Posts by Geordie:

Add Impression Share Data to Your Campaign Dashboard

4 Comments Written on August 25th, 2010 by
Categories: Analytics, Google Adwords, PPC Tools

As Google methodically picks off the reports in the Adwords Report Center, moving reporting to an ad-hoc model in the main campaign UI, some interesting little tricks are popping up.

In the past, if you tried to keep track of how much traffic Google is actually sending you compared to how much is truly available, you ran a campaign report and checked the box for “Impression Share”.

Now, that feature is gone from the Report Center, but with the new changes, you can tack it right to your campaign list columns:

Now you’ll be able to view your Impression Share in real time right from the campaigns overview screen:

Pretty Handy!!

How to Setup Custom Adwords Quality Score Alerts

2 Comments Written on August 23rd, 2010 by
Categories: Google Adwords, PPC Tools

Ever thought it would be nice if Google sent you a ping if your top keywords suddenly saw their Quality Scores tank?  How about when you lose your top favorite top ad position?

Google’s new filters give you the ability to configure custom alarms that can alert you via email or SMS when one of your top keywords (or any keyword for that matter) goes inactive or stops firing ads for budget reasons, sudden Quality Score drops, or moves by your competitors.

In addition to watching for traffic stopages, you can also monitor:

  • Avg CPCs
  • Spend Levels (Cost)
  • CTRs
  • Avg Ad Positions
  • Clicks
  • Impressions
  • Conversion Counts
  • Conversion Rates
  • Costs-per-Conversion

You can set up these custom alerts at the Campaign, Adgroup, or Keyword level for specific, selected keywords or adgroups, or ALL of the keywords or adgroups in your campaign if you like.

To enable custom alerts, click on the “More Actions” drop down likeso:

Here’s a screenshot of the settings for doing this at a keyword level, where if the impressions on a top keyword disappear (for whatever reason, but usually QS drop) you’ll get a ping from Google via email (SMS if you give them your mobile number, but who are we kidding they probably already have your number anyway:p ):

I use an alert for “if this top keyword gets less than 1000 impressions in a given day, let me know” to keep on top of critical quality score changes:

Jen at PPC Hero also had some great suggestions on how to use the new Segments capability as well.

Do you have a favorite new alert to keep you on top of your campaigns? Share it in the comments!

High Level Marketing Skills For PPC

No Comments » Written on August 19th, 2010 by
Categories: Business

PPC used to pretty simple.

You just signed up, selected a keyword terms – probably used your SEO keyword list – put in a few bids, and hit go. Some tweaking here, some tweaking there. Life was good.

These days, with quality scores, ruthless levels of competition (including Google competing against the advertisers), a wealth of segmentation options, and complex analysis and reporting, PPC has become more demanding, necessitating the need for more in depth training.

  • Should you bid on your brand? What match type should you use if you do?
  • Do AdWords Site Links increase yield? Or do they charge you for what you were already getting free?
  • Have you tested modified broad match yet?
  • Have you seen Google’s new enhanced CPC bidding option?

When does it make sense to use any of those options?

Before you get down to detail, there are some higher level skills you should read up on, too. The fundamentals of PPC are similar to established channels. Because these channels have been around a long time, they’ve build up a lot of time-tested theory. You can apply much of this theory to PPC, without having to repeat the same mistakes.

1. Study Direct Marketing

Direct marketing is a form of advertising that communicates with the consumer using advertising techniques such as fliers, catalog distribution, promotional letters, and street advertising. The techniques are very similar to PPC. Direct marketers target a group of people, seek to convince them using well-crafted written/pictorial advertising, and try to illicit a response and/or purchase.

The great thing about direct marketing theory is that there is so much of it. Direct marketing has been going since the 1860s. In order to be profitable, direct marketing had to ruthlessly test what worked, and what didn’t, else direct marketers could blow through a lot of money in print and distribution costs.

There are a lot of great books on the craft of direct marketing theory, but one good place to start is Tested Advertising Methods, by John Caples. Whilst the examples offered by the book are getting a bit long in the tooth, the psychology underlying the approach – how to appeal to your market segment using effective copy and constant testing – is sound.

