Oct 19

Improving Your Quality Score – I Know It’s Complicated!

By Laura Kimball | Search Engine Marketing

This is a much discussed topic for any paid search advertiser and one of the biggest challenges we face in managing any PPC campaign as the landscape can change rapidly all it takes is a new competitor who out ranks you to lower your traffic and increase your cost. It is the single area that can cost you the most. Not only will it cost you more in a higher bid but it can also eliminate you from ever being displayed or put you in a lower position. I will break it  down for you.


The quality score itself

Google for example uses a rating of 1 – 10 with the following breakdown.

  • A QS of 1 – 5 are considered very poor.
  • A QS of 5 – 7 are considered medium.
  • Anything 7 and above and you are a rock star.

How is it determined?

Several factors come into play when tallying that score and yes, it’s complicated! It’s a big reason why having a well thought out campaign structure is so important. Basically your account history will have an overall impact so you must maintain campaigns with substantial CTR’s for all the keywords in the account.

The following breaks down the typical categories:

Click Through Rates (CTR) – not only is your keyword click through rate important but your overall account history is also taken into consideration as well as your past URL’s CTR’s.

Ad Copy to Keyword Relevance – In other words relevance is rated on a full cycle on how relevant your keyword is to your ads as well as the relevancy to what the customer searched for.

Landing Page Relevance and Experience – This means how well you have designed your landing page for navigation and how relevant the content being displayed is to the keyword and ad.

Numerous other factors – There are several miscellaneous factors that also come into play mainly focused on how you compare against others in categories such as geographic, network, and targeted devices.

How do you improve it?

Now that you know what goes into the score let’s look at improving it.

  1. Structure your campaign into smaller yet relevant and logical ad groups. Keeping the groups smaller say 10 – 20 keywords will ensure that the group only contains keywords related to each other. Be sure to include negative keywords lists to weed out unnecessary impressions, which will increase your campaign performance.
  2. Optimize Keyword Ad Copy by ensuring that the content is designed to include copy directly related to the keyword. If you follow the above suggestion in proper campaign ad groups this will be much easier to use dynamic keyword insertion which guarantees relevance or at least making it much more manageable to create ad copy that matches your keyword list. You should always be testing multiple ads to see which ones have a higher performance. Try swapping out several elements such as the call to action to see what really gets people clicking and converting.
  3. Landing Page Optimization will include not just the relevance but also user experience aspects such as load times, and navigation. Creating targeted landing pages takes time and effort. Put yourself in the users place and really ask the question does this page give me the answers I’m looking for if I typed in that keyword , if the answer is no you need to consider rewriting the page. Keep in mind the more targeted the landing page the higher your conversions will be. Don’t be afraid to check out the competition so you have a better idea of what other content your customer may be seeing.

These tips will help you increase your Quality score and help you be more competitive. The time and effort required to get your scores up will pay off with higher ad placements, which are proven to increase click through rates and lower your minimum bid for each keyword.

Oct 11

Are you spending too much on your SEM? Top 5 Quick Money Saving Tips

By Laura Kimball | Search Engine Marketing

Search Engine Marketing is of course a very complex topic and this is no way intended to be an all inclusive list but a quick and dirty reminder of a few things that can save you money. Once upon a time you may have had all your Paid Search campaigns perfectly organized. However, life has a way of sneaking in and mucking things up. Perhaps you took a much needed vacation or got busy with other projects and now you may be missing a few things. These may seem like no brainers but trust me it does not take long for even the best thought out campaigns to get misaligned. So here are a few tips to get your campaigns back on track and save you money.

  1. Dynamic Keyword Insertion – You may have had high hopes of creating perfect ads for every keyword combination but this might get you in the end. As campaigns grow over time and gain complexity it is extremely difficult to maintain this strategy long term. Simply utilize the {Keyword: default} to ensure your keywords are relevant to your ads. This will save you a ton of time and save you money in the long run as you improve your quality score.
  2. Leverage Match Types – As you begin a campaign it is not uncommon to use Broad match type as a starting point, but as information becomes available it is much better to switch to a more specific match type which could come with a lower CPC. This one requires some investigation as it is not always true and does require that you create each keyword combination to cover more possibilities.
  3. Multiple Ads – This may sound very silly but you would be surprised at how many times I find campaigns that have only one ad copy running in the ad group. First and foremost any marketing strategy should include a plan to test performance. Only having one ad copy does not allow you to test anything. Even after you prove an ad a plan to continually test new content is essential to increasing performance.
  4. Sitelinks – Take advantage of the sitelink ad extension offered by Google AdWords. This gives you an opportunity to gain the users trust by showing that you offer more information about yourself. Perhaps you have additional offers such as schedule a demo, catalog, testimonials, or social links. It’s there so you should use it to your advantage.
  5. Geo Targeting – Trying to offer your product or service to the world is great however it may be costing you unnecessary clicks. Local search makes up a great deal of search activity and can be less expensive. Evaluate your conversions to see where they are coming from and create a more specific location based approach excluding areas that are performing poorly.

