andrew: Thinks this is a futurism question of whether advertising is going to be as much of a thing. Utility is the focus and none of that is monetized. Apple is not a company that monetizes, but they have a business model. Microsoft and Apple are creating utility for the future and there will be less advertising and they have to figure out as companies how they get paid. It seems to me Google is in trouble if they don’t figure this out.

Christi: Context again matters. Cortana may answer you directly, sometimes it will give you a SERP. Then it’s up to the search engine and advertisers to think through the funnel of user intent and where you can reach the consumer. It’s going to be a time to revisit negative keywords and keywords that match voice search.

David: To understand where it’s going, get an Amazon Echo. You’re conversing with a device and starts to become second nature. You’ll see where it’s all going.

John: Amazon Echo is a data collection device for Amazon to understand you and what it can sell you better.

Andrew: It was an era of freedom with the SERPs, 10 or 11 ads that could show up … and now they’ve taken away the right rail and that’s a wake up call that not everyone can show up.

Video paid ads: tips, strategies, success stories?

John: Don’t think of YouTube as a perfect direct response channel.

David: It’s demand generation display advertising.

Christi: YouTube is not the closer and never meant to be the closer channel. It’s exposure.

David: Like any display advertising, the sole purpose of the first impression is to persuade people to engage further. The important things about a video ad is the still image and the first 3 seconds of the video. This has to engage before someone has a chance to skip.

John: If you do it, be sure to have your retargeting audiences set up.

What is the biggest weakness in the PPC industry?

Andrew: The high-level weakness that hits people in the eyes is scale of business and bigger competitors. If someone can beat you by outbidding you, you need to grow, mimic as much as you can with extensions and matching conversion rates. The other weakness is broad match.

Matt: The FCC should ban search engines from allowing broad match. It’s fraud. Google should not be able to do this with good conscience.

John: Expanding on that: a long time client asked him to look at his campaign settings and he saw “search or display select,” targeting all countries, all languages, only broad match. These are all defaults.

Christi: We can get into the weeds. We don’t think about the big picture enough. Think strategy on a regular basis, and how your search campaign connects to SEO and marketing. Be part of the bigger picture working toward a goal and talking across.

John: To the platforms, he’d say that he doesn’t like “talking points.” He doesn’t like Facebook pushing video or the month of mobile.

How do we build personas for B2B leads? Customer serving isn’t always an option.

David: Sales teams.

Andrew: This is about keyword intent. Take a defensive, skeptical stance with B2B search. Assume it’s broad intent. The keyword research phase is annoyingly intensive for B2B.

John: Have theories you’re going to test but don’t make assumptions.

Suggestions for testing text ads?

Andrew: Come up with 3 or 4 concepts to test: is it about price, describing product? Headline is the biggest influencer.

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March 4th 2016 PPC