All PPC Search Engines Not Created Equal

There was an interesting post in the Microsoft adCenter blog recently regarding the varying tactics needed to run successful paid search campaigns in differing search engines. After reading through the article I quickly realized something! I've been approaching adCenter all wrong! Here is what I read when it hit me:
Some advertisers optimize their pay per click campaigns for other engines and then export them with little change to adCenter. This may save time, but it doesn’t always optimize for the distinctly different character of Microsoft’s traffic. In other words, you may be leaving a pile of money on the table.
Lets face it! Google and Yahoo capture 85-90% of all search traffic while MSN gathers up the remaining 10-15%. In like manner, I had been dividing my campaign's ad spend in like manner - 85-90% between Google and Yahoo and throwing 10-15% at adCenter.

Where the problem lies in this is that despite the varying differences in traffic percentages, there is always room for improvement. Not to mention that in a few cases, adCenter carries with it a significantly higher conversion rate. This blog post in particular focused on bidding strategies in relation to the long tail of keywords which is typical for an Adwords or YSM paid search campaign. To counter-act the lower traffic level in MSN's adCenter, concentrate on a select few keywords that are closer to the head.

Here are a few additional reasons to NOT copy and past your Adwords campaign to other paid search vendors:
  • Character Limits: This directly applies to Yahoo!, where your headline is allowed 40 characters. AdWords and adCenter only allow 25. You should do your best to maximize the space given to you in Yahoo!. Just think of the extra keywords you can fit in that space!
  • Keyword Bids: Beyond merely making bid decisions based on the long tail of keywords, you should make those decisions based on the search engine you’re working in. The bid you have set in AdWords is based on Google’s traffic and competitive landscape. Those factors are altogether different when dealing with Microsoft and Yahoo!. All three of these search engines offer their own unique bid forecasting tools for a reason. In a perfectly optimized world, a single keyword will have a different bid in each account.
  • DKI, Keyword Insertion, Dynamic Text: Each of the search engines takes a slightly different approach to DKI. While Google and Yahoo!’s systems are nearly identical, there are vast differences when Microsoft is thrown into the mix. In adCenter, you can dynamically insert the keyword, but also have the ability to set multiple parameters per keyword which can be inserted into your ad texts automatically. Taking the time to learn the ins and outs of these tools is important and can directly benefit your CTR!
  • Match Types and Negative Keywords: When you copy and paste your campaigns from one search engine to another, you will likely erase your negative keyword lists. And your match types will be eradicated when copying into Yahoo! (no exact, phrase or broad matching!). Negative keywords and match types are such a vital part of the PPC arsenal and should not be forgotten. Take the time to research the right negative keywords and match types for each search engine and implement them accordingly.

Yahoo Search Marketing Pricing Change Webinar

Last month, I blogged about Yahoo increasing minimum bids. Basically, they are moving their bid model more and more in line with the way Google prices a click. In Yahoo's case, a minimum bid can be either above or below .10 cents depending on the quality and value of the specific term.

If your account has been affected by this new pricing model, you probably recieved an e-mail at some point that looked like this:
Subject line: Alert Notification: Keywords Pending Inactivation

Dear Advertiser

Minimum bid requirements have increased for [account name].
Some of your active Sponsored Search keywords will soon become inactive.
Review bids now.
So, if you are still unclear about how your minimum bids are set for Yahoo's Sponsored Search, a free webinar for advertisers will be held on Thursday, May 29, to help you understand the change.

The webinar will:

  • Walk you through the changes associated with the pricing update
  • Provide an overview of new account features and functionality
  • Share best practices for keyword and ad quality management
  • Present sample scenarios of how your account might be affected
  • Offer best practices for working with minimum bids

To register:

Click here to go to the webinar registration pages. First-time webinar registrants will need to create a password of between 4 and 32 characters. If you are unable to attend either webinar, an archive of the webinar will be available in Yahoo's Help Center.

PPC Ad Copy Calls To Action

In an ever competitive paid search market place, enticing viewers to take action (ie. fill out a lead generation form, purchase a product, view a page, etc.) is becoming increasingly difficult. What's worse, is many folks lose site of the first step in that process - actually getting a user to click on the PPC ad!

