July 29, 2014

Google vs. Bing: The Average User’s Perspective

Google SERP

Lacey reached out to me about writing a guest post and I thought that it would be interesting to see how a non-PPC wizard feels about Google vs. Bing. Below is her experience

Many of you may already have your preconceived notions about Google and Bing. Some may even have a preference for one and refuse to use the other. Personally, I’ve always used Google, and didn’t really see a reason to switch, but I always wondered exactly what the difference would be. Because I recently got a new puppy, I decided to search for “puppy toys” in each search engine to see which site brought me better results. More specifically, I wanted something that would be good for dogs under one year old that are teething and coping with a new environment.

Google

When I first entered my keywords into Google’s search box, this is the screen they presented. The top three links are for ads, naturally, because that is how Google makes money, but I also noticed something else. I could barely see their “Shopping” section at the bottom of the screen because so much space is taken at the top. My first instinct was to go to the first item that had my search terms, so I clicked on the third ad.

Google SERP

When I clicked on the ad, I was immediately bombarded with loads of information. The print was small and it seemed as if I was really going to have to search for the best toy for my puppy. There were a lot of options, but I think it would have been better if those options were easier to find (i.e. categories like plush dog toys, teething puppy toys, holiday toys, etc.).


Bing

When I searched for my product on Bing, the first thing I noticed was the pictures of the products in the middle of the screen. I now realize that there were also pictures of products in my Google search, but they weren’t as noticeable because they were so far down the screen. Bing has designed their site to help viewers get right to what they need.

Bing SERP

I was very intrigued by their pictures, so I went directly to their shopping section, and it was much easier to narrow down my search with the options to the left, and I was able to find exactly what I was looking for.



Lacey Cook is an author who writes guest posts on the topics of business, marketing, credit cards, and personal finance. Additionally, she works for a website that focuses on educating readers about their first credit card.

Google Grows A Pair, Stands Up To China

Google is famous for their slogan “Do No Evil.” However, when Google created Google.cn to serve the huge (and growing) Chinese market they made a very significant compromise with the Communist government of China; they agreed to censor their search results. Many people, myself included, were disappointed that Google “sold out” their beliefs. However, Google announced yesterday on their Official Google Blog that they will not censor results any longer and are willing to close Google.cn and their Chinese offices if necessary. I’m a forgiving person and I believe Google will do the right thing. Google, I salute you!

PS A brief apology: last week (my first week of the new year) I broke my resolution to blog 3 time/week. I’m not throwing in the towel though, so keep holding me to my resolutions.

PPC Potpourri

Just a couple of tidbits this morning:

The AdWords team has decided to jump on the Twitter bandwagon, so to keep up with “the latest industry trends and information, Google insights and news & relevant product information and updates” just follow these Twitter accounts:

Also, I would like to give a big thanks to Bridgette over at Google. My impression is that Google is making a more concerted effort to assist agencies and since that gives me more support, I’m all for it. Quite frankly the move seems a little overdue considering that agencies have multiple clients and efforts directed at an agency are effectively multiplied…but I’m not complaining.

Lastly, Google held an excellent webinar yesterday on Website Optimizer yesterday. The recorded version isn’t up yet, but if you’ve ever wanted to try the service I recommend watching this webinar. It goes through every step of the process at a level that even a relative noob can understand. Have a great weekend everyone.

PS I’m looking for a guest post in October. Hit me up if you would be willing, robert (at) righteousmarketing dot com.

Google v. Microsoft – WWW War Brewing

Let’s play a game. I say a word and you say the first 3 things that comes to mind:

Word: Monopoly

Board game. Microsoft. Google.


Does it surprise you that I thought of Google? It shouldn’t. Google has such a dominant position in online search that the Department of Justice has looked them over more than once. Monopolies are the utopia of greed. Every company is trying to get one (theoretically), yet the two companies which you could argue actually have monopolies are preparing to go to war with each other. Why?

You Can Never Have Enough Success

Winning is one of the most powerful drugs in the world. Google won search. Microsoft won operating systems. These victories have given each company a seemingly endless supply of money and resources to pursue anything they want and they have set their sights on each other.

Bing.com

Microsoft has been trying to get a foot in the door of search for a very long time. No mystery there. Between MSN.com, Live.com and their cashback program (straight bribery) Microsoft has shoveled millions into this fight already only to be swatted like a pesky gnat. However, Bing.com is a much more credible threat to Google. People like the design, the results are actually quite good (while being different from Google’s results), and they’ve done some things better than Google (try the image search). The latest numbers show that Bing.com has carved out some market share and with Microsoft pumping $100 million into advertising, this is the first shot Microsoft has fired that may elicit a response from the GOOG.

Google’s Chrome OS

When Google launched their Chrome browser I thought it was a novel idea to create a browser that ran Javascript really fast. Basically they designed a browser optimized for Gmail and all the other Google products. When they announced the Android phone I thought is was a good move to try getting into the mobile market since people will use the mobile web more and more, where Google could do well by replacing bulky desktop software (cough, Office, cough) with their web apps. Both plays were small moves. Then Google dropped the bomb and said they were going to turn Chrome into an OS. Mark your calendar, this was Google’s declaration of war.

What Will Happen?

Let me know what you think.

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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The Tortoise and The Hare: adCenter vs. AdWords

If asked to describe AdWords as an animal, most would probably call them the 800-pound gorilla. However, yesterday I had the distinct thought that maybe Google is more like the hare from Aesop’s fable and surprisingly, Microsoft may very well be the tortoise.

“Slow and steady wins the race”

Before burning me at the stake for PPC heresy, hear me out. On Monday adCenter released updated tracking code that will fix a long-standing problem; the double-count. Despite the best efforts of PPC marketers and webmasters to place conversion tracking code on pages that can only be seen once, many users are unpredictable and illogical enough to somehow load thank you pages more than once, resulting in duplicate conversions (thus throwing off all your metrics). The new code from adCenter gives you a couple of different options for counting your conversions to give you numbers that aren’t too hot, aren’t too cold, but are just right.

Next I came across a story on TechCrunch about Microsoft PubCenter’s beta results. The beta testers they spoke with were reporting better revenue than AdSense (likely due to Microsoft’s generosity on revenue splits) and that PubCenter gave them more liberty on creative. Add in the fact that the ads were as well targeted as AdSense and you have a legit competitor to AdSense.

Can Microsoft Win?

Microsoft has the money and they are willing to spend it. While slower than AdWords, adCenter has released an off-line ad management tool, improved their tracking code and developed a legit competitor to AdSense. Slow and steady definitely describes Microsoft’s efforts (8% search share?) but can they really win the race?

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