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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Things You Shouldn't Care About in PPC

I spend quite a bit of time reading various blogs and forums relating to PPC. One common theme in a lot of these places is the PPC questions asked by folks new to the PPC game. Here are a few common PPC questions that you quite frankly should not care about.

Question: What's an average CTR or is (insert % here) a good CTR.

Why it doesn't matter: I always advise people to focus on attaining the highest possible CTR they can, while of course keeping ROI in mind. A higher CTR will lead to a reduced CPC which if everything else is being done correctly should have a positive impact on ROI. Knowing what an "average CTR" is - even if it was possible to get that info (it's not) would do you and your campaign no good. In terms of a "good ctr", that's another metric that won't do you any good. To me a good CTR is one that gets my ad in the position I want for the price I want. Sometimes that's a CTR of less than 1%, other times it's 20 - 40% or more.

Even if someone could tell you the average CTR, or what a good CTR was it would do you no good.

Question: How can I get my ad in the top spot everytime?

Why it doesn't matter: Unless you're asking that question because you know, based on the data, that the top spot provides the best ROI for your campaign you're most likely wasting your time & money. Outside of brand terms, I've found the top spot in the majority of work I've done to be far from the best performing position in terms of ROI.

Question: Keyword tool XYZ told me I could get X number of clicks/impressions for keyword ABC. I set up a campaign to target that phrase but my numbers are no where near what the estimation said they would be. Is there a more accurate keyword forecast tool? How can I better estimate the amount of traffic I'll get/spend?

Why it doesn't matter: Keyword estimation tools, at this point, can't take into account all the variables associated with a campaign. People make the mistake of thinking that if keyword tool XYZ says a terms gets 100,000 impressions a day you can estimate a % of clicks you should get. Nothing is further from the truth. Aside from the where the data comes from question, there are a number of other variables (like all the other stuff on the serps for 1) that influence the actual traffic delivery. When asked for keyword estimates I have three possible answers I provide ~ high, medium or low. Anything more specific than that is just make believe. Run a small trial campaign and use the data gathered from it to arrive at an estimate.

Question: How many keywords should I bid on?

Why it doesn't matter: The number of keywords is in no way directly related to the success of a PPC campaign. You want to bid on the right keyword(s) for your situation. In some cases that may be 1. In other cases it may be 1,000,000. There's no "bid on this number of keywords and you will be successful" magic number.

Question: What do you think of ebook/book from AdWords Guru XYZ?

Why it doesn't matter: Unless you're asking a friend or associate you have no way of knowing if the person giving you the answer has any idea what they are talking about. This kind of advice is almost as worthless as keyword estimation tools;-)

Question: Where can I see what my competitor is bidding?

Why it doesn't matter: You can't, and even if you could it wouldn't do you any good.

Question: Can I find out what keywords my competition is bidding on?

Why it doesn't matter: Do some searching and you may be able to find some tools, if you're good enough you can probably build one of your own. I'll say this - the competition may not be as sophisticated as you think. Don't think just because they are bidding on something means it's working. Spend your time focusing on what you're bidding on and making it work. There's more to a successful campaign than just the keywords.

Those are just a few of the questions I see again and again that I don't think having the answers for would do anyone any good. Feel free to disagree:-)



At 10:15 AM, Blogger DatabaseDiva said...

Nice article, but (you knew there was a but...) I'm a new PPC advertiser, doing OK, not great. These are questions beginners would ask, no doubt. But what questions should we newbies be asking when we're not breaking any ROI records? I bid on highly competitive words and it's hard to know what next steps to take when you've covered all the basics. Nonetheless, thanks for giving me permission to perseverate less on the obvious non-issues.
Lori Feldman,

At 10:42 AM, Blogger Jeremy Mayes said...

Hey Lori,

Great site, the url is really catchy. Your question reminds me of something I'm sure we've all said or heard at some point - I don't know what I don't know:-)

Regarding your question; "But what questions should we newbies be asking when we're not breaking any ROI records?"

There's one series of questions new folks in PPC should ask at this point;

"what have I learned and how can I use that information to improve on what I'm doing in order to meet my objectives?"

Regardless of the objective there should be some actionable items one could gather from posing that question to themselves.

What's working and what's not? Why is what's working, working...and the same for what's not working.

Once you identify things that are working you can form additional tests in an effort to build on your initial success. Same for determining what's not working - you can use that information to your advantage when conducting additional tests. Once you've identified areas that don't work you can exclude them from your future tests and devote time/resources to better performing areas.

At 1:45 PM, Anonymous jeff said...

awesome post jeremy. do you mind if I put all of those on my office voicemail? it would save me an hour a day.


At 7:49 AM, Blogger Mustang67 said...

Great Jeremy, best post ever!
Can I do the same as Jeff? :o)
Seriously, I've been thinking about writing some stuff in order to educate our website visitors, and you made it briefly and brilliant! Congrats!

At 11:37 AM, Blogger Jeremy Mayes said...

Thanks Mustang.

Anyone have anything else they think people shouldn't worry about when it comes to PPC?

At 3:28 PM, Blogger J. Alex said...

But what if you find keywords that your competition is using and they're terms searched for often but have less competition? I use tools like Keyword Discovery and Wordtracker, plus the Google Analytics tools to research everything. Well maybe it's important to have good keywords, excellent Adwords copy and the right landing pages as well.

At 3:47 PM, Blogger Jeremy Mayes said...

Hey j. Alex, thanks for the comment.

YOU bidding on the right keywords is important. Whether or not your competition is, at least imo, is not. There are a finite number of keywords and keyword combinations. Anything your competitor can come up you can too - without knowing if they are bidding on it or not.

My advise to folks is to focus on your campaign and making it work for you or your business.

Rather than wondering about your compitors keywords, look at their landing pages. Odds are if they use the same landing page for an extended period of time it's working - study it and try and figure out why.

At 4:48 PM, Blogger Jeremy Mayes said...

Just wanted to add alink to this thread - average adwords conversion rates.


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