Category Archives: PPC Tips & Reviews

Local Online Advertising With Pay Per Click

SEM Local Online AdvertisingI have a few Google Alerts running so that I get emailed when there are new blog posts or news about select keywords. “Local online advertising” is one phrase I target with an alert. I set these alerts up to find blog commenting opportunities, and to get ideas for articles.

This morning I found two new articles in my traps about “local online advertising”, one about using Google’s Display Network, and another about using Adwords Express. So I will discuss both of these options and add one more, Google AdWords.

Using Google’s Display Net work To Target Local Customers

I had given up on Google’s Display Network (GDN). I wrote it off as a tool for big companies with huge budgets that wanted to build their brand. While at a local SEMNE event I was reintroduced to it and decided to try again.

As a regular user of Google’s AdWords pay per click, I though to my self, I can make this work for me. The speaker at SEMNE said GDN has made great improvements in the last three years. So I set up a new account with all the new ideas I picked up at the meet-up and got to work.

I was told that a good way to find webpages to place ads on was to run auto placement for a week. I was told to eliminate mobile in the settings and to use some negative keywords. I did all this and more.

But when I looked at the pages my ads were showing on I was disgusted. What a horrible waste of money. Undaunted I excluded those sites, changed up my keywords, and set up a few more exclusions. A few days later I looked again to see where my ads had been showing, and it was the same usual crap.

I don’t know about anyone else but if your new to the GDN, find your own placements. That’s what I’m doing now, although I don’t have enough webpages picked yet. I have not yet got a click since I set my campaign up to only target my managed placements.

The piece I read this morning was called “How to Make the World Wide Web More Local” written by Leslie Van Zee. She blogs about using GDN quite a bit. She recommended running banner ads in your local community, and talked about general SEO in this piece.

Using Adwords Express For Local Paid Search

The next article I read this morning was by Michael Evans Titled: “Local Online Advertising: Adwords Express for Beginners”. In this piece Michael talks about the benefits of Google AdWords Express (GAE).

I personally don’t care for any Google pay per click program where they are selecting keywords and managing my ad spend. I find them targeting to broad an audience for my taste. It is good, but the good is often the enemy of the best.

GAE is alright for beginners, but I would rather see them using Google’s regular AdWords program. Google will set up a regular AdWords campaign just as quickly as they set you up in their GAE program, both set-ups are free.

Using Google’s AdWords For Local Search | For Beginners

Go ahead and let Google set up a few campaigns for you on AdWords. Then Make these changes.

  1. Set your geographical location or have Google target a certain area. 15-25 miles around your office is a good range, if you want you can choose just your state. This will exclude any one outside your selected local area.
  2. Set all keywords to exact match, you may not get as many clicks but you won’t waste money. If your a local contractor you will want to add keywords like [general contractor], [general contractor yourtown], [general contractor yourtown yourstate], [general contractor yourstate], [residential contractor] Etc…Or whatever is relevant to your business. Beginners should stick to keyword phrases with two or more words.
  3. I recommend setting your ads to run only during hours you will answer the phone. If you can’t figure out how to do this, Google will help you.
  4. I also recommend eliminating cell phones for most businesses. When I compare my paid search bounce rates. Mobile seems a ridiculous waste of money

I would like to hear how you do local online advertising with pay per click. Please tell me in the comments, or write a post and let me know. Thanks

Negative Keywords Equal Positive Returns

If you are running a paid search campaign right now, and have not yet set any negative keywords, you are wasting money on clicks that are never going to make you a return. I will show you how to optimize your paid search /PPC with negative keywords.

negative keywords equal positive returns



I have been working with Google AdWords pretty much since it’s inception, and the most common mistake I see, are campaigns without negative keywords. I would say 95% of every AdWords account I have taken over and managed for others (companies, ad-buyers, individuals), have had 0 negative Keywords in any of their campaigns, either at the ad-group level or the campaign as a whole.

