Stasia Holdren has trained over 5,000 people to improve their returns from the incredible advertising machine called Google AdWords.
Like all gifted trainers, she is great at simplyfing the complex. Google think so too.
They got her to develop the original Seminars for Success curriculum, and have endorsed her to train AdWords users, which she has been doing for over 5 years.
Listen to the interview for a review of some really important campaign settings you need to know about, as well as some of the newer functionality Google has recently introduced.
If you prefer to read, here is the transcript:
Philip: Anastasia’s one of only two Google endorsed Adwords trainers and has been doing this training since 2006 I believe. You were involved in the pilot study for the Adwords Seminars for Success weren’t you Anastasia?
Anastasia: That’s right I actually did develop the original curriculum into 2005 so I’ve been managing the program for them since then teaching the 101 and the 201 track.
Philip: So how did you get involved with Google?
Anastasia: It was so random. I was actually at a job that I really didn’t like at the time and I got a hard copy letter from Google that really gave no information. It said, hey, we’re starting this new program and we’re looking for people. Could you fill in this extremely in-depth questionnaire about yourself and submit it and we’ll get back to you.
So I said, what the heck and I did and I was about to turn it in and occasionally perhaps I have a tendency to be a bit of a procrastinator. So I was about to submit it and my husband looked at it and said, sweetheart, did you notice there is another side to this application?
And I read it and it said that I had to make a video of myself teaching a topic. So we literally ran down to the basement with a handheld camera and videoed and submitted it with minutes to spare.
And that was it and then six months later I got a call – I actually though it was a prank call. I didn’t believe it was actually Google calling me. But sure enough that was it and then I went through a grueling interview process, talked about a million different people in Mountain View and here I am today.
It’s been one of the luckiest things that’s ever happened to me.
Philip: Wow and we were talking before the show started that your real passion is teaching but you’ve been in online for quite a while haven’t you?
Anastasia: Yes it’s been about 14 years now, I sort of fell into it. At one point I was actually working my internet job to pay my tuition. You need a Masters degree in the US to teach in some states. And I was working towards that and then we moved and well I actually kind of liked this internet stuff so here I stayed.
And now I just coincidently it’s my passion with what I’ve been doing. So I get to teach and I get to teach about what I know which is fantastic.
Philip: Yeah, that’s awesome, that’s awesome. So you’ve obviously taught and trained thousands of advertisers. How many people do you think have been through your classes?
Anastasia: Oh goodness, probably 5000 or 6000 at this point.
Anastasia: I’ve been all over, it’s been great. I know most – I mean I really get to know a lot of people at these classes. Literally everyday today, I have a call helping a student from one of my previous classes. So I do keep in touch with them and hear about what’s been working and what hasn’t been working and it makes me a better teacher because I get to basically hear their experience over the years. So I love this. It’s great.
Philip: Yeah, well I had the good fortune of being one of your students as well and I can honestly say you’re a very gifted teacher. It was a great two days in Los Angeles, a couple of years ago.
Anastasia: Thank you, appreciate it.
Philip: So I believe your husband is also in online marketing and is one of the founders of a very popular search engine optimization tool called Raven Tools.
Anastasia: That’s correct.
Philip: Wow. So what hope do your children have? Your dinner conversations must be fascinating talking about search engine optimization and online marketing.
Anastasia: Well I have now idea if you all have been afflicted by Mind Craft which is this popular online gaming. But our seven year old daughter, that’s her love. She’s totally like her dad where she just wants to go in and play online games and they do together.
So she’s totally into the internet thing at age 7. So it’s working out pretty well.
Philip: Nice, nice.
Anastasia: I like going outside occasionally but I’m a little bit different I guess.
Philip: I’ve just had a daughter and I registered her profile on Twitter and my wife is shocked to say the least. Anyway moving on, so I’m really excited about the topics today.
We’re going to talk a little bit about some of the new functionality areas, some of the little areas of functionality, they’ve been around for a while that advertisers may not know about. So this is probably really well suited to the listeners who have been running campaigns for a while fairly familiar with the terminology and the structure and all that sort of stuff.
Things may be going pretty good but they are looking to get more out of their campaign and add some of the new functionalities so let’s get into it.
Anastasia let’s start off with the bidding options and the different types – some listeners who may not know the different types of bidding options. Can you walk us through manual vs. auto, enhanced and conversion optimizer?
Anastasia: Absolutely. So if you are a brand new advertiser and you had never done this before. When you create a campaign, one of the first things that you do is you specify your settings. And Google will ask you for a budget and a bidding option.
Google keeps renaming them. The UI calls them different things at different times, I think I have about 50 or 60 accounts that I manage frequently or from time to time and from account to account, the verbage is different.
So when you’re selecting a bidding option, if you’re brand new, I would recommend starting with automatic bidding to try to maximize click through target, target budget.
Now this was a feature previously called the budget optimizer and I’m fairly critical of it as a permanent strategy because what it does, it basically – you Google a budget. And you say, hey Google, you spend that budge for me and Google says why yes I can.
But if you’re brand new to it what it can do, it can give you a sense of what you might need to bid for a particular click to get started. And Google will just – well not just but in the last few months, released the saving grace of this feature where there is a check box that’s CPC bid limit.
And that means that yes, Google does manage your bids for your automatically but you can cap – you can say that’s great Google, you can figure out what I need to bid on a keyword but you can never spend more than $5 bucks.
And so that way you have at least that level of control where you’re not going to accidentally spend $10 for a click which might be worth 50c to you.
Philip: Right, so if you have a whole – let’s say you have a few hundred keywords, Google’s just going to put more money into the areas to get you the most amount of clicks for that budget. It’s not focused on conversions or click through’s, anything like that, just maximizing number of clicks?
