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“Change is good… Change is inevitable.” I repeat this silently to myself, every time Google announces their latest change to the AdWords platform. As is the case when too many changes are happening at once, it’s important to take a step back to do  some soul searching – which is exactly what I did last week at the SMX Search Marketing Expo in New York City, the perfect place for SEO and SEM obsessives to congregate for three chock full days of actionable search tactics & best practices.

Enabled by fellow SEM junkies, we took a deep dive into how to make the best use of the latest changes to the AdWords platform, and what to expect in the coming months. We laughed, we cried, and for the most part, it was quite the cathartic experience (and a good lesson that we may need to get out of the house more!). Over the next few weeks, I’ll follow this up with some more in-depth posts about the key takeaways from the conference, but keep reading for some quick points below.

Mobile-Preferred Expanded Text Ad?

Google has quietly done away with mobile-preferred text ads with the launch of ETAs. For those of you who have been too lazy busy to get around to this on your “AdWords To Do” list, how serendipitous for you, indeed!

Now for those of you who have painstakingly written mobile-preferred ads, have a look at all your exquisite data you’ve collected and see if it can be tweaked for your ETAs, as the ads will be the same for both mobile and desktop, and the traditional ads will become obsolete any day now. You may find some interesting insight that can be applied to the new ad format and will help with conversions.

Price Extensions

Google also released a new mobile-only price extension  that allows you to promote prices for your services and products. You can choose from a list of the most relevant criteria headings that apply to your business with its associated cost. We’ve been testing Price Extensions for a few weeks now for our Cardinal Path Training Academy and below is a screenshot of price extensions that we’ve used to for our AdWords and Analytics classes.

CPTA Interal AdWords account

RLSA Strategy

Larry Kim, founder of WordStream, an AdWords guru and a fellow Canadian “to boot” (yes, I went there), showcased advanced RLSA strategies and suggested as one tactic to run PPC ads for your remarketing lists only, if you are seriously limited by budget. The idea here, is that your dollars may be more effective capturing an audience that has proven brand affinity and higher chances of converting as they have already been to your website. Using carefully crafted ad copy, specific keywords, and strategic remarketing list targeting, this could be an interesting tactic to try and measure, provided you have the volume.

Creating Great Images for Display Advertising

Display Ads may be more effective when your products/services are showcased using the Rule of Thirds, a photography principle that divides the image space into horizontal and vertical thirds. When aligning your image along these compartmentalized sections, your images convey more natural balance and can help capture your audience with a longer-lasting impact and ultimately increased brand recall.

image3
Image source: Creative Commons


There was a ton of information to take in at the conference, and if you want to get both beginner and advanced
Google AdWords training, check out if there will be a Google AdWords (and Google Analytics) class at a location near you where we can teach you these things and more.

We are launching a brand new AdWords 301 class with Advanced Google Display in Chicago in November and the class is filling up fast. Can’t make it to an in-class training? Check out our online training, which is a compressed and convenient way to get AdWords and Google Analytics Training.   

 

 

Google has recently announced that Expanded Text Ads are coming to AdWords. This is very exciting news, because it means that advertisers like you and I will finally have enough room to write compelling ads! In this post, we’ll talk more about why Google is making the change, what it will mean for you, and what you can do now to get prepared for the changes, which will roll out later this year.

Google is implementing this change to accommodate the world’s increasing appetite for mobile, and the ads will be optimized for most smartphone screens. This is the latest improvement  in a series of upgrades that began with the removal of the side rail within desktop searches, as well as having 3 to 4 ads appear at the top of the search results. I believe that the improvement will help to serve up a superior ad which will lead to a better user experience.

Here is a summary of the changes. You can read more in the announcement here.

Summary of changes
Summary of changes

 

As advertisers, we must also consider the implications of expanded text ads. With each ad now taking up more space, being in the top position is even more critical.  It will take a lower number of ads to push you below the fold. How do you handle that? The answer is simple: increase your quality score! Write a compelling call-to-action (CTAs), have relevant landing pages, and bid aggressively on high conversion searches.

These implications also hold true for organic search results. Now is a good time to up the SEO ante, because you will need to have higher rankings in order to be seen above the fold. Are you localizing content, researching keywords, analyzing your SEO efforts in Search Console and GA? Am I expanding your to-do list? Good. 🙂

So, expanded text ads? What can do right now? You’ll have to put in the time, but the process is really not that hard.

  1. Download your current ads into a spreadsheet
  2. Add columns next to your current ads
  3. Write new ads
  4. Test new ads

With that said, I’m off to follow my own advice and do just that.

Do you need help with AdWords? We have a solution to fit your needs. Check out our in-person AdWords training from a Google Certified trainer here.

You can also view our awesome online catalog here. Don’t get left behind.

Competitive analysis is a crucial part of a successful SEM strategy. Below are 15 tools that can help you gain insights on your competitors SEM efforts.

Adbeat Competitve Analysis

www.adbeat.com

Adbeat provides sets of dashboards and reports for competitive analysis with focus on contextual advertising.

Features: www.adbeat.com

Highlights:

  • Covers Google Display Network, MSN Content Network, Doubleclick, Adsonar, Pulse360 and 20+ more networks
  • Provides dashboards on competing advertisers with trend lines, ad network activity, ad type breakdown, and the list of top publishers
  • Provides an ability to see image, text, flash, and text-image creatives for an advertiser

Pricing: From $99/month. 30 day money back guarantee. Pricing details.

AdGooRoo Competive Research

www.adgooroo.com
AdGooroo SEM Insight offers visibility into the day-to-day paid search landscape, including data on top competitors’ keywords, spend, cost-per-clicks, clickthrough rates, ad copy, landing pages, product listing ads, and more

Features: www.adgooroo.com/solutions/products-services/sem-insight/
Highlights:

  • Helps estimate competitors’ budgets, traffic volume and clickthrough rates
  • Provides view of competitors’ landing pages
  • Provides an ability to identify competitors’ keywords

Pricing: Contact to request demo and pricing details

bingads

Bing Ads Campaign Planner

planner.bingads.microsoft.com

Campaign Planner provides insights into industry benchmarks and competitors based on data collected from Yahoo and Bing.

Features: Details in this blogpost

Highlights:

  • Shows industry benchmarks and competitors
  • Provides an ability to review competitors’ ad coverage
  • Provides data on competitors’ average ad position

Pricing: Free

AdWords

Google AdWords Auction Insights Report

adwords.google.com à Tab “Keywords” à Button “Details” à Auction Insights

Auction Insights report provides an ability to compare your performance with other advertisers who participating in the same auctions that you are.

Features: Details in this article

Highlights:

  • Provides a list of competitors participating in the same auction
  • Shows data on impression share, average ad position, and overlap rate for you and your competitors
  • Provides an ability to segment reporting data by device type and time

Pricing: Free

AdWords

Google AdWords Keyword Planner

adwords.google.com/KeywordPlanner

While Keyword Planner is mainly focused on finding keyword ideas for new campaigns, this tool also provides an ability to estimate completion level and average cost-per-clicks for selected keywords.

Features: Details in this blog post

Highlights:

  • Provides data on competition level and average cost-per-clicks for keywords
  • Provides an ability to estimate traffic volume based on your keyword plan

Pricing: Free

AdWords

Google AdWords Ad Preview and Diagnosis Tool

adwords.google.com/d/AdPreview

While Ad Preview and Diagnosis tool is mainly focused on checking the status of your own ads, it provides an ability to analyze ads of your competitors in different geographical locations.

Features: Details in this article.

Highlights:

  • Shows your competitors’ ads triggered by particular keywords in specified geographical locations
  • Provides an ability to see your ad position compared to competitors

Pricing: Free

GoogleAnalytics

Google Analytics – Benchmarking reports

www.google.com/analytics à Reporting à Audience à Benchmarking

Benchmarking reports allow you compare your performance with aggregated industry data from other companies. Using different segments (for example, “Paid Traffic”) allows focusing on particular traffic channels.

Features: Details in this article.

Highlights:

  • Provides an ability to see benchmarking data at channel, location and device level
  • Shows a variety of metrics including volume of sessions, average session duration, bounce rate, etc.

Pricing: Free

iSpionage

www.ispionage.com

iSpionage provides a set of reports for competitive landscape analysis in organic and paid search.

Features: www.ispionage.com/Product/competitiveintelligence.aspx .

Highlights:

  • Provides an ability to track benchmarking data over period of time
  • Shows competitors’ paid search keywords including cost-per-click, average search volume, average position, etc.
  • Helps analyze competitors’ ads and landing pages

Pricing: From $49/month. Pricing details.

KeywordCompetitor

www.keywordcompetitor.com

KeywordCompetitor offers and ability to discover and monitor your competitors’ activities in organic and paid search.

Features: http://www.keywordcompetitor.com/KeywordResearchTool.aspx

Highlights:

  • Provides an ability to discover competitors’ keywords, ads and landing pages
  • Helps track daily changes in ads and landing pages

Pricing: From $29/month. Free 30 day trial is available. Pricing details.

KeywordSpy

www.keywordspy.com

KeywordSpy offers and ability to research and track your competitors’ activities in organic and paid search.

Features: www.keywordspy.com

Highlights:

  • Provides an ability to discover competitors’ keywords, ads and landing pages
  • Provides advertiser’s gap analysis
  • Helps generate new keywords based on competitive keyword analysis

Pricing: From $89.95/month. Free 30 day trial is available. Pricing details.

MixRank

mixrank.com

MixRank offers real-time intelligence on display campaigns and mobile apps.

Features: mixrank.com/display-intelligence

Highlights:

  • Helps find new placements for contextual and banner ads
  • Helps analyze competitors’ creative, ad copy and landing pages
  • Provides an ability to identify related advertisers based on campaign similarities

Pricing: Contact to request demo and pricing details.

SEMRush

www.semrush.com

SEMrush offers analytics reports and tools to discover competitors’ strategies in organic search, paid search, and display advertising.

Features: www.semrush.com/features

Highlights:

  • Provides an ability to discover competitors’ keywords, ad copies and advertising budgets
  • Helps analyze competitors’ display ads across different devices
  • Helps identify new publishers in display advertising

Pricing: From $69.95/month. 7 day money back guarantee. Pricing details.

SimilarWeb

www.similarweb.com

SimilarWeb offers a variety of reports to understand competitors’ activity across their websites and mobile apps.

Features: www.similarweb.com/web-analytics

Highlights:

  • Uncovers traffic sources from both desktop and mobile
  • Shows trending organic and paid search keywords
  • Analyzes top performing pages

Pricing: From $199/month. Pricing details.

SpyFu

www.spyfu.com

SpyFu provides historical data on competitors’ keywords, paid search ad variations and organic search rankings.

Features: www.spyfu.com

Highlights:

  • Uncovers competitors’ keywords across organic and paid search
  • Shows competitors’ ad copy
  • Helps eliminate low performing keywords based on historical data

Pricing: From $79/month. Limited free access is available. Pricing details.

WhatRunsWhere

www.whatrunswhere.com

WhatRunsWhere provides data for competitive analysis with focus on display and mobile advertising.

Features: www.whatrunswhere.com/features.php

Highlights:

  • Provides historical data (over 4 years) with daily updates
  • Provides data from 150,000 display publishers, from 90+ ad networks, from 15 different countries
  • Helps analyze competitors’ ad copy

Pricing: From $150/month. $1 trial is available. Pricing details.

The match types you choose for your paid keywords can have a huge impact on performance. If you read my post a few weeks ago, then you already know how AdWords match types work.  These are seven match type tips based on my experience working with accounts and teaching AdWords trainings.

  1. Use multiple match types in your account. One of the most common issues I see when reviewing an account is that only one match type is being utilized. Typically it’s broad match, but I’ve also seen accounts that are only phrase or only exact match. If you’re only using broad I guarantee you’re wasting money. If you’re only using phrase or exact match you’re likely limiting your reach too much and not uncovering new keywords.
  1. Have different match types of the same keyword. Each match type serves its own purpose, so I always have multiple match types of the same keyword. Broad and broad modified help with keyword research and you can increase your bid on phrase or exact matches because you know the searcher is looking for what you have to offer.
  1. You can’t combine match types. Although you can have different match types of the same keyword, you can’t combine match types together. For example, you can’t have the keyword +chicago “bike shops”.  Remember though, with modified broad match you don’t have to put a plus sign in front of each word.
  1. Capitalization doesn’t matter. You don’t need to have both ‘Chicago bike shop’ and ‘chicago bike shop’ in your account. They are the same keyword, even for exact matches without close variants.
  1. Close variants also include spacing and punctuation. If you choose to include close variants, spacing doesn’t matter. If you have the keyword [bike shops] it will match to the search term bikeshops. This also applied to punctuation. If you are bidding on “mikes bike shop” and someone types in mike’s bike shop, they will match.
  1. There is no difference between a single word BMM keyword and a single word phrase match keyword when close variants are included. This question comes up a lot in training. If you are bidding on the term +bikes and “bikes” while including close variants for phrase match, they behave in the same way. Both would match to any search term that contained the word bikes, or a close variant.
  1. Use broad match carefully. Keywords entered without additional symbols will default to broad and while they will get you the most traffic, they can also waste money on clicks that aren’t relevant to the service you provide. I use plain broad match sparingly in my accounts and tend to favor modified broad instead.

