Archive for the ‘Red Fly MKT’ Category

PostHeaderIcon How to Maximize Your Click-Through Rate and Add More Control to Your Landing Pages Using Ad Sitelinks

In the organic search listings you’re probably familiar with Sitelinks. They are the collection of links that appear below the search result for your website, and they link to the main pages of your site. Sitelinks are there to help users navigate your site. They are created by analyzing the link structure of your site to find shortcuts that will save users time. Though they are generated automatically, if you are unhappy with these automatic links you can delete some or all of them using Google Webmaster Tools.Depending on how specific the search term is these Sitelinks are sometimes displayed on one line or across four lines. For example when searching for the broad term “broadband” one line of four Sitelinks appears below the first search result, and searching for the brand name “Vodafone” displays eight Sitelinks across four lines.

One line of four Sitelinks

Eight Sitelinks across four lines

Sitelinks give your organic search listing more prominence in the results, and can also expose more of what your website has to offer. It’s not surprising therefore that Google have decided to introduce this feature to its paid results.

Ad Sitelinks

Ad Sitelinks allows ads that appear in the top positions (ads with a very high quality score) to have as many as five links in their ad. This includes the main landing page as well as four additional links which appear beneath the ad text. Initially Ad Sitelinks was a feature introduced for brand specific searches only, but now you can enable this on more generic, unbranded campaigns.

Depending on how specific the search term is the Sitelinks will appear either as one line or two lines. For example when searching for “broadband” the 3 Broadband ad that is triggered has one line of links below the ad text, and searching for the brand name “3 broadband” will display this ad as having two lines of links below the ad text.

Ad Sitelinks - one line of links below the ad text

Ad Sitelinks - two lines of links below the ad text

Ad Sitelinks will only appear when ads qualify for the top positions, however you can still enable this feature in preparation for a time when your ad will appear in a top spot. With Ad Sitelinks enabled, if your ad appears in the right hand side of the search results, it will appear in the same format as you are used to. For example, the ad below is the same ad triggered above in the search for “3 broadband” but now that it is no longer in the top spot the Ad Sitelinks do not appear.

3 Broadband ad, right hand side of SERP

Sitelinks don’t cost any extra in comparison to ads without them. Also, the costs per click do not differ depending on whether someone clicks on the main ad link or any of the Sitelinks. Additionally, if a users clicks on more than one link while viewing your ad you will only be charged for one click.

How To Set Up Ad Sitelinks

You will find the option to set up Ad Sitelinks in your Campaign Settings tab, under the “Ad extensions” section. To change which ad extension you are viewing, there is a drop down menu labelled “view” (directly underneath the campaigns tab) where you will see three options – “Local extensions”, “Phone extensions” and now “Sitelinks extensions”.

How To Set Up Ad Sitelinks - Screenshot 1

If you choose “Sitelinks extensions” you will now be able to click “+ New extension” which will open the next step in the process.

How To Set Up Ad Sitelinks - Screenshot 2

Ad Sitelinks is a campaign level setting, so the first step in setting them up is to choose an existing campaign to assign them to. As this is a campaign level extension you should take note that all of your ads in that specific campaign will have the Sitelinks assigned to them, so choose your campaign wisely. Make sure that the Sitelinks you setup are specific to the entire campaign.

How To Set Up Ad Sitelinks - Screenshot 3

The next step is to choose the link text (35 characters max), and the destination URL (1024 characters max). The text and URL follows the same rules as the rest of your AdWords account, so for example the URL must direct users to a page from the display URL website being used in that campaign.

You can add between one and ten Sitelinks for each campaign, though only four Sitelinks will be shown, which ones are shown will depend on the keyword that triggered the ad.

How To Set Up Ad Sitelinks - Screenshot 4

If the campaign you are writing the Sitelinks for is a generic one it is more likely that the Sitelinks will appear as one line of text, so it is best to submit short and relevant link text. However, if the campaign is very specific e.g. brand focused, the link text would be displayed across two lines and can therefore take up most of the 35 characters without seeming cluttered.

Once you have saved these Sitelinks they will then appear listed in the “Ad extensions” section, with associated performance data such as clicks, impressions and CTR.

How To Set Up Ad Sitelinks - Screenshot 5

When choosing what campaigns to assign Sitelinks to, remember that this feature is being assigned to already highly successful ads and as with any new AdWords feature, you should make sure to regularly check their impact.

The best method of monitoring the performance of the Sitelinks is to create two identical campaigns, and enable Sitelinks for one, but not the other. You will then be able to compare the performance with Sitelinks and without.

It is currently not possible to see individual link level performance data from within AdWords, but using the tagging feature of Google Analytics you should be able to see what links were clicked on.

Add More Control to Your Landing Pages Using Ad Sitelinks

Unlike the Sitelinks in organic search, Ad Sitelinks gives you complete control over what links appear, giving you the opportunity to offer multiple landing pages to the user. Thus you can choose to provide text and links to other persuasive pages on your website.

It is still the ad’s main Destination URL link that is taken into account when determining the landing page quality for individual ads. This enables you to utilize already successful AdWords campaigns to promote additional lower performing products or brand new products. However, Google suggests that you choose Sitelinks that are relevant for all your ads and search terms within your campaign, and to avoid attaching irrelevant links to your ads. As in the example below, the keyword “broadband” triggers the ad and the Sitelinks used all relate to broadband products that the company provide.

Ad Sitelinks - one line of links below the ad text

However, with regards to a branding campaign you may have a keyword list related to all areas of your business, therefore you could certainly use Sitelinks to promote lower performing or new products. For example, the keyword “3 broadband” triggered the ad below, however the Sitelinks relate to three other products (and product pages) that this company offers.