Keywords and Key-phrases are the words you bid on to have your advertisement show up on the top of Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Negative Keywords are the words you include in each campaign to make sure your advertisements don’t show up, and this can lead to big savings.

Example: Your a roofer/roofing company, and you want your ads to show on the top of Google when someone types “roofing contractor” into the search engine. Roofing contractor is the keyword. you can expect to pay between $7.00 and $24.00 if someone clicks on your advertisement and is taken to your website for this phrase, and unless you have exact match set, or your using negative keywords, you will show up if someone types in: roofing contractor salaries, roofing contractor schools, roofing contractor books, roofing contractor tools, roofing contractor jobs, etc…

Negative keywords will help you to control who sees your ads, and sometimes more importantly who doesn’t! Eliminating your presence in these searches will save your ad budget for keywords that make you money, that drive deep in the buying cycle customers to your web pages, and prevent you from spending $25.00 on a visitor looking for other information.

Most people use search engines for three things: Information, Navigation, or what we all hope for, transactional searches – people looking for products or services. Make sure you use negative keywords to eliminate navigational and *some* informational search, and extend your budget for keywords that pay a return on investment.

You Don’t Need To Track Every Keyword To Optimize Campaign Spend

Though it is best to track each click to see which keywords are converting, and where people are dropping out of the buying cycle. You can optimize a campaign without all the work it takes to set up an elaborate conversion tracking program, or by a/b testing, etc… simply by adding negative keywords.

To find negative keywords people are using to trigger your ads with Google AdWords, simply launch a campaign in the AdWords dashboard and hit the keywords tab, you will want to select a period of time, say the last 30 days. Then check of the box next to some of the keywords you want to examine and hit the “Keyword Details” tab, and click >>selected in the drop down menu. Here you will see what words people are using in conjunction with your keywords, and you will be able to start a negative keyword list.

Some Of My Favorite Negative Keywords


How To Add Negative Keywords In Google AdWords

negative keywords link
Click image to enlarge

Select a campaign in the AdWords dashboard, then select either the Keywords tab or the Ad groups tab. If you selected the ad-groups tab, you must select a specific adgroup, then scroll to the bottom of your keyword list and you will see a link.

Click the link you find on the bottom left of your keyword list, and you can ad negative keywords at the campaign level or the ad-group level. Negative keywords placed at the campaign level will effect all ad-groups in the campaign. negative keywords placed at the ad-group level will only affect that specific ad group.

I have seen paid search programs where the advertiser is spending as much as 85% of the ad budget for clicks that were never going to bring in a customer. Now if the program is making money on the other 15% that’s great! But imagine how much more money could be made by cutting negative spend to 10% and putting the rest back into either higher bids for the keywords that are working (which usually increases impressions), or by expanding your keyword list to include other low cost winners. That my friends is how you turn negative keywords into positive gains.

If you have any questions about using negative keywords, please drop me an email or hit me up on twitter @Inform_Local.


Lead Generation Review Of Service Magic

Service Magic – Lead Generation Review

The most popular lead generation site for contractors, and by far the most successful is Service Magic. They advertise on the search engines using Google’s Adwords pay per click program. They also use the Adwords program to advertise on millions of other web sites via content networks. Service Magic only requires Contractors to prove the minimum of insurance to be listed in their directory, they do not look at any past work, check references, or anything else.

Why should they make it tough for contractors to sign up? Every time Service Magic gets an inquiry from a homeowner, they sell the lead to three contractors for between $12 and $40.00 each. Some contractors accuse them of selling leads to more than just three other contractors, but Service Magic says these claims are not true. Lead generation sites buy traffic from the search engines, and resell it for more, a form of keyword arbitrage.

Why Homeowners Should Not Use Service Magic

First and foremost they offer very little value for the cost. Of course Service Magic does not charge homeowners for their services, the cost that I am referring to is this; Service Magic is driving up the cost of advertising by competing with contractors for leads. This raises the cost of doing business, which gets passed onto the homeowners.

