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Does this look familiar?

Google First Page Bid Estimate and Actual Position

Google First Page Bid Estimate and Actual Position

This inspiring sight is almost inevitable to anyone working in AdWords. Google takes care to inform you, in no uncertain terms, that your bid isn’t high enough to make the first page, and yet, when you look closer, your average position is still pretty good. Usually third or fourth. Definitely not on the second page.

Which just leaves all of us, search marketer and client alike, perplexed. What gives?

Anyone working in AdWords also figured out pretty quickly that it’s a mercurial creature, and often contradictory. Just because Google says something doesn’t necessarily mean that it means it, and the “below first page bid” situation is a prime example. In this case, a first page bid estimate does not equal the cost per click.

It seems that for iPad users when you get into your Google AdWords MCC account, the system crashes and you get booted back to your home screen. For this problem Apple comes with an easy and cheap solution:

The mercury browser has no issues logging into AdWords.

So just because Google says your bid is below the first page doesn’t mean that it actually is, and there are a few reasons why. Besides AdWords deciding to be contrary.

One, the first page bid estimate is just an estimate. That’s all. It’s an indication of how much you might have to pay to get on the first page, and not how much you actually will pay. In fact, you’ll often find that you pay less per click than your maximum CPC gives you room for. This is due to AdWord’s quality-based price system, which is a whole new beast of burden in and of itself.

Second, first page bid estimates only really work when a search query exactly matches the keywords that first page bid estimate is for. So if you’re using a broad or phrase match keyword, then forget about it; variations that trigger your exact keyword don’t make any difference in determining a first page bid estimate.

Third, Google search and the Google Search Network use different factors in determining pricing, ad position, and all that fun stuff. So that first page bid estimate you’re seeing? Only comes from Google search, not the Search Network, which is why you might be scratching your head at the huge disparity between the first page bid estimate that applies just to Google and the average CPC that applies to Google and the entire Search Network.

Finally, if you’re throwing your campaign around in more than one country, then the first page bid estimate comes from data from the country with the highest search volume for that specific keyword. Google does much better when you’re only targeting one country, so campaigns spanning multiple ones produce much less accurate first page bid estimates.

So the next time Google informs you that you’re below the first page bid in spite of all evidence on the contrary, that’s what gives.

Or AdWords just decided to be contrary.

Using Engine Ready’s Call Analytics can be an eye opening experience for all businesses. It’s primary use is to isolate where your incoming calls are coming from, which marketing source is driving the highest conversion rate, and together, help align your marketing strategy. Other secondary usages of the software can be as or even more eye-opening than its originally designed function.

As with any analytics software, it provides the data, you draw the conclusions. The main difficulty with any analytics is knowing which question to ask. 

Working with a small business owner who has Local campaigns in several cities across the United States, we wanted to ask the question: Ahould we put 800#’s on the website or Local phone numbers? – Instead of debating this question in a round-table discussion, we tested it.

Here are the results by each City (% of Total Call Volume).

Oakland #800 38%
Oakland – Local # 62%
San Francisco #800 31%
San Francisco – Local # 69%
San Jose #800 24%
San Jose – Local # 76%
Seattle #800 36%
Seattle – Local # 64%
Total Calls:


Local # 68%


Based on this test performed with Engine Ready’s Call Analytics, we have successfully concluded that it is in fact the Local# which is converting more visitors to calls; more than twice as much as a Toll-Free number!

We concluded for this particular small business owner, whose target audience is with-in a localized area, it would be an ineffective use of resources to invest in an #800.

* Every business is unique, you should test this question on your own website just to make sure. 

There are so many stratagies to test and question to ask which Call Analytics could shed light on.

With only 70 characters allowed to convey your marketing message in a PPC ad, is it effective to use that limited creative space to display your phone number? Stay tuned for more!

Adwords Certified Partner

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In order to target smaller geographic areas Google Adwords allows advertisers to select a custom shape or radius to limit who sees their ads. However, It doesn’t always work the way it’s supposed to!

10 Mile Radius around Downtown San Diego

Recently we decided to select a 10 mile radius (the minimum reccommended by Google) to geo-target a local business in downtown San Diego. After running the ads for few days we noticed that our ads linked to keywords with the prefix “san diego” were not showing up in Google. We then increased the keyword cpc bid up to an expensive $20 a click, but they still didn’t show.

When speaking to Google about this issue they searched “san diego (keyword)” in the ad diagnostic tool and found our ad showing up in the top 3 positions every time. Nevertheless it was not showing up in our local searches. They then contacted their technical team and found that there was problem with their algorythym.

The Fix? Google suggested targeting no smaller than a 20 mile radius, or to target by a city. We decided to change our geo-targeting to San Diego City as it is closer to our target market. Immediately after the change our ads showed up in the top positions.

Google Adwords Advertisers beware: Do not geo-target an area smaller than a 20 mile radius!

A recent study released by MidMarketer reveals an interesting, yet self-defeating trend among mid-sized companies trying to minimize the adverse impact of the current economic climate.