Ian Cowley put together a fantastic list of 34 strong calls to action to strongly motivate people to do something - click on your ad, pick up the phone or purchase a product. I think many of them translate perfectly to the paid search marketplace.

Here are a couple of my favorites:

6. Feed your widget for less than the cost of a cup of coffee.
11. Relax. Reserving an exclusive widget is just a click away.
19. Find out how we’ve helped other businesses retain widgets.
27. Call today and find out what the widget man doesn’t want you to know.
30. Does your widget misbehave?
31. How can a new widget pay for itself in six months?

Yahoo Search Marketing Interface Updates

With all of the hoopla surrounding a potential buyout of Yahoo, it is nice to finally hear that Yahoo is still 'paying attention' to its search marketing platform. Yahoo recently announced a number of updates and enhancements to their interface that primarly makes things easy to see at a glance - ie. which campaigns, ad groups and keywords are offline—and why. Here is a quick rundown of things you might notice during your next login session:
  • All names of objects (campaign, ad group, keyword, etc.) that are offline are displayed with red text for easy recognition.
  • The "Top Campaigns" and “Watched Campaigns” tables on the Dashboard page now include a “Status” column to help you identify if and why any campaigns are offline.
  • Minor updates to the "Campaigns" page have been made, including a new “Status” column, the ability to filter by “Status” when using the Advanced Search function, and replacing the “Campaign On/Off” button with individual “Pause” and “Unpause” buttons.
  • We made minor tweaks to the Ads table on an Ad Group page, including adding a “Status” column, and replacing the “Campaign On/Off” button with individual “Pause” and “Unpause” buttons.
  • New status settings have been added on the Search page, under the Campaigns tab.
  • The addition of the “Status” column to the Ad Group, Ad and Keyword Search screens under the Campaigns tab.
  • The ability to export (using the “Download” button) account information has been added to account-level Ad Group and Keyword pages, under the Campaigns tab

Google Launches Friend Connect

Google has just launched Google Friend Connect, a service that allows site owners to integrate social applications into their pages by simply cutting & pasting a block of code.

The service is pretty big news for bloggers and really anybody who has a fair amount of traffic and wants to make their site more social. From an SEO viewpoint, should Google begin to include this type of information in search results, this is a must have integration into your blog or website!

Yahoo Closing Search Marketing Ambassador Program

So, I'm a little late on this news, but thought it was worth mentioning considering the tumultuous ride Yahoo has endured the past few weeks and months. From acquisition rumors to a 'partnership' with Google to releasing their own analytics tool Yahoo seemed to be making a hard fought effort to make an immediate improvement on their products and offerings. But, now The Search Engine Roundtable reports that it seems to be no longer possible to sign up for the Ambassador Program.

I am, myself, a Yahoo Ambassador and enjoy the opportunity to make a little bit of income every time I set up a client so this is somewhat troubling. Why close down the program unless there is a big curtain drawing in the near future?

Here is an anonymous tip we got from a Search Engine Land reader:
Yahoo! is eliminating the Ambassador cert. for all the small businesses and limiting it too bigger agencies and resellers. So they are just pushing out the little players, pretty much trying to make it more prestigious like the Google Reseller Program. You will have to go through Biz Dev people to get an Ambassador Cert.

Keep Your Adwords Account Safe & Secure

There have recently been an increased number of phishing attempts targeted at Google Adwords advertisers. I received an e-mail from Google regarding the issue and thought I would pass along the tips to those folks who may have not received it or may have overlooked it.

There are reports of phishing attempts that falsely appear to be from These fraudulent emails ask users to update their billing information, take action on a disapproved ad, edit their account, or accept new AdWords terms and conditions. Please remember that Google's AdWords team will never send an unsolicited message asking for your password or other sensitive information by email or through a link.

Here are a few additional tips on how to avoid phishing attempts:

- Don't reply to or click on links in emails that ask for personal, financial, or account information.
- Check the message headers. The From: address and the Return-path should reference the same source.
- Instead of clicking the links in emails, go to the websites directly by typing the web address into your browser, cut and paste or use bookmarks.
- If on a secure page, look for "https" at the begging of the URL and the padlock icon in the browser.
- Keep your computer's antivirus, spyware, browser, and security patches up to date and regularly run system scans.
- Review your accounts regularly and check for unauthorized activity.
- Use a browser that has a phishing filter (Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Opera).