Ecommerce Pay Per Click Strategy with Google AdWords for Online Retail Websites
We recently picked up a large ecommerce client who needed help with search engine optimization, pay per click management in Google AdWords, and conversion rate optimization. We have worked on other ecommerce websites in the past and have had success, but this new client is a nationally known retail company so the pressure is on us to produce results quickly. We’ve already seen some results in the little time we’ve worked on their site thus far, but we obviously want to kick ass right out of the gate.
One of their biggest challenges was running a Google AdWords Pay Per Click campaign. They previously had been running it in house and were essentially flying blind. So I went in and immediately created new AdWords campaigns specifically targeting only the keywords that are most relevant to their products.
Here are some tips for managing a large Google AdWords pay per click account for an ecommerce client:
1. Create new campaigns for each specific product category - If your website sells musical instruments, create a campaign for electric guitars and then another campaign for harmonicas. Do not just create one campaign and then create a new Ad Group for each product category. This is critical because Google AdWords allows you to add Ad Extensions at the campaign level. This means if your ad for electric guitars has the ad extensions for harmonicas, then the relevancy is completely out of whack. If you set up a new campaign for each product category, then you’re good to go.
2. Use [exact match] keywords at the beginning of a new campaign – This allows you to have complete control over the keywords your ad shows up for. If you find the search volume is not there, then you can also add “phrase match” keywords BUT YOU MUST KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE ACTUAL QUERIES and then add the irrelevant keywords as negative keywords. Never, ever use broad match unless you want to waste your money.
3. Use negative match keywords if you are using “phrase match” keywords – This is absolutely critical. If I found that a client that sells yachts was getting a ton of clicks for the phrase match keyword “50 foot yacht”, then I would I would immediately make sure to add the negative keywords such as “renting” or “leasing” since those visits are obviously not looking to buy.
4. Use Ad Extensions - I mentioned this above, but Google AdWords now allows you to add product links under your AdWords ad. These are highly effective and increase the real estate of your ad. Here’s how we would set up an ad extension for electric guitars:
“$599 White Electric Guitar” – destination URL goes specifically to that product’s landing page
“$785 Diamond Electric Guitar” – destination URL goes specifically to that product’s landing page
5. Send visitors directly to landing page that is relevant to their search - oftentimes, ecommerce websites are broken out into product category pages and individual product pages. If somebody is searching for electric guitars, make sure the destination URL is the category page for electric guitars, not just all guitars, or all musical instruments, or god forbid, the homepage!
6. Use Google Analytics and Google AdWords conversion tracking – if you are running an ecommerce website and using Google AdWords or other pay per click network, then you are probably already aware of what conversion tracking is. Google Analytics can automatically track ecommerce transactions and capture the value of each completed sale, which is extremely helpful. If you are not using any kind of analytics or conversion tracking, then you are likely missing out on tons of valuable data.
Gotta run now but I’ll add onto this list later!
Google AdWords will not let you bid on specific keywords that they deem to have “low search volume” and it really pisses me off. I have a few clients that are in very specialized niche industries that are insanely profitable if they are found by the right customers. And the best way to find these customers is to bid on specific keyword phrases, such as a product model number. For example, let’s say a company makes specialized machinery for use in industrial mines. Some of these machines can go for literally hundreds of thousands of dollars, but since 99.9% of the general public knows nothing about such specialized machinery, they do not search for the highly targeted phrases the company is looking for. Even if the search is made 3 times in an entire month, those 3 searches are insanely valuable for the company if they come up as the only AdWords text ad. I’m willing to bet that companies would be willing to spend thousands of dollars PER CLICK if they were allowed to bid on extremely targeted keywords with low search volume.
So Google should get rid of the “low search volume” restriction and let companies bid on whatever keywords they want, no matter how many times they are searched. It makes sense for Google since they will make more money from their advertisers and it makes sense for advertisers because they will finally be able to target the keywords they want to bid on!
Google has retired their old Google Advertising Professionals certification and replaced it with a Google AdWords Certification Program. Under the previous program, you paid 50 bucks to take an exam and if you passed with at least 75% questions answered correctly, you get to put a fancy official badge on your website and other promotional materials. I passed the exam earlier this year and did just that. I did it more for my own sake just in case any potential clients asked whether or not I had the certification.
Now, you have to take 2 exams at $50 each in order to qualify as a Google AdWords Certification professional. My previous certification was not set to expire for another 4 months, so essentially I paid $50 for 8 months for what I thought I was going to be able to use for 12 months.
So now I am faced with the dilemma of forking over $100 to qualify as a Google AdWords professional under the new program. And who knows how long Google will keep these requirements before they make you spend another $50 to pass another exam? There’s no doubt that I will pass the exams since I use AdWords on a daily basis, but I’m wondering whether or not it even makes any sense at all to be qualified. I have never gotten a new client because of my AdWords certification and I wasn’t all of a sudden able to jack my rates up for my existing PPC clients. So, can somebody please tell me what exactly the benefits are of paying Google to take tests just for a fancy badge?
