Archive for March, 2009

SEMcast #3 posted – Content Targeting

March 20th, 2009 No comments

New SEMcast is posted on, all about running effective content targeting campaigns.

Also send me any questions about search engine marketing you have, I may answer them in an upcoming podcast.

Top 5 Search Engine Marketing Reports

March 18th, 2009 No comments

Between Google’s or Yahoo’s reports and your own in-house reporting, it seems like there are a million search engine marketing reports you could run to discover all sorts of interesting trends and insights. But most search engine marketers, especially in-house ones, don’t have unlimited time to play with reports – we have to get stuff done! Improve ROI! Increase revenue! Hence my top 5 reports to get shizz done.

The report name is followed by its top uses and a screenshot of what the report looks like, with fake-ish data.

1. Ad Group Performance Report

  • Adjust bids to meet ROI goals.
  • A high level report to spot red flags – unexpected increases in clicks, costs, declines in conversion, click-through rate or ROI.
  • Run more detailed reports based on findings, dig into issues.
  • For search and content campaigns, offered by all search engines.

2. Search Query Report

  • Google only report, but you can get at others by using Google Analytics or other reporting tool like Omniture (look at paid search keywords). Search only.
  • See what searches are matching to keywords.
  • Add good keywords to account.
  • Add negatives for inappropriate matches. Sometimes need to add exact negatives -[keyword] when matching to too broad a term, i.e., “Las Vegas” when bidding on “Las Vegas hotels” for example.
  • Specify keyword level bids if some keywords merit a higher or lower bid than the adgroup.
  • To see “x other unique queries” look at a third party reporting system like Omniture, which does not aggregate those results.

3. Placement Performance

  • Corollary to the search query report, but for content. Google only, but again you can look at other reporting tools referring sites to get at content sites for other search engines.
  • Block poor converting sites or categories of sites using the Site and Category Exclusion tool.
  • Be persistent, new sites crop up all the time and will need to be blocked.
  • Not perfect, run reports and request refunds when charged for blocked categories or targeting errors (i.e., appeared for a non-English site when only targeting English).
  • Add good performing sites to placement targeting and bid appropriately according to site performance.

4. Ad Performance

  • Offered by all search engines, search and content.
  • Improve your ad copy or design/message (if image ad) with A/B copy testing.
  • Assign conversion tracking at the ad level to gauge best converting ad as well as highest click-through rate. Ideally both should be good.
  • Disable auto-optimization at the campaign level for a more even test.

5. Geographic Performance

  • Google only.
  • Refine country targeting based on ROI performance.
  • Often a good strategy to test many countries for a language, especially English, can get easy growth from testing additional countries.
  • Remove from targeting countries with no historical sales.
  • Remove payment gateway blocked countries. If you can’t accept a payment from Nigeria, don’t target them.
  • Actively select each country versus picking whole world blanket option. You may appear for countries not listed if you pick whole world (i.e., Cuba, Iran).

Hopefully this is a helpful rundown on five quick ways to easily cut out poor quality traffic, increase quality traffic, find new keywords and improve click-through and conversion rates.

Google Explains Ad Auction Model

March 13th, 2009 No comments

I know a ton of other bloggers have blogged about this, but I was really impressed by the recent video from Google explaining their ad auction model. Very simply and clearly the components of Quality Score are explained, and their relative weight, as well as how calculations of rank and ultimate CPC paid are derived. Kudos to Hal Varian, an economist after my own heart, for doing such a nice job.

So watch it already!

New SEM Podcast on Geekcast.FM

March 7th, 2009 No comments

I have officially entered the world of podcasting! You can listen and subscribe to the SEMcast on, I look forward to hearing your feedback and suggestions, don’t be shy!