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“Our PPC paid-search performance improved significantly under Nina’s management. Her knowledgeable guidance also helped us make inexpensive changes to our dynamic Web site which increased our natural search position and decreased our need to spend more on AdWords.” — Linda Peterson, Webmaster, Hazelden Foundation

Blog Archive

Archive for the ‘Google’ Category

Mobile App Targeting with AdMob

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Last month Google incorporated its mobile app ad network, AdMob, into Google AdWords. This was especially exciting for me since I work on an account that sells mobile device screen protectors.  Not only does Google allow you to target your campaigns by app categories, but you can also target your campaigns by specific devices. Additionally, AdMob provides ad space on both the Google Play Andriod Apps and the iTunes App Store which allows you to target a greater audience.

Since launching the mobile app campaigns on our screen protectors account, we have more than doubled our clicks while significantly cutting down our CPCs. The average CPCs on our mobile app campaigns have been around 28% of the CPCs on the other campaigns within the account. With CPCs so low I recommend trying app targeting on your accounts before the competition gets greater.

I wouldn’t recommend mobile app targeting for everyone – especially not B2B clients. The best opportunities would lie with B2C clients who have mobile sites and can segment their consumers by their interests or by their mobile device (example: screen protectors for specific mobile devices or targeting fitness clubs on health and fitness apps).

Setting up a mobile app targeted campaign is easy. First, create your campaign by clicking the New Campaign button from the Campaigns tab. Then choose the campaign type Display Network only and select Mobile apps (see below).

 Google Display Network Mobile App Targeting In the device targeting settings you can choose whether you want to target mobile devices and/or tablets. You can either choose to target specific operating systems, device models or carriers. In this case I chose to only target iPhone 3G users.

 Google Display Network Mobile Device Targeting

Finally you can choose what type of app categories you want to target. In the case of the of the fitness club, we would target health and fitness apps (see below). Remember, that if you are only targeting on select devices to choose the right app store to target through, like targeting iTunes App Store apps when targeting iPhones.

Mobile App Category Placements

Good luck from your #1 mobile advocate!

Google Analytics Metrics in Adwords

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Optimizing a pay per click account without conversion tracking is a mistake. Because after the click: Adwords leaves you in the dark, making it nearly impossible to improve. This is why it is invaluable to have both conversion tracking set up and to assess paid traffic in Google Analytics. It gives the data dimension, enabling advertisers to make optimizations based on favorable user interactions.

PPC enthusiasts should be excited to know that Google has released a beta that imports a few Google Analytics metrics directly into the Adwords interface. Giving a piece of the Google Analytics perspective right inside the Adwords interface.

New Metric Columns for Adwords

This will make the job of PPC specialists easier by enabling quick analysis in Adwords. The beta allows Adwords to import three new metrics as columns: Bounce Rate, Pages /Visit, and Avg. visit Duration (seconds). These columns are available for the Campaign, Ad Group, Ad and Keyword level. Advertisers will be able to compare the PPC performance metrics directly to important post-click metrics. This change offers advertisers a more holistic perspective from within the Adwords interface.

New Rule Automation Opportunities

Another exciting aspect of this beta is rule automation. Google Analytics metrics in Adwords opens up opportunities for automated rules. For example: Perhaps you want to add a rule that pauses keywords that have had a comparatively high bounce rate over the last testing period. Now you can easily do that, right from Adwords.

I’m hopeful that this beta will be rolled out to more users soon, as it’s a great update for advertisers.

Google Image Search: America’s Ticket to Self Esteem (maybe?)

Monday, July 16th, 2012

What’s that we see? Oh, why of course. You’ve changed your Facebook profile pic to be that of your doppelgänger, Penelope Cruz.

Wondering how your 700 Facebook friends manage to find that single, unlawfully attractive celebrity lookalike? Cue Google Search by Image technology.

While Google’s release of search by image was initially announced a year ago, the accuracy if the tool is notably better today. Google’s explanation of the functionality includes:

Drag and drop
Drag and drop an image from the web or your computer into the search box on

Upload an Image
On, click the camera icon, then select “Upload an image.” Select the image you want to use to start your search.