Ad Sitelinks - two lines of links below the ad text

Maximize Your Click-Through Rate Using Ad Sitelinks

Ad Sitelinks make your ads stand out even more by giving your ads more real estate on the all-important first page of search results, with Google indicating that early users of the feature had reported on average a 30% increase in clickthrough rates. Some brands are even experiencing a 15-40+% lift in brand PPC sales YOY!

If you’ve already been bidding on branded keywords you’re likely to have been sending traffic to your homepage, and in this case it’s difficult to determine what the user was actually searching for. With Sitelinks you have the ability to offer multiple landing pages to the user, so searchers can choose the landing page that’s most relevant to them, which increases the chances of a conversion.

Sitelinks also give you the ability to include extra text in your ad. The extra text could either be used as an additional description line, linking to special offers or product benefits, or for promoting other products/services. If you use text that accurately describes the link, you increase the likelihood of a conversion. You can read the transcript of an interesting talk at SMX on supercharging your sitelinks here.

When creating your Sitelinks take into account the most popular ads already running in your campaign. Focus on the text from these ads and their associated landing pages that have the highest conversion rates. Linking to already successful landing pages will further increase the conversion rate of the clicks on your Sitelinks. You can check out some interesting examples of sitelinks in use here.

TIP: Brad Geddes has another creative use for ad sitelinks. Add your phone number to one of your sitelinks to increase your “call through rate”. If you’re advertising a local business, create a sitelink with your phone number as the anchor text and the destination URL being your site’s contact page.

Conclusion

Though Ad Sitelinks may improve your clickthrough rate it’s important to utilize them in a way that continues to bring highly targeted traffic to your site. Monitoring the conversion rates of campaigns that use Sitelinks is essential to determine if they succeed for you.

How to Maximize Your Click-Through Rate Using Ad Sitelinks and Add More Control to Your Landing Pages

In the organic search listings you’re probably familiar with Sitelinks. They are the collection of links that appear below the search result for your website, and they link to the main pages of your site. Sitelinks are there to help users navigate your site. They are created by analysing the link structure of your site to find shortcuts that will save users time. Though they are generated automatically, if you are unhappy with these automatic links you can delete some or all of them using Google Webmaster Tools.

Depending on how specific the search term is these Sitelinks are sometimes displayed on one line or across four lines. For example when searching for the broad term “broadband” one line of four Sitelinks appears below the first search result, and searching for the brand name “Vodafone” displays eight Sitelinks across four lines.

<insert image “Sitelinks broadband”>

<insert image “Sitelinks vodafone”>

Sitelinks give your organic search listing more prominence in the results, and can also expose more of what your website has to offer. It’s not surprising therefore that Google have decided to introduce this feature to its paid results.

Ad Sitelinks

Ad Sitelinks allows ads that appear in the top positions (ads with a very high quality score) to have as many as five links in their ad. This includes the main landing page as well as four additional links which appear beneath the ad text. Initially Ad Sitelinks was a feature introduced for brand specific searches only, but now you can enable this on more generic, unbranded campaigns.

Depending on how specific the search term is the Sitelinks will appear either as one line or two lines. For example when searching for “broadband” the 3 Broadband ad that is triggered has one line of links below the ad text, and searching for the brand name “3 broadband” will display this ad as having two lines of links below the ad text.

<insert image “ad Sitelinks broadband”>

<insert image “ad Sitelinks 3 broadband”>

Ad Sitelinks will only appear when ads qualify for the top positions, however you can still enable this feature in preparation for a time when your ad will appear in a top spot. With Ad Sitelinks enabled, if your ad appears in the right hand side of the search results, it will appear in the same format as you are used to. For example, the ad below is the same ad triggered above in the search for “3 broadband” but now that it is no longer in the top spot the Ad Sitelinks do not appear.

<insert image “ad Sitelinks 3 broadband 2”>

Sitelinks don’t cost any extra in comparison to ads without them. Also, the costs per click do not differ depending on whether someone clicks on the main ad link or any of the Sitelinks. Additionally, if a users clicks on more than one link while viewing your ad you will only be charged for one click.

How To Set Up Ad Sitelinks

You will find the option to set up Ad Sitelinks in your Campaign Settings tab, under the “Ad extensions” section. To change which ad extension you are viewing, there is a drop down menu labelled “view” (directly underneath the campaigns tab) where you will see three options – “Local extensions”, “Phone extensions” and now “Sitelinks extensions”.

<insert image ad Sitelinks screenshot 1>

<insert image ad Sitelinks screenshot 2>

If you choose “Sitelinks extensions” you will now be able to click “+ New extension” which will open the next step in the process.

<insert image ad Sitelinks screenshot 3>

Ad Sitelinks is a campaign level setting, so the first step in setting them up is to choose an existing campaign to assign them to. As this is a campaign level extension you should take note that all of your ads in that specific campaign will have the Sitelinks assigned to them, so choose your campaign wisely. Make sure that the Sitelinks you setup are specific to the entire campaign.

The next step is to choose the link text (35 characters max), and the destination URL (1024 characters max). The text and URL follows the same rules as the rest of your AdWords account, so for example the URL must direct users to a page from the display URL website being used in that campaign.

You can add between one and ten Sitelinks for each campaign, though only four Sitelinks will be shown, which ones are shown will depend on the keyword that triggered the ad.

<insert image ad Sitelinks screenshot 4>

If the campaign you are writing the Sitelinks for is a generic one it is more likely that the Sitelinks will appear as one line of text, so it is best to submit short and relevant link text. However, if the campaign is very specific e.g. brand focused, the link text should be displayed across two lines and can therefore take up most of the 35 characters without seeming cluttered.

<insert image ad Sitelinks screenshot 7>

Once you have saved these Sitelinks they will then appear listed in the “Ad extensions” section, with associated performance data such as clicks, impressions and CTR.