First, check out how these companies responded when asked about their level of competency in various areas of marketing:

  1. PPC marketing – 66% answered they either understand only a few of the basics or have no clue where to start;
  2. Organic SEO – 64% answered they either understand only a few of the basics or have no clue where to start.
  3. 80% found the ability to measure marketing effectiveness a challenge.

When asked, Do you have plans to address your problem marketing areas?, only 35% answered they would outsource or hire a specialist. The remaining almost 2/3 said they either don’t have time to address the problem areas or would try to learn it themselves.

This is despite the fact that heavy workload represents the biggest hardship for this MidMarketer sample group.

Remember that these are not mom and pop operations. Over one half of the survey participants have a marketing staff between 2 and 12 people.

If you’re struggling with online marketing, trying to learn it on your own and not sure how to measure success, you’re not alone. You’re also missing a tremendous opportunity to pull ahead of your competition that may be feeling the same pain.

Hire an expert or outsource to an experienced reputable agency. If your ROI (loaded with the new costs) doesn’t improve, fire them and find another.

Stand on the sidelines because you don’t have enough time, though, and you’re destined to lose.

And if you’re trying to learn PPC and SEO when your heavy workload permits, remember that you’re competing with experienced online marketing specialists and agencies, who’ve benefited from testing numerous “behind-the-scenes” strategies for years.

This is one area where “biting the bullet” just won’t pay off.

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On June 3rd, I will have the opportunity to speak directly with the designers, managers & executives of Microsoft AdCenter.  In a yearly summit which about 50 advertisers are chosen to attend, Microsoft allows us to air our frustrations and point out their (many) short comings from the eyes of an end-user.  This is a rare opportunity to actually make a difference and get Microsoft AdCenter to the forefront of search.

These yearly powwows are to align AdCenter’s goals with that of its advertisers.  I was quite surprised how humbling they were last year; jotting down every idea brought up.  I think they realized that their system was architected with their programmer’s ideas & designs instead of an advertiser’s.  They need us to help make their changes.

If you are reading this and have a specific operation issue, lack or functionality, editorial, customer service, or anything you want to get off of your chest, please leave a comment here and I will be sure to represent your voice.  And please, don’t hold back.

This morning one of our accounts was chosen to be part of Google’s small test sample for their new AdWords interface. My First Impression:  When Can we switch the rest of our accounts over? Google hit a homerun with this one.

The interface integrates the look and feel of Google Analytics with the functionality of the AdWords Editor. When switching over to the Beta version the first change noticed is the line graph jutting across the screen. The new graph is very reminiscent of the one in Google Analytics. This is a good thing, as the graph serves its purpose well and turns trends into an easily comprehensible visual to look at.

The graph also allows the user to see two different metrics at the same time. This feature can be used at any level: Campaign, Ad group, and Keyword. Take a look at this next example, Impressions with clicks were chosen to compare at the Campaign level for the month of January.

After the graph is noticed the next big change to AdWords is the new tab layout and organization. Google reorganized the entire structure to make it resemble the AdWords editor. The hierarchy is on the left, which simplifies drilling into the different account levels. However, the most convenient feature of this reorganization is the ability to change a bid, key word, or ad on the spot. With one click on the edit button a yellow box appears that allows editing without having to leave the page. Very convenient.

The following are examples of the new keyword and Ad editors:

Another new feature found within this beta is a new status/quality score. If everything is ok, keyword status is labeled “Eligible”. Then when clicking on the left side of “Eligible” a box appears that breaks up the quality score into Relevance, Landing Page, and Landing Page performance.

Quality score has always been a bit of a mystery so hopefully this new feature will give advertisers a better glimpse into what Google’s opinion of “quality” is.

Other small changes implemented in the new beta include a new network tab that compares performance between the content and search network, and a tab that eliminates the long wait for the campaign settings page to load up.

Overall this new beta version is faster and far easier to navigate. There is no doubt that this version will increase efficiency and help advertisers save time and money. Hopefully Google will release the full version of this beta soon, because after using it for only a day it becomes difficult to switch back to the antiquated standard AdWords.

With the latest Microsoft Excel Updates, you can use the new module like Monetization, Keyword Extraction, Geographic and other new features that Microsoft prepared for their users.

We were contacted by our Microsoft AdCenter account rep last week about the AdCenter Add-in(beta) for Excel 2007 with Ad Intelligence. Excited to install a new module for Excel, this new tool seamlessly integrated itself into Excel 07 as a separate category tab.

The Verdict: This Beta add-in is the first time MSN AdCenter has truly developed a tool with the end-user held close at mind. This client-side add-in is a really good tool not a revolutionary tool, but a valuable feature set to call upon at any given moment you are in Excel plugging away at new keywords. The beauty of this program is that the data can be applied to non-MSN marketing channels.

