An AdWords Agency – 2011 – October
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Archive for October, 2011

Where did all the organic go?

Posted by Bob Dumouchel in SEO

Friday, October 28th, 2011

The headline of this article makes a song from the 60s play in my head, but the question is really quite serious. In many cases the organic, or free listings as they are often called, have vanished from the top half of the first page of Google.  This requires that many businesses rethink their website optimization and the organic only strategy.  Below is an example of what is happening in many searches.

What is happening in this case is that Google is seeing a search term that it thinks will be best served by localizing the search. Since quality of the search results trumps all other things in Google, we get a page that is entirely missing the organic listings. Google has decided that the quality of the search result will be better served with AdWords and Places listings and in many cases we think they are right. The intent of the person doing this search for AC repair is most likely looking for a local service provider and the searcher is better served from AdWords and Places.

This does not happen all the time but it is very common in the more competitive metro areas. In less competitive areas you will often find one or two organic listings between the end of the AdWords section and the start of the Places. This is huge departure from several years ago when you would see eight or more organic listings on top of the first page. There are still organic listings on the first page, but you have to roll the screen down to see them.

What this means to us is that if your keywords are commonly localized and you have an organic only promotional strategy, you better revisit that decision. You can figure out if your keywords are likely to be localized by doing a Google search and if a map appears then there is a high risk of this happening. You have to remember that Google personalizes the results so just because you saw your listing does not mean everyone will. There are thousands of variables involved in creating a search engine result page and so they vary hugely.

This phenomenon highlights the fact that claiming your places entry is critical and if you serve outside of your local city you really have to consider using AdWords for those areas.  Even if you have a first position organically a change in the search to another city that you also serve will be missing your site.

Most of the words that this happens to are services that are connected to the geography. Things like Air Conditioning, Plumbing, Hair Salons, Car Dealers, Restaurants, and many others.  If your places listing is important to your business this is probably happening to you.

Dear Saint Google,

Posted by Bob Dumouchel in google

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Twas the night before Christmas, when all though the net not disk drive was stirring, not even in the cloud. The clicks are hung by the SERP with care, in hopes that Saint Google soon will be there.  The AdWords Experts are nestled all snug in their beds while visions of new features danced in their head and I am sure you know all the rest.

Every year in the fine tradition of the Christmas letter, I write an open letter for the things I want to see in Adwords.  Before I get started with the details I would like to note that many of the things I asked for in prior years I actually got, so maybe this letter isn’t as silly as it seems.

Negative Search Query Report

I would like to start with a billion dollar idea in hopes that some Google Engineer will adopt this idea and make it their own on their 20% time.

A negative SQR would show us the searches that we lost during the time period because they were dropped by a negative word. Negative keywords are a great tool but they are also dangerous because they are silent. The Negative SQR would allow us to see errors in the keyword model and correct them. The recovered revenue from this report will probably pay for itself every month.

Enhance Budget Controls

Budget controls get difficult as the size of the account increases and one glaring problem is the lack of an account wide budget control. This would be across all campaigns and when the daily budget was exceeded in aggregate it would shut down the traffic.

Add MCC Negative Keyword Reporting

Negative keywords deserve some respect and they need to be supported in the reporting process. Nowhere in the MCC can you get negative keywords extracted to a report yet they are critical to the process of AdWords.

MCC Level Change Log

In our business we have over 100 accounts and several people involved in the maintenance of accounts. It would be great to have a central log that you can view all the changes in the accounts and who is making them.

Annotations

Google Analytics has had this for a long time and AdWords needs this desperately. We should be able to click on the date in a chart and add an annotation so we know what caused certain data to move.  Keeping notes on an account is a very basic function that you expect in today’s systems.

Bounce Rate on Keywords, AdGroups, and Campaigns

For an account that is linked to Google Analytics the bounce data flowing back to the keyword and up the data hierarchy would be a great tool.

Formula Based Bid Updates

Let’s face it bid updates are a painful manual processes that really do not have to be like that. Since AdWords already has filters to create sets of keywords all we need is to add an update function that supports simple formulas for update. This does not need all the fancy math functions just the basics of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

Keyword Lists

Similar to the function now supported in Negative Keywords keyword lists could be added to an adgroup just like a single keyword. The advantage of this is that you would not have to duplicate the keywords when you reuse them in another adgroup or campaign. It is very common to have the same set of keywords in different campaigns because of other controls such as geo or device targeting.

Segment Totals

Segmentation is a great tool in AdWords but it can be difficult to work with on larger accounts. When you segment with top and side it shows every campaign but it never totals it for you so it is difficult to see that is high or low for the value. If the detail is segmented it would be swell if the totals were as well.

