October 1, 2014

Small Business PPC – Writing Ad Copy


While having the right keywords in your ad group is important, writing compelling ad copy is even more crucial so your ad stands out from the crowd and gets clicked. First, let’s discuss the basics:

  • Title – 25 characters
  • Line 1 – 35 characters
  • Line 2 – 35 characters
  • Display URL – 35 characters, must be the same root domain as the destination URL
  • Destination URL – 1024 characters, users don’t see this

Titles Are The Key

The title, though only 25 characters, is the most important. Since you chose keywords that followed a theme, you want to write a title that follows that theme. Ideally you also want your title to include your keywords because if the users search term is contained in your ad, Google will make those words bold, helping your ad to stand out. In the example above you’ll see the title is “I Mess With Texas T-shirt”. This ad is shown for searches on “mess with texas” and “texas t-shirt” where the keyword would be bolded.

Focus on Benefits in Line 1 & 2

You have a few more characters in Line 1 and Line 2, but you still need to be focused. Search users, whether explicitly or implicitly, are trying to determine which of the 10 organic and up to 10 paid links to click. You need to tell them exactly what they’ll get if they click on yours. Focus on the benefits of your product. For my t-shirts, the benefit is that you get to mess with Texas and you get to do it quickly because the shirts are in stock and I have fast shipping. Not to mention that 49 out of 50 states agree that Texas needs to be messed with.

Don’t Neglect the URLs

There are two different URL boxes. The first is the display URL that is shown with your ad. While the root domain must match the destination URL, you can fudge a bit for a little extra benefit. Say your landing page is www.mysite.com/contact.html. That would be an okay URL, but I suggest you spice up the display URL to say www.mysite.com/Keyword. Again, this will help your ad stand out by showing people that you actually have a page for their keyword (even though they just go to www.mysite.com/contact.html). Don’t be fooled into thinking that you just put your homepage URL in the display URL field.

Run 2 Ads at a Time

One last point. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS run at least 2 ads in each ad group. Use a little bit different title or different copy in Lines 1 and 2. Then you can compare the two ads later to determine which is working better.

Okay, you’re almost there. Now you have a keyword list and 2 ads written for your first ad group. Next we’ll show you how to take care of billing, budgets and bids.

Small Business PPC – Keyword Research


As a small business owner or employee, you’re always looking for ways to expand your business. Most likely you have a website and you’re heard about Pay-Per-Click(PPC) advertising on Google or Yahoo. You decide that it would be great if you could put your advertising in front of internet users right when they are searching for your product. But what are your potential customers searching for?

Do Some Keyword Research

The key is to find keywords that are related to your business AND that are being searched regularly. A great tool to find out how much your keywords are searched each month is the Google Keyword Tool. You can type in a few sample keywords that you think are related to your business, or, if you choose the 2nd radio button, you can put your own URL in the box and Google will tell you what keywords it thinks your website is related to.

As an example we’ll pretend I’m an Idaho florist, so I think it makes sense that people might be searching for “Idaho florists”. So I type it in.

And I get some results, but I want to see all the data Google has. I select Show All from the drop down:

And now we see some good information:

So What Does This Mean?

First we notice that there are over 2,000 local searches for idaho florists. That’s 67 potential customers every day. Then we notice that a lot of searches include the name of a city (ie rexburg idaho florist or nampa idaho florist). Hmm. We probably should look for cities close to my mom’s florist shop or this isn’t going to work. “Florists in Pocatello Idaho” only gets 12 searches/month, but someone I can help this person. Write this one down. Actually, what if we run the search for Pocatello florist instead?

As you can see, now I’ve found some terms that get more searches AND these are people looking for a florist in the area. BAM! Take some time and run a few of these searches. Write down the best terms because these are one of the primary ingredients for our small business PPC campaign.

Is PPC Ineffective for Small Businesses?

Whenever I see a blog post, article or book about PPC (usually Google AdWords) two facts are inevitably mentioned. First, PPC lets you advertise to millions of people right now and second, just $5 gets you started in the next few minutes. The idea is alluring, but is it just a siren’s song?

Why PPC May Not Be For You

PPC is a tool, and like most tools not everyone should use it. Just like you wouldn’t start your riding lawn mower, put it in gear and then jump off to go do the trimming you don’t want to start using PPC, set the budgets and then go do something else. Ask yourself a couple of simple questions:

  • Do I have the expertise to install the conversion tracking code?
  • Am I willing to monitor my account at least weekly?
  • Is there a simple page, with a clear call to action, on my website where I can direct this traffic?

