Google Suggest Feature To Shake Up PPC World

by shanesnow Sep 04, 2008  01:09 AM  - (Read 4 comments)

Search giant, Google Inc., recently rolled out its search enhancing “Google Suggest,” a drop-down box that recommends search queries as users type. While Yahoo! has had this feature for some time, the addition of search suggestions in Google has caused a special stir among pay per click managers.

As Google users search, a drop-down box appears with 10 suggested queries, along with the number of results. For example, if users type in “UFO” Google suggests “UFOs (8,370,000 results)”, “UFO Sightings (1,430,000 results), and “UFO News (830,000)”, among others.

PPC Discussions calls Google Suggest “the death of the long tail.” With search made easier for users (searchers don’t have to type a full query - they can just type a word and choose a suggestion), many long-tail keywords will likely be less searched or even un-searched. Major increases in search volume for the most popular queries will not only result in more advertiser competition for those keywords, but also much more revenue for Google as bids increase.

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CTR Record Set!

by shanesnow Sep 03, 2008  03:09 PM  - (Read 5 comments)

Holy crap! I’ve been out of the loop for a couple of weeks and I just found out that PPC Whiz has broken the record for best click thru rate ever!  At a rate of 92,233,720,369,547,776.00%, he has challenged anyone to beat his CTR, and he says he’s got $50 to give if it gets beat.

Unluckily for PPC Whiz, while I was moving everything I own to Honolulu (although it’s not actually that much!), ads on my business printing website were running, and one of my ads got the following CTR:

Coincidentally, this CTR is .01% greater than PPC Whiz’s, meaning that I now have set the record! I can’t wait to spend my $50! You can pay me via paypal or personal check…

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AdWords Website Optimizer Enhances Features

by shanesnow Sep 03, 2008  02:09 PM  - (Read 0 comments)

Google recently implemented several useful updates to its AdWords Website Optimizer, making it possible to refine tests, validate previously inaccessible pages, and draw more accurate conclusions from data.

Website Optimizer is a free content testing tool which allows Google AdWords users to test different variations of their websites in order to maximize their return on investment and improve user experience for their visitors.

The three main items updated are Experiment Pruning, A/B Offline Validation, and more intuitive reporting.

Experiment Pruning allows advertisers to disable selected combinations from taking part in the website optimizer experimentation process. This proves useful to advertisers in allowing them to disable poorly performing or illogical experiment combinations.

A/B Offline Validation allows advertisers to upload pages to be validated so Website Optimizer can check if they are tagged properly. Previously, pages in sections of the site where Website Optimizer can’t go simply couldn’t be validated. The new feature offers a solution to this dilemma.

Finally, the reporting features for Website Optimizer have been made more intuitive, allowing less room for data interpretation error or false conclusions on the part of advertisers reviewing data.

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Microsoft redesigned its AdCenter keyword tool in August as part of its most recent update to its pay per click advertising program. The tool provides “deep audience insights” as a complement for the Add-In beta for Excel that Microsoft released earlier, and it allows users to view detailed keyword research directly from their AdCenter dashboard.

Among the new features are “suggested keywords results,” which display new keyword recommendations, keyword searches in the last month, average ad CTR for the same keywords, and average CPC for those keywords across the MSN search network. Additionally, users can now select a collection of keywords and easily apply them to ad groups.

The new version of AdCenter also includes a section called Audience Insights, which allows advertisers to view demographic information along with search volume statistics for particular keywords. The available demographic information covers age, gender, and geographic location of searchers, offering advertisers a peek into the actual search audience for their keywords.

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AdWords Creates Advanced Level 3 Seminar

by shanesnow Sep 03, 2008  11:09 AM  - (Read 0 comments)

In August Google added a third tier to its AdWords Seminars for Success: AdWords 301. In addition to the beginner and intermediate level AdWords seminars (now called AdWords 101 and 201 respectively), this highly advanced seminar has been added to the Seminars for Success program, targeting advertisers who already understand the fundamentals of Adwords. Google explains that AdWords 301 topics will include “campaign best practices, advanced optimization techniques, and split testing.” The seminar will also dive into content network strategies and advanced bidding.

Seminars for Success are hands-on training sessions offered in a variety of cities across the U.S., including Denver, Atlanta, Washington D.C., New York City, San Francisco and several others. There will even be a couple of seminars in Honolulu this December. The cost of a session is about $250, but Google gives attendees $50 of it back in the form of AdWords credit so they can get started applying what they have learned at the seminar. Sessions last a full day and are led by what Google calls “independent and unbiased search marketing professionals.”