2. Understand Your Customer

PPC is a sales channel.

A lot of sales theory is directly applicable to PPC, particularly in terms of identifying your customer, determining what they want, and making an offer at a price they want to pay.

Sales relies on three aspects:

Quality Prospects – you need to target the people who are prepared to buy.

Your keyword selection process should involve weeding out keyword terms that sound like they are relevant, but do not convert.

For example, someone looking for “[keyword] coupon” has already made a decision to buy, they’re just looking for a discount before they do.

The person who searches on the keyword, but uses no qualifier, may be much further back in the sales funnel. They require a very different pitch to get them to the point where they are ready to give over their credit card details.

Sales theory, particularly relating to sales funnels, will help you pitch correctly.

Quality Presentation – you need to make a persuasive case. This comes down to your copy and landing page style. Are you responding to peoples needs, and are you doing so in a credible way?

Numbers – you need to get infront of as many people as possible, once you’ve selected quality prospects and got a quality presentation. Scale is near infinite in PPC, given the range of keywords and channels.

3. Understand Your Strategic Goals

What do you want your PPC campaign to achieve?

Whilst the obvious answer is “more sales!”, there are other ojectives you may wish to consider. You may want to increase market share, keep expenses under control, increase your profitability, increase your profit margins, or a mix of the above. Starting a PPC campaign without clear strategic goals makes it difficult to measure your achievement in a broader sense.

Another way of clarifying this aspect is to ask yourself “what problem am I trying to solve?” Are you trying to get more/better…..what? Why use PPC at all? Would another channel solve those goals more easily? Where does PPC fit into the overall business strategy?

If you have a regularly updated business case, it makes strategic planning easier than if you just wing it. A business case doesn’t need to be complicated. It can occupy a single page.

Be clear about where PPC fits into the broader picture.

New KeywordEye™ Keyword Visualizer Shows Promise

3 Comments Written on July 26th, 2010 by
Categories: Google Adwords, Keyword Research, Marketing, PPC Tools

Keyword Eye LogoMatt from KeywordEye™ sent me a ping last week to have a look at a new, free keyword ‘visualization’ tool that he’s been working on for some time now and asked me to give it a look.

It’s a pretty neat concept: pulling from the Adwords API, KeywordEye™ pulls up associated keywords to your search and displays the results in a 2D or 3D ‘cloud’ format, with higher traffic keywords displayed as larger words in the cloud, and color-codes the keywords in the cloud green, yellow, or red depending on the amount of competition.

An even cooler part of this tool is the ability to view the visualized data by country, match type, and a few other variables.  As you hover over each of the keywords in the cloud you see the individual search volume (per month) for the local region selected.  Simply click on a keyword in the cloud to add it to the scratch pad on the right for export.

keyword eye screenshotClick to Enlarge

The data in the tool is no different than what Google provides via their internal Adwords Keyword Tool, but I found that the way the data is presented helps you to visualize the scope of keyword possibilities for new niches you’re looking into (particularly the 3D cloud view).

This unique way of viewing new keyword possibilities reminds me a bit of Google’s Wonderwheel, a great way of viewing things as Google does from a relational standpoint.

Give KeywordEye a spin here!

The Business Of Web Analytics

2 Comments Written on July 22nd, 2010 by
Categories: Analytics

The great thing about web analytics packages is that they are very powerful tools.

The downside of web analytics packages is that they are very powerful tools!

The sheer amount of data, and the complexity of reporting tools, such as Google Analytics, confuse many marketers. What can be overwhelming for the beginner can be just as overwhelming for the expert.

The trick lies in knowing which data is important. We can determine the importance of data by linking it back to clear business objectives.

Use Data To Drive Business Decisions

Google’s Marissa Meyer, places a lot of importance on metrics. So much so, some graphic designers have left Google, frustrated by what they perceive as Google’s “data-centerism”.

Google’s approach is to measure user interaction, and then use that data to make interface design decisions. They don’t assume they know the answer until the numbers are in. “Did more people get where they needed to go when Google uses a yellow graphic instead of a red one?”

