Posts by Geordie:

Is There a Quality Score for Facebook Ads?

3 Comments Written on February 14th, 2011 by
Categories: Facebook Ads

Note from Geordie: The following is a guest post from Boulder CO.- based Kevin Weiner, a Facebook marketing specialist and consultant.  Kevin is one of the most talented Facebook marketers I know, and I’ve asked him to guest post on a number of “under-the-hood” Facebook Ads questions.

Does Facebook have a “quality score”?  In short, yes, but it applies more to reputation and account trust than Google’s ‘relevance’ driven quality model.

For people that run self serve ads on Facebook, the idea of having a ‘quality score’ almost seems like adding insult to injury. Simply getting ads approved consistently on Facebook is hard enough, let alone trying to keep track of some ‘account trust system’ metrics.

The good news is that a lot of the trust metrics are common sense, and it paying attention to these trust factors really can help how your accounts perform, and how much leeway they get in Facebook’s eyes. This translates into easier ad approvals, raised budget caps, and more warnings before they would consider disabling your ad account.

What Will Users Think?

The first thing to consider is whether the average Facebook user could either be upset or ticked off about the content in your ad or landing page. There really is a surprisingly large amount of people that like to complain about ad content and they will seek out internal Facebook emails and contact forms (which are not easy to find) to do so. People can also “x” out your ad, stating it’s either misleading or offensive.

If you’re getting reams of retroactive ad disapprovals then this is something you’ll to pay closer attention to.

Here’s an example of an ad that Facebook wouldn’t like:

Here’s a much safer one:

One big difference is the word “Googling.” Even though to google something is actually a word now, when people click on the ad and don’t end up seeing google anywhere, they get angry. The second ad is also much more transparent as it shows that it’s searches on that you’ll be able to view for your name, not Google history or logs.

As an aside, it’s no surprise that Facebook has since banned the use of “Googling” in ad text, as well as the actual MyLife offer (given the number of mislead users).

Take Email Warnings Seriously

Probably the biggest rule we play by on Facebook is if they send you any type of email warning about something specific they disike, make sure you NEVER DO IT AGAIN (or at the very least wait a long time). Facebook sends out warning emails like these to give you a second chance, so it’s something to take seriously.

Despite ongoing support to improve your ad quality, your ads continue to rank among the poorest quality in our ads system. A large number of users have expressed that your ads are “misleading” and/or “offensive”. As an effect, your advertising account is on notice. Please improve the quality of your ads within the next 14 days.

Are Your Ads Performing a Bit Too Well?

One of the most frustrating things Facebook does is actively penalize advertisers for having super high CTR ads over large demographics (.4% click-thru rate and up/500k users and up). The main reason for this is that since a much higher percentage of Facebook users are clicking on your ad, they are going to be that much stricter making sure there’s no possible way your ad could be misleading.

It’s pretty difficult for most ads to get their CTR that high, so Facebook can easily single out those ads for additional scrutiny. Finding the middle ground here between a slightly lower CTR and a higher conversion rate is difficult but often necessary.

Bottom line: For those of you that suffer from long approval times, frequent disapprovals, and low budget caps, actively working to improve your Facebook Ads’ account trust level (or ‘quality score’ if you like) will help  increase your campaign performance in direct and measurable ways.

Have a Facebook Ads question?  Post it in the comments and we’ll get Kevin to consider answering it in future posts!

Finding Your PPC Niche

No Comments » Written on February 10th, 2011 by
Categories: Business

Many people use PPC to promote existing businesses.

However, PPC is also well suited to the process of deciding on what business you should start. You can pick a lucrative niche using PPC data and a little self-inquiry.

If you start an internet business using the following method, you will avoid two of the biggest pitfalls common to many business start-ups – selling something no-one wants, or selling something everyone wants, but the market is already saturated.

Let’s look, specifically, how to do choose an internet business, and how to avoid these pitfalls.

1. What Are You Passionate About?

A friend of mine studied to be a lawyer.

He was well into his third year of study, when he woke up one day, and something was bothering him. Deep down, he realized that he didn’t really want to be a lawyer. He knew studying law would lead to a well-paid career, but the reality was that the work bored him.

What he really liked to do was create things.

