Amazing PPC Tactics – Live from SMX

Presenters Share PPC Tactics

A group of presenters discuss a number of different techniques for understanding PPC and improving campaigns. Apologies for any logical breaks in these notes but the presenters shared a bunch of great information very fast.

Dan Theis

“You must know why things work on a Starship.” – James T. Kirk

Knowing how things work is vital in Adwords. Here are the items that Dan reviewed:

How to Grok

  • Nature of space and time
  • Locking phaers: match type
  • Mind meld with the market
  • Scanning the system

Time Sucks…

There are many ways to suck at pay per click campaigns.  Day parting and day of week effects makes a big difference. Some days convert well, some do not. Look at the conversion rates by hour through Google Analytics to identify which are the best time for average order value, better conversions. Also, look at average revenue per visit by different times of the day. Assign a value to leads to understand an ROI.

Set up a break even point – if you are selling repeatedly, then a break even point is ideal, because incremental purchases bring up that return above break even. Look at these metrics by hour. So if you calculate conversion by average sale, get dollar per visit, and compare to the cost per click. This will provide an appropriate bid level.  If a particular part of the day is less effective, then consider doing offers by time-stamp. For instance “midnight offers.” Are there profits that you are missing during the less effective conversion times that can be improved upon?

For days of week – there are different campaigns / experiences / ads that can work differently by day of week. For instance, some might work well in the week and other experiences work well during the weekend. Therefore, set up campaigns specific for day of week to serve the right experience to the right customer / searcher segment.

Space also sucks…

This means that it is important to understand where the best location is for your ad to appear. It is possible to get cheaper clicks lower on the page, but will these people convert? If someone is ready to buy, they are likely to look at top results in paid above natural, then the top one or two spots in the right rail. In short, look at buyer intention – if they are browsing, they may click farther down the paid side, but if buying, then they will look higher up in the page.

Some markets are different. BUT – do start testing at the top. It’s important to understand how well things perform at the top spot –  because that brings more sales, traffic and profits and gives you market dominance in key phrases. The auction is a “second price” auction – this is how Google works. So it’s bid * quality score – so basically you pay what the second place auction bidder has bid. Because of this, there are options about how you can do things at the top of the page that you cannot do lower down.


If you can’t make a profit when you know exactly what the searcher typed,  then broad match is not going to work. Look at phrase match to get past the issues with broad match. One issue is that if searches are very low volume, Google does not develop a quality score, therefore your ads may just be turned off in exact match long-tail.

In ad testing, you can use multiple copies of the same ad. If you want a 90% / 10% test, then make 9 ads with control and 1 with the test. Great, simple way to test at a lower rate!

MSN Adcenter labs “OCI Tool” gives reading on commercial intent based on specific phrases. This can be valuable in identifying the right phrases to target for conversion.

Ryan Lash – ymarketing, LLC

Scenario: paid search campaign is not performing as well as it used to. There are only a few options:

  1.  Conversion optimizer
  2.  Implement a third party management solution (but there are challenges here)
  3. Optimize it yourself – but there are times that this can be challenging.

How to build a semi-automatic bid management tool? Use a spreadsheet, web browser and adwords editor.  Here’s the process:

  1. Get search reports
  2. open spread sheet
  3. do some math
  4. analyze data
  5. make changes

Calculating ideal CPCs for CPA campaign, look at existing cost by keyword. The ideal cost is conversions times target cost per conversion. The ideal CPC is ideal cost divided by clicks. The CPC sweet spot is closer to effective half net margin, but is based on actual performance.  Next set your statistical confidence. Set up the number of clicks you need to get before you make a decision. So, calculation is based on all clicks except for branded terms (because that skews results) – if conversion is 2%, take action after 50 clicks, 1% after 100 clicks.

Secret sauce: Average position, cpc, conversion volume. Don’t increase bids if position is 1, or average cpc is more than the max cpc you set for the campaign. Do not decrease cpc for top performers.

Next look at your keyword reports for the past 7, 14 or 30 days – include conversion data. Next, open Google Docs. Add in special headers for target costs. Use the various maximum values you have established to set the appropriate CPCs. However, look at the data to assure that you use the ideal CPC as a guideline so you don’t lose visibility on good terms.