Copy and Paste a URL for an Image
Found an image on the web you’re curious about? Right-click the image to copy the URL. On, click the camera icon, and “Paste image URL”.

Right Click an Image on the Web
To search by image even faster, download the Chrome extension or the Firefox extension. With the extension installed, simply right-click an image on the web to search Google with that image.

To demonstrate the accuracy of search by image, we’ve selected a dapper photo of staffer, Zac Stafford and mapped the process.


1. We took an image result from a contextual search of his name and dragged the image to the search bar.

2. Google produces a series of web page results where the same image is housed, along with a preview of like-images.

3. Whoa.


Not All Links Are Good Links: The Importance of Backlink Auditing

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Backlinks are an important piece of any SEO effort and, when done correctly, can improve SERP (Search Engine Result Page) rankings. However, with the advent of new Google algorithm updates such as Panda and Penguin, not all backlinks are created equal. In fact, some backlinks can actually hurt a site’s standings.

Google now looks at the quality of the site that links to your site and the number of links coming from each site. There are a number of factors to consider when looking at a site’s backlinks, including:

  • Site quality. Sites with a poor rank (Alexa provides a good source of site ranking), or sites that look “spammy” with links and ads cluttering the page, indicate that Google will not view the site as being quality. Google takes the quality of the linking site into consideration, so these poor-quality sites are not ideal sources of backlinks.
  • Number of links from one site. Large numbers of links from one site also indicate questionable behavior to Google. Therefore, sites that host thousands of links to your domain will be under close scrutiny by Google’s crawlers and should also be under close scrutiny by you.
  • Is it related? If your domain has large number of links from completely unrelated sites, this could also indicate link buying, something that Google frowns upon.

So what is a site owner to do?

A backlink audit has always been good practice, but now taking a close look at the sites linking to your domain is more important than ever.  The first step is pull a comprehensive backlink report, and then look at the sites that link to your domain. Of those, pull together a list of questionable sites that might be doing you more harm than good, then contact the site administrator and request they remove the links to your domain from their site.

Power Searching with Google

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

Many people take pride in their searching skills, myself included. But I’m assuming most learn to search by trial and error and inevitably miss a feature or two. Ask yourself: when was the last time you actively brushed up on your searching skills?

Google is hosting a free class called Power Searching with Google. Searching on Google is easy, but it’s not always so intuitive with the advanced features and nuances of search. For example, did you know that word order affects your searches? Or that you can filter by color with image search? Or how you can use the Google Knowledge Graph for more relevant results?

Registration has been open for about a month, but the first class was released today and subsequent lessons will be released over the next week. I recommend you register and complete the first section!  Still think you’re too much of a search master to take a searching class? Take the pre-class assessment (only 10 questions) and see how advanced you really are!

There are 6 Classes which take about 50 minutes each and include a video and an activity. You can take them at your own pace, but only during the two week window, so get started!

  • Class 1 available
  • Class 2 available July 11
  • Class 3 and mid-class assessment available July 12
  • Hangout on Air with search experts July 13 1:00-1:45pm PDT
  • Mid-class assessment due July 17 at 7:59am PDT
  • Classes 4-6 available July 17-19
  • Hangout on Air with search experts July 19 11:00-11:45am PDT
  • Post-class assessment due July 23 at 4:59pm PDT

Google Search is an amazing research and learning tool. Improving your searching skills will help you in the future, and your hard work won’t go unrewarded! Upon finishing the post-class assessment you’ll receive Certificate of Completion from Google if you score higher than 70%.

Good Luck!

SEO Implications of New Generic Top Level Domains

Monday, July 9th, 2012

You may have heard that in June, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), released a list of the new generic top level domains (gTLD) for which many applications were submitted. This represents a major expansion in the current TLD list, which includes .com, .biz, .org, etc. Any company willing to pay the $185,000 application fee and approved by ICANN can gain control of any top level string (i.e., .example).  If approved, these new gTLD will come online in 2013.

What does this mean for search and search engine optimization?