When choosing what campaigns to assign Sitelinks to, remember that this feature is being assigned to already highly successful ads and as with any new AdWords feature, you should make sure to regularly check their impact.

The best method of monitoring the performance of the Sitelinks is to create two identical campaigns, and enable Sitelinks for one, but not the other. You will then be able to compare the performance with Sitelinks and without.

It is currently not possible to see individual link level performance data from within AdWords, but using the tagging feature of Google Analytics you should be able to see what links were clicked on.

Add More Control to Your Landing Pages

Unlike the Sitelinks in organic search, Ad Sitelinks gives you complete control over what links appear, giving you the opportunity to offer multiple landing pages to the user. Thus you can choose to provide text and links to other persuasive pages on your website.

It is still the ad’s main Destination URL link that is taken into account when determining the landing page quality for individual ads. This enables you to utilize already successful Adwords campaigns to promote additional lower performing products or brand new products. However, Google suggests that you choose Sitelinks that are relevant for all your ads and search terms within your campaign, and to avoid attaching irrelevant links to your ads. As in the example below, the keyword “broadband” trigger the ad and the Sitelinks used all relate to broadband products that the company provide.

<insert image “ad Sitelinks broadband 2”>

However, with regards to a branding campaign you may have a keyword list related to all areas of your business, therefore you could certainly use Sitelinks to promote lower performing or new products. For example, the keyword “3 broadband” triggered the ad below, however the Sitelinks relate to three other products (and product pages) that this company offers.

<insert image “ad Sitelinks 3 broadband”>

Maximize Your Click-Through Rate Using Ad Sitelinks

Ad Sitelinks make your ads stand out even more by giving your ads more real estate on the all-important first page of search results, with Google indicating that early users of the feature had reported on average a 30% increase in clickthrough rates.

If you’ve already been bidding on branded keywords you’re likely to have been sending traffic to your homepage, and in this case it’s difficult to determine what the user was actually searching for. With Sitelinks you have the ability to offer multiple landing pages to the user, so searchers can choose the landing page that’s most relevant to them, which increases the chances of a conversion.

Sitelinks also give you the ability to include extra text in your ad. The extra text could either be used as an additional description line, linking to special offers or product benefits, or for promoting other products/services. If you use text that accurately describes the link, you increase the likelihood of a conversion.

When creating your Sitelinks take into account the most popular ads already running in your campaign. Focus on the text from these ads and their associated landing pages that have the highest conversion rates. Linking to already successful landing pages will further increase the conversion rate of the clicks on your Sitelinks.

Though Ad Sitelinks may improve your clickthrough rate it’s important to utilize them in a way that continues to bring highly targeted traffic to your site. Monitoring the conversion rates of campaigns that use Sitelinks is essential to determine if they succeed for you.


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PostHeaderIcon Google Global Extension For Chrome

Last week, due to popular demand, we quietly released the beta version of our Google Global extension. We have had some really encouraging feedback from you guys like “The only reason I’m still using Firefox is because of your extension”. Well now you can finally let Firefox go :)

The extension, while still in beta is a little more limited than the Firefox extension as a result of our lack of access to the new API. This means that country selection in search results will not be available through the context menu until the next release. For now, the region selection and settings are only available in the incredibly innocuous icon to the top right of the Chrome taskbar. Our user testing has showed that this is the best place for it and I think you will agree.

You can install Google Global for Chrome by clicking the image below which will take you to the official Chrome extension gallery.

If you install, use and like this extension, we would really appreciate if you could rate it over on the official page. Any feedback or feature requests are always welcome too (we are working on a Bing version, what are we going to call it then?!). If you would like to install the more complete version for Firefox, please head on over to Google Global page in our Internet Marketing Tools section.

Finally, we work hard to maintain these free tools. You would be doing us a huge favor if you could help us spread the word. Any retweet, stumble, Facebook share or a share of any social network of your choice would make us very happy and will drive us to complete the other free internet marketing tools that we have in the pipeline.


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PostHeaderIcon View From The Other Side Of The May Day Update

There has been a lot of chatter, complaints and the inevitable “let’s start a class action lawsuit against Google” over the past few weeks in relation to an algorithm change dubbed the “MayDay Update”. I wont go into much detail here about all of the complaints or absurd theories, but you can read the main source of this over on the WMW thread here.

Last week Vanessa Fox wrote an article on these updates and speculated as to what happened. While most dismissed her speculations, I believe she was right on the money. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that Vanessa (Who’s an absolute sweetheart in real life as well as a genius) might even have known something that the rest of those on WMW didn’t and she was really REALLY doing her best to give a “please read between the lines” post. For that she was shunned. Their loss.

Note* As I do with all posts, I left this one in drafts to sleep on it. It just so happens that Matt posted a video with a little more information. It’s brief and you can watch it below. Please note that all content on this post was produced before this video was released.

Get the Flash Player to see this video about MayDay update.

WHAT’S HAPPENING?:

One poster on the thread mentioned:

“Everyone here is complaining about loss of traffic and nobody is gaining traffic, the lost traffic has to be going somewhere

Let me tell you that we, our clients and our network of websites, are on the “other side”. i.e, sites like ours and our clients took that traffic.

We have concrete Google Analytics evidence that shows 30-60% increases in traffic to some of our and our clients sites just before and after May. It is important to note that these sites are all eCommerce and forum sites that had a steady flow of long tail traffic and now have a much greater share of this traffic. All this traffic increase is from Google search term referrals with a word length of 4 or over. I will follow this up as usual in another post with data as soon as we can anonymize  it and get permission.

So what do we do different to our competitors who we’ve now drastically overtaken in the serps?