I reached out to others in the PPC community to ask their opinions on broad match and got many different responses from “one of the best keyword research tools in your arsenal” to “no good can come from straight broad match.” Whether or not you choose to use them, monitor their return closely. Once you start finding more irrelevant than relevant search terms matching to your broad keywords, that’s a good time to pause them.

These are my tips for keyword match types. If you have more  you’d like to share, please comment below!

A few months ago, AdWords introduced upgraded location extensions that allow advertisers to pull addresses from their My Business account. Every time something “Upgraded” gets launched in Adwords, you can expect the old version to be retired eventually.

This is now happening with the original method of setting up location extensions manually. I first noticed the change when I logged into my account and had the warning that my location extensions were no longer running. After clicking through to the help page, I saw this message:

location_extension_update

With manual, or “not upgraded” location extensions you could type in the addresses you wanted to show with your campaigns. Now, you are going to be required to have a My Business account to use location extensions in AdWords.

How To Get Upgraded Location Extensions

1. Create a Google My Business (formerly Google Places) account. You can sign up for an account here: www.google.com/business

2. Link your Google My Business account to your AdWords account. From the Ad Extensions tab, select Location extensions from the drop down menu. Click and the red “+ Extension” button and you’ll be directed to log into your My Business account. upgraded location extensions

It will default to the email your are logged into AdWords with, but you can choose “use a different account” to sign into your My Business account.

3. Filter your My Business addresses. If you have more than one business address in your account, you can set a filter to only use certain addresses in AdWords. You set these filters using the business names or categories from your My Business account.

location extension filters

I haven’t found a specific date yet for when manual/”not upgraded” location extensions will be phased out, but better to prepare for upgraded location extensions now.

If you’d like to learn more about setting up ad extensions for your AdWords account, attend one of our upcoming AdWords trainings.

View Locations

 

 

Search Engine Marketing

Soul-Searching at the SMX Search Marketing Expo

Cardinal Path blog post

“Change is good… Change is inevitable.” I repeat this silently to myself, every time Google announces their latest change to the AdWords platform. As is the case when too many changes are happening at once, it’s important to take a step back to do  some soul searching – which is exactly what I did last … Read Full Post

Expanded Text Ads from Google

Google has recently announced that Expanded Text Ads are coming to AdWords. This is very exciting news, because it means that advertisers like you and I will finally have enough room to write compelling ads! In this post, we’ll talk more about why Google is making the change, what it will mean for you, and … Read Full Post

15 Tools For SEM Competitive Analysis

Competitive Analysis

Competitive analysis is a crucial part of a successful SEM strategy. Below are 15 tools that can help you gain insights on your competitors SEM efforts. www.adbeat.com Adbeat provides sets of dashboards and reports for competitive analysis with focus on contextual advertising. Features: www.adbeat.com Highlights: Covers Google Display Network, MSN Content Network, Doubleclick, Adsonar, Pulse360 … Read Full Post

7 Keyword Match Type Tips

keyword match type funnel

The match types you choose for your paid keywords can have a huge impact on performance. If you read my post a few weeks ago, then you already know how AdWords match types work.  These are seven match type tips based on my experience working with accounts and teaching AdWords trainings. Use multiple match types in … Read Full Post

AdWords Retiring Manual Location Extensions

A few months ago, AdWords introduced upgraded location extensions that allow advertisers to pull addresses from their My Business account. Every time something “Upgraded” gets launched in Adwords, you can expect the old version to be retired eventually. This is now happening with the original method of setting up location extensions manually. I first noticed the … Read Full Post

Benchmark Your Marketing Analytics Maturity

See how your marketing analytics performs against thousands of organizations. (Approx. 5 minutes).