Why Contractors Should Not Use Service Magic

Regardless of what was already mentioned in the above paragraph, there are a few other reasons not to use them. 1, You can generate leads cheaper by using a good online marketing company. 2, Once you stop paying them, all your reviews are deleted, and you get no more leads, if you had been investing all that money you spent with them on your own online advertising campaign, you would have residual leads for years to come, and all reviews would be posted on sites that Service Magic could not delete. 3, and maybe most importantly, Google does not like keyword arbitrage, and will likely punish them before to long. Let’s face it, Google would make more money if Service Magic was not around. Business 101, do not put all your eggs in one basket! Where will you be if Service Magic goes down?

Why Google Should Not Allow Lead Generation Companies Like Service Magic To Advertise With Adwords.

Without lead generation sites, contractors would have to find alternatives to acquire leads. This would mean more business for Google, and  Google has been hot and heavy moving into local search promotion over the last year, cutting this avenue would boost their bottom line.

Lets be honest, lead generation site are completely unnecessary, and are the sickest form of advertising. Sites like Service Magic, Elocal, Networx all create directories of contractors, contractors they find on the search engines, then they sell leads to them, leads they find on the search engines.

SEMRush Review

SEMRush is an awesome keyword tool that will help you quickly and intelligently find profitable keywords that Google’s keyword tool just can’t do. Well Google could do what ever it wanted if you asked me, so the previous sentence should say; Google’s keyword tool “won’t” do.

All the reviews I read basically tell you the same things SEMRush themselves say on their website, that they have a huge data base, and they add new keywords all the time, bla bla bla… Not helpful!

What you need to know is that with SEMRush you can enter “any” domain name, like that of your competition, and see what keywords they are bidding on in Google’s Adwords. Not just what keywords, but how often they get clicked, and how much they actually spend on each keyword.

Whatever domain name you enter, SEMRush will scan the keywords in the Adwords campaign, and give you a list of who your competitors are, and what keywords they are bidding on, what they spend…

This is the most insightful keyword tool for SEM/PPC there is on the market. If you run your own marketing, you can scrape buy using some common sense and Google’s keyword tool, But if you are running or managing someone else’s PPC campaign, this is a must have tool.

SEMRush instantly lets you know the best keywords in your vertical and who your competition is. Obviously this is SEO gold as well.

Website builders/designers for years have neglected/omitted competitive keyword analysis from their work, this one tool gives instant access to crucial marketing data, giving any online marketer an insiders view and advantage in their business.

If you ever wanted more reliable data with regards to PPC campaign cost, or needed accurate data for a PPC campaign management proposal. This tool separates the professionals from the rest of the pack.

Follow this link below and sign up today, this only cost 60.00 a month, but, it’s FREE to try for two weeks, and you will make it back with increased traffic to your website or via less expensive paid search. The new tool for Search Engine Marketing. US database 40 000 000 keywords. Learn everything about your competitors!

Google Boost is Adwords for Dummies

Google is Rolling out Boost for Select Categories and only in Select Cities for Now!

There is not a whole lot of information available about Google’s new advertising product, Google Boost. It appears it is a cross between AdWords and Google Places. AdWords has allowed you to “add-in” an address or phone number when relevant for quite a while.

But now you will not need to set up an Adwords account, it seems you only need pick a category, and an area, and Google handles the rest. No bidding for keywords, no setting of negative keywords, and no control basically, hence AdWords for dummies, you simply set a monthly budget and Google handles the rest.

The Ads appear in the usual place for sponsored ads, but resemble a Google Places / Maps Ads. The advertiser’s phone number and address are displayed, and if the ad is clicked, the would-be customer is directed to your Google Places /Maps Page. So having a places page is a prerequisite (and free to set up).

“Don’t call that dog lifesaver – Call him shithead” -Movie Quote “The Jerk” – Starring Steve Martin

I say don’t call that advertising program Google Boost – Call it AdWords for Dummies.