He dropped out of law school, reasoning that if his heart wasn’t in it, he was only every going to be a mediocre lawyer. He would go through the motions, and would be unlikely to stand out from the crowd.

Instead, he followed his passion. He became a graphic designer.

What are you really passionate about? Forget the money for a minute – pretend all jobs are paid the same. What would you really like to do?

Problem: some people stop their analysis here.

Many people follow their passion, and fail to make a living. Passion is important, as it will get you through the tough times, but the reality is that it is not enough just to follow your passion if your aim is to make money doing what you love.

You need to take two more steps.

2. Is There Demand For What You’re Passionate About?

You can find out if there is existing demand using various keyword tools – Google’s Keyword Tool, Wordtracker, SEOBook, etc. More on keyword research here.

Look for areas where there are good levels of search volume. What is a good level? It depends. We’ll talk more about this in step three, however look for existing traffic streams at least in the hundreds, and preferably thousands and tens of thousands. Avoid areas where there is very little consumer demand as indicated by low traffic levels as this may be an indicator of low demand.

3. Can What You’re Passionate About Make You Money?

This is the critical bit.

You have identified your passion. You have identified existing demand. But many people still fail at this point. They fail because they don’t consider the likelihood of turning passion and demand into money.

For example, let’s say someone has identified their passion – web design – and they have found there is considerable keyword demand in the hundreds of thousands.

Trouble is, there are also hundreds of thousands of web designers all chasing the same work. The question then becomes “can I differentiate myself in order to stand out?”. This is the hardest question to answer. Whatever niche you choose, you are going to face competition.

Some people may choose to compete on price. Some people may choose to offer higher skill or service levels. All good, however consider that your existing competitors have probably already thought of those angles.

Carve Your Own Niche

Another way to approach competition is to carve the niche even finer.

Let’s say someone is a web designer. They may choose to focus exclusively on travel web design, as they have a passion for travel, too. They have worked in the travel industry and can leverage existing contacts.

Think about your background and how you can combine your passion with who and what you already know in order to come up with a unique advantage.

As mentioned in stage two, you need to be careful with the search volume numbers. Ensure you have enough volume in your niche. If your margins are high, you don’t need high volumes. If your margins are low, you’ll need to be putting considerable volume through in order to make a living.

Tip – if you’re a one-man band, it can pay to stay away from high volume, low margin businesses, as you need scale to make these work. If you’ve got a plan to scale-up, great, but if not, try to find areas where there are high profit margins.

For example, someone selling expensive, custom-made pianos may be able to make good money on a low volume of searches, whereas someone selling cheap art prints may not, even though there are many more searches for art prints than there are for expensive pianos. The market for cheap art prints is crowded, and if differentiating on price alone, the highest volume operators will win, as they can buy their stock cheaper from the manufacturers than a new entrant can.

There is no magic formula for this, other than applying some common sense. Figure out what the clicks would cost you, estimate a conversion rate (likely somewhere between 3-10%), determine the profit margin you need in order to cover your overheads and make a profit, and consider how many X you can deliver. X being a product or number of hours of a service.

Pulling It All Together

  • 1. Find your passion
  • 2. Determine if there is existing search volume for what you’re passionate about
  • 3. Determine if this passion is able to be monetarised. Evaluate competition levels. If high, try to cut the niche finer in order to arrive at a unique selling point in order to reduce competition. Estimate possible returns for that niche.

Oh, the Irony…

3 Comments Written on February 9th, 2011 by
Categories: Google Adwords

While researching where Google’s product review stars are pulled from I came across this little gem.

Who writes this stuff? Do they not see the blatant irony of Google telling business owners how to treat their customers while they pull every means of communication with their Adwords support teams, herding people into brain-dead support forums?

How can I improve my seller ratings and reviews?

The best way to improve your ratings is to make sure that your customers receive excellent customer service. Happy customers attract more happy customers who are willing to rate you well and tell others about your business or products.

Read the reviews about your business, and be proactive about resolving issues raised by your customers with a positive result that reasonably satisfies all parties, including you.

I’m speechless.


BREAKING: Keyword Research Shows You’re Probably Wrong

8 Comments Written on February 7th, 2011 by
Categories: Google Adwords, Keyword Research, Microsoft Adcenter

Note: This post is an abbreviated version of one of our PPCblog member’s training modules.  Not a member yet? Join Now and get instant access to reams of expert guidance and tips!

Get Ready for Some Humble Pie

Keyword research is as much about uncovering what you don’t know than reinforcing what you do.

Why is that?

Effective keyword research leads to really getting to know your prospects, which usually results in you completely throwing out your previous assumptions about what your customers want or think they want.

This can be a humbling experience as it can reveal holes in your PPC marketing strategy, both in your coverage of high-potential keywords and your landing pages.  Let’s dig into this a bit more deeply with a couple of examples…

Looking Beyond What “You” Would Do…

Many businesses approach Adwords with a pre-set list of keywords in mind, all of which are based on what they would look for if they were the customer.  The assumptions that come out of this approach can be incredibly limiting to the effectiveness and reach of an Adwords search campaign.

Why?  Because we typically jump to conclusions about whether a particular topic strain of keywords will be effective or not at bringing in paying customers.

Here’s some examples:

  • “Customers that are searching for a free product will never actually buy anything”
  • “My customers typically know my industry jargon”
  • “Customer with that particular type of problem won’t pay for a solution”
  • “My customers are well-spoken when searching online for my product”
  • “There’s nothing new in my industry that users would be looking for”

Let’s look at the first assumption: “Customers that are searching for a free product will never actually buy anything”.

Many advertisers shy away from bidding on keywords that include the term “free”, assuming the user will only accept a free solution, product, or advice.  This is typically not the case.  Searchers often start with a query or two including the word “free” even though they may be perfectly willing to accept an appropriate paid product or solution.

One of the biggest advantages of Adwords ads is their ability to redirect a searcher’s attention from organic, natural search results to an advertisement seamlessly.  This works well whether the user is searching for a competitor of yours or a free product.  Same difference.

Here’s an example:

The user may start out looking for a “free” software product, but may also very well end up clicking on and purchasing the IBM or Smartsheet products listed above the SERPs.

Actually, let’s be honest, the IBM ad sucks, so the Smartsheet ad deserves the click. The middle ad from Clarizen, highlights yet another strategy of using the word “free” but it’s a stretch given the fact that their actual landing page offer is a free trial only. One more thing to experiment with.

The big takeaway? Don’t be afraid to test out variants of your keywords that include the word “free”.

Industry Jargon & Buzzwords Are Your Friend

Next, reconsider the thinking that your customers somehow inherently know your industry’s buzzwords and jargon.  If you’re not in an ultra-specialized niche, it’s unlikely that they search for your product using the lingo you are most likely to use around the office.

Try to think past this assumption and envision the “dumbed-down” ways that your customers might be referring to your products or genre.  What would your mother call your niche or product? Stretch out and really think about how others who are not in your line of work would refer to your business, product or service.

The point here is that when you actually start digging into keyword possibilities using the tools out there right now- if you go beyond what you would personally look for- you’ll find amazing opportunities to reach customers who would have otherwise never found you.

Have you had any success testing your assumptions during keyword research? Share them in the comments!

Quickly Create & Tweak Country-Specific Adwords Campaigns

No Comments » Written on January 31st, 2011 by
Categories: Geo Targeting, Google Adwords

Not every Adwords campaign starts off with the geographic targeting perfectly dialed in.  Often, marketers start by lumping a scads of countries in together, ignoring language and currency as well as differences in conversion rates from country to country.

So how can you quickly segment out a country or group of countries that either need to have their bids customized (higher or lower), keywords tweaked, or daily budget settings adjusted?

The quickest way in my experience is to create a carbon-copy of your existing multi-country campaign and make a few quick changes.

Clone Your Existing Campaign

To create a carbon-copy of your Adwords campaign to customize, use Adwords Editor.

In Adwords Editor, click the “Campaigns” tab, and select the campaign you’d like to duplicate:

Do a CTRL-C to copy the campaign.

In the campaign tree on the left, select your account at the highest level of the tree.  Looking right to the campaign tab again, CTRL-V and paste in your copied campaign creating duplicate.  Change the name to something that makes sense:

In this case, we want to isolate Mexican traffic as we’ve found while it converts, the conversion rate isn’t high enough to sustain the same CPC bids as those used in the U.S., (about 50% lower in fact).