Here at Redfly, we’ve almost always started a PPC campaign and all that goes with that long before even attempting to look at the SEO side of things. Those of you who deal almost exclusively with AdWords will know what I’m talking about here. Google has always taken a hard line towards ensuring quality on it’s network. They have penalized, suspended and even banned advertisers who pay a significant amount of money in order to keep their paid search results top notch. AdWords advertisers are constantly adapting to changes in Google policy and I for one have noticed that what works in AdWords is usually, eventually included in some form in the organic search algorithm. Site speed, relevancy, CTR (Don’t tell me CTR in SERPs is not or will not be  a ranking factor now that Google has released this data in WMT).

The MayDay update is something that a lot of AdWords experts knew was coming a long time ago. What really made me laugh is that some people genuinely think that Google has made a mistake and that things are broken and it will eventually roll back. If anything, it’s only rolling out. It’s going to get worse for you.

As an aside, this reminds me of a book I once thought was an incredible condescending read after being recommended to me by Rand Fishkin called “Who Moved My Cheese”. I never thought I’d see the day that I’d recommend this book or even make reference to it but I have to say, it really hit the nail on the head with this one. To all of you in denial, I’d recommend reading this book (It’s a short book, I completed it in under 15 mins). It’s an almost child like story about change, complacency and the dangers/opportunities of each. It’s available on Amazon for $3, but if anyone wants my copy, just let me know in the comments.

So, how come we’re sucking up all your “hard earned” traffic? Well, from Vanessa’s post and from the point of an AdWords advertiser/manager, it’s pretty obvious. The majority of those complaining have relied too much on domain authority and internal linking. IN MY OPINION, rather than site authority, being used by most of you as the main egg in your basket, carrying all the weight, Google is now seeing individual documents as their own entities a lot more.

Basic SEO principles still stand true here. Think about it. A document on a less authoritative site might be more valuable and more useful to the Google user than a page with less useful information pushed to the top of the SERPs by the authority of the root domain.Only 4 months ago everybody was complaining that big brands had the advantage. Google has done SEOs and small businesses a huge favor here and leveled the playing field for those of us who produce valuable, relevant content. Content that produces links. In every example of sites that I have seen “lose their rankings” those pages were overtaken by pages on domains with not much authority, but with a lot more backlinks to those individual pages. A lot of those links may be spammy, but they’re still backlinks.

OK, so let’s break it down.

E-COMMERCE SITES:

All our eCommerce sites and client eCommerce sites have never taken the “easy route” to market.  We have made sure of that because this is essential as an AdWords advertiser and the majority of AdWords policies eventually become reality for SEOs. Advertising a page with just a manufacturer boilerplate description and a buy now button wouldn’t survive a day in an AdWords auction. All our eCommerce sites/clients have put in the effort in creating unique descriptions, reviews, videos, UGC reviews (good and bad) and used incentives to get links to these product pages. As Vanessa mentioned, look at what Amazon does!  Google mentioned before (no source at present) that a lot of user feedback focused on the excessive amount of almost identical shopping results in the search engines. Why do you think they introduced the “less shopping results” feature in the sidebar? You need to build links, build quality and interesting product pages and get creative. After all, that’s your job as an SEO.

Every single one of our eCommerce sites have seen an increase in traffic since May despite the annual seasonal downturn.

FORUM SITES:

All of our forum sites sites and client forum sites have noticed a significant boost in long tail traffic too. This is because we insist on building links to and promoting every single thread created (that’s of any value of course). This has taken the form of incentivsing users and site owners to blog about and reference thread titles to bring inlinks, traffic and contributors to the forum thread which in turn encourages others to do the same. Self reinforcing. Write customized versions or synopsis versions of long forum threads, syndicate them, guest blog about the opinions expressed in a forum thread, get links from national newspapers on topics in your forum to build links to those threads/individual pages. After all, that’s your job as an SEO.

Every single one of our forums have seen an increase in long tail traffic since encouraging linking and externally referencing valuable threads.

Handy tip. To get you started, tweetmeme and topsy widgets on each page provide a starting point, a frequently crawled dofollow link from their main site when you use their widgets which also adds to the user experience. There are countless ways to build links to pages as long as you make them link worthy. Now the “secret” is out, I don’t expect this one to last long.

SOME QUESTIONS SEEN ON THE WMW THREAD:

Some “questions” I’ve seen on the WMW thread that I would like to address:

Q:”How can I get my eCommerce item page to rank where it once was, all I have is the manufacturer description, who’ll link to that?”

A: I think I’ve addressed that already. I hate to (really, I do) sound like a Google fan boy but put yourself in the users shoes. Do you really want a list of generic eCommerce site results in the search results for a product? Do you want to shift through them all, offering the exact same product at the exact same price, each offering only a unique-ish design and then pick which one you want? Or do you want Google to do what it’s good at and use it’s algorithm to show the top results by using it’s advanced (largely) link based algorithm? Isn’t this what you started your SEO career on? Building links to quality content? Just so happens that now Google is working just as designed and giving more weight to those pages with more links. If anything this is a rollback from the “brand update” a while back. If you’re good at what you do and have not gotten complacent (which I dare say is now rampant among “professional SEOs” who have inherited authority sites) you should be able to build a better links than your new competitors for you and your clients to these pages. After all, that’s your job as an SEO.

Q: “Really spammy sites are appearing above mine, can’t Google see this?”

A: No. They don’t. Google sees more links, which you as an SEO should know (in general) is a vote of confidence for this page. The question now is two fold: 1) Why does this site have more links than you? 2) What can you do to get more/more valuable links to YOUR page than your spammy competitor? This should be easy for you. After all, that’s your job as an SEO.

IN CONCLUSION:

Your cheese has  moved. Go find it again or go find more. It’s not coming back. Matt says so in his video.