I know Google Boost is available in Massachusetts, because in my Google Places Management area, under one of the listings I manage, a new link appeared “Google Boost”. For a cleaning company in Boston. It is not available for any other business listed in my account.

It makes sense to me that Google Boost is not available in all cities, or in all categories, because, they are only filling in ads were people do not advertise with AdWords.

AdWords advertisers should not have to compete with Google Boost Advertisers. People have been trying to hire Google for years to run their AdWords  Campaigns. And now they actually can with Google Boost. I don’t care how you slice it, there is a definite conflict of interest. Google has access to better information and analytic data than any of us do.

C’mon man

Google Engage Review

Google Engage is a relatively new product offered by Google. It is aimed at small marketing online companies. After signing up for the program and watching 3 videos, Google will give you 20 coupons worth 100.00 (unlimited really), marketing materials, and support to promote their AdWords Pay Per Click Program.

The coupons are only good for new AdWords subscribers, or accounts less than 14 days old (one per customer).

Google recently paid for me, and 26 other Google Engage partners to fly out and visit them in sunny Mountain View California, to participate in a “Workshop”, which was really more of a focus group as the promise of training turned out to be pretty thin, and it seemed like Google was looking for feedback from us.

The experience was good and I did learn quite a bit, but mostly from other attendees as is usually the case when you do conferences, work-groups, and conventions.

As an AdWords manager I do not find the Google Engage program helpful at this point. I need help acquiring new leads, and help “re-engaging people who have tried AdWords and found it wanting.

The only teeth this program has are the 100.00 coupons which are not enough to help potential clients cross the chasm and become customers of AdWords, or of mine for that matter.

Here the rub, I want to get paid by people to set up and manage their AdWords accounts. Google is willing to set up the campaigns for free, but that takes money out of my pocket. People do not care about one hundred dollars of free AdWords spend when I am charging 300.00 to set up their account (really small businesses – like contractors). To them, their spending 300.00 for 100.00 worth of advertising- So whats free about that?

Now suppose I go out and find potential new AdWords clients, give them the coupon and have them call Google to set up their new campaign. What does this do for my company? I  spend my time and money finding a customer for Google whom is not paying me for the work. They want to empower the customer to manage their own campaign, they certainly do not set up the campaign for them and then say, “hey, call the nice guy who gave you the coupon to manage your AdWords account”.

AdWords Pay Per Click program is seen as risky by small businesses, they do not know how much a new customer will cost them in ad spend. A return on investment seems unlikely. As a potential AdWords customer you have to account for; the cost of clicks, campaign set-up, and the cost of AdWords management fees.

Compare Engage to Groupon

Groupon clients know the exact amount of risk /exposure they have, they know exactly how much a new customer will cost, it’s fixed and requires no out of pocket expense. This product has a great concept that eases a new advertiser into the market.

Google Engage has a better product in my opinion because you can acquire new customers without giving away the cash register. I give a client a $100.00 coupon with a phone number to Google Support, which will set up their entire account, and small businesses get new customers for free via search engines, and can then see the cost of a new customer (5 clicks @ $2.00 each cost $10.00 = 1 customer with average spend of 100.00, = $90.00 profit) .

Marketing Google Engage Via Marketing Agencies is Silly Without Incentives

So where does that leave me, the marketing agency? Now I have to explain to the customer that Google only sets up the account, that “GOOGLE” will not do as good a job as I will (which is defiantly true), that they need me to optimize, manage and monitor their campaign for them? Which is also true!

It is irresponsible to advice people to manage their own accounts. Customers are likely to loose more money learning the ropes than paying for management service, unless they have 6 months to study the software.

For more reviews follow me on Twitter @Inform_Local

Pay Per Click Mistakes – Save $$$ By Avoiding These 11 PPC Blunders

stop pay per click mistakesPay Per Click Mistakes In Order Of Importance

Here we have listed common pay per click mistakes by order of importance. As you read through this list you will learn how to cut ad spend, and increase your reach. You will be able to use money you were wasting to increase bids for good keywords, while increasing sales and improving your ROI at the same time

#1 is the most important and #11 the least, read top to bottom or bottom to top, or pick any headline in between.