Two Analytics seminars are also available: “Introduction and User Training” and “Advanced Technical Implementation.”

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Shane should be back up and at it writing and working for semvironment from Hawaii within the next two days - he will start covering news again so you might see a few quick, short two or three paragraph posts outlining some of the events of the past week or two that we missed.

Chrome is insanely fast - I’m already a huge fan. Can’t wait to develop plugins/add-ons for it. I am also excited to see a Linux version… I’m actually writing/publishing this from Chrome. :)

One upcoming BIG post is going to start a new training series - as much for our own new employees as it is for you. I’m essentially opening up the book of instruction here on ppc management theory, reports, duties, etc. that we cover as an agency. This will be a review for some but might open a few doors for others. We will be using this series as a training guide to new employees so please contradict, review, enlighten by adding your voice to these posts when you see them. I plan on posting one every week or two…but you know that can change any time. ;)

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Paid Organic ‘Site Links’ In Yahoo!?

by jameszol Aug 23, 2008  01:08 PM  - (Read 2 comments)

Yahoo! Search Submit Pro recently added (99% sure this is recent because I haven’t seen this before) a ’site link’ functionality that looks very similar to’s paid links and, of course, there was probably some influence from Google’s first result site links - I wouldn’t be surprised if Yahoo! got the bright idea to add more links to more sponsored ‘organic’ results from because’s paid directory listings have been fed into Yahoo!’s organic results for quite some time now.

Click this screen shot to see the details:

Special note: Every single link above the fold for the query ‘loans’ in Yahoo! is paid! Wow!

Check out what a normal listing looks like:

Eerily similar, right?’s directory feed has been picked up by Yahoo! and stuffed into the organic results for quite some time now…or has been using ’search submit pro’ for their directory feeds…I can’t confirm anything, just speculating here but I can say for certain that directory listings appear in Yahoo! organic search results…so I wonder if Yahoo! picks up these extra links now as part of the package or does submit them via ’search submit pro’ as part of their package?

Yahoo!’s Search Submit Pro is a program where you can get ‘organic’ results that are really ‘paid’ if you can spend $5K+ per month. The application process is quite rigorous because the quality level of the pages you want in the ‘organic’ area have to be extremely high - or so they say. These ’sponsored’ results are easy to spot as a paid search marketer or SEO but the general user probably does not or would not know the difference. You can spot these results by simply rubbing your mouse over the link and looking at what the status bar says at the bottom of your browser.

You might be surprised at how much those ‘organic’ listings could cost - they are profitable for because they cost less than does. I can say that I know from current experience that the top organic result for some insanely competitive keywords only costs .75 to $2 per click while the sponsored ‘non-search submit pro’ side of advertising would cost $5+/click for the number 1 spot.

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Traveling From Coast to Coast

by jameszol Aug 20, 2008  09:08 PM  - (Read 0 comments)

Posting has been slow this week because a lot is happening right now:

Shane is moving to Hawaii to pursue a Master’s Degree in New Media. We’re going to run a satellite office for him from there. If you’re in Hawaii, we would love to chat with you - or if you want to come out on ‘business’, we would be happy to meet with you for a short time so you can expense it out for the rest of your time…lol! w00t! ;) He has been our news blogger so we haven’t been covering that as well for the past 10 days - he should be back up and running by the end of August/first part of September!

I (James) am currently posting this from San Diego, California but I’m flying out to meet a client in Tampa, Florida tomorrow evening. I was in San Francisco on Monday to meet with another fantastic, long-time client and I will post about our visit when I get back next week! I’m in San Diego for a family visit.

We’ll be back to business and blogging like normal by Monday or Tuesday next week! I might post a few news/informative posts by Friday night - but watch for a big, meaty guide we’re releasing next week!

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My Thoughts About Agency Pricing Models

by jameszol Aug 15, 2008  10:08 AM  - (Read 7 comments)

eVisibility wrote about their new ppc management price model this morning…and I walked away shaking my head a little bit because I felt like they were attacking a majority of agencies out there (not us, thank you eVisibility). :)

It seems that there are three typical pricing models for ppc agencies out there: percentage of ad spend, performance based (% of net or gross profits, flat fee for sales/units sold, lead volume, etc) and hourly (eVisibility’s new pricing model). There can be hybrids too…so technically, there are quite a few ways to twist all the models into what you think is best for your agency or your company.