If so, yellow wins.

Google approach design this way partly because they are maths geeks but also because Google made a business decision to put the user and user activity central to to their companies mission. Google reason that what is good for the user is also good for Google.

There are two core aspects to this approach when it comes to analytics:

Analytics should be customer behavior centric – i.e. did people get where they needed to be? Did they buy? What problems are they experiencing?

Analytics should solve business questions – i.e. how can we improve revenue by 15%? What is the most influential content on our website?

The Problem Of Data Overload

We’ll leave learning the detailed mechanics of using analytics packages to our PPC forums, and instead focus on the question all marketers must ask:

How are we really doing?

It can be fun to plot historical numbers against each other.

“Wow! We’ve received 1000 more visitors for our PPC campaign than last week!”. Analytics tools certainly encourage us to count numbers and present these numbers on pretty charts. It certainly looks impressive.

But what this data really mean, in a business sense?

Without clearly defining business goals linked to measurement, not a great deal.

For example, we may have received 1000 more visitors than last week, but our cost of customer acquisition went through the roof. Why did that happen? Was that event linked to the increase in traffic, or was there some other reason?

Clear business goals, in the form of questions, help us know which data points to focus on.

Ask a series of questions related to your business. “What is the cost of cost acquisition? What content drives the most sales?” Pick out the data that answers these questions, and or setup tracking that will achieve this end.

The data we use, and the tracking we set, will be different, of course, depending on our individual business needs. However, by starting with a list of clear questions, we stand a good chance of knowing which data is most important. It can also help focus what we do, and our organizations, around data analysis.

Web Analytics: An Hour A Day

In Web Analytics: An Hour A Day, Avinash Kaushik outlines a seven step method for creating a data driven culture in your organization.

1. Go to the bottom line first – the clickstream is fun, but what you really want to know is teh answer to business questions, such as revenue, profits, profit margins, product mix etc.

2. Do analysis, not reporting – pretty charts are fun, but what do they really mean in terms of your business?

3. Depersonalize decision making – Take a leaf from Google’s book. Get rid of the politics of personality. It doesn’t matter who came up with the idea, the data should drive decision making.

4. Be Proactive, rather than reactive: If we think we need to make action X, what will the data look like that would support such a decision? Learn to recognize emerging patterns.

5. Empower everyone – everyone should be a data analyst. If a designer wants to know wether she should use this form or that, she should be looking to the analytics data for guidence.

6. Focus on three critical elements: experience, behaviour and outcomes. How much (outcomes), what is (behaviour), and why (experience)

7. Apply process: Adopting an analytics process helps you become data driven. Process is repeatable and ensures everyone is on the same page.

I recommend Avinash’s great book on Google Analytics. Also check out his website, Occams Razor.

Branding: Big Opportunity, Low Cost

5 Comments Written on July 19th, 2010 by
Categories: Business

When you run a PPC campaign, how do you decide whether to use Google Adwords, or Yahoo Search Marketing, Microsoft AdCenter or, erm….Findology?

How do you decide whether to push you campaign into content networks, such as Adsense, or Facebook?

The simple answer is you should be everywhere your customers reside, so long as the ROI is positive. The Balkanisation of the web is ongoing & won’t be complete until every single person becomes a demographic.

You have to be everywhere.

And people need to remember who you are.

Why Building Brand Is The New Rock N Roll

PPC is often geared around direct sales, so doesn’t take into account brand metrics. However, PPC offers brand building opportunities that are still fabulously cheap.

The world is changing fast. To build a brand, you used to need to spend a fortune on TV, radio and newspaper advertising. There was no other way. As Gary Vaynerchuk – owner of the Wine Library – says, the gatekeepers of those channels were a handful of 70 year old guys who run the world. But they’ll be retiring soon. Or dead.

These days, you can build a brand for next to nothing. You can publish on media channels, like YouTube, for nothing. Yet the reach of these channels is huge.

Everyone can now have a brand. A brand can exist in every micro-niche. Pick your niche, no matter how small, and become the biggest brand in that niche.

Why should you focus on brand?