Over 1000 organizations applied for 2000 different gTLD. Many of these applications were from large corporations protecting their brand names (Target Corporation applied for .Target, General Motors applied for .Chevy).  While this will allow these brands to create a linked set of related sites that would reinforce their content, for example: and; the companies who are doing this are the largest brands in the world and are already doing well in terms of search optimization.

On the other hand, there are numerous other applications who applied for more generic terms and plan to become registrars and sell domain names to the public. This includes gTLDs such as .hotels, .bank and .attorney. One start-up named Donuts used $100 million in venture capital to bid on 307 different gTLDs.

We’ve been getting a number of questions about what to do in preparation for this expansion of potential addresses.

Our answer right now is: nothing. History has shown .com as being a very sticky domain. The lack of acceptance of the past expansion, such as .biz and .info, would lead me to advise not overreacting about the new gTLD. However, it would certainly be worth a few minutes to review the list and make note of any new gTLD that may impact your business to follow more closely.

The only caveat to this wait-and-see approach is the fact that Google itself applied for 101 different gTLDs. If Google sees a future in the expansion of TLDs and utilizes them to significantly impact its search algorithm, then search marketers will need to pay attention. On the other hand Google may just be looking to protect its many brands.

Google Releases Analytics Mobile App for Android

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

If you find yourself so highly engaged with your website traffic that you can’t “let go” when you are out and about, the Google Play store has the app for you. Simply titled Analytics, the app is free and syncs seamlessly with your Android phone’s Gmail account. (Of course, if you want to use a different Analytics account you can.) A quick comparison of the Google Analytics App and gAnalytics App from e6bapps reveals that the Google app is a lot more simplistic, but it’s also easier to use.

The dashboard window is the only area where you can add specific reports. The small “add widget” button in the upper right corner opens a dialog to “pick a metric”. After choosing the metric, the user assigns a sampling interval like “daily”, advanced segment and date range.  Widgets are positioned in the order that they are created and cannot be dragged around.

The lack of features and reports make the Google Analytics App best suited for monitoring real-time visitors and quick snapshots of visits and goal data. The default dashboard has only one graph for Daily Unique Visitors and Daily Goal Conversion Rate. There are also reports for Automatic Alerts and Custom Alerts. The custom alerts require logging into the full web version of GA and setting them up.

You will notice that “Traffic Segments” is conspicuously missing from the navigation bar.  Like the custom reports, you also need to log into the full web version of Analytics if you want to see specific traffic source information.

The Analytics App has some default advanced segments like “non-paid search traffic” and “returning visitors”, and you can use the full web version to add separate more specific advanced segments . If you wanted, as an example, website revenue from Pinterest users, you would need to use a browser to visit the GA site, add an Advanced Segment for referrals from Pinterest. As a final step, you would log into the Analytics Android app and create a new widget for “Revenue” and choose your newly created Pinterest segment.


The dashboard only supports up to five widgets, so really—this is a very simple tool for very simple data and not something you’d use for any analysis. This is a real-time, quick snapshot tool, so if you need better graphs and more complete reports, I’d recommend sticking with gAnalytics.







Winning the Last Ten Feet

Monday, June 25th, 2012

I’m a frequent user and fan of Google Maps to find new places when I’m out. But I am often surprised that I don’t see more optimized location targeted ads. The combination of local and mobile is a great opportunity for PPC advertisers. According to Google, 94% of US respondents claim they use their mobile phones to get local information.

T-Mobile, an advertiser who prioritizes mobile advertising has seen impressive results by strategically targeting the intersection of local and mobile. What they have done to “Win the Last Ten Feet” is adapt their Adwords campaign around mobile user behavior. These mobile users are interested in finding the nearest T-mobile or phone retail location. With the many retail stores carrying phones, this is common issue. But more importantly this is an issue for customers near the bottom of the sales funnel. In the words of Google, “mo’ lo’ means mo’ dough for advertisers.”

T-mobile took calculated steps to optimize the advertising experience of their potential customers.