If you can answer yes to all three of these questions I recommend you set up a Google AdWords account and get started. If you answered no to any of these questions, you will need help. Most internet marketing agencies offer PPC management services (the agency I work for, Vizad, can start you for as low as $250/month) and Google has a ton of resources in their AdWords Help Center.

This provides a good starting point to our discussion on PPC for the small business, but I will be spending the next couple weeks blogging about how small businesses can modify their strategy and tactics to compete with the big boys in the PPC game. Please subscribe to my RSS feed here so you don’t miss out.

Google Desperate for Revenue. Now Offering AdWords “Expert Advice”

A few months ago people believed that Google would be immune from the recession. Not only has that been totally wrong, but Google has been taking various steps to increase their ad revenues (broadening broad match, putting ads in Google Finance and News, etc.) and keep investors happy. Yesterday Google took it to another level.

Get Expert Advice From Google

I came across this new offering at Search Engine Land, but didn’t believe them until I saw this screenshot. As you can see, the Google is offering expert advice on AdWords for new users in the US and Canada with a budget over $250/month.

As far as I can tell the service is being offered free of charge (typical Google style), but don’t mistake this for altruism. I’ve worked with Google optimization specialists and they are masters of creating tons of ad groups (all very tightly themed of course) with fairly generic ad copy (helps CTR) to “help” you get better traffic (read “spend more money with AdWords”). In the end Google just wants to get more of your money by helping you find more keywords, get more impressions, buy more clicks, and boost their revenues.

Are PPC Mgmt. Agencies in Trouble?

Some will try and make this seem like Google is cutting out PPC management agencies to line their pockets. While I recognize their argument, I’m not too worried. I’ve seen what Google optimization specialists crank out and it’s average at best. Good management agencies will continue to outperform this type of service. Your cousin doing PPC management in his mom’s basement? He might be in trouble. In the end this is just another “free service” to keep Google making bank.

Google AdWords Opens the Floodgates

Today Google AdWords announced a small change in their Search Query Performance report that will turn into a gold mine for long tail search terms. Let me explain.

Search Query Performance Reports

Since AdWords began offering this report I have always felt cheated. I would run the report and see the terms that triggered a lot of traffic (which were usually already keywords in my accounts) and then the mysterious line item titled “Other unique queries”. This line item usually included a majority of my conversions and had exceptionally high CTR, so I was understandably frustrated when I couldn’t view it.

What’s New?

Today’s post on the Google AdWords blog announces that Google has done away with the “Other unique queries” and will show all terms. This is made much easier with their new user interface (which I quite like actually) and gives the user greater insight into the exact search terms triggering ads and converting. No more hopping back and forth between your Google Analytics and AdWords account to add new keywords.

As a small caveat I would like to take partial credit for this announcement. It was just a couple weeks ago that I was telling a friendly Googler my frustration about this very thing and, Voila!, it’s fixed. Hey Google, if you’re listening, I’ve got more good ideas where that came from. You know my number (and probably a whole lot more).

Google to Begin Allowing Trademarked Terms on June 15

In a post yesterday on the Google AdWords blog, the GOOG announced they will adjust their US trademark policy to allow the use of trademarked terms in ad copy. Their reasoning was that too many ads are overly generic without the aid of the trademarked term.

But Which Trademarks?

My first question was “Which trademarked terms are allowed and which will still be off limits?” In typical Google fashion (cryptic to the point of being worthless) they published their updated US Trademark Policy, which didn’t clarify the matter at all. I am resigned to the fact that I’ll just have to start using trademarked terms to see what passes and what gets disapproved.

Lastly, if you’re reading between the lines you’ll see this is a move to improve revenue. Ads without trademarks are too generic (meaning they have low CTR), so Google (at the expense of trademark owners) will allow trademarked terms to help boost CTR (which makes Google more money). I guess after their disappointing Q1 they decided they needed to get drastic to keep the stock price up. It would be embarrassing to start looking like Microsoft with normal earnings reports.

New Google AdWords Interface First Impressions

Over the last couple weeks I’ve been using the Beta version of the new AdWords interface. Most people now have access so I thought I would give my 2 cents.