Oh, and trust me, if you spent as much time on the AdWords help forum as I do, you’d realize, like all the other posters and top contributors on the forum that no amount of bitching, moaning, law suit threats, class actions, begging or bribing will get Google to roll this back. Google doesn’t care that it has “wiped out entire businesses” with this algo update. Google has literally wiped out billion dollar VC funded companies overnight on AdWords without even an explanation when they introduced quality score. Let this be a lesson that AdWords advertisers have learned countless times over the past 3 years, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If I may dust off an old chestnut, build your site as if Google didn’t exist. Then, when you’ve exhausted every possibility of getting traffic to every page on your site that doesn’t require a search engine, focus on Google.

“Familiarity tends to breed complacency” – Christopher Jones

“When a great team loses through complacency, it will constantly search for new and more intricate explanations to explain away defeat.” – Pat Riley

*I realize that this may upset a lot of the SEO industry folks but I believe that it is pretty obvious what has happened considering the timing and data that we have. It is very rare I write a post like this but I was astonished at some of the unbelievably outlandish theories presented as explanations for the update. I welcome any rebuttals, a few “you have no idea what you’re talking about”s and and more than a few anecdotal proofs that I’m wrong in the comments below.


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PostHeaderIcon The Newest Member Of The Redfly Team

Hi I’m Sinéad, the newest member of the RedFly Marketing team. I’m really excited about starting work with RedFly, as I have been searching for an innovative Irish company like RedFly for a long time. This blog post is just a little way for me to introduce myself to our readers.

I’m a really passionate technology advocate and recently I was awarded the title of Best Technology Blogger at the Irish Blog Awards. I have always considered myself an early adopter. From a very young age I have been captivated by technology (particularly the Internet) and I have always been fascinated by human behaviour and communication, hence my choice to participate in the MSc Cyberpsychology program at IADT – which I graduated from last year.

My interest in online marketing was sparked back in 2006 during my undergraduate studies in psychology and I channelled this into a thesis on the psychological effects of online advertisements. The psychology of how the consumer is influenced by their environment has been a particular interest of mine and I’m always trying to learn more about usability and successful human computer interactions. During my postgraduate studies I concentrated on social psychology applied to online environments, and my postgraduate research was interested in investigating the behaviour and attitudes of bloggers.

My extensive background in Psychology gives me an insight into human behaviour, in particular online, which will be of great use to me during my work at RedFly, which I am very much looking forward to starting.

Note from Managing Director Dave:  As our little company grows, we can afford to invest in the best people. I’m absolutely thrilled to have Sinéad on board and I’m sure that everyone who knows her is aware of how perfect a fit she’ll be here at RedFly. Welcome to the family Sinéad!


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PostHeaderIcon Redfly Ireland’s First Google AdWords Certified Partner

official adwords certified partner IrelandIt is with great honor and excitement that I can announce that Redfly LTD, Redfly Marketing, has become Ireland’s first official AdWords Certified Partner. While we are still an official AdWords Qualified Company, Google has introduced a rigorous new exam schedule for certified partners and actually reduced the required managed spend.

The new qualification, despite it’s teething problems is a welcome step forward as I can attest that the new advanced exams are just that, pretty advanced. The past few days have been spent up late, studying and studying some more to get the advanced exams passed but we did it and it’s a very welcome birthday present :) Thank you very much Google!

An AdWords Qualified Company has to manage a minimum of $100,000 per 90 days of advertisers spend and pass some simple exams. Currently, including Redfly, there are only 6 verifiable qualified companies in Ireland. This is being phased out over the next 6 months and Google will be replacing it with the AdWords Certified Partner program which although has a lower spend threshold, requires much more difficult exams to be passed to achieve it. We are very proud to be Ireland’s first certified partner in the new program.

More information on the certification can be found here. Seems like they are planning to release a lot more certification programs and consolidating them all into one area. Info on the future partner programs can be found here.

I’d like to thank Jen, Arnold and of course myself for working so hard on top of their existing duties to pass the advanced exams (which do include some pretty advanced API questions!) and get us certified. Although due to known issues with the program not all staff are showing on our company profile page, I have been assured they will show over the coming days.

I am sure there will be a lot more AdWords Certified Partners appearing in Ireland over the coming months, we’re just delighted to be first. Thank you to all our clients for their patience (and use of their account spend) to achieve this qualification. It means a lot to us.

Everyone is allowed on self back pat post per year right? This is ours for 2010.

Note: To those who already hold individual qualification status and are part of a qualified company, check your emails, Google are sending out vouchers to take the new exams for free.


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PostHeaderIcon Google Global Firefox Extension Version 2.2

It’s been a while since our last Google Global update. We’ve been kicked into gear by the forceful upgrade of Firefox to 3.6 lately too. For those of you who have been holding off upgrading Firefox to the latest and greatest version so you could continue to use Google Global, the wait is over. Today we would like to announce the release of the latest version of Google Global.

The latest version comes with whole host of backend improvements, a lot of code re-writing, a much smaller memory footprint and a really snazzy new logo/icon that fits with our new free Internet marketing tools suite that will be released this year and finally an in-built auto update system so you wont have to worry about coming back to find updates, they will be automatically installed for your convenience.

So head on over to the new Google Global page which will detail the changes and let you download, install and get back to your search engine marketing.

As usual, the tool is free and while we appreciate bug reports, feature requests and general feedback, we can unfortunately not offer individual support to everyone.

Finally, if you have found this tool useful, please help us spread the word, tell your friends, tweet about it and if you really like it, we would love if you could blog about it. For those of you who have found the tool helpful and are kind enough to blog about Google Global, drop us a mail and we will add you to the beta test group where you can test future versions before they are released. These include:

  • A Google Chrome version
  • Support for Yahoo
  • Support for Bing
  • LBL support
  • AdTest Support

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PostHeaderIcon What Every AdWords Advertiser Should Know About Quality Score – The Ultimate QS Improvement Guide

Do you need to improve your AdWords Quality Score? Do you want to understand what Google wants from you as an advertiser in exchange for a decent Quality Score and lower click prices? Today I will teach you the ins and outs of the algorithm and show you how you can tweak your account and site to influence each Quality Score factor.