Anastasia: That’s absolutely right. So if you partner you can start there to get a sense for what you might need to pay per click. I find that the other tools in the keyword like the estimator – they’re not that great. You might need to run this.
But let’s just say you ran that for a week or maybe two weeks until you have some data to work with. Then the next bidding model that I would switch to is called Manual bidding for clicks. And so now you’re not allowing Google to manage those clicks for you.
Now you’re saying, okay, I kind of have a baseline for what it’s going to cost me to get a click on one of these keywords. Now that I have that baseline let’s try this amount and then with the manual bidding, you can start to assign the bids based on what your value – the value to your business to each of these keywords. Then you can adjust.
Now you’ve got the groundwork for actually making the system work for you. And there’s another fantastic piece that you can layer on top of manual bidding for clicks. It’s called enhanced CPC. Now to use this layer, you have to first enable something called conversion tracking.
For any of your listeners who aren’t familiar, basically what it allows you to do is to specify a conversion. A conversion is when a click on your ad results in a desirable behaviour.
So let’s just take the easiest example which is ecommerce sites. So you want someone to do a search on Google, click on your ad and then buy your stuff. So that would be a conversion. So when you are just starting out and you have your manual bidding set up, you can set up conversion tracking and then you can click on this CPC bid limit as part of your bidding model.
What this does is it says, it gives Google a little leeway in your bid and Google has a much more multi dimensional view of the adwords auction. It knows where somebody is searching, it knows history of conversions on a particular query and it’ll say, hey Philip, based on your keyword and based on somebody’s search, we think that there’s a really good likelihood that a conversion will happen.
And so in this case they could let you bid as much as 30% more than you specify. And conversely it could say Oh Philip, we haven’t see great results on this keyword so we’re actually going to lower your bid based on the conversion history.
So that is the next level that I would work to on bidding models.
Philip: So yeah, Anastasia if you have conversion tracking set up which I encourage everybody to do. So let’s assume everybody is doing that which is a dangerous assumption but would you then recommend unequivocally that they should use the enhanced CPC bidding?
Anastasia: Yes absolutely.
Philip: Okay, and that’s taking away any of the manual bidding that they are going to have to do in the coming weeks and months?
Anastasia: No that’s not true, you’re still doing manual bidding per clicks. But let’s just say that you’re saying okay, for this ad group my default max CPC bid is $2 and so you’ve set that as the limit you want to pay.
But based on the enhanced CPC Google may allow you to go a little bit over – upto 30% over on an individual click if they think it is likely to get that conversion. So you’re still going to be doing the manual bidding but the next step in this process. I like to think of this as the ongoing process.
The nice thing about enhanced CPC is that there is no minimum number of conversions. You could have zero conversion. You could turn it on – conversion tracking right now and then you could enable CPC – you can enable the enhanced CPC right away.
Now the next step is something called conversion optimizer and that is hands down my favourite bidding model because now it flips everything over. It’s not the automatic bidding where Google’s just trying to spend your money, it’s not manual bidding where you are trying to figure out on your own whether or not a click is profitable for your business.
Conversion optimizer is actually going to adjust your bids automatically based on the predicted conversion rate of that search query and that keyword and if you’re displaying on the Google display network, the GDN, even on the past history of conversions for that particular site or that category of sites.
And the whole point of this tool is to work towards a CPA goal that you will specify. So if you know what the value of a lead is to your business, then you can express that as a CPA goal, then you can use conversion optimizer to get that for you. So that is the best, the best bidding model that you can work toward.
You need conversion within 30 days, that’s the big caveat . It used to be like 300, then it went to a 100 and then 50 but now you only need 15. So that’s actually fairly obtainable.
The more data you have as far as how conversions are happening, the better predictions the tool will be able to make on your behalf. So if you just have 15 conversions, it will do. Hey, but if you’re getting into the 50 conversions, 100 conversions, it’s going to start to really make money for you.
And my clients who have turned this on, it literally I mean you can read the Google case studies and you’re like oh wow, they’re really painting a rosy picture but literally with the clients that I have that have turned it on, I’ve seen the lowest increase was at 14% in their conversion rate. The other was like 23-24% increase in conversions at the same cost. So it’s amazing
Philip: So for lead generating sites that conversions are probably going to be a contact form or an enquiry form- I’m just thinking one particular client we have, they have job application process as well which we set up as a conversion and they get lots of job applications there. They employ a couple of 100 staff and they are always looking for a reasonably high staff turnover.
So if we don’t really want to focus too much on those as a conversion and be more interested in a sales enquiry, I guess this could distort some of the performance of the campaign.
We just got to be careful what’s included as a conversion right?
Anastasia: Right and it’s whatever you specify in your conversion tracking. If that is not a meaningful conversion for you then you may consider just deleting that or pausing it, really only using it based on what you value is the true intent of the ad.
You could also – conversions would apply to all of the campaigns, you really can’t isolate it in that sense. So if someone pulls out a lead gen form, that could get applied to the optimizer when you really want to track the sale.
You could try to funnel them in through your landing page so it’s very clear what you want them to do but I think you better pause it if you really don’t want to count that conversion.
Philip: Okay great. Just a quick one – talk about conversion tracking, the set up of conversion tracking requires additional code to be put on the thank you page after the action has been completed. Now you can also import your goals from analytics into your conversions. Can you talk a little bit about that and the benefits of doing that?
Anastasia: It’s so easy!
Philip: And why wouldn’t you do that? Should you still set up conversion tracking like you used to a little while ago when you have to add new code or should you just import from analytics?