Brand related searches are hugely lucrative. People use brand names as starting points for their searches. Once you own the brand name, you don’t need to do as much search marketing to get traffic. People will find you directly.

Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO, is on record as saying brand would be used as a means to clean up the internet cesspool:

Brands, he said, are the way to rise above the cesspool, and of course he is right. The corollary is that advertising via Google and its brethren is an essential way to build and sustain a brand

So, when a visitor clicks through to your site, they should always take something away with them. That “thing” could be a brand association.

Evaluate your landing pages. Do they convey a brand image, and is it easy for people to relate that brand image to your keyword niche?

It doesn’t cost much to gain this benefit. It’s a simple positioning exercise – ask “what niche am I top in?”.

Next, create a brand that is consistent with that niche, and the service you offer. Pick a strong, memorable name. Buy the .com, .net and .org, or regional variants. Own the word. Get a graphic designer to create a logo and identity, and use it consistently across all your media advertising. Become that brand. Let it flow through everything you do.

For many small internet niches, that’s all you need to do to build a brand. So long as you get in front of your audience wherever they reside, they’ll have one more opportunity to remember your brand name. Once they start searching on your brand name, you win. This lowers your advertising cost over time. You can also prevent others from advertising against your brand name, especially in PPC. This make your position more defensible.

Compare this approach with focusing solely on direct sales. You’ve paid for the click, you may still lose the sale, and yet the visitor takes nothing away with them. Your site is just another anonymous site which they’ll quickly forget.

Even a break even PPC campaign can be a big winner if you include the value of data along with the latent impact of exposure, branding & links.

Brand is now something for everyone. The benefits are huge, and it can cost next to nothing to build.

MicroHoo Adcenter About to Drop Big Changes for Affiliates

1 Comment » Written on July 16th, 2010 by
Categories: Landing Pages, Marketing, Microsoft Adcenter, Yahoo

If 2009 was the year of Google’s Great Affiliate Massacre, Q3 2010 is about to go down MicroHoo’s kick at the can.

Microsoft Adcenter sent a nice little reminder email out yesterday suggesting that the transition to Adcenter for Yahoo search ads is progressing quite quickly, and you may want to pay attention to impending changes if you’re an Adcenter advertiser.

Then they slipped in this little nugget:

Updates in editorial guidelines
Microsoft and Yahoo! have created joint editorial guidelines that will begin taking effect for search advertisers in early August. The guidelines can make your ads more effective, while helping to create a safer search marketplace. We encourage you to review these now, so that you understand any potential impact to your ads or keywords.

Yahoo’s Trademark Policies Have Won Out

Here’s some of the parts that deserve special attention:

You may not bid on as a keyword, or use in the content of your ads:

  • Any term whose use would infringe the trademark of any third party or otherwise be unlawful or in violation of the rights of any third party.
  • Use of a third-party trademark may be allowed if its use is truthful and lawful, for example, if:

    • Your website provides information—product reviews, for example—about goods or services that are represented by the trademark, and your principal offering is not any product or service that competes with the goods or services represented by the trademark.

    So basically, MicroHoo doesn’t have the resources that Google has to handle trademark bidding or with the same level of sophistication, so they’re going to adopt the old-school approach used by Yahoo for years.

    Given that the transition for ads has been scheduled for early August, it’s reasonable to expect the automated trademark sweeps and manual review flagging to start in Adcenter accounts soon, with the new guidelines generating mass disapprovals for advertisers that bid on trademarks the most: affiliates.

    The Other Side of the Coin

    No doubt, Microsoft’s goal here is to make their ad network a comfortable place for large brands to dump their spend, and the “we don’t allow your competitors to bid on your trademark” bullet point in the pitch deck is going to be helpful to this end.

    If you’re a paid search manager constantly fighting with PPC engines to prevent your competitors from appearing when users search for you, then this is a big win, and it seems Microsoft has your back.

    The Rest of the “Relevance Guidelines”

    It turns out Microsoft is also taking a page from Google in some ways as well by creating new terms in their Relevance Guidelines that give them a fair amount of latitude in deciding whether or not they think a particular ad or landing page is “relevant”.