Best of luck in your marketing endeavors! Feel free to let us know what’s working for you.

Sep 28

Do you know where your leads are coming from? Part 2

By Laura Kimball | Lead Generation

In Part 1 of our 3 Part series on improving your lead generation strategies we looked at organizing your lead sources, now in Part 2 we will move on to reaching your audience before we finish up with effectively managing your contacts in our next part. Generating leads alone is a difficult task but do you know if the leads you are getting are really your target audience? I should ask first, do you know your target audience? These are the people that really want to buy whatever it is you’re selling. One tell tale sign is that these are the leads that are actually converting. Whether you are paying for a click with advertising or reaching people by any other means such as social, phone calls, or emails you still have an investment even if that investment is only your time.


The first thing you need to determine is where your leads are coming from and what is that particular group doing on your website when they get there. Once again we go back to Step Two of the previous article with the focus on prioritizing your efforts . You must analyze the roots of your traffic. If social is working for you as far as getting visitors but the people coming are not buying perhaps you need to change your message or create content specifically geared towards answering their questions in your social engagement so they are well informed when they arrive. Reaching a broad audience is important but making sure the message they receive is relevant to your specifically is also a critical goal. This will help ensure that the traffic you generate is the traffic you really want.

Once you have established a correlation between your traffic sources and their activities you can effectively reach more of the audience that you want by staying focused. Create a test plan that includes specific content that answers your customers questions or provides valuable information they can’t get anywhere else. Think of the first question someone asks you when you mention your product and make sure your answer it repetitively. Make sure the information is easy to obtain when they arrive at their destination. If you try to please everyone at once, you will most likely fail. Focus on pleasing just your target audience.  

Surveys are a great way to get answers on what people really like or dislike and they are also a nice way to reach more people. You can gain valuable insight into the general perception of your company and your product. Just remember the purpose of a survey is to get feedback so that you can improve on the ways your reach and engage with potential customers. You should always have a take away that translates to an actionable task.

Gather information from multiple sources and fine tune your message to ensure that you reach your audience with the right message that will generate a more valuable lead.

Sep 26

Do you know where your leads are coming from?

By Laura Kimball | Lead Generation

Leads Out of Date?

This is the first in a 3 part series on improving your lead generation strategies. Today we’ll look at organizing your lead sources and then move on to reaching your audience and effectively managing your contacts.  Let’s face it if only your leads were stacking up like dirty dishes at an all you can eat buffet we would be having a very different conversation. First you should ask yourself if your approach in how you generate leads might be a little outdated. The world is constantly changing especially online. If you don’t know where your leads are coming from how can you decide where to focus your attention?

Step One

Take a little time to really determine the sources where you reach your potential customers. Of course your business is unique and hopefully you know it well but here are the likely sources.

  • Social – Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn…
  • Search (both paid and organic)
  • Blogs
  • Reviews
  • Advertising Campaigns
  • etc

Step Two

Prioritize your efforts. You need to evaluate which sources are generating the best lead for your business. So you’ve jumped on the Twitter wagon and you now update all your followers with which coffee flavor you have chosen ever morning and you feel like you’re really happening now, but is it really working?  Social engagement is wonderful and you can make some very valuable contacts however you can also spend a great deal of time and effort with very little return if you don’t stay organized and have a plan.

For each of your potential sources write down a weekly time allowance which identifies the percentage of time you will dedicate to each source. This should align with the return on that investment. If you spend 5 hours a day on your tweets but you have never had a follower visit your website or read one of your blog posts it may not be the best way to utilize your time.  Create a complete content schedule that includes everything you will need to reach your audience in each of your sources from step one. This will help determine a realistic goal in what you can really achieve within the time you have.

Step Three

Now that you have identified your lead sources and prioritized the key areas of focus we look at ways to optimize your time. Let’s face it there are only so many hours in any given day so you must look at ways to save time at every opportunity, perhaps it’s scheduling your blog or social post in advance. There are plenty of marketing tools out there that allow you to streamline your efforts this may be time to take advantage of one. Using your content schedule will help you stay on task but now it’s time to execute.

Sep 10

Paid Search Traffic – Quantity vs. Quality

By Laura Kimball | Ad Management , PPC Advertising

Many people only focus on driving the highest volume of traffic when buying PPC paid search advertising as search engines are all about volume and most people only hone in on impressions, clicks and cost. However, remember not all traffic is worth paying for. Make sure you are paying attention to what your newly purchased traffic is doing once they get to your website. If you can’t answer the question, “What keywords are really converting?” you’re in trouble. This may take a little time to truly discover the trends but you should be able to identify keywords that cost you clicks but don’t amount to any business action.