# 11 Are You Letting Ads Run During Hours You Don’t Answer The Phone?

This one almost didn’t make the list, but if you sell services, are not running ads just to build your brand, or if you’re on a limited budget, running ads during times you don’t answer the phone is a bad strategy.

If your running a paid search campaign where getting a phone call is one of the goals of the campaign, and you let the ads run during hours you don’t answer the phone, you are likely wasting some of your ad budget.

Also people value their time, if their looking for a professional in your industry, or want answers, they want that info now. They set the time aside to get something done, and if you can’t show you value their time by answering the phone, don’t count on them leaving a message. They will likely move on to the next ad, and forget they ever found you.

# 10 Not Using Longtail Keywords

Most people still think longtail means using many words in a phrase, like four or more words, which is usually the case, but really means finding phrases or keywords with little or low competition. You will pay very little for these clicks, and if you can put enough of them together, you will run a very successful PPC campaign.

The keyword “Roofing Contractors” is very popular and will cost you 17.00 to 24.00 for the number one or two spot. But by targeting “roofing contractors in any-town any-state” you will cut the cost per click in half and be better able to target customers. Now you can fine-tune ads to speak right to people from those areas, which will improve your click-through rates too.

By putting in the extra work to build out a campaign with hundreds of longtail keywords you will, spend less per click, improve quality score, improve CTR, and increase your ROI.

# 9 Not Including Keywords You Bid On In Your Ad Copy, On Your Web Page, Or At Least Your Web Page Title Tag.

This is about quality score and click through rates, people with low quality scores pay more for clicks. People are more likely to click an ad that has the keyword they typed in the ad copy, and are more likely to hang around reading your web page if it looks like they landed in the right place, hence more likely to become a customer.

Google wants their customers to have a good experience, they want them to find what their looking for. Google doesn’t want their customer landing on a page that is not relevant to the search. If you pay for clicks and just send all the traffic to your home page, or contact page, your likely not converting the clicks your paying for and your bounce rate is likely high.

High bounce rates lead to low quality score and higher PPC fees. Even if you think the landing page is relevant, if you don’t have the keyword in the beginning of the title, in the first paragraph, in the alt text of an image, your page is not optimized for it.

# 8 Paying To Much For Select Keywords

Some keywords convert better than others, and in a need to be in the number one slot on Google, companies keep upping their max cost per click till they are spending way to much. But hey if you want to crush the little companies with small ad budgets and starve them out of your market, bid your ass off. But if your really trying max your budget, find some lower hanging fruit.

You need to know if the keywords you are bidding on are making you money. If it takes 10 clicks to make one sale, then multiply the average CPC by10. If you can subtract the cost of those ten clicks from the profit you made from a sale and be happy, great. If not, loose the keyword or modify it.

# 7 Using Terms That Are To Broad

You can never really delete anything from AdWords, oh sure the button is there, but there is another button that says let me see all deleted too. I have seen hundreds of accounts where people were just throwing away their money. Example: “A Home Builder using the broad match keyword (house) as a keyword. His ads were coming up for doll house, dog house, house paint, cave people, house of god, you name it, and his budget was getting clicked to death.

# 6 Using Only Broad Match

I like to use some broad match with new campaigns to find out what people are actually looking for. Then I set up with mostly phrase match and exact match, I like to use the broad modified search using the + symbol also. But if your not using mostly phrase and exact your probably wasting money.

It’s important to know that even when I initially use broad match to set up a campaign, I never use one word keywords. Plus I use negative keywords to reduce the possible risk of wasted ad spend.

After my initial research I move on to phrase match to discover more keywords I might want to target. Finally I settle on the best keywords and lock them into an exact match only campaign.

# 5 Not Sorting Keywords Into Specific Ad Group Campaigns

As mentioned earlier, you need keyword themes represented by specific ads and landing pages on your website. By using Google’s Ad Group Ideas tool you can get ideas on how best to separate your keywords into specific ad groups.