    Wiggle room here makes it easier on their reviewers to apply their judgement, however only time will tell how they get applied.  But the smart money is having a look at these new guidelines yourself now and seeing what may or may not apply to your account.

    Leveraging New Keywords & Search Trends for Profit

    5 Comments Written on July 8th, 2010 by
    Categories: Affiliate Marketing, Keyword Research

    Let’s look at a couple of useful tools for predicting fast-growing, lucrative PPC opportunities: Google Insights For Search, and Google Hot Trends.

    Insights For Search

    Google Insights For Search is a tool that shows you the approximate volume of searches over time. For example, here’s an Insight graph on the term “Halloween”.

    As you can see, interest in Halloween is flat for most of the year, except in October, when searches suddenly spike as the celebration draws near. You can use past historical data to plan your PPC campaigns to coincide with the time when most searcher activity is focused on your niche. Whilst Halloween is an extreme example, these trends can be used in a number of ways.

    One of the most lucrative ways to use Insight is to find quickly rising areas of interest. Like a bullish stockmarket graph that starts low and heads upward indicates a hot stock, the Insight graph for a hot keyword area is worth spotting early.

    Look at the graph for the iphone4, or the ipad. If you can spot fast rising niches before others, by looking for sudden spikes of activity, you stand to benefit from low cost advertising and huge traffic, at least for a while.

    How do you find such fast-rising graphs?

    Take a look at the bottom right hand corner of the Insight result page. You’ll see a section marked “rising searches”. This section is great for spotting very fast rising trends and breakout terms relating to the keyword term you searched on. Plug these terms into your keyword tools and look for similar associations. Also research trend watching sites, consumer news sites, and newsfeeds for fresh ideas.

    Another opportunity is to keep a note of news events relating to your keyword area. You can often spot these in the news headlines appended to the end of the graph.

    For example, the term “double dip” – a term relating to a another potential fall in the stockmarket – is a breakout term at the moment. Terms closely related to “double dip” are also all in breakout. If you offered financial services – say stockmarket tutorials – you could advertise against such terms, and rake in the traffic. It’s unlikely you’d stumble across such terms using conventional keyword research tools.

    You can also segment by country and region. If you spend a lot of time marketing in one country, you may not be aware that terminology can differ in other countries. This tool is very useful for adapting PPC campaigns to different markets.

    Conversely, you can also look at declining searches. If you’re noticing declining performance in some of your campaigns, it might have nothing to do with you. The topic as a whole might show declining interest. The question then becomes: where is that interest moving to!

    Google Hot Trends

    Google Hot Trends is another tool to help you find rising trends, and compare one trend against another.

    For example, say you promoted a celebrity site, and wanted to know which celebrities to focus your marketing around. Here’s a chart plotting the relative interest in Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, and Justin Bieber.

    You can also look for fast trending websites. This is especially useful if you’re using the content network. By targeting fast growing sites, you gain further opportunity to put yourself in front of your audience. Again, this data might be hard to spot otherwise.

    Hot Topics can be used as starting points for keyword research. Plug the Hot Topics lists into the Google Wonder Wheel to get some out-of-the-box results in terms of topic associations.

    Hot Searches plots the latest hot search keywords. It’s a shame Google doesn’t offer more depth in the hot search categories. Given they only provide 20 for each day, you end up with a lot of US centric celebrity results.

    Tying it All Together

    Say you are not selling what is hot, how is any of this relevant to you?

    Well, if your offer is broad enough (in terms of potential audience) then relevancy (and to some degree, endorsement) can be borrowed from popular people and trending topics in the news.

    • Get Acai – as recommended by Oprah.
    • Submit your information so we know where to mail your free iPad
    • Free Kanye West ringtones* of his not new song (*except not really, as your credit card will get hit for $19.99 every month until you notice)
    • etc.

    A lot of affiliates operate wherever there is change in the market because the new market has not yet become efficient enough to drive them out of it. Of course you don’t have to promote the scammiest affiliate offers to make money, but you can still apply some of the same concepts & techniques to other sites in a legitimate way. Some examples:

    • Find a celebrity who endorses your product and include that in the sales copy. Maybe even create the product / service / website by building it around a co-branded strategy. Demand Media has done this with Lance Armstrong and Tyra Banks.
    • Offer a free download or white paper.
    • Be the first to review new products in your market & get some of your new products into the hands of well networked people who have loved them in the past.
    • If you own a trusted brand and give away some iPads then you should be able to come up with some promotional angle where you break even or make money on the exposure. Such strategies can be used for list building, link building, gaining awareness for a new website/product/service, etc. And you can do niche offers in niche markets.

    A lot of trends can be seen in advance every year. Next year there will be another Halloween. Is there a way you can incorporate it into your marketing strategy? Other trends also lift up every year seasonally. Looking at past performance gives you a good idea of when it will become popular next year.

    10 Great Places To Learn Adwords

    No Comments » Written on July 7th, 2010 by
    Categories: Google Adwords

    Right here! PPCBlog!

    Well, we would say that…. 🙂

    But we do offer a free introductory course, and there are some fantastic resources out there, some you may not have heard about. Here’s out top ten picks of external sites and resources. The tools come with a wealth of useful case studies you can use to enhance your own campaigns.

    1. Google Adwords Certification

    A comprehensive, free course for Adwords. Join the program and click on the “Study For This Exam” links. You’ll get access to the Learning Center, which provides a thorough background in Google Adworeds, to certification level. The exams cost $50 each, but you don’t need to take these to get access to the course.

    2. Google Agency Toolkit

    Keep all the essential Google tools together on one page. Also arranged in a way that lends itself to learning and discovery.

    I can get lost for days on the plan stage alone!

    3. Marketing

    PPC is a form of marketing. If you understand the underlying fundamental principles of marketing, your campaigns are likely to be more successful.

    Grab a few good books on marketing and give yourself a solid grounding. Seth Godin frequently riffs on marketing, and has written a number of excellent, easy-to-digest books on the topic. Our pick: All Marketers Are Liars.

    4. Analytics

    It’s hard to improve what you don’t measure. Top PPC managers tend to have excellent analytics skills. It’s not just about crunching numbers, either. It’s about spotting profitable patterns that other people don’t see.

    Recommended Analytics blog: Occam’s Razor

    5. Keyword Research

    Keyword research is like digging for gold. Proving nepotism is alive an well, we’re going to recommend a post on SEOBook, and the SEOBook keyword tool.

    There are a number of valuable tips and videos on that page, including Wordtrackers case study and white paper “Keyword Research Guide”.

    6. Competitive Analysis – SEM Rush

    SEM Rush is a hugely powerful tool that helps you monitor your competitors Adwords campaigns. There’s a modified version of SEMRush in the PPCBlog members area.

    Here’s Aaron Wall’s review of SEM Rush.

    7. Copyblogger

    Copyblogger is a great blog about – as it says on the box – writing copy. PPC advertisers need good copy writing skills in order to produce effective landing pages, ads and headlines. Check out the following sections: Landing Pages, Headline Writing, and Copywriting 101.

    8. Google Wonder Wheel

    The wonder wheel is a great tool for making associations. Sometimes, the links between related concepts are difficult to spot in keyword lists, but easier when laid out in graphical form.

    Resource: How To Make Money From The Google Wonder Wheel

    9. Inside Adwords

    Inside Adwords is Google’s official blog on Adwords. Contains news, tips and education resources.

    10. Adwords Editor

    The Adwords Editor is a desktop tool that makes campaign management easier. Make bulk changes, move through your account faster, and more.

    Headless Body In Topless Bar

    8 Comments Written on June 28th, 2010 by
    Categories: Copywriting

    That was a New York Post headline.

    It was a great headline for the New York Post. I think it’s fair to say they understand their readers.

    Is it a good headline for a post on PPC Blog?

    Maybe 🙂

    You tell me.

    In a minute.

    But first….

    A Post About Headlines

    Today we’ll look at the headline in the context of PPC. This topic is probably nothing new to PPC veterans, but if you have a background in traditional media and copy writing, hopefully it will give you a way to approach PPC, and search marketing in general.