Here’s a list of notable features with some good suggested uses. There is nothing revolutionary about any single feature, but it does consolidate tools and reports currently scattered across Ad Centers back end. It saves SEM developers valuable time by integrating (adding-in) these features directly into the Excel editing environment. Results are returned to you in Auto-Filter format which allows you to get very detailed by whittling away all but the best keywords for your account based on user preference.

  • Keyword Extraction:
    Enter URL(s) in Excel This feature crawls the website(s) and extracts keywords from meta tags and content. This tool differs from Google’s website content keyword tool because it does not return actively advertised keywords, only raw content based keywords.

Try this> Copy the URLs of allof your competitors into Excel and see if there are keywords or perhaps alternate verbiage being used which you can add to your accounts. Use it to help you get those creative juices flowing and to avoid a keyword writer’s block from advertising an unfamiliar product or industry vertical.

  • Keyword Suggestion:
    • Campaign Association:Returns similar words competitors are bidding on.
    • Contained:Returns similar words users are searching for on MSN.
    • Similarity:Returns similar words in context to other keywords used on the Web.

Try This > First use Campaign Association to get a list of competitor keywords then compare the results of Contained and Similarity to see if there are any opportunities to bid on keywords which have little or no competition on MSN.

  • Search Buzz:
    • Top Spiky Keywords: Choose your vertical from the drop-down menu and see which buzzwords are showing an unusual spike in activity.
    • Top Frequent Keywords: Choose your vertical from the drop-down menu and see which are the most popular keywords.

Try This > Use the Top Spiky Keywords to help you develop negative keywords. i.e. Real Estate Lending the results return the keyword Mortgage Leads and show that it is spiking. Since in the example we are advertising to the consumer, adding Leads as a negative keyword would help limit B2B lead resellers from seeing your ads.

  • Traffic:
    Monthly & Daily. View historical & forecasted impression counts for your keyword(s).
  • Monetization:
    Same as the keyword estimations when adding a new listing. Shows potential Clicks, Impressions, Avg Position, CTR, CPC. The added benefit to this feature is that it compares the estimated performances of Broad, Phrase and Exact match.
  • Geographic:
    Uses your keyword(s) to provide impressions estimates based on the available geo-targeted locations available in the Ad Group settings and a over a given time period.
    Try this> Use this feature to spot dips and peaks in account activity over the course of a year. Optimize by geo-targeting your Ad Groups around seasonal search activity across the country.
  • Demographic:
    Uses your keyword(s) to provide percentages of your search audience: Male vs. Female & Age Range (0-12), (13-18), (18-25),(25-35),(35-50),(50-65), (65+)
    Try this > Who is your product or service being targeted to? After you research a bunch of new keywords, you can use this feature to isolate the keywords most relevant to your target-base and thus improve your CTR.

(The one feature which would be exceptional to have with this utility would be a BulkUpload functionality thus avoiding the current online model which is in place and very cumbersome. )

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Tired of your favorite website showing up on the 2nd or 3rd page of Google? Starting Nov 20, 2008 Google has given you complete control over your own search results with the release of SearchWIki.

With SearchWiki you can:

Move sites that are displayed in search results up or down

Remove a result completely

Leave notes and comments on each result

And suggest new sites that don’t show up in the results or are buried too far to see

Users must be logged into their Google account to perform these actions and then will be able to review their changes and annotations when they enact the same search later.

Google has also made the decision to share people’s annotations publically, which will be accessible when you scroll to the bottom of any search page and click on “All notes for this SearchWiki”. It is not clear on how Google is going to police these annotations from the flood of false reviews, slander, and spam – which is already becoming apparent.

What Do You Think?

So how effective is Google’s new SearchWiki? Are you really going to enter the site via Google search engine, find the information you were searching for, and then hit the back button a few times just to move that site up in search rankings (just for you)? You don’t know how relevant the site is until you actually visit it, right? Seems like a lot of work when there are simpler ways of achieving this goal. I mean, why not just bookmark it?

So you decide, is Google’s SearchWiki a new valuable tool, or impractical and inadequate for most?

For someone in the trenches of the SEM world almost every day, trade shows such as SES are quite refreshing as well as overwhelming. I had attended SES San Jose once before in 2006 and it was quite interesting to see how the show, and the industry, has changed.

In 2006, Social Media was prevailing but not the powerhouse that it was this year. You couldn’t walk down a row of booths this year without hearing “promotion through social media channels” or “Viral Content” or “Improving link quality”. Learning more about Social Media Optimization (SMO) from several of the exhibitors really opened my eyes to how the industry is creating tools and techniques in order to tie a number to SMO initiatives. In the past, blogs had been viewed as an avenue for branding or internal communication but had never been associated with revenue driving marketing. All that has changed. It is becoming more and more common for analytics programs to report on social media efforts. All in all, it was quite exciting to see SMO case studies from Fortune 500 companies that are using blogs, wikis and other forms of social networking.

Again, Google went all out with the dance. What a party! They had the dancing, volleyball and tons of food just like back in 2006, but the Glow in the Dark theme this year made the night come alive.

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