This is my personal opinion and view on each of the pricing models. But, I’m going to give away my bottom line first:

EVERY pricing model can work for the company that is outsourcing the function if the ppc management company is ethical, hard working and willing to manage based on their client’s key performance indicators regardless of the agency’s pricing model. I believe, without a doubt, that most agencies really care about their client’s bottom line, regardless of the pricing model. You build trust and authority with your client base, and deliver fantastic results then the natural course of action is for them to spend more and spending more leads to more sales at an acceptable fee - and if there is ROI, then the client will continue growing…and the agency will too.

Percentage of Ad Spend

This is definitely a tried and true model - and it fits for the traditional ad agency. If a traditional agency is expanding, then they can offer this function as part of their regular services and it would simply make sense to the client that paying this is like paying their traditional media company to do their media buys. It’s normal, it’s trusted and I’m confident this model will stick around for a long time.

Most agencies will not abuse their client’s budgets so for me, the idea that a percentage based model forces an agency to drive a client’s budget up so the agency can make more money is bogus for the majority of agencies out there. Sure, there are snake agencies in any pricing model and in any industry…ppc management isn’t an exception to the rule!

A lot of software and tools follow this model too. It’s an easy way to monetize ppc management services and it makes sense.

You can’t really deny that ad spend gives a company and an agency a hard figure to build a price from whereas the other models are a bit more abstract in nature while still highly competitive and viable.

Performance Based

I developed a thirst for thriving based on my performance which is why semvironment is performance based. I like to think of this model as a commission based sales agency - we’re in it to win it and the better we do, the better the client does…our pay check is directly tied to the client’s pay check.

This is another tried, tested and true model. How long have commission based sales people been around? It’s ancient history…longer than the % of ad spend model. ;)

The key to success in this model is to identify the point at which the client is in complete control of the process and the agency loses control - or, the agency controls the process to what point before the client takes over? If the agency has a strong creative say in the entire shopping cart process, then perhaps the performance based pay should be transaction based or revenue based. Or, in the lead gen business, that point of control for the client is at the lead level - the agency does not control the sale of the service while they control the point at which a lead is generated…therefore, the lead could be considered the key fee point for the agency.

In any case, the performance based model is for those that can honor the system, are insanely hard working, and the client is willing to develop a “partnership”, in a sense, with their agency.


Hourly is another model that is tried, tested and true. (Yes, every model is tried, tested and true…lol)

eVisibility has the explanation of this model right, I think. For me, the hourly model is like hiring an accountant or a lawyer. You might have the newest one on the block working on your account, but there is solid evidence that the firm is good at what they do so you essentially get what you pay for in terms of hours. It doesn’t appear to be tied to ROI or anything really…kind of like a regular employee. I’m really quite unfamiliar with this model, but it appears to work for several agencies out there and some clients are going to be happy with it.

Some might say it’s like hiring a consultant. I have only had positive experiences with consultants while others would joke about the ’snake’ consultants that are out there. Again, every pricing model is going to be riddled with snakes.

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Content Network Gets A Few Upgrades

by shanesnow Aug 07, 2008  11:08 AM  - (Read 0 comments)

Google announced today (at 5:00 AM!) that it will be adding some enhancements to its content network of websites that serve advertisements. Since the acquisition of the DoubleClick ad network in March this year, Google has been working to offer a better experience for users and a more profitable/targeted experience for publishers and advertisers. The changes that Google will be adding in the next couple of months will help it to achieve that goal:

“These enhancements are the latest result of our integration with DoubleClick and our commitment to making advertising on the Google content network more efficient and accountable. When we purchased DoubleClick, we talked about how we would empower agencies, advertisers and publishers to collaborate more efficiently and effectively, and provide a better experience for our users.”

The following are the announced enhancements according to Google:

  • Frequency Capping: Advertisers can set how many impressions their ad can have per viewer. This way people don’t get served the same ad over and over again, and advertisers can avoid the negative effects of overexposure or poor quality impressions. (I wish that Myspace would do this. Some of their perennial ads are very annoying.)
  • Frequency Reporting: An enhanced reporting feature that allows advertisers to study the frequency in which people are seeing their ads.
  • Improved Ads Quality: How they will do this is yet to be discussed. But hopefully it will increase relevance and ultimately ad revenue.
  • View-Through Conversions: This will allow advertisers to determine the best locations for their ads being served on the content network.

Google is going to use cookies to implement these changes, which means that publishers won’t have to change anything. The improvements will automatically show up as Google updates its program.

What does this mean for PPC management? Hopefully conversions and conversion rates will increase as the content network becomes more powerful and a better quality source of paid traffic. Also, PPC managers will have more effective tools to use with analyzing and reporting results from content campaigns.

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