    We can think of text ads as being headlines. They serve a similar purpose to headlines in traditional media. Their purpose is to grab attention. Unlike traditional media, text ads lead to a second headline, and copy, on a separate landing page. So the two need to work in tandem in order to be most effective.

    In traditional media, the headline writer simply wants to grab attention from a reader who may not have been interested in the topic a second ago. They want you to read and, at best, recall a message, but there’s not a great deal of jeopardy involved if you don’t. The PPC headline leads the reader to take a specific action, and that action typically involves handing over cash.

    In this respect, the stakes are higher for the PPC copywriter.

    The Role Of Headlines In Our Culture

    All our media has been reduced to the headline.

    The sound bite. The lead story. Digg. Reddit. Social media. Our inbox. Our feed readers. Everything is being aggregated and reduced to headlines. Our culture has infinite messages, yet there are still only 24 hours in the day. What media you consume, and what you buy, is typically “directed” by the few words that make up a headline.

    No wonder marketers place such importance on headlines. Those few words lead to everything else.


    Our media has been reduced to headlines because time is short. Headlines summarize. Headlines must be both brief, and loaded with meaning. They must hint at something deeper.


    Ad text and the landing page headline must resonate with your audience. The key to writing a good headline is to first know your audience.

    PPC is a great test bed for getting to know your audience. Tim Ferris, the author of the book “The Four Day Workweek” used PPC to test a range of title ideas for his as-yet unnamed book. The ad text that generated the most clicks became the title of his book. The audience “told” him the name they deemed most interesting by clicking.

    Confirmation Bias

    Confirmation bias is a tendency for people to favor information that confirms their preconceptions.

    Search is a hunt and find medium. Unlike the newspaper or magazine, PPC is not about grabbing disinterested, passing attention. It is about being directly relevant to the searcher who knows, of thinks she knows, what she wants. It’s about reflecting the searchers own perception of what is good and relevant.

    Any headline (link) not directly relevant to the search phrase will likely be ignored. This is why repeating the keyword term in a PPC advertisement is important. It’s a confirmation that the searcher is in the right place. This is why traditional attention grabbing headlines, like “Headless Body In Topless Bar” don’t work so well in search.

    They aren’t specific enough.

    Be Specific

    Google sees PPC links as being information. Google reasons that advertisements are information in the same way an organic search results are information in that their function is to answer queries. This is especially true when searches have a commercial imperative.

    Google rewards you for being specific.

    A PPC headline isn’t a place to get clever. “Headless Body In Topless Bar” would not work in PPC. Whilst it might grab attention because it’s different, people would not see it is as being relevant to them, because it’s not specific to their search. It would also fall foul of Google’s relevancy algorithms, and is unlikely to be shown at all.

    A Headline Must Lead Somewhere Even More Interesting

    The ad text needs to hint at something deeper. Just like the purpose of the headline is to lead people to the first line of copy, our PPC ads need to hint at something unseen, yet valuable, beyond the link. When the visitor lands on the landing page, the landing page headline must confirm what was hinted at in the PPC ad.

    Uniqueness Is Rewarded

    If you’ve read this far, my headline probably worked. It got your attention, and led you to the second line, and you kept reading.

    But you and I both know that shock tactic isn’t going to work in PPC. It probably worked in the context of a feed reader, because it stood out in that context. Typically, the titles for PPCBlog articles don’t involve headless corpses in topless bars! But it’s not a great headline. It’s over-played. And it is unlikely to work again. Any shock/curiosity value has now gone.

    However, I want to make a point about context. In a crowded environment, like a feed reader or search results page, uniqueness is often rewarded.

    As a species, we’re conditioned to notice what changes in our environment. The new. The different. Likewise, our text ads must be more compelling than any other link on the page. That includes the organic results. Look thought the search results, not just the PPC ads, to see what is, and more importantly, what isn’t there.

    Your ad should be unique in this context. Uniquely relevant. This comes from understanding your audience, and specifically addressing their needs.