By categorizing ad groups, you can compare ROI and see which keyword groups are driving more revenue. With this level of intelligence you will be able to maximize you budget

# 4 Sending People To A Buy It Now Landing Page When The Keyword They Typed In Was Not Far Enough Down The Buying Cycle

Most people are looking for information when they search, once they know what they want they will usually search for it by model number, with the exact size or color. Informational keywords need to bring people to pages that create the desire to buy, before slamming them into a buy it or bounce choice. To many people are trying to close the sale to early.

The three reasons people search are Informational, Navigational, and Transactional.

Informational is self explanatory, they want information. Navigational searches are usually brand searches. One of the biggest navigational searches is Facebook. People looking for the Facebook Website. Transactional searches are done by people looking to make a purchase or hire a service.

Examples of some transactional searches include these keywords: Buy, coupon, sales, price, best price. Which clicks would you rather pay for? 1. “buy Nike air max 2011″, 2.”best price Nike air max 2011″ or 3.”Nike sneaker models”? If you said 1 & 2 your getting it. One searcher is looking for information, and the other two searchers know what they want and have their wallets out.

I’m not saying I wouldn’t bid for number 3, but I would not bid as much, and I would likely send them to a different landing page.

# 3 Failing To Set Geographical Location

If your in a service business like a roofing, or hairstyling, with a set service area, you do not want people from outside your service area clicking on your ads, wasting your money. There are however some people from out of state, and out of your area are looking for roofers and hairstylists in your area.

Here is what you do; set one campaign for local search, just targeting a radius that covers an extra 5 miles around your service zone, then set up a national campaign and only use keywords with town and state modifiers. Example: for a national national campaign (Massachusetts Roofers), for a local campaign you can bid on just (Roofers).

If you bid on the exact match keyword (roofer), and you don’t a specific geographical area, either a set of zip codes, or say a 30 mile radius around a specif town, you are wasting money, and guilty of the popular pay per click mistake #3.

# 2 Failure To Use Negative Keywords

People wast massive amounts of money by not using negative keywords, and it could have easily made #1 in this list of biggest pay per click blunders.

Unless you have used only exact match from day one, you have spent money on clicks for traffic which had no desire to land on your page. This is actually a normal part of discovering negative keywords. If you set up an account assuming you knew the best keywords, and left know budget for discovery, you would be miss out on tons of valuable traffic.

I took over a tourism PPC campaign for a state that wanted to increase tourism to a section of their state. I won’t say who I worked for, but the keywords they spent over half their budget on were: orange county, and Newport Beach. When I investigated their campaign, I found out people looking for Newport Beach, but Newport Beach from other states, and for orange county choppers, not orange county. There are actually many Newport Beaches in the United States. By adding using some exact match, and set the other states as negative keywords, and I was able to reduce money wasted in this account, and then spend the money saved on better keywords.

The budget was 35,000 a year, they were wasting $26,250 a year. I think I lost that gig for pointing out the horrific waste to the person who hired me, it turned out she set up the campaign, oops. Perhaps she was afraid I would tell her client? But I didn’t tell, even after she didn’t renew my contract. I did however look like a hero by lowering the bounce rate, raising time on site, and increasing travel bookings, while also improving traffic to local restaurants and area hotels.

#1 PPC Mistake: Failing To Monitor How Your Campaigns Are Doing, By Monitoring Your Conversion Rates And Tracking ROI

This has to be the number one boo boo because you don’t know how much money your wasting if you have no way to track results.

This is one of the most over-looked aspects of running an AdWord Campaign, mainly because it involves some programing knowledge (very little). Without the ability to monitor success, how will you know if your succeeding, or where you could improve.

Without the information needed to make good decisions, to cut out keywords that don’t convert, or increase your list of high ROI keywords, many will quit claiming Adwords doesn’t work, and that would be the greatest mistake.