The previous interface for the Google AdWords keyword tool is so much better than the new interface that is turned on by default. The previous interface is much simpler to use and even better, it provides suggestions for related keywords, which the new interface does not offer. Who knows how long the previous interface will be available, but it currently is available for the time being. You can access it by simply clicking “Previous Interface” from the Google AdWords keyword tool dashboard or you can access it directly by clicking the link below:
How much does Google know about me and you? I think it’s pretty safe to say that Google probably knows more about us than most of your closest friends and family members do and certainly more than any other website on the Internet. Obviously, Google stores its search engine query history in their massive data warehouses for up to 18 months. So while you may have never told another soul, Google doesn’t forget about that mysterious ailment that you were searching for “how to cure embarrassing rash” a year and a half ago. They can easily tie a specific user to a specific query with cookies and/or IP addresses.
And if you think you are out of the clear because you don’t use Google as your primary search engine, chances are that Google still knows pretty much everything about you because you most likely have used these services or come across websites that use these services and thus enables Google to track your activity:
- GMail - As of December 2009, Gmail had 179 Million users log into their site at least once monthly. Even if you don’t use Gmail, I’m willing to bet that you have emailed somebody who does. And thus, your conversation is tracked by Google.
- Google Analytics – By far the most popular website analytics service on the Internet. In fact, I just wrote a separate post about how many websites use Google Analytics about this. It is estimated that Google Analytics tracks 80.4% of websites on the Internet. So unless you only visit the same 20% of the Internet, you can count on the fact that Google Analytics has tracked your usage across several different websites.
- YouTube – Already the world’s second most popular search engine, YouTube is the premier destination for the red hot online video market. In fact, YouTube said they serve OVER 2 BILLION video views each and every day. That is insane!
- Google Maps – It is reported that Google Maps gets 55 Million unique visitors each month in the United States, which is significantly higher than MapQuest’s 38 Million unique visitors.
- Google AdSense – I can’t seem to find any statistics on exactly how many websites use AdSense to monetize their sites, but I think it’s safe to say that if it isn’t the most widely used website advertising network, then it is definitely in the Top 3. Anytime you view a website with Google AdSense and/or banner ads displayed by DoubleClick, you are being tracked by Google.
- Google Chrome – Google Chrome is already the third most popular web browser, behind only Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox, with its 7.16% marketshare of the worldwide Internet usage.
- Google Docs – More and more users are moving from desktop software such as Microsoft Office to using cloud-based document software, and Google Docs is the most widely used in this market.
- Google Android – Google’s mobile OS has already taken over the top spot from Apple’s iPhone. And as more and more Android-enabled cell phones continue to flood the market, the more popular Google’s mobile OS will be.
- Google Toolbar, Google Earth, Google AdWords, Blogger, Picasa, and on and on and on…
Basically Google dominates the Internet and most likely your online life as well. And since Google is tracking your online activity, keep in mind that anything you search for or visits to any websites can potentially one day be made public!
Google AdWords just announced a new bidding option called Enhanced CPC, which will automatically adjust your Max Cost Per Clicks for keywords that historically generate conversions. Of course, you will need Google Conversion Tracking turned on, which you should have already had on in the first place. This is certainly an intriguing bidding option, but I would definitely be cautious about using it without exhaustively testing it simply because the more you let Google’s automated system control, 99% of the time it means the less targeted and less profitable the campaign will be. So I would certainly encourage trying it out, but I would definitely keep an eye on it. The video below explains more about the Enhanced CPC option:
So I am working on a Google AdWords campaign and tried to access the history of it and got a bright red error message “Performance statistics are only available for the past 90 days”. Has this always been the case? I feel like this is the first time I have ever seen this and I am pretty sure I have accessed a campaign’s history beyond 90 days. Am I right or am I going crazy? WTF!
I tried Googling “Performance statistics are only available for the past 90 days” but did not find any other results so I am wondering if this is a brand new error message and I just discovered it or it has been around for forever and it just isn’t as big of a deal as I think it is…
In case you did not already know, Google makes almost all of its money (about 97%) from selling advertising space through Google AdWords on the top and sides of search results and Google-owned websites. The Google AdSense network only amounts to a small piece of the overall pie. In 2009, Google reported $24 Billion in gross revenue and net revenue of $18 Billion. That is a nice chunk of change. The website Silicon Alley Insider put the revenue data in a nice graph so it is easy to visualize.
I will soon follow up this post with an explanation of some of the questionable practices Google uses within their AdWords system in order to make their massive profits.
If you do a lot of work with Google AdWords and Google Analytics, you’ve probably already realized that Analytics does not accurately report traffic data for broad match keywords from AdWords. For example, let’s say I run a website that sells guitars and I bid on the following broad match keywords:
guitar for sale
I run the AdWords campaign for 30 days and get 1000 total clicks for those keywords. Google Analytics will show 1000 clicks for only those four keywords. However, since they are broad match keywords, the AdWords campaign likely generated clicks for other “similar” keyword phrases such as:
guitar tuning in richmond, va
free guitar lessons in arkport, new york
Google Analytics will only report traffic coming from the 4 broad match keywords that we bid on in the AdWords campaign. So if we only sell guitars and don’t offer guitar lessons or guitar picks, we are wasting money on those clicks. There are several ways to get this data, such as by adding custom filters. However, those solutions only work if the traffic is being tracked as AdWords traffic. In some cases, the AdWords traffic will be counted as Organic traffic in Analytics and another solution must be used. You’re in luck because I will write about that in my next post.
One of my clients’ accounts in Google AdWords is reporting an incredible 92,233,720,368,547,776.00% conversion rate this morning. There were 63 impressions, 0 clicks and 1 conversion. Some people might say it’s a bug on Google’s part but I say it’s one of my all-time greatest accomplishments and a story to tell the grandkids.