That doesn’t mean you have to abandon those keywords all together. Perhaps a change in landing page content that provides the right information is in order. Make sure that your ad and destination URLs are relevant to the keyword you’re bidding on. Ensure that you have a plan for each stage in the buying process of your newly acquired user. If your paid click leaves your website without a take away never to come back there is simply no benefit to either party. You should never pay for traffic that doesn’t help your business.

Aug 17

Translating the Trends

By Laura Kimball | Ad Analytics , Ad Strategy

Finding new relevant topics to leverage in the promotion of your product is an ongoing process. You may have the best keyword that describes your offering but if no one is searching for that particular term it’s not likely to drive much traffic. Continually researching news, search terms, and social activity should be part of your plan. Your research should be used to generate content whether it be in the form of blog articles or site content which can correlate to very effective campaigns.

Ride the wave of activity when it presents itself. Find out what your customers are talking about by searching where you know they visit. Social trends are one of the easiest to follow for real time information. When your customers are talking about a topic you should react accordingly and seize the opportunity to provide them with your own relevant information.

As trends reveal themselves it is your opportunity to add keywords that tie directly to your content.

Aug 17

Determine Effective Keywords

By Laura Kimball | Ad Management , Ad Strategy , Keyword Ideas

Selecting a keyword strategy can be a very challenging process. Creating the most effective blend of long-tail keywords versus broad terms depends greatly on your overall business objective. While generic keywords can drive large amounts of traffic, the actual users may not be as qualified as specific combination keyword terms. First, let us look at some examples, more specifically the type of user most likely to click on each type of term.

Consider the term “used cars” for a moment. A person searching for that term may be looking for a used car dealership to purchase a vehicle, a repair shop, or even insurance and may be anywhere in the buying cycle. There is very little information to reveal the intent of the search.

In comparison, a person who searches “2008 Toyota Corolla transmission repair Manhattan Beach CA” tells us that a person owning a specific vehicle is looking for a local mechanic to perform a certain type of service. If you happen to be offering that service, buying keyword terms that apply to your specialty can generate very qualified traffic.

Now we will compare the cost of each type of keyword buy. Generic keywords can come with a hefty price tag but usually have plenty of available inventory to purchase. Long-tail keywords tend to cost less but also have fewer searches associated with the term, which can create a shortage of traffic. This means that coming up with multiple sets of keywords will be required to get the necessary volume.
Once you are able to hone in on terms that work expanding the campaign with variations is a simple task. Considering the cost of specific, multi-word phrases is usually substantially less in comparison with generic terms the effort can be well worth it to both your bottom line in CPC reductions while still demonstrating a much higher conversion rate improving your ROI.

Aug 17

Establishing the Right KPI’s

By Laura Kimball | Ad Analytics , Ad Management , Ad Strategy , Keyword Ideas

People often forget the importance of aligning KPI’s with your actual business objectives. One of the biggest challenges in creating meaningful KPI’s is ensuring your metrics support the overall needs of the business. Let’s face it, you can’t measure everything. Focus on the numbers that tell the story of where you’re going. KPI’s can vary depending on many factors such as your business model, your product maturity, the sophistication of your tracking ability, the volume of actions and resources available to evaluate the data.
Many times KPI’s are established based upon readily available data, Traffic, CTR, Conversions, or Cost. While these data points are quite important they are not necessarily the only pieces you should track. Marketing has increased in complexity which requires adapting to your customers and the way you track them. Consumers received information from many points of contact influencing their buying decisions which needs to be considered in your KPI’s.

If you begin with your business objectives first and then determine the most important elements that measure the success of those goals you will ensure meaningful measurements. For example if one of your business objectives is to build brand awareness by driving consumer demand for your product or service then measuring the volume of traffic is a simple KPI. If Social has been a new part of your marketing arsenal and your business objective is to tap into brand influencers or ambassadors you may want to include a KPI for the number of Facebook “fans” or “likes” as well as the number of wall posts.

KPI’s may change over time but their actual meaning should always relate back to your primary goals as an organization.

Aug 17

Finding Your Audience

By Laura Kimball | Ad Management , Ad Strategy

Your first challenge in finding your audience it to define your typical customer, while this may sound easy at first glance there are several details that are often omitted when profiling your target audience. The most typical approach is to go for the most generic pool, while this provides a higher number of potential customers it may not be the most efficient use of your marketing budget. The more granular you are able to define a users preferences and behaviors the more opportunity you have to convert them to a sale.

Start by evaluating your existing customers, find out who you are really selling to and what makes them unique. Answer how your solution is solving their problems and use that to your benefit. Identify demographics, by answering where they are located, what is their average age, and many other details such as income levels. Then move into the details of attitude and taste preferences that often times dictate buying decisions. Fill in the details of how they usually make their purchases and where they like to buy answering questions like, do they read the newspaper or search online.  Hobbies or interests are a great place to start if it ties into your product. Think of all the details that apply to you specifically.

Once you have an accurate view of your customers it will help determine the best places to attract additional buyers as well as lending to the production of effective messaging. Make sure to incorporate your findings into your strategy and create campaigns that compliment your findings.