In the presentation, he steps through how to take the data / bids from the spreadsheet and loading it up to Adwords through the editor. YOu can get the spreadsheet and background from their site – SearchGuyver presentation. Ryan then reviewed results of using this homegrown bid management method.

Dan Soha – Five Mills

First trick: Use keyword insertion, set the keyword insertion format to bring attention to the ad.

Quality index is at the adgroup level. Therefore, build highly targeted adgroups. They should be very similar to each other.

In Yahoo, don’t know what the broad match is, use their keyword suggester to pull similar phrases. Put it in the general area, add it to the “what must be in each phrase”, then it generates all associated keywords, then it will bring all the new keywords – and only NEW keywords, so that it will not duplicate as you do iterative searches.

Divide and Conquer:

  • If the adgroups are well targeted, but the quality index isn’t good, then divide up the Adgroups. First look at CTR by keywords and note their relative position.
  • Pause all low click through keywords. Then duplicate the adgroup.
  • Next, delete the active keywords, unpause the paused keywords – then all you have there is a low click through keywords – separate from high click through keywords.
  • The lower CTR adgroup will have a lower quality score.

Yahoo dynamic keyword insertion increases quality index. In fact, in direct comparison of the exactly same ad with the alternate text being the same as the static ad, the one with multiple keyword insertion elements will always score better in quality score.

Ad competition: Let Google do the work for you.

Step 1: make certain bids are targeted to current success metrics

Step 2: Duplicate the adgroup running 1 ad in each

Step 3: Let ads run until they have ample conversion history

Step 4: Rebid to current metrics of success

Step 5: Wait and repeat step 4

This means that the better click through and quality score will bring down the costs for the better performing adgroup, and you can eliminate the one that is not working as well.

Non-rules based bid management tools can cost their advertisers because they make big changes quickly. This means if someone is managing manually, and all else is equal, if the bid is pushed up in position one, then they may lower the bids and dropping the position down the page.

Addie Conner – Course Advisor, Inc.

Yahoo min CPC was put in April 2008, and prevents some keywords from showing in the auction at all. Has hit a large number of keywords within some accounts.  There are instances where 30-50% of the keywords are affected. Quality score in Yahoo mainly lives on the ad/adgroup level. There also appears to be some kind of account level score. First, ask Yahoo to create a new account, unlinking your current one. Unlike google, they do not port history. This will get rid of the problem

Gaining Competitive Insights – Google data is saved in tehir system and is ported from various accounts. This is important so you don’t lose history. This is also a good way to look at competitive metrics (these are theoretical practices and CAN be done….)

First, Google a keyword that you are interested in. Capture the ad, then click on it to get the destination URL. (Watch to strip out any dynamic parameters from the URL). Upload to a new Google account the competitor’s ad, keyword and copy. Then observe…. Look at quality score and min CPC. You can see what is happening with competition. This can also be run on your own keywords to see whether you have some campaign level quality score issues. Based on the data you get, you can build a bid to click and position to click model for your competitor.

Since others do this, look at other clicks that might be coming from someone else running this type of test. Look for ads you don’t write – there may be instances where affiliates or others who are running against your ads, keywords, or target URL. Keep an eye open for changes in quality score – this can also pose a challenge.

Dominating the page – There are instances where people are advertising multiple ads to the same landing page. Sometimes people run the same ad to different URLs. This is legal – because parent companies may operate multiple sites and the engines may see that different companies may run specific user experience for different ads – so they are OK with this process. This can be used to sandwich a competitor’s ad with identical text, which has been known to kill the value of the sandwiched ad.

Launch with a high Quality Score – First, given keywords whose overall CTR is about the same, does it matter whether initial CTR is good to give a good quality score? Yes – high initial click through rate keywords end up with a better quality score. In the test presented, this was true by about 2.5 points in the quality score.

There are instances where a position ends up causing bad quality scores – especially if it is in a position that doesn’t have adequate data for Google to calculate the best score.

Tested different groupings, by semantic, quality score and random keyword groups. Semantic keyword groupings were most effective at bringing costs down and attaining a higher quality score for the adgroup.

  • Start with an inflated bid
  • Run creative that is a bit more aggressive than you would normally run
  • Start with high quality / traffic keywords
  • Once keywords have a good quality score, then add other keywords.