Anastasia: Well, I do both just because – look at the difference. So for conversion tracking in Adword it’s simply a piece of code that goes on the thank you page and it’s just really a yes or no. Did it happen or did it not.
With Google Analytics you’re setting that up as part of your overall tracking where you can see okay, well what else did this visitor do when they went to the site. What did they look at? How long did they stand? What keywords, what queries did they type in to get there and all that stuff.
So you’re going to get a whole lot more rich information on the analytics side where it’s setting up to goals. Now at the end of the day though when you import them as AdWords, it’s simply a button.
So if you go to where you would find conversion tracking – if you go to the recordings and tools tab at the top and then you click on conversions which is part of the drop down list, there’s a little button that says import from Google Analytics and if you have them set up, it just magically appears there and then that will increase the number of conversions in your account which is nice because then you could get closer to that 15 conversion minimum which is required for conversion optimizers.
That would be the big benefit for doing it.
Philip: Awesome. That is a fantastic explanation, love it. Let’s move onto
Anastasia: Okay. I’ve got more, I’m sorry
Philip: I’m sorry?
Anastasia: I’ve got one more bit
Philip: Oh fire away, fire away
Anastasia: Sorry. So now I’ve talked about all this stuff with the bidding on keywords, there’s one other option that is available called CPM bidding. And that’s when you bid a certain amount or you’re willing to pay a certain amount for every thousand times Google shows your ad whether it’s clicked on or not.
This is only available for campaigns that are targeting the Google display network and the reason that I like this model is that I’m increasingly working with clients who really want to focus on branding campaigns or the branding is the first part of their strategy.
They are wanting people to search for them, the people who don’t know about them yet. So they need to get their name out. So they are using the GDN, they are targeting specific sites or topics of sites and they just want their add to appear so people will start to get some recognition for their brand.
When you show an image or a video ad on the Goggle Display Network, you run into a problem because there’s a specified space. Just let’s say that’s a 250×250 or 728×90. In that given spot Adwords could show as many as four or five other text ads.
So to win a position with one of these other formats, you have to beat out the ad rank of the four competing ads below you. Basically you have to beat them by four in the auction. And so with CPM bidding it takes that out of the equation because Google know that the only way they’re going to get paid is if they show your ad a thousand times.
So if you want to show image in video ads, then I would recommend using CPM bidding. You may have to pay a little bit per 1000 impressions, there will be a little bit of experimentation on your part to see how much your bid needs to be. But that’s a great way to bid for a true branding campaign. Does that make sense?
Philip: Wow very smart, yeah, I didn’t know that. I understood what CPM bidding was but I didn’t understand the benefit of that strategy behind that. That’s great.
Anastasia: Yeah and I’ll give you one more little tip on that. It will count as an impression for every 1000 times an ad is shown but what if that web page is really, really long and the likelihood of the person who’s visiting the website to get to that bottom is minimal.
There’s a really nice little exclusion or little filter that Google totally buried in their account. The way you would find this is you would select from the campaign’s tab at the top, you would select the campaign and then you would go to the tab that’s labeled networks.
They’re called roll-up tabs in the middle. Then at the bottom of that you’ll see a little blue link labeled exclusions and the right side there’s a drop down where it says at the campaign level, you can add exclusions and you pick the second drop down option which is labeled exclude category.
Okay I know there are a lot of steps to get but then once you’re here, you see a really long list of all of these places where you can prevent your ads from appearing. And the second to last option is a filter labeled below the fold. So if you are doing CPM bidding and it’s really important to you that you ads appear at the “top” of someone’s computer monitor, you could select that exclusion below the fold filter.
So Google can only show your ads in placements near the top of the page. I think that’s really important, a lot of people don’t know about it.
Philip: Awesome, great tip, really great tip.
Anastasia: Alright I’m done with bidding.
Philip: Beautiful, that’s a phenomenal – I think it’s one area that is often overlooked. People just focus on manual or automatic but don’t really think about the other options.
Anastasia: Yes and it just depends on what the whole point of your campaign and what the strategy of your campaign is. These different options, they perform better based on what you’re trying to do.
Philip: Yeah I like that CPM bidding tip as well. I haven’t experimented too much with CPM, everything – most of our work is around CPC.
Anastasia: Yes it’s a good one.
Philip: Great, so let’s move on to another campaign setting which is under the advanced settings and the campaigns settings tab. And that’s ad scheduling – yes I guess a fairly easy one to explain but maybe you can talk a little bit about some tips and why you’d want to look at the ad scheduling setting?
Anastasia: Okay. Under advanced settings, it’s labeled schedule start date and ad scheduling. By default your ads show 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So simply it allows you to decide on what days and what hours of particular days you would prefer that your ad appear.
It doesn’t change anything in the option. It just means that rather than having a 24 hour period to show your ad, that might be an 8 hour period. So that’s how the tool works.
There is also an option in here called advanced ad scheduling and what that allows you to do is basically add a multiplier to it. So you can say, I want to multiply my bid ‘x’ per cent during this period of time because I know that that is a profitable or less profitable time for me.
So that’s sort of the mechanics of how this tool works. Let’s think of different scenarios where that might actually apply to a campaign. So some of your clients – some people who are listening to this presumably, you sell something, you can only make the sale – you can only close the sale when you talk to somebody on the phone.
And so you may find that your most effective time to advertise is during times of the day when you’re actually in the office or your sales staff is in the office to answer the phone. So in this case you might actually use the scheduling to show your ads only during your office hours. So that would be one example.
Going along with that, every single adwords account, when you first created it, remember you specified a time zone and that time zone is what your account is based off of. So if it’s – I’m in central time in the US so mine works on a midnight to midnight scheduled based on the central time in the US which is going to be different from you.
Another thing to layer on top of this ads scheduling is something called your delivery method. So let’s just say that you want to show your ads from 9 to 5 when you know you’re answering the phone but now you also want to make sure that Google shows your ads as quickly as possible because that’s your profitable time.
Another option – this one they keep moving this. Now this is under something called bidding and budget and there is a menu item labeled delivery method. By default it will be labeled standard and standard shows your ads evenly over time meaning that if you have a 24 hour period, it’ll show your ad evenly as it can based on your budget.
If you pick the accelerated delivery though, then it’s going to show your ad or it’s going to enter your keywords into the option that show your ad every single time someone does a search on it. And you might run out of budget fairly quickly but if that’s the period of time you’re most likely to make the sale then that’s okay.
That would be one way that you would sort of layer them on top of each other. Another thing that you can’t get from adwords that you can layer into this is knowledge of when you’re actually completing conversions through your ecommerce site or whatever systems you’re using.
So if you see that all of your conversions are happening say between 5pm and 8pm but your ad spend is astronomical in the wee hours of the morning after that, then you may want to decrease your budget. Maybe you may want to turn your ads off entirely using this ad schedule and feature if you know that that is a period of time when you have significant ad spend and very little conversion activity on your side of the business.
But that’s going to take knowledge of what’s happening on your side as well as the reports from Adwords. Does that make sense?
Philip: Yeah perfect sense. So you could have – if you had different campaigns set for display and search which you should – that’s a definite in my opinion, you could be running different scheduling for different types of campaign so your display ads could be showing over a longer period when you want to create demand and maybe people are researching in the evening or on weekends but maybe you have your search campaign on business hours Monday to Friday 9 to 5 or whatever it is to capture that when they’re searching and they want to speak to somebody.
Anastasia: That is exactly correct and you brought up one of Anastasia’s pet peeves is about splitting up campaigns and I didn’t reiterate that but you just did, yes.
Philip: We mentioned that before. We actually – the other endorsed Google trainer is Brad Geddes and he was on Episode No. 4 and he is also as you know a fantastic trainer and we were talking about it then.
I think that default switch where the display network is on automatically or by default.
Anastasia: Is that awful?
Philip: Well it’s that single decision to have it on by default is fairly well hidden I think. That must make Google in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Anastasia: I do not doubt it. I have met so many small business owners who have spent tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands on that button.
Philip: And Google have themselves said you need to separate your display and your search yet it’s on by default which is just nuts.
Philip: But anyway, let’s move on, that’s cool. The other area that we’re going to talk about is Ad Extensions and there’s been quite a lot of innovations in these ad extensions over the last 12 months or so and there’s a good couple of ad extensions. So maybe we start off with location?
Philip: Maybe give a bit of an overview what ad extensions are?
Anastasia: Yes let me tell you what it is, and this is another one of those Anastasia’s pet peeves on the Adwords interface. When you first create a campaign one of the things you’ll see – so you walk through the settings page and then you go and create your ad creative and your keywords and all that good stuff.
And when you first set it up, the ad extensions are part of that initial settings wizard. Then once you’ve saved your campaign you can’t edit it there anymore. So for existing campaigns, you actually have to go to a new roll up tab, not the settings tab, that’s labeled ad extensions.
And for some reason for some of my clients, it’s not on by default. There’s a little down arrow at the end of the roll up tabs and you can actually click on that and it gives you other options like audiences, ad extensions, auto target topics. So you can turn it on to see it.
When you get to the ad extensions tab, you will see a grey box on the left corner and for some reason it’s a little difficult to notice if you don’t know what you’re looking for. But that’s what you’re looking for, it says ‘view’ with a colon and then it will tell you which extension you’re actually managing at that time. Right now there are four basic product Adword extensions that you can use.
So let’s start with the first one which is location extensions. So Philip tell me how are Google maps and Google places in Australia?
Philip: Yeah, no it’s big, it’s big.
Anastasia: Okay good
Philip: And I keep telling businesses if you haven’t claimed your listing in Google places, do it now.
Anastasia: Yes absolutely do it now. And if for no other reason than you get this handy little reward where with the location extensions basically you can connect your places account with your adwords account. And Google will reward you for using their products by displaying your address, your phone number, sometimes even a map with directions underneath your ad for free.
So it really – by extension, it’s going to make your ad bigger and ultimately what it’s come down to is how do I make a searcher notice my ad and visit that. What separates me from the others. With location extensions, particularly for a local business, I know where you are and you are convenient, you have a really big advantage.
If I see a map there where I can get directions, there’s a big advantage. Now Google recently started charging for getting directions from an extension by clicking on that with a map that is associated with your ad. So keep in mind that if people take action on the extension, it does cost you money but it’s going to be the same as if they clicked on your ad. So…
Philip: Yeah, but yeah, yeah, I think that’s a good point but essentially you’re going to be happy with that, that’s the whole objective, right? I mean if they are looking for directions, ideally they are coming to buy from you.
Anastasia: That’s right.
Philip: Or they could be coming to complain I suppose, so…
Anastasia: Yeah if they are doing that, they are interested in you and so I really don’t have any problems paying for that. But that’s the location extensions and it’s such an easy thing to set up. One tip with that just to make your lives easier, so you have a login to your adwords account, I strongly recommend that a business use that same login for all these Google products. So the same username/password that you use to log in to Adwords, you should also use that to login into places. It just makes it easier to connect these products.
So the next one is call extension and this is really cool, it’s based off of Google voice and what it basically does is it allows you to then – basically Google will display a phone number for you that will then ring in to your business line.
So Google will know, okay someone called this number and so we track it that way and that can count towards conversions for you. So basically you can see – you’ll see basically, it’s called your click through rate but really it’s how many people called the phone number. And the accounts that I’ve set it up in, it’s worked really well. I mean I’ve seen extremely strong click through rates being measured by calls into the phone number that is displayed with an ad.
Philip: So how does that relate to ‘click to call’ when if you’re targeting a mobile device?
Anastasia: Okay, click to call is best for advertisers who do not have a mobile enabled website or if you’re just far more likely to make the prospect by getting someone to run into you. So the way that works, it’s instantly and the mobile advertisement is not for smart phones. It doesn’t apply, I use an iPhone, it doesn’t apply to that.
It’s really for an older style phone and so now instead of seeing a link to your website, we will see the phone number and we just click on that. It magically rings into the business and that’s how Google tracks the “click” based on the phone call that came in connection with that ad. And you have that option with the call extension.
You can say, there’s something called the call only format and so only the phone number will be clickable when it’s shown on a device. So that’s how the call extensions work.
Philip: Excellent, what’s next?
Anastasia: Okay, the third extension is called Product Extensions. And this is applicable to anybody listening who has an ecommerce forum. To use this extension, you have to list your products in something called Google’s Merchant Centre.
The Merchant Centre products make up what we see when we do a product search. So if you go to Google.com and then you click on view products for this search query, that basically changes the view to Google Products and all of those products are pulled from these accounts.
Philip: So just a quick note for the Australian listeners. Google Merchant Centre was released a couple of months ago in April, so April 2011. So it’s fairly new in this country.
Philip: Yeah it is, yeah.
Anastasia: It’s been around a long time in the US.
Philip: Yeah we’re a bit behind the times on that but so now most listeners will probably not be too familiar with it but…
Anastasia: Well think of it this way, we worked out all the kinks for you
Philip: That’s awesome, we appreciate it. So I encourage listeners to go – just Google the google merchant centre blog, there’s a fair bit of information on there and how you can get your product feeds from you ecommerce site into the merchant centre and that will enable a lot more search activity within – I think it’s within, yes, the shopping button when people search on Google, they click shopping. They can see product information and photographs and all that sort of stuff so I highly recommend it.
Anastasia: Yes, and when you do that, what will happen – I mean there’s a few things that can happen. Some really cool things actually. Let me first step back a little bit. Now that I know it’s new in Australia, just a few tips on that.
What you’ll basically be doing is setting up an XML feed that will bring your products into the shopping database. There’s actually in Google’s Help Centre, there’s a pretty comprehensive list of the mandatory attributes and the optional attributes that you put in for each product.
Generally you’ll be more successful if you include more information about each of the products. What Google will do is they’ll say let’s just say somebody goes to Google and they search for costumes for dogs because people here love to dress up their dogs in costumes.
So if you see that, sometimes you will see an adwords ad that says show products for this ad and you click it open and then you’ll see a bunch of thumb nails with photos. Those thumb nails are being pulled from that advertiser’s merchant centre account, from the feed that they are putting in. So that’s another great way to get this free visual that goes along with your ads.
So not only have I found you on search but I can see based on the images that you have the products that I want. There’s also relatively new format called Products Listing Ads. Have you seen them yet? Are they in Australia?
Philip: The Products – say that again. The products listing ads?
Anastasia: The Products Listing Ads and this is a little bit different than a product extension and so it’s off topic from the extensions tab but it goes along with merchant centre where now what will happen is typically at the top right hand corner above the right search results, you’ll see just a thumb nail and then the name of the product and the price and the link to the store.
That’s another ad format that they are still experimenting with here in the US but it has been extremely effective for the clients who are using it and for me, people who have taken my classes. So that’s another nice benefit that you get in the merchant centre.
Philip: Nice, nice. Excellent, so we’re onto the fourth ad extension which is sitelinks.
Anastasia: Oh yes. So the fourth one – this is one of my favourites, everybody can do this. You don’t need to do anything fancy with it. If you’ve ever done a search on Google and then you’ve seen an ad on the top yellow box and then you’ve seen as many as four – actually now I’ve seen as many as six additional links underneath it. Those are site links.
Basically what you can do at the campaign level – I really wish it was at the Ad group level – unfortunately it’s restricted to a particular campaign at this point. But what you can do is you basically add upto four additional display and destination URLs.
There’s a really big store here called Pottery Barn catalogue business rather. If you did a search for Pottery Barn on Google, I see six additional links underneath their standard Adwords ad and it’s labeled furniture, bedding, accessories and pillows, sales, free shipping, free shipping on all pillows.
So basically what this business has done is they’ve identified as many as six really popular categories and their able to give the searcher more options. So maybe I didn’t want to click on their main URL, their primary display URL but maybe I really want to buy a pillow now that I know that shipping is free.
So now they’ve sort of incentivised me into clicking on a different area of their site and it’s the same parameters where you get a 35 character limit for the display URL and 10/24 for your destination URL.
It’s basically now you can have seven display URLs with your ad. So really cool.
Philip: It’s awesome. I mean so essentially these ad extensions are about making your ad more meaningful to users which will increase your click through rates. You’re going to stand out from your competitors, you’re going to get a high click through rate, that’ll effect your quality score. It’s just a no brainer, aren’t they?
Anastasia: Yes. I like them because they don’t cost you more to implement. Only if you actually get the click and that’s what we’re going for.
Philip: Nice. Anything more to say on the extensions before we move on?
Anastasia: No, no, I know I’m talking too much.
Philip: No, no, absolutely not. This is good, this what we want.
Anastasia: Okay, I’ll move on.
Philip: Excellent, let’s move onto the dimensions tab which is a tab which you have to enable on that drop down area you spoke about earlier. Give us some insights into what that dimensions tab is for and how to use it.
Anastasia: Okay. The dimensions tab basically gives you a way to view and segment the performance of your account by dimension of your choice. By dimension I mean over a period of time or based on conversion activity or based on the demographic or the geography of that searcher. So it’s giving us views based on a dimension that we select of what’s happening in our account over a period of time.
For example you could use the report and your could see that you are actually getting ten times the activity in Brisbane than you are in Sydney or that look, you’re getting surprise month traffic in Perth. So this is going to show you what’s happening and where on the dimension of your choice.
Now there’s another feature in your account a segment and segment, you can actually see that pretty much on all the other rules of tab. You see it on the campaigns and ad groups and ads and keywords, not in networks. But that’s similar to the dimensions tab in the sense that what the segmentation, we can segment by the network.
So we can break up the data that we are looking at – show me broken out by click type or the network or the day of the week or the quarter, things like that. But the big difference between the dimensions tab and the segment link is that dimensions allows you to look at the account as a whole. So we can see what is happening spanning across all the campaigns.
Whereas the segment option really only let’s us look at that one piece of the account. Even if you go to online campaigns and you do the segment feature, it’s going to break it out campaign by campaign. So we can get a clear picture over everything. That’s what the dimensions is for.
If you’re curious about what’s happening in where, this is the place to go to look for it. And again like you said, you have to enable the tab from the drop down and just like I showed you with extensions, you look for that little grey box on the left corner under the roll up tab and then you can select to the dimensions.
So if I highlight over time, I can then select the day or week or day or quarter or hour of day, etc. and then I can see exactly what’s happening.
Another thing with that ad scheduling, the thing that we talked about before, you can combine that with dimensions. So if you’re looking at a dimension to view the hour of the day, I can see based on the hour what kind of activity. I can see differences in click through rates or my differences in my conversion rate or my cost per conversion over a particular hour of the day.
Then I can use that to work with that ad scheduling to make changes based on my performance.
Philip: Great, great. So this dimension and segment areas are really powerful areas and it’s something that you could spend days and days analyzing. The hard part comes in knowing what to look at and how to do it in a quick time as quickly as possible.
Anastasia: Yeah, ask yourself what do you want to know. Before you even open this tab, decide what am I trying to figure out? What am I going for here? And that will make this much more manageable.
So maybe it’s literally I want to see where in Australia I’m selling stuff or people are visiting me. So then I would go to geographic version and then I would look based on that to see the answer to my question. So you use these tools to answer your business questions, unless you just enjoy looking at tools. But really, I mean, how many people do that?
Philip: Absolutely, I think there was a new segment slice that was introduced a little while ago which is a top vs. side showing your ads in the top three or in the right hand side which I think is quite an interesting one.
Anastasia: Yes isn’t that nice? And that’s becoming a big priority for people. There’s a really big, there’s a lot of competition for top versus side. In your previous podcast did you explain the difference in getting to top versus side? I don’t remember hearing that.
Philip: No, no.
Anastasia: So anyone who’s interested. You may know when you do a search on Google, you could see ads in that yellow box above the organic results. Those are your top results, your top ad results and then the others are at the side.
So the top results are awarded to advertisers who have met three criteria. First of all they have an extremely high quality score and quality score is measured at the keyword level. Ironically enough it is one of those things that’s not on by default. You actually have to turn it on to see it within your account on the keywords tab.
So you have to have a high quality score first, second of all you have to extremely relevant where the query is extremely relevant to the keyword in your ad group and they are both extremely relevant to the ad text that you have.
The third criteria and final is that you met some sort of minimum bid threshold that Google won’t tell you about. So you don’t even know you have to bid to be there but there is a minimum price to appear in that yellow box. So that’s the difference between top and side and how you get there.
Philip: So it’s a mix of quality campaign, quality ad or quality keywords and your bid price.
Anastasia: That’s exactly right.
Philip: So it’s very closely tied to ad rank.
Anastasia: Yes. It’s possible for you to have an ad rank, be first place in the adwords auction but your bid did not meet the minimum threshold so then you would appear on the right hand side.
Philip: Is anything to do with commercial intent as to whether you appear in the top or the right hand sides. So if it’s not a very commercial intent driven search item, it could be on the right?
Anastasia: I haven’t seen anything about that. I mean if we correlate commercial intent to the likelihood of that click through rate because your CTR is a huge component in your quality score. So if you could make that correlation but not directly, they won’t immediately reward you with the yellow box for commercial intent.
Philip: Awesome, alrighty. Let’s move onto automated rules then. We were talking before the show started that there are some dangers in this automated rules. What are these rules? How can you use them and when shouldn’t you use them?
Anastasia: Okay, if you are an SME, a small or medium sized business and adwords is not your full time job. I generally would discourage people from using these rules because if you use them improperly, then you can really get yourself into a bit of trouble.
Basically – and the intention of this is good. I think eventually this will be a very good feature for all advertisers because what it allows you to do is it allows you to automatically make changes without having to manually login and review what’s happened and then increase bids or change your ad text or things like that.
This is a relatively new feature. It’s been in the US for a while but it was released to all advertisers in February of this year and what you can do is you can create upto ten of them at a time. You can only have ten running and if you set them up, you manage them from the left preview where there is actually link labeled automated rules and that’s where you can see them.
You can make a rule that says when my average position of my ad drops below – my average position is worse than 3 then raise my bid by x%. That’s an example of what one of these rules might look like.
But the problem is that you have to fairly mathematical about it to extrapolate in this scenario what could be the outcome of this rule. A lot of people don’t do that. So there was one example that I read about that I liked. You might think that okay, I should change my bid based on my click through rate.
If my click through rate is bad, maybe I don’t want to pay any money for it or I want to pay less money for it because that’s a lower quality keyword. Let’s just say you set up a rule that says “lower my bid if my click through rate is low.”
What happens is that Google when then bid less and then your ad goes further down the page and then your click through rate will probably drop even more. So then you bid will lower again and then basically you’ll just be basically off the page entirely because every time you lower your bid, you go lower, your click through rate drops and they lower your ad even more.
So that’s an example of how you can sort of get into this downward spiral. You can see the decline. So you need to be very, very careful and understand how any rules that you implement are going to impact the rest of your account. Particularly when you are making any changes based on performance matrix.
I mean it’s just like if the rule is ‘turn my ads off on the weekends’ you can do that with ads scheduling anyway or turn any ads off that mention this holiday on this date, the day after the holiday, sure you can do things like that.
But you need to be really careful when you’re making changes based on performance matrix. Generally unless you’re really savvy and you really want to monitor this, I would avoid it.
Philip: Excellent, okay, that’s interesting. So it looks like – on the face of it it looks like it could save you a lot of time and it’s quite a simple way to improve the way you work but it can be very dangerous.
Anastasia: Yeah do a couple of searches on it and read any non Google websites and you’ll hear the internet outcry of people who have foreseen the problems with it. That being said, once they’ve sort of made it a little less “dangerous”, I think it’s going to be a handy feature for helping automate some of the business and process.
Philip: I mean it looks like they are trying to creep into some of these PPC software space with automation around bid pricing and bid rules and that sort of thing.
Anastasia: Absolutely exactly what they are doing.
Philip: And I’m sure this is going to get a lot more complex as the years progress.
Anastasia: Yes, yes. I never get bored teaching because literally every month there’s something new for me to learn.
Philip: We’ll include links to the adwords innovations blog which is a fantastic resource for business owners and you can see how much change is actually rolled out. I mean they seem to be putting out something, new piece of functionality every week. It’s quite amazing.
Anastasia: Yes, it’s absolutely true. It’s a challenge keeping up with everything.
Philip: So what one of the other little changes that they introduced recently was using a longer headline in the ad. So using the first line and bumping it up into the headline. Can you explain that?
Anastasia: Okay, so this change launched I believe in February of this year and this effects only ads that appear in that yellow box that I just described. So those are the ads where you have high bid and high quality score.
What Google will do is if you have your ad wins that place in the auction and appears there, Google will evaluate the structure of the words in your ad and if it appears that your headline and your description line one are two distinct sentences and it ends with punctuation, what they’ll do is they will pull that description line one up into the headline and separate them with a hyphen.
Now basically it’s taking your 25 character limit or your headline and then adding an additional 35 separated by a hyphen. So it makes your ad stand up that much more and the headline is bolded so it’s really going to be – it’s going to be quite nice if you get that position. That’s the gist of it.
I haven’t seen it actually in a whole lot of ads when I’ve done my searches so I know it’s available but my experience as a searcher so I don’t see it very often. I don’t know if that’s because advertisers aren’t properly structuring their ad texts to take advantage of it. That’s the gist of it.
Philip: And have you seen it increasing click through rates?
Anastasia: None of my clients have actually – no that’s not true, some of my clients have actually seen that in some of their ads. That’s a good question, I haven’t really looked at that Philip so I have to check.
I suspect it would – these are clients, they already have top position in the yellow box. They’re getting pretty darn good click through rate already just based on their position. I guess the short answer to your question is most of those clients are feeling pretty darn good about where their ads are appearing already.
It’s too soon for me to tell.
Philip: Yes, I mean you think it’s a good thing but yeah, I don’t have the data either but you assume it’s good. Beautiful, that’s a great discussion on some of the new functionalities. Let’s talk about some more general issues and you’ve obviously, as you said, trained thousands and thousands of advertisers.
At a higher level what’s the biggest mistake that you see most advertisers make? Let’s talk about somebody who’s been managing their own account for a year or so spending a couple of thousand dollars upwards a month. What’s the one or two biggest mistakes you see them making?
Anastasia: Well I mean, at the risk of sounding like a broken record but it really is true, the biggest one is the lack of account structure where you have a client, I mean I’m looking at an old example of this account.
One campaign, one adgroup, hundreds of keywords in there talking about everything that happens to be in the salon in the street, every single service that the salon offered – hair styling, hair colouring, extensions, leg waxing, botox, everything.
Each of those specific themes really needed to be split out into its own adgroup. Another thing that I’m seeing more and more which is interesting are advertisers who are including keywords that are about products or services they don’t actually offer but may be high traffic.
So don’t do that, there’s someone searching for that. That’s what they want to find and yeah maybe your ad will show but if you don’t actually offer that service, that’s really not a good bet for you as far as your adwords campaign.
Another big thing that I’m seeing – I’ve been teaching this since 2006, I feel like everyone must know about this by now but they don’t. Lot of people don’t know about negative keywords and negative keywords filter out all the junk coming, all the things you don’t offer, you don’t sell, that aren’t related to your products.
I think that a lot of advertisers, they add a few in and they think they’re done but your negative keyword list is never through. One of the funniest – I think it’s a funny example. I talk about it, I think this might have been post you coming to my class.
There is a woman who’s business sells swimming pools and hot tubs and spas and things like that. She noticed in her Google Analytics reports that there had a been a huge spike in traffic in 2010 and she tried to figure out what had happened.
During that period of time the movie Hot Tub Time Machine was released and so she didn’t have time machine as a negative keyword in her hot tub advert and she saw a significant ad spike or ad spend spike during that period of time. So you never know what’s going to happen and you really need to keep on top of these negative keywords.
Philip: Okay. I’m expecting a real good pitch for Google Adwords generally, how difficult and I think cost per click prices are constantly going up, how difficult is it for an advertiser to make money with Google Adwords these days? It’s obviously very competitive, I still think Australia is a little bit behind the US in terms of take up but I know lots and lots of businesses have tried out Adwords and have failed miserably. Are there certain industries where you think it’s really, really tough going? What are your thoughts just generally on how easy it is to make money with Adwords?
Anastasia: Well, I had a call today with a very nice gentleman and I basically told him that he had to scrap Adwords what he was advertising so for some businesses it just won’t work. His particular angle is he was trying to market an ebook and it was a legitimate book that he wrote but that is just one very, very competitive area where Google admit they have in their documentation, they almost penalize you for advertising on ebooks.
So there are certain topics, certain industries you just can’t make it work. It’s difficult to do anything with gambling or anything that’s related to gambling because the keywords that you want to use maybe restricted.
Anytime that the products or service that you have, even if they just seem similar to one of these topics you’ll have a hard time using it. I’ve seen people who sell really, really high end stuff. For example I had a realtor who specialized in very, very expensive homes in California in the millions, the multiple millions of dollars and she had not seen a whole lot of success with Adwords probably because those people aren’t doing a Google search to find a million dollar ranch or ten million dollar ranch.
I think you really need to look at – Adwords works well for very, very niche topics. I tell you one of – a client who I’m working with who does extremely well on Adwords and actually putting it right now. He sent me a sample, he sells something called the Worry Stone and basically it’s a rock.
It’s a very attractive smooth rock that you can hold in your finger – you can basically put your thumb in and rub it when you feel nervous and they sell for like $3 or something but he’s making a killing off of Adwords because it’s such a niche product.
If someone does a search for a purple amethyst worry stone and he’s bidding on that keyword and he has a website that makes it easy to buy then he’s got it made.
But if someone does a search for garden supplies, well that kind of keyword, that could be a billion different things. That’s going to be a tougher thing to advertise. It works best when you have a fairly niche product. You may not get incredible search volume on those keywords but if you can make conversion then you may not have to spend a whole lot of money to actually make a profit with Adwords.
Philip: Agreed, agreed and I think the one area that I encourage clients to think about is life time value of a customer or even the value of that customer for the entire year. So there’s nothing wrong with losing money on the acquisition straight up if you can make money on them over time.
So really understanding your numbers around profitability of customers is absolutely critical.
Anastasia: Absolutely and what do they say that it’s a thousand times harder to acquire a customer than to keep them.
Anastasia: You want them in the door, that’s right. So with your Adwords you can track what it costs you and maybe it costs me $30 to sell this one worry stone in my hand but you’re right and that person might want to buy 50 more for all their friends and I just dropped it and now I need another one. So I might have to go back and order one for myself.
But that’s it, that’s exactly right. Now I know about them so once I have awareness of your website, of your business then you have that opportunity to develop that relationship.
Now you as the website publisher should give people a way to remember you which is stay in touch. So that might be giving people an option to sign up for specials, do whatever you can to nurture that relationship because you may have to outlay some cash to actually get them to your site or to your store but then you’ve got the best opportunity to keep them.
Philip: Beautiful, so I’m conscious of time Anastasia, we could be speaking about this for days but it is late there and I’m sure you want to get back to your family. Let’s close on what would be your favourite innovation for Adwords in the next sort of one to two years?
Anastasia: Favourite innovation with Adwords
Philip: What would you like to see them implementing?
Anastasia: I would really like them to see a more accessible use of the remarketing feature. Have you all seen that yet?
Philip: Yeah I think that’ll be a great topic for another show. We’ve been doing a fair bit with that. That’s pretty exciting, online stalking to its highest level.
Anastasia: Absolutely and I think that other products are doing it better. Right now Google is remarketing is fairly simplistic where I visit your website and then I can see your ad. You can do some fantastic stalking techniques. One of my favourite sites is Sundance because Sundance had a lot of catalogues.
I literally see ads that show me funmails of the particular shoes and jewellery that I was earlier perusing in the day. Now that’s really good marketing. Makes me think boy, I really want that Lotus 14K gold ring and then I see pictures of it all day long because I happened to be on that web page.
So that is fantastic. So that’s what I really want to see with Adwords. And I think we’re going to get there.
Philip: Beautiful. Would you like to come back for another show? We can get into Rep remarketing apart?
Anastasia: I would love to do that Philip.
Philip: Awesome, well thanks Anastasia, you’ve been fantastic. Where can people find you on the web?
Anastasia: You can find me at PPC-Boot-camp.com and I’m sorry, one shameless plug. I’m the pending author of Google Adwords which will be published by O’Reilly media and so that should be out in September.
So if you want to read my book, please look for it then.
Philip: Beautiful, we’ll update the show notes as well with a link to that. And on Twitter, are you on Twitter?
Anastasia: Yes I’m @Anastasia Holdren
Philip: So that’s S-T-A-S-I-A-H-O-L-D-R-E-N?
Anastasia: That is correct.
Philip: Beautiful, thanks so much for your time Anastasia
Anastasia: Your very welcome Philip, it’s really nice speaking with you and thanks for having me on.
By Philip Shaw
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