Change Your Geo Settings

Now that we have a cloned copy of our campaign to work with, we can edit the country settings and choose just Mexico:

*We could also change the language targeting to Spanish at this stage if we were going to translate all of the campaign elements.

Important: Don’t forget to go back and remove Mexico from your old original campaign!

Bulk-Change Your Bids & More

What we really need to do with this campaign however is to bulk-reduce the bids without going into each adgroup and making individual bid changes.

The easiest way to do this is to use the ad scheduling feature only available in the online Adwords UI.

(Before posting your new campaign to Adwords, you may want to set the campaign status to “Paused” until you’ve had a chance to tweak the settings online, at which point you can activate the campaign when you’re ready.)

Post your new campaign.

To lower our bids across the board in the newly uploaded campaign, go into the campaign and select the “Settings” tab, scrolling down to “Advanced Settings” and click “edit”:

On the screen that pops up select “bid adjustment” instead of “basic” and click on the box that shows “% of bid” to edit it.  You can now reduce your bids across the board and apply this reduction to all days of the week in one go:

We’ve now effectively reduced our bids by 50% for Mexican traffic only.

You can also make daily budget adjustments here to spend less budget on an ongoing basis.

Splitting out high-traffic countries into their own campaigns and localizing your settings can also improve your quality scores, both in the campaign you’ve removed the extra countries from as well as the newly targeted campaign as quality score can often have a strong regional component.

Did Google Just OK Adwords Arbitrage Again?

I feel like I’m in some kind of dream.

I don’t know how I missed it, but this was posted on the Google Adwords blog just last week:

Using Google Adsense to Complement Your Adwords Account

The post asks how, “since not every visit leads to a sale, wouldn’t it be great to have other ways of making money from those visits?”

Their suggested answer to this conundrum? Put Adsense on your site.


The post continues:

“ is an AdWords and AdSense client that has had great success using these two products together. offers premium designer clothes at affordable prices. They implemented AdSense for Content and AdSense for Search and specifically targeted certain pages within their site.”

The “CEO”/Webmaster guy then says, (get this):

“We have come to think of AdSense revenue as a partial but instant rebate on our AdWords investment,” said Dominic Ang, President of, the owner of “While we were initially concerned about potential cannibalization, we have found out that using certain spots for AdSense such as the end of a page or in exit pages can drive significant additional revenue with no loss in our core e-commerce revenue.”

You view it as what? “A rebate on your Adwords” clicks?”

But wait – It gets even better…  What kind of site is “”?

It’s a…wait for it….thin affiliate feed site. At least “” actually sold the products they promoted…

Go to this page on and check out what happens when you click on a product in their “store”.

The entire site is an affiliate ‘doorway’ page to other shops.  A year ago you would have been banished for life from Adwords for promoting a site like this via Google Ads.

Now, not only can you run ads to a door way like this, you can even run Adsense on it and arbitrage your “rebate” on Adwords clicks – And Google is SUGGESTING THAT YOU GO OUT AND DO IT!

In fairness, it doesn’t say they run Adsense ads on their individual Adwords landing pages however it doesn’t say they don’t. Again, I feel like I’m dreaming.  After several years of painfully culling the accounts of arbitragers, affiliates, and price/review aggregators, we have this?  Really?

Maybe now that Google has an affiliate network and their own in-house thin affiliate feed sites (shamelessly ripping off ShoeDazzle’s innovative style configurator), they’re ready to ease up a bit on their guidelines.

It looks like it’s ‘game-on’ again for arbitrage, they just blessed it.

10 Killer Adwords Strategies for Startups

Acquisitions aside, a big part of the reason Groupon is growing as fast as it is is because of their massive Adwords push, particularly on the Google display network.

Skillfully executed Adwords display and search campaigns can help your startup:

  • Maximize launch buzz and get people coming back to their new beta accounts
  • Help tweak and test new feature ideas
  • Tip you off when you need to pivot
  • Grab investors’ attention

Here are ten quick tips in three main areas detailing how startups can use PPC to boost their success rate pre-launch, during launch, and post-launch:

– Pre-Launch –

Capturing Investor Attention

Looking to catch some eyeballs on Sand Hill Road? Carpet-bomb your display ads across specific parts of the Silicon Valley (or anywhere you like really) using tight campaign geo-targeting.

Build custom banners specifically designed to speak directly to VCs as they browse their favourite blogs, many of which participate in the Adsense (or Doubleclick) content network.

Sites will often backfill inventory at pennies on the dollar via various ad exchanges like Doubleclick’s, giving you the chance to slip sideways into premium placements as other monthly direct-buy ad campaigns reach their caps. (See the below ideas on retargeting to make sure your ads ‘follow’ your potential investors.)

Testing New Feature Ideas

Wondering if adding a new feature to your product or service will really make a difference to sales? Try running Adwords traffic to a split test pitting your typical landing page against a variant that highlights the potential new feature. Next, measure the difference in Call-to-Action clicks: Did it move the needle? If not, the new feature might not have the draw you’re hoping for.

Naming Your Product

Tim Ferriss has been a huge proponent of testing everything from potential book titles to business and product names using Adwords. I completely concur.

Try creating multiple ads with different product names you’re considering and compare the various ad click-through-rates (and/or beta registration rates) to vet the catchiness of your company, product or feature names.

You can use the Adwords ad text display URL field to mix up the naming variables (eg,, or, or better yet, test using the ad headline to grab the results more quickly.

Crafting Your Pitch

Searching for the perfect brand or product tagline? Trying to accurately align your messaging with the most common customer pain points? Ad split testing and CTR evaluation can help you find the most attractive taglines.

Additionally, bidding on specific sets of keywords that reflect different ‘types’ of customer pain points and evaluating the click through interest and traffic for each keyword theme can help you quickly determine what pain points are worth hammering on in your marketing and messaging.

Be aware however that you might find that the types of customers you thought your service would appeal to don’t really have much interest in your pitch or your beta. It pays to listen to the market. If the interest doesn’t seem to be there, retest and see if you end up with the same results. If so, it may be time to consider a pivot.

Beta & Pre-launch Email List Building

Groupon used the Adwords display network in launch city after launch city to drum up a huge email list before they even had offers in those markets. How much would it rock to have a massive list of beta testers and potential launch customers ready waiting the minute you’re ready to drop?

– During Launch –

Combine Launch Buzz with Site Targeting to Generate Expanded Visibility

Adwords is also a great way to extend the your awareness and reach during your launch. Often, sites that would editorially cover your launch announcements also running some form of Google/Doubleclick-powered display ads on their sites.

Look up your PR-hitlist of sites ahead of time using the Google placement targeting tool and create placement-targeted display ad campaigns you can use to blanket these top sites with your ads right at launch time.

Additionally, create a keyword-targeted version (using your brand keywords) of your campaigns to reach sites you hadn’t thought would cover that ended up picking up your launch.

Stalking Hesitant Visitors

Use Adwords Retargeting feature (also called “remarketing”) to cookie users who check out your site at launch time but don’t sign up. Your display ads will follow them around the Adsense and Doubleclick banner network for weeks afterward, giving you a chance to change up your banners until you find something that finally convinces them to buy or sign up.

Pissing Off Your Competitors

Want to put your competitors on notice? Use Adwords to bid on their brand name and URL using a clever or striking ad that diverts their potential visitors’ attention your way.

As an added bonus, your competitors are likely to check out your site when you launch, so using retargeting you can cookie them and follow them around the internet as well, taunting them daily:)

– Post-Launch & Beyond –

Price Testing & Funnel Optimization

Use Adwords to send specific traffic streams to new checkout flows, different registration path tests and more. Adwords search traffic comes in through a pretty silo’d channel so you can try new things without rocking the boat with existing customers (especially helpful when price testing or including new bonus concepts etc…)

Regaining Post-Signup Mindshare

Often, getting free trial signups for your new service isn’t the hard part, it’s getting people to come back and actually use their new accounts, hopefully leading to a paid conversion. Cookie your new users via Adwords retargeting and create banners designed to lure them back to log into their accounts and actually use your service.

Final Note: Build Adwords Spend Into Your Funding Plan

All of this is wonderful if you’ve got the resources to be able to pay Google for traffic. A lot of startups recognize that SEO is an important part of their user acquisition strategy, but how many bake Pay Per Click into their plan right from the start?

How does it work in practice?  “Adwords was always part of our marketing plan from the beginning.  Bidding on tail terms worked extremely well for us in addition to using retargeting banners.  I can’t understate the importance of factoring in PPC to your launch.” – Jason Morehouse, founder of Checkfront Inc., a fast-growing online booking system.

If you’re raising funding, make sure allocate some budget for Adwords to make sure you can leverage all of these handy tactics to improve your product, snag early users, and pitch additional potential investors. SEO can seemingly take forever to move the traffic needle when you’re desperate to get traction with your launch. Adwords gives you traction right away, on-tap when you need it. Plan and budget for it, and you’ll be able to use PPC to seriously disrupt your market.

Facebook Lead Generation for Local Businesses

Whether you’re a web marketing consultant for locally-based businesses, or do the marketing for your small company yourself, you need to give Facebook a serious look as a channel for quickly generating leads.  When you combine Facebook’s ability to drill deeply into any locale or language with their advanced user interest and demographic targeting, you end up with a very potent platform for reaching local customers and generating leads.

To illustrate, consider the following example.

Generating Local Business Leads During Slow Periods

Renovation contractor Jordan S. of Calgary, Alberta, Canada wanted to drive more home renovation leads during typically slower, early spring months.

When times are busier, he generates leads based on referrals and job-site advertising signage.  Facebook Ads however presented a unique opportunity to drive leads via his newly-optimized landing page and lead form.

First Things First: Landing Page Optimization

Before spending significant dollars on any kind of advertising, it’s always best to optimize your landing page and lead or sale conversion flow to ensure your site visitors aren’t led to sub-optimal pages that don’t convert.

Rather than landing visitors on his site’s homepage, Calgary contractor Sage Renovations requisitioned a customized landing page that fed their main goal:  Getting leads to contact them for estimates.

His landing page features minimal links to other pages on their site to ensure users are properly funneled through the lead process:


Note for Consultants: You can launch the most fantastic Facebook Ad campaign conceivable and still fail miserably if your client’s landing page stinks.  Even if they’re reticent, pound it into them that they need a well-designed lander or contact page to have any noticeable success advertising on Facebook, Adwords, or any other PPC platform.  If they’re not willing to invest a couple hundred dollars into a single landing page to improve their chances of success, you’re going to be hard pressed to drive any value for your services.  Use this requirement as a qualifier to ensure you’re spending your time on the right clients.

Next Up: Creating a Lead Campaign with Facebook Ads

The first step in  setting up a Facebook Ads campaign is creating winning ads.

Here’s some key points when it comes to creating ads for Facebook:

  • You need to create multiple ads to ensure you find an ad that gets the best possible click-through-rat.
  • Your (110×80) image is the most important part of your ad.  It’s even more important than your headline.
  • Dark images work best at grabbing attention against Facebook’s (mostly) white user interface.
  • Be sure to read the Facebook punctuation and image guidelines to ensure your ads are approved.
  • Try using the location name you’re targeting in your ad headline and body.  i.e. (“City Name” + Keyword)

To create your ads, select the green “Create an Ad” on

ad create

Note: When creating your ad, be particularly careful to check your Destination URL to make sure it a) works and b) lands the user on the right page.

Next, you’ll want to set up your ad targeting options:


Be VERY careful here not to just go with the default targeting options.

The Facebook ad server will give you an idea of how many users you’re reaching with the targeting options you’ve selected.

Some notes on Facebook targeting:

  • The more granular the better.  For instance, ad performance can vary greatly between age groups, male vs. female, geographic location, relationship status and more.
  • Try creating multiple ads with the same image, headline, and body text, but vary the ages, gender, location, etc…  Yes, you’ll have a lot of ads to manage, but you’ll be able drill your targeting in more deeply, and cut low-CTR demographics where interest happens to be low.
  • Try using different keywords to further increase the relevance of your ad to users who have either used those keywords in their Facebook Newsfeed or profile description.  This will reduce the user pool overall, but more closely honed targeting means more qualified leads and higher ad click-through-rates.

Next, you’ll need to configure your bids:


  • Facebook defaults to CPC or Cost-per-Click-based bidding, which is typically the type of bid you’ll want to start with.  If you’ve got a particularly strong ad click-through-rate after running for a while on CPC bids, you can switch to CPM later, reducing your ad costs.
  • Trying to start with CPM (impressions-only bidding) will make it tough to get your ads into rotation early on.  Most other advertisers will be using CPC bids, and once Facebook’s ad server normalizes everyone’s bids across the system, you’re likely to end up without traffic.
  • You’ll also want to be careful here to ensure your budget is set at a level you’re comfortable with.  If your ad is successful early on, you could see a TON of traffic from Facebook before you realize whether or not that traffic is actually converting to leads or sales.  Often, it’s best to start with a smaller daily budget until you can get a grip on how the traffic is performing for you quality-wise.

Review Your Ads For Accuracy & Go!

With a few ad variations created, the ads will await Facebook’s reviewer approval.

Note:  Facebook can be quite slow in approving new ads, occasionally taking a day or two to review your ads.  This is normal, unfortunately you’ll just need to wait it out.


Evaluate, Tweak, Repeat…

The one thing about Facebook Ads is that its not a passive ‘set-it-and-forget-it’ system on which to advertise.  Users quickly experience ad fatigue and your ads will be lucky to run longer than a week or so before you’ll need to come up with more creatives to refresh your presence and keep your place in the ad rotation.  You’ll know it’s time to come up with fresh, tweaked ads when your CTR starts to drop precipitously.

Continually loading new ads is a particularly important requirement if you’re targeting a small, tight group of people: people that will likely be exposed to your ad multiple times (depending on the amount of competition) over a very short period of time.  Find what’s getting clicks, tweak it, keep it fresh and you’ll be able to consistently generate leads for almost any local business.

Sometimes Broader Can Be Cheaper

6 Comments Written on January 5th, 2011 by
Categories: Google Adwords, Keyword Research

Are you completely stuck trying to get profitable on your most-desired keywords?

PPC advertisers, just like everyone else, can be susceptible to a ‘herd mentality’.  Herd mentality with PPC tends to show up when you see everyone and their dog piling on to a few select keywords that they’re convinced are the closest match and highest-converting terms.

While it may be true that those keywords are a good fit logically and contextually, they often long ago ceased to be the most profitable now that every sheep has started bidding on them.  Typically, the end result is the only party making money on the keyword is Google.

When ‘More Targeted’ Equals More Competition

But aren’t you supposed to focus on tight, closely-related keywords that show the buyer is ready to convert?

Not at any cost.  What you really need to focus on are the keywords that bring you the optimal blend of volume and ROI to actually make you money.

In many cases, those highly-specific keyword phrases just aren’t worth it, and sometimes, if you actually go ‘broader’, (not in match type, but keyword length) you can net out with higher volumes at substantially lower actual CPCs.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say I sell accessories for HTC cell phones.

In Canada, the starting cost to bid on “HTC charger” is .92 CPC, with 4 competitors already there.

Alternatively, if I simply bid on “htc”, (using the same ad text specifically for people looking for chargers) there is only 1 competitor and the starting CPC is only .59.

‘But won’t I get a crappy CTR if I bid on the broader term?’

Not necessarily.  First of all, CTR is only relevant as it relates to the other keywords in the same auction you’re appearing in.  So as long as my CTR is as high or higher than that other advertiser hocking HTC screen replacements, it shouldn’t dramatically affect my Keyword Relevance quality score, which is heavily CTR-weighted.

Additionally, my broader keyword will place me in a number of auctions I might not otherwise have found on my own, potentially uncovering some huge winners.  As actual search term performance data is gathered, I can branch out new, longer-phrase keywords that I see converting given what Google has phrase matched me against thus far.  If these have lower CPCs and less competition than the competitively-intense keywords I used to have to bid on, it’s a net win.

What About Irrelevant Clicks?

Of course, most people searching for the keyword “HTC” alone aren’t all going to be looking for a charger, so how do you mitigate cost overruns due to poor clicks?

In a word: negatives.  Adding as many negatives at the adgroup level as possible up front can dramatically decrease your chances of irrelevant clicks.  We have a fantastic training module for our PPCblog members that covers unorthodox but effective ways to dig up negatives before you roll out broader keywords, but one simple way is to use the Google Keyword Tool with your ‘broadish’ keyword and sort the results by highest global monthly searches down to see if there are any ‘land mines’ you should avoid right out of the gate.

As an added bonus, the fact that your ad is specific to chargers will tend to self-filter people not specifically looking for chargers. Alternatively, you could go a bit broader if your product catalogue supports it and target “HTC Accessories” in your ad text to catch people looking for other related items.

Does Google Like It?

‘Google would never allow my ad to stick for that broad of a query would they?’  Surprisingly yes.  Google will pretty much allow you to advertise on any contextually-relevant keywords that your CTR indicates users find meaningful.  The only way to know is to try it and see how you do. Often other advertisers have never tried going this broad on brand terms and the like, or they simply assumed it’s too untargeted to actually work.  You can exploit this competitive deficit if your controlled experiment is successful.

Does this work in every case? No.  Sometimes the broader term is actually more expensive to bid on than the more descriptive term, or your just can’t get an ad to ‘click’ with users well enough to sustain your ad placement on the broader term.  That said, it’s a great technique to try if you’re banging your head against the wall competitively and need to get unstuck.

A Timely Reminder: Adwords Passwords & Security

3 Comments Written on December 13th, 2010 by
Categories: Business, Google Adwords, The World Around Me

Over the weekend Gawker Media’s site network including lifehacker, Jezebel, Gawker, Gizmodo and others was hacked, their entire site database packaged up, downloaded, and posted as a Torrent on the The Pirate Bay website.  Included in that site db were over 1.3m commentator usernames, emails and passwords…in plain text.

By far, the vast majority of the email addresses in the db were addresses, closely followed by @yahoo and @hotmail variations.

Wouldn’t you know it, a lot of people, and I mean A LOT of people, use the same password for nearly everything, from commenting on Gawker blogs to their Gmail accounts and beyond.  The instant this hit the web, hackers and curious programmers were writing scripts to try the hacked passwords in combination with the email addresses to gain access to users’ email and Twitter accounts and the like.  Many of them were successful, and gmail accounts were accessed.

This immediately made me think of Google Accounts, and the close tie-in between Google services like Adwords and more benign services like email.  Twitter fell face-first into a massive internal document leak when a hacker used social engineering methods to reset Twitter staff user gmail passwords, locking the staff users out of their own Google Accounts and giving the hacker access to all of Twitter’s internal documents (including strategy and HR documents) that were created using Google Docs.  (PS-If you were Twitter and Google was your competition, would you be using Google Docs?  Question for another time I guess…)

If you haven’t had a chance to read the background of how using Google Docs lead to Twitter’s hack, I highly recommend you read this backgrounder and see if you can spot any familiar points in your organization.

The same thing could happen to your Adwords account, particularly when there are a number of users with Admin-level access.

A friend of mine had his Adwords account compromised this way in 2007, with the hacker running up $160,000 in clicks in two days by bidding on “Pepsi” with a bunk ad, bidding $100 CPC.  Google was able to refund them, but the account had to be shut down completely for security reasons by Google, and he lost over four years of account history and had to start from scratch with a net-new Adwords account.

This whole Gawker fiasco is a good reminder that it’s essential to a) not use the same password over and over again on PPC platforms in particular, and b) rotate your passwords with complex variations that are less likely to be cracked using brute-force attempts.  Using a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols all rolled up in the same password is the best way to prevent someone from cracking it using automated brute-force tools.  If you have a hard time remembering complex passwords, consider using 1Password (Mac & Windows) or a similar app to help via autofill.

Because Gmail is tied to nearly every Google Accounts service, the same complex password strategy should apply to your Adwords-connected Gmail or Google Apps accounts, both for yourself and anyone else who has been granted administrative access to your Adwords account.

When you consider the damage that someone could do to your credit card or agency account by running up fraudulent click charges or worse, direct-linking fake ads to sketchy, blacklisted or malware sites, it’s well worth the effort to take the time to update your Google password regimen right away.  The same goes for Facebook Ads, Adcenter or any other key platform that’s linked to your credit card.

Better safe than sorry…