  • Targeting mobile users based on mobile devices,
  • Geo-targeting the promotion location
  • Developing a keyword list based on mobile searching language
  • Implementing click-to-call and location ad extensions to enhance the ad

This combination of settings allows the ad to appear to the users who are most likely to directly respond to the ad. Whether the user is looking up directions or searching for the nearest place to buy a phone, T-Mobile is going to serve a custom ad sharing their nearest retail location.

Local Advertising Example

By selecting the right keywords, specifying the locations, the ad content, and the format of the ad; T-mobiles summer advertising campaign has achieved an astonishing 13% CTR and over 162,000 clicks on their ad targeting high ROI mobile users.

This type of highly focused advertising is only available in online paid placement. T-Mobile leveraged paid placement by delivering seeking customers to its own doors. As the emerging world of local-mobile search becomes more integrated into daily life, opportunities will continue to prosper.

Testing 123: Ad Copy Testing Techniques

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Ah, early summer, that time when the sun re-emerges and fills us with the energy to do things like…test ad copy!

As PPC’ers, we love testing. Paid search is very reactive and fluid, allowing us to keep testing and learning all the time, so we had better take advantage of it! We can not only learn more about our paid search audience from ad testing, but we can gather important insights about our audience in general by using paid search as a testing tool.

By continually testing variations of ad components, you can gain insight into your audience and research some of your own best practices. Like, does your audience prefer a formal or informal tone? Knowing this can help you to build better site content in addition to better ads. Do ads perform better with a headline that includes the registered symbol next to my brand name (theoretically improving brand trust), or should I stick with a dynamic headline (improving quality score and relevance)? Does my display URL make a difference? Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t – but you’ll never know unless you test.

In order to gain magical insights from your ads, the tests must be done properly. Something that is often overlooked in ad testing is a mantra that I hold close to my heart: “One thing at a time!” Without isolating your variables, there is no clear way to determine what caused the results of your test. Pick one variable (headline, call to action, display URL, etc.) to test at a time. Over a few months, you will begin to compile a veritable haystack of insights and data.

Some basic tips for designing an ad copy test:

  • Pick your variable – dynamic vs. static headline, call-to-action, display URL, etc.
  • Lay out your ad copy carefully – create 2 ads to compare against each other that ONLY differ in the variable you picked (in this example, the headline is the variable):

  • Let the ads gather enough clicks to make a good decision. A good rule of thumb is to gather at least 200 clicks per ad before making any decisions.
  • Analyze the data – determine which variation had the better click-through-rate (or conversion rate, depending on what your goals are!)
  • Don’t stop here – now build your next test!


Google Shopping Change, or How Google Made Billions

Friday, June 8th, 2012

It’s been a whole week since Google announced that Google Shopping isn’t free anymore, and I honestly don’t know what the big deal is.

Why are people surprised that Google, a company valued in the billions, is going to charge for a service they provide? How do you think they made billions in the first place? Well yes, partially by making a fair number of their services free, but the main reason Google is loaded is they provide results.

Results for users when they search, results for advertisers who pay for their ad space.

This move isn’t necessarily about Google trying to make more money (although that will undoubtedly be a result); it’s a move to make a better shopping experience for users by making retailers accountable for the data they provide. If you make users happy you get more users. If you get more users, you get more advertisers. Which brings in more money.

There are concerns from companies who use Google Shopping for a significant portion of their revenue stream, how this will impact margins, that the timing is bad, that this is bad for small businesses, etc. I ask you: How is this any different any other challenges a business may face in the marketplace? Challenges like new competitiors with a better offer, better product, better service? Challenges like floods, political uprisings?

We need to stop acting like Google is our friend who will always be there to give you a free ride when you need it. They are a business. They need to remain competitive make money and provide a great product like everybody else.

So if you have a data feed with Google and are already running product listings, you have nothing to worry about. Hell, you even get a credit. You will no doubt benefit from a slightly less crowded marketplace. If you had been cluttering the market with a crappy data feed and putting all your eggs in one basket, it’s time to get cracking on a real marketing strategy – the holiday shopping season is right around the corner.