Trend Line in Graphs

Graphs display the actual value but often we are looking for is the trend not the data value. It would be nice to have this option on the graph so you could see if the cost per click is trending up or down although we would not want to lose the data view we have now because it is very useful.

Scheduled Bid Updates

Now that we have filters and bid formulas we should be able to set up schedule and a time period to perform the update. This should be as simple as saying on the 10th of each month using data from last month apply this filter and formula.

Batch up the changes

I have to be honest the constant roll out of changes makes managing AdWords Accounts a nightmare.  It is a common experience in our offices to discover a new feature that just rolled into production or maybe a beta that looks like a production change. In the olden days software changes were batched together into organized releases with good documentation. When they went into production everyone knew it and we also knew what changed. While we understand the value of the development model of release and refine we think that there should be a production level of code and you should be able to opt in or out of being a beta. When a beta is active in an account there should be some notice on the account so you know not to look for it everywhere else.

But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight, “Happy Conversions to all, and to all a good-night!”

Are You Ready for the Mobile Explosion?

Posted by Rob Dumouchel in Mobile Marketing

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Do me a favor… grab your phone and open your business’ website. Don’t have a web capable phone? Go find one, they’re everywhere. Then make other people in the office do it as well. What do you see? The results may surprise you. You could get anything from a blank screen to your whole site just smaller, and it can vary greatly from phone to phone. As more people do their web surfing from their phones this little exercise is going to become more and more important, especially if you’re paying for traffic!

Designing for desktop and mobile are two very different things. Simply displaying your desktop site on a mobile phone is often a huge mistake. The interface and design standards and the goals of the visitor are very different.  This is why we are seeing an entirely new generation of Mobile Content Management Systems specifically built for mobile design.   Within these systems you can rapidly create a mobile website and bring it online with all the functions that most people expect on their phone.

We have one client in a local service business with 12 offices in the mid-west that created mobile sites in just a few days using GetGoMobi.com. Some designers think that forcing mobile devices to mobile sites is a good idea, we think not. The desktop version of the site often has functionality not in the mobile site that the person may want to access. Conceptually we like to think of the mobile site as not a replacement for the desktop site but a supplement designed specifically for the needs of the mobile user.

The thing you have to realize when it comes to smart phones is that they’re taking over many people’s casual web usage. Need to look up an address, settle a bet, decide what’s for dinner, Google someone you just met, kill time while waiting for something? The smart phone is going to be a “go to” tool for that. I have some friends that aren’t super heavy internet users who have dropped conventional internet services at home completely because their iPhone or Android device fills that gap. I realize that may seem a bit extreme, but these people are out there and if you’re not looking forward for a way to make your web content more compatible with smartphones then you’re going to be in trouble as this trend gets more pervasive.

In the AdWords World we can clearly see this shift and its happening fast.  So far this year we have seen dozens of accounts where the mobile traffic has grown by more than 100% in just the first 9 months of this year. In some industries we are seeing more than 10% of traffic is now mobile.  In the good news category AdWords gives you control over how your mobile traffic is handled. You can configure the mobile traffic to go to a page designed for the mobile device or if your site is a mobile-wreck you can turn that traffic off and quit paying to embarrass yourself. The key here is you have to think about this because the default in the system is to engage the mobile traffic. You have to turn it off if you are not yet ready to handle it properly.

For a quick example here’s the website for Marc Ecko, a popular clothing designer, as viewed on my PC:

It’s a pretty fantastic an engaging all flash display of creative genius. Here’s Marc’s website when displayed on my iPhone:

See the problem? Although the desktop experience is excellent, the mobile visitor misses out completely. If your site has a similar problem I encourage you to go open your Adwords account and turn off mobile devices in your Adwords campaign settings. No use in paying for visitors that can’t use your site.

Now the “what to do” becomes a little trickier. You need to think about how people interact with your site and what they want. Are they after basic information like your phone number or address? Are they shopping? Making reservations? Reading? Researching? Some of these may sound odd to you but they’re not that uncommon. I’ve done searches for hippopotamus facts in a bar to solve an argument and paid my bills while waiting for flights to take off.

If you’re a localized business that provides a service or is somewhere that one would have to physically go to spend money your two big mobile needs are your address and your phone number. These are the two things people are most likely to be looking for from their phone and you need to make that information easily and immediately accessible. You could either design your page to be easily read even on a small screen, or you could create a mobile only site that visitors are redirected to when they visit with a smartphone. People like GetGoMobi can help you set these types of things up for not a whole lot of money.  (Full disclosure, GetGoMobi is a client of ours).

The bottom line here is that mobile is happening and it’s happening fast. So get your team together and design a plan to deal with it.