What I Like

  • Navigation – Getting around your account is faster and easier now. The left side navigation allows you to go to any ad group in any campaign at any time. Add in the tabbed navigation in the center section and you can see pretty much any info you want with a click or two.
  • In-line Editing – I’ve always been annoyed at the number of pages you had to go through to make a simple edit to an ad, keyword bid, etc. Now you just click the appropriate item (which you navigated too rather quickly) and edit. Very helpful.
  • Integrated Reports – One of the most underutilized reports in AdWords in the search query report (I mentioned this in one of my Deadly Sins of AdWords posts here). Google must have noticed because now, when in the Keywords tab, you can just click the “See Search Terms” drop-down box and generate it right in the interface. Brilliant!
  • Graphs – For those of you who like visuals (or have bosses who like visuals) now AdWords has pretty graphs like Analytics to allow you to see key statistics at a glance.

My Complaints

  • Columns – The ability exists to edit which columns you see, but I was a little bugged by the fact that I had to change the columns for every tab (Ads, Keywords, Networks, etc.) separately. If I don’t want to see the many-per-click conversions for Keywords, would I want to see them for Ads? I say no.
  • Width – This issue is somewhat related to the columns, but for archaic PPC managers like myself who still only have one monitor (in my defense it is 22″) the new AdWords interface requires me to have the browser set to full screen. Otherwise I must use the dreaded side scroll.

Overall I understand this is a beta product and is still being fine-tuned. For now I give the new AdWords Interface a B+. No doubt Google will get to an A+ product since AdWords is the cash machine that powers Google and they are doing everything possible to make spending ad dollars easier for advertisers. I’m considering putting together a couple of how-to videos for using the new interface but I want to gauge interest. Leave a comment of what you would like to see.

Why I Don’t Trust Google and You Shouldn’t Either!

Okay, I have always had a healthy skepticism of Google, especially relating to AdWords. I set all my campaigns to rotate ads instead of optimize. One reason is to test more accurately and the other is simple suspicion that Google is really just optimizing their bottom line, not my results. And lest you attribute my suspicion to mere paranoia, I submit the following evidence:

Exhibit A

These stats were taken from a client’s account yesterday and covers the month of April. Keep in mind that this campaign is set to rotate ads evenly. A screenshot is not provided to protect privacy.

  • Ad #1 – Served 68% of the time with a 1.45% CTR
  • Ad #2 – Served 32% of the time with a 1.32% CTR

Obviously Google is serving Ad #1 more frequently to help me get more clicks. Any idiot can see it gets a better CTR. However…

  • Ad #1 – Receives a 4.01% conversion rate at a $7.48 cost/conversion
  • Ad #2 – Receives a 6.37% conversion rate at a $4.85 cost/conversion

Now we see Google’s true colors. They aren’t optimizing to help me, they’re optimizing to help themselves and I have a hard time believing that Google’s engineers can’t program the ad optimization algorithm (which technically shouldn’t be messing with this ad group because it is set to rotate) to have conversion statistics override click-through rates.

So there you have it judge. I rest my case.

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13 Deadly Sins of AdWords – Conclusion

The 13 Deadly Sins of AdWords affect users of all skill levels and experience. While some may be overcome with a one-time effort, most require constant diligence to truly overcome. Though I have not committed each sin personally, I have seen the effects of each sin when taking over management. Reading these posts you may find yourself guilty of one or more sins. Don’t despair. Regardless of the damage caused, you can still repent and save your AdWords account.

The 13 Deadly Sins

1 Free Robert Hour

If you recall from the Sin of Inexperience, I will give you 1 hour of my time to help you get started on the right path/back on the right path with your AdWords account. Simply email me, righteousmarketing@righteousmarketing.com to get started. You’ll need to let me look in your account (I won’t make any changes, promise!) and then I’ll spend 1 hour analyzing your account and making recommendations based on the 13 Deadly Sins. I’ll send you my recommendations in an email and you implement as many or few as you deem valuable. I am confident they’ll save you hundreds of dollars and I do accept “donations” from grateful recipients.

Google AdWords is a powerful tool. Used properly it has the ability to deliver qualified traffic 24 hours/day, helping you make money even while you’re sleeping. However, with great power comes great responsibility. Don’t fall victim to the 13 Deadly Sins of AdWords.