*Update: I have been contacted by a source inside Google and updated two points in the post accordingly*

I am constantly surprised at how little advertisers really understand Quality Scores. If you put in a little effort, you can reap some very tangible benefits and come out leaps and bounds ahead of your competition.

SECTION 1: QUALITY SCORE BASICS

While Quality Score is relatively simple to grasp as a concept, it’s a little more complicated in practice. Stasia, an AdWords Seminar leader, gives you a nice introduction to the basic concept of Quality Score in the video below:

Get the Flash Player to see this video about quality score.

The Opportunity.

Back in the good old days, AdWords was based on a pure auction-based model. If you bid more than another advertiser on a keyword, your ad would appear higher and ultimately get more clicks (and hopefully sales). Back in 2005 when Google introduced the Quality Score, it changed everything.
No longer could search results be flooded with irrelevant ads of those with massive budgets. Many advertisers were very upset, but a unique opportunity arose for those with smaller budgets and the inclination to put in a little hard work — perhaps people like you. With the refinement of the Quality Score algorithm and the great scam / affiliate flush of late 2009, there has never been a better opportunity for those advertisers with a quality product or service and a little time to try to understand Quality Score to really reap the rewards. Are you ready to learn more about Quality Score? Let’s get started.

Why Quality Score Is Important.

Quality Score is extremely important because it can make or break your campaign (and in some cases, your business). Quality Score determines how much you pay for your advertising on Google and how much exposure you get. You wouldn’t place a TV or magazine ad without knowing how much you have to pay or how much exposure you would get, would you? Brian Carter, a  humorous motivational speaker and the Director of Search  for Online Marketing Agency Fuel Interactive shares some interesting client information over on Search Engine Journal on the inverse relationship between Quality Score and cost per click (CPC). I have reformatted the data below:

quality score relationship to CPC

As you can see, the higher your Quality Score, the lower the price you pay per click. Also, as you will see below, the higher your Quality Score the more exposure you will get as AdWords uses Quality Score to determine what Ads are placed in the coveted 1-3 search results above the organic and local search results.

Us City And State Location Targeting

SECTION 2: QUALITY SCORE FACTORS

Types of Quality Score And What They Impact.

According to Google, there are two “types” of Quality Scores. The AdWords help documentation goes into a little more detail, but the guys over on PPC Hero pretty much nailed it in their Quality Score Handbook (Essential reading by the way) when they said:

Search Network Quality Score is different from Content Network Quality Score. Also there are different Quality Scores for setting minimum bids and ranking ads for the Content Network, Quality Score and the maximum cost-per-click determine the ad rank on content pages. For search, Quality Score, along with maximum CPC, determines ad rank and determines promotion to top of page.

The Google & Search Network Variations/Exceptions.

There are slight variations to the Quality Score formula when it affects ad position and first page bids:

  • For calculating a keyword-targeted ad’s position, your landing page quality is not a factor. Also, when calculating ad position on a Search Network placement, Quality Score considers the click through rate (CTR) on that particular placement in addition to the CTR on Google.
  • For calculating first page bid, Quality Score doesn’t consider the matched ad or search query, since this estimate appears as a metric in your account and doesn’t vary per search query.
  • CTR on Google network, CTR on Google Network impacts QS on the Google Network, not on Google.

The Content Network Variations/Exceptions.

The Quality Score for calculating an ad’s eligibility to appear on a particular content site, as well as the ad’s position on that site, consists of the following factors:

  • The quality of your landing page
  • The historical CTR of the ad on this and similar sites

The Quality Score for determining if a placement-targeted ad will appear on a particular site depends on your campaign’s bidding option.

If your campaign uses cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM) bidding, Quality Score is based on:

  • The quality of your landing page

If your campaign uses CPC bidding, Quality Score is based on:

  • The historical CTR of the ad on this and similar sites
  • The quality of your landing page

Brad Geddes of bgTheory has a handy Quality Score chart with all of this information (reformatted for this post) :

quality score table

SECTION 3: IMPROVING YOUR QUALITY SCORE

Now that you know as much as Google is prepared to share about Quality Score, how it is calculated, and roughly how much weight is given to each factor, what factors can you as an advertiser realistically influence? As it happens, quite a lot! Let’s go into each of the major factors and look at what we can improve.

Improving Your Quality Score for the Search Network

The CTR and historical CTR of the keyword and the matched ad on Google

The CTR of your ad / keyword pair is by far the largest factor in determining Quality Score. The important thing to remember is that the CTR is normalized to your position so your CTR is judged good or bad for Quality Score reasons based on the performance of other ads currently and historically in this position.
Bidding more to move up to the number one position will more than likely improve your CTR, but it will rarely do you any good if your ad doesn’t get a better Quality Score than other ads have received in that position in the past. The goal here is to make your ad so relevant and enticing that the searcher just has on click on it. You can explore the topic of Improving CTR in more depth in some of my previous posts.

It is also important to aggressively research and add negative keywords. This will increase your CTR and reduce your exposure to those searching for something you do not provide. Consider running an AdWords Search Query Performance report daily or weekly, mining your server log files, or checking your Analytics account for negatives and add them to your campaign negative list.

A final historical CTR improvement tip: always bid (and bid high) on your company or brand name. You will get a massive boost in historical CTR because 70%+ of the time, your ad is what searchers are looking for. You will pay pennies per click and decrease the normalized Quality Score and historical account CTR of any competitors bidding on your brand or company name!

Your account history, which is measured by the CTR of all the ads and keywords in your account

Account history is a tough one and is subject to a lot of speculation. Unfortunately, I believe a lot of it to be true. Advertisers with older accounts which have performed well in the past have a huge advantage over advertisers with new accounts. It can take anywhere from 1 week to 4 months to “shake off” a “bad history.”
This is also what some people refer to as the account level Quality Score. It is not so much a type of Quality Score as it is a factor. Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done here with a new account apart from making sure that you have a solid understanding of the factors to get your account off to a flying start (ie: a high CTR off the bat).
If you have an old account with a poor historical Quality Score, you might feel tempted to create a new account to counteract this. This is against AdWords’ policy. If you want to be on the cutting edge and have an appetite for risk, you can beta test new AdWords search ad formats. New formats generally show huge CTR improvements before they settle into the consciousness of Google users. It’s also important to note that the AdWords system treats an edited ad like it’s brand new and has no performance history. According to the FAQ here:

Ad position is partly determined by an ad’s relevance to the search query as well as its historical performance on Google. Editing your ad, therefore, can affect its position.

The historical CTR of the display URLs in the ad group

A relatively new addition to the QS family, historical CTR of the display URL in the ad group is an easy one to get right. Make sure you initially split test the hell out of your ads/display URL and make sure you stick with the one that drives the highest CTR. Adding keywords to the subdomain and subdirectory of display URL can give massive improvements. Especially if the keywords are trademarks. Frank Pipolo has some good tips on using test domains for this.

The quality of your landing page

This is another subjective topic. However (and this is very important), Google has hired thousands of what are called “Ads Quality Raters.” These are actual humans outsourced by Google who sit at home and rate your ads and the quality of the pages those ads go to. To improve on this factor, it is important to pay very close attention to the Landing Page and Site Quality Guidelines here. I wrote a quality score post years ago on this exact factor, and a lot of the tips are still relevant.
Google also has thousands of Search Quality Raters, not to be confused with Ads Quality Raters, who look at and rate pages for classification in the organic search results. While I don’t have the Ads Quality Rater operations manual, the Quality Rater document is out in the wild for all to see. I’ve heard there is an awful lot of crossover.

Remember, you should ensure your landing page is capable of passing a human check. Make sure it follows the rules and never forget that once it is reviewed, it will be reviewed again.

The relevance of the keyword to the ads in its ad group

You’ve heard it many times before. Make sure your base keyword is in the ad title, ad text and display URL. Easy peasy, even for the tiny fraction of weight it carries.

The relevance of the keyword and the matched ad to the search query

This one is a little trickier. Again, attack your negative keyword research aggressively — consider it an essential daily task. This is a more advanced area where going through some detailed buying cycle analysis and segmenting search phrase intent can really pay off. The effort-to-reward ratio will vary here. Getelastic has an amazing post on something very similar here.

Your account’s performance in the geographical region where the ad will be shown

This factor is a relatively new addition to the Quality Score algorithm. I wrote a post about using geo-targeting to improve CTR previously, but the important takeaway is not that blanket geo-targeting is the right way to go, but that you should pay attention to the geographic areas that are performing poorly and consider creating a dedicated campaign or adgroup for this area or remove it completely. Run an AdWords Geographic Performance report to see where you could improve. Consider using local colloquialisms in your ad text for those specific areas to help improve performance.

Other relevance factors

While there is no way to know for sure what all potential factors are, some common sense can be applied here. The first thing to work on is your bounce rate, or more specifically “back-bounce-rate.” Yes, you read that right. Google has mentioned throughout the years that if a visitor clicks your ad and immediately hits the back button, this is an indication that the page was not relevant. In fact, Google explicitly prohibits the disabling of the back button functionality in their policies.

We also have anecdotal evidence that adding your root or base keyword to your landing page title tag and the other keywords in the adgroup around your copy improves Quality Score marginally. If you have the time, it would be ideal to create a landing page for each individual keyword. When this is not possible, a landing page dedicated to each adgroup usually does the trick.

Page Load Time/Other Factors
You may have noticed “page load time” or “site speed” left out of the factors above. To be honest, I’ve never seen a poor Quality Score due to slow page load time. From my experience, as long as your page loads in a reasonable length of time, you don’t even have to worry about this for now. If increasing your page load by a half second has any impact on Quality Score, it is minimal. There are also many other marginal factors I won’t go into, but Bradd Libby does.

Improving Quality Score For Content Network

There is a lot of crossover in the areas where you can improve your Quality Score on the search and content networks. Let’s look at the factors we can influence to improve Quality Score on the content network. In most cases these are a little harder to influence and take a lot more time and resources, but they are worth the effort if you want to succeed on the content network.

The ad’s past performance on this and similar sites

You can do a little or a lot with this one — from site and site section targeting all the way up to joining the community (if it is a forum for example) to get to know the users of the site and what makes them tick. As a member of the site, what ads or ad text would you find most relevant? I have seen some people even targeting the site users themselves (ie: an ad headline that says something like “Attention Redfly Blog Readers! Want to know more about increasing your keyword Quality Score? Click here!

Another tip is to try image ads and compare their performance against your text ads for each site (if the site accepts image ads). Many advertisers still don’t use image ads, so there is a huge opportunity to jump straight to the top of the pile.

The relevance of the ads and keywords in the adgroup to the site

Consider using Google AdPlanner to get the demographics of the site, and target your ad copy to those demographics. Also have a look at what other AdSense ads are showing on the site and make note of ads that are consistently displayed over time. In general, those ads are what Google finds most relevant to that site (at the time). If you can’t beat them, join them.

The historical CTR of the ad on this and similar sites

Again, use Google AdPlanner to see the “Other sites Visited” section of the site you are targeting. Run a site targeted campaign on some of the lower trafficked related sites. This will improve your “related performance” on similar sites. It might be a lot of effort but not only will you improve overall content network performance, but you will gain significant long tail content network leads or sales.

SECTION 4: Troubleshooting Quality Score

There are numerous things that can cause a sudden drop in Quality Score or a slower, more gradual decrease. Here are some of the most common Quality Score problems and what you can (or cannot) do about them.

Sudden 1/10 Quality Score on all (or most) Keywords & Huge First Page Bid Estimates

quality score dropped to one

This is an extremely common problem and is characterized by an advertiser noticing a very sudden drop in traffic from AdWords. In a lot of cases, your search network traffic stops first and is followed shortly by your content network traffic. This unfortunately is known as a “Google Slap” and occurs when a review has taken place on your account and you are no longer deemed to be complying with the outlandishly opaque landing page and site quality guidelines.

Cause: You are linking or deemed to be linking to a bridge page, a get rich quick scheme, an affiliate page that’s only purpose is to redirect traffic to another domain, an affiliate site that provides no added value, a data collection site (a site that collects users’ email addresses or other info in exchange for a free product / whitepaper, etc.), a “poor quality” comparison shopping site, an arbitrage site, or a scam site.

Solution: Despite what you think about your own site, Google, the Ads Quality Raters, and the QS Algorithm/Bot feel differently. They more than likely feel your site falls into one of these categories. In this case, there is very little that you can do. If your site falls into the “scam site” category, expect to be banned permanently or investigated by authorities.

If you feel that your site absolutely does not fall into any of the categories, request a quick look over of your site on the AdWords Help Forum and then request a manual review by contacting Google here.Note that it should be a 100% false positive if you are to get this reversed so be completely sure that your site doesn’t even fall remotely into one of those categories. Remember, AdWords does not run on auto pilot. Real people will look at and inspect your account.

One High Volume Keyword has a Quality Score Of 2-4

quality score in adwords editor low ctr

This problem happens when a specific high volume keyword, usually a single word or two-word phrase, slowly drops its Quality Score and starts costing more. Because these keywords are usually high volume, they can generate a lot of traffic, and a low Quality Score on these keywords can cause a significant drop-off in exposure and sales.

Cause: High volume and low CTR.

Solution: Add negative keywords to the campaign, use exact match, remove the keyword (be careful as this can impact an adgroup “theme” on the content network) or place the keyword in it’s own ad group and optimize the ad copy and display URL aggressively.

Very High (Even 10/10) Quality Score but a Huge First Page Bid Estimate

10/10 Quality Score but a Huge First Page Bid Estimate

Unfortunately, this is not a problem with your Quality Score. When it comes to certain keywords, there are quite literally hundreds of advertisers. Assume all advertisers also have a 10/10 Quality Score. What determines which ads show? That’s right, good old fashioned bid price.

Cause: High volume of advertisers.

Solution: Bid higher and use the backend to improve ROI and increase lifetime customer value (LTV) so you can afford to bid higher.

In Conclusion

AdWords Quality Score is still a closely guarded secret, as is Google’s organic search algorithm. While it may not be possible to figure out every factor, just like the organic search ranking factors, it is possible to extract enough meaning to understand them and make them work for you. The great scam / affiliate purge of 2009 may have made things easier for existing advertisers, but at the current growth rate of PPC and online ad spending, it’s only a matter of time before the paid search results become as competitive as they used to be. Those of you who understand Quality Score will be in a far better position to get more from your AdWords advertising spend than those who do not.

I hope you got some value from this post. If you did, please share it with others who might get something from it too.


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PostHeaderIcon What Every Google AdWords Advertiser Should Know About Quality Score – The Ultimate QS Improvement Guide

Do you need to improve your AdWords Quality Score? Do you want to understand what Google wants from you as an advertiser in exchange for a decent Quality Score and lower click prices? Today I will teach you the ins and outs of the algorithm and show you how you can tweak your account and site to influence each Quality Score factor.

I am constantly surprised at how little advertisers really understand Quality Scores. If you put in a little effort, you can reap some very tangible benefits and come out leaps and bounds ahead of your competition.

SECTION 1: QUALITY SCORE BASICS

While Quality Score is relatively simple to grasp as a concept, it’s a little more complicated in practice. Stasia, an AdWords Seminar leader, gives you a nice introduction to the basic concept of Quality Score in the video below:

Get the Flash Player to see this video about quality score.

The Opportunity.

Back in the good old days, AdWords was based on a pure auction-based model. If you bid more than another advertiser on a keyword, your ad would appear higher and ultimately get more clicks (and hopefully sales). Back in 2005 when Google introduced the Quality Score, it changed everything.
No longer could search results be flooded with irrelevant ads of those with massive budgets. Many advertisers were very upset, but a unique opportunity arose for those with smaller budgets and the inclination to put in a little hard work — perhaps people like you. With the refinement of the Quality Score algorithm and the great scam / affiliate flush of late 2009, there has never been a better opportunity for those advertisers with a quality product or service and a little time to try to understand Quality Score to really reap the rewards. Are you ready to learn more about Quality Score? Let’s get started.

Why Quality Score Is Important.

Quality Score is extremely important because it can make or break your campaign (and in some cases, your business). Quality Score determines how much you pay for your advertising on Google and how much exposure you get. You wouldn’t place a TV or magazine ad without knowing how much you have to pay or how much exposure you would get, would you? Brian Carter, a  humorous motivational speaker and the Director of Search  for Online Marketing Agency Fuel Interactive shares some interesting client information over on Search Engine Journal on the inverse relationship between Quality Score and cost per click (CPC). I have reformatted the data below:

quality score relationship to CPC

As you can see, the higher your Quality Score, the lower the price you pay per click. Also, as you will see below, the higher your Quality Score the more exposure you will get as AdWords uses Quality Score to determine what Ads are placed in the coveted 1-3 search results above the organic and local search results.

Us City And State Location Targeting

SECTION 2: QUALITY SCORE FACTORS

Types of Quