Archive for category PPC

Conversion Rate Optimization

The term CRO (conversion rate optimization) is relatively a new one – but the idea behind it is not. How do we get more sales from the website? How do we better convert the website traffic we are getting? These are the type questions most website owners will ask at some point along the way.

The thing to realize about CRO is that no one has the exact answer for every website because there are simply too many variables. So a good first step is to study the “best practices” about how to convert website traffic, and then implement them into your website. Doing things like:

  • having a good call to action button (CTA), and good placement
  • having dedicated landing pages
  • having a good offer or incentive
  • good website content
  • adding trust symbols to the page

All of the above will help, no doubt, but it only works so far. At some point you will simply have to test it, whatever “it” is. What do I mean? I mean set your website up to do some A/B testing of the supposed improvement. Google Experiments works pretty good, and is easy enough for anyone to use. Basically you set up 2 webpages, the only difference between the two pages being your hopeful improvement idea.  You let it run for a couple weeks, and you see which version of the page converts best. Presto – we have a winner! Sometimes the improvement might be something as simple as the color of the button being used – and you will see improvement.

A key point is to think long-term about CRO.  You will rarely see large improvements in the conversion rates unless your page really sucked when you started – so you should be shooting for incremental improvement. Try to improve the conversion rate one-tenth of a percent this month – for each month this year – so that by the end of the year you have solid improvement.

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PPC Strategies

So you want to do better with your PPC campaign, but you are not sure what to do, or how to do it. There are lots of different strategies you can try, if you find the current one isn’t working. Some work best in certain industries, while others don’t, you just have to try them out and see what works for you. And these work in either Google Adwords or Microsoft AdCenter.

So here are some helpful suggestions for what you might try in your PPC campaigns before walking away in disgust:

  1. The most common strategy to follow is probably a position strategy, in that you increase or decrease your bid to achieve a specific average position. So if your target position is 3 and the average position for the keyword is higher than 3, then you increase the bid, but if it is lower than 3 you decrease it.
  2. Another strategy is what I call the ‘long tail’ strategy, in that you use the more obscure phrase and exact keywords, and then bid low on them.
  3. Try using a ‘geo strategy’ when you want to keep your business local, so you screen out any clicks from outside your target area.
  4. If you know all your conversions occur during working hours, usually with a B2B business, set the campaign to shut off after hours.
  5. Try using the display network. I know I know, it almost never works, but sometimes it does. Make sure you set it up in its own campaign for better tracking.
  6. Test using all 3 versions of the keyword; broad, phrase, and exact. You will find that some will convert while others don’t, and the conversions occur at different bid levels. You can keep them separate ad groups for better tracking.
  7. How are your ads? The keyword and its bid is where it all starts, but look at improving the ads on a continual basis. Always have at least 2 ads running in any ad group, and every couple weeks throw away the loser and try and come up with a new one that can then beat the winner.
  8. How about the landing pages? If you are sending your traffic to your website homepage, this is almost always a mistake. Just like with the ads, always try to keep improving your landing pages since that is where the conversion is taking place.

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How to Increase Traffic to Your Website

The question that inevitably comes up is how to increase the number of website visitors you have coming into your website. Especially now with this struggling economy. So what can you do about it? First understand that all website traffic can be placed in one of four categories;

  1. Search traffic – otherwise known as SEO traffic. This is the free traffic coming from the search engines (Google) and what is most sought after by people. If you don’t already have a SEO plan, then this is the first place you probably should look to fix.
  2. Direct traffic – this is traffic coming from book marks, or they are typing your web address into the browser. They probably know you already, or maybe they found your web address in the newspaper or a flyer, etc.
  3. Referral traffic – this is website traffic coming from another website. This could sometimes be more SEO traffic, since it is traffic coming from the backlinks you have been getting.
  4. Paid traffic – this is traffic that you get from pay-per-click advertising, from banner ads you purchased, from email campaigns you ran, etc.

Here is what you should do:

This is a list of things I have found to be effective in increasing website traffic that results in sales. Read further down for methods that will increase traffic WITHOUT sales.

  • Set up an account with Google Adwords (paid traffic). If you need traffic now, this is one of the more attractive options because it is so immediate. If you are selling doohickeys, then Google can place your ad in front of people searching for them.
  • Optimize your website for SEO (search traffic). Everyone should already be doing this, because it is for free website traffic. This is a long-term option, because it takes time to build up.
  • Get other websites to link to you (referral traffic, or search traffic). This is easier said than done, unless you are paying someone. Not only will it bring you website traffic, but it can also help you with your SEO (backlinks).
  • Email campaigns (direct traffic). You can send emails to potential customers if you have an email list. If you don’t have a list, you can sometimes purchase them.

Here is what you should avoid:

  • Social media (referral traffic). Social media is such a crock when it comes to selling stuff for your business, I recommend against wasting your time. If you don’t care about selling anything, it works great though! You can get Facebook pay-per-click ads and get lots of traffic that won’t sell product.
  • Links in directories (referral traffic). There are some directories you want to be included in, but that is for their SEO value.  Basically, no one looks in a directory, and I am not aware of a single one that is worth the time, effort, or money.

If I can think of others, I’ll add to the list later…

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Google Content Network

I watched a webinar today that promised to “demystify” the Google Content Network, produced by PointIt. These sorts of events are almost always pretty boring, but I go thru the pain so you don’t have to!  And also to get the occasional Golden Nugget.

What is the Content Network? The content network is made up of all the websites who signed up for Google Adsense, where the Google ads appear on your website and you are promised marketing revenue in exchange. Anyways, they had some pointers for managing the Content network in Google that made some good sense, so thought I’d pass it on:

  • Set up a campaign specifically just for your Content PPC – keep your regular Search PPC in a seperate campaign.
  • Only use a maximum of about 25 keywords in each, keep them all ‘broad’, and make sure they are all in the same theme for where you want your ad to appear.
  • Enter a bid price for each to ensure they get an ad placement into the top 4 ads
  • Initially let Google decide which websites your ads should appear on. Later use the Placement Performance Report to see how each site is doing. You can then exclude those websites that are not working for you using the Google Exclusion tool.
  • There is also a Keyword Grouper tool that will help you build good keyword “themes” in each campaign – which is important that they are tightly grouped, as the theme is how Google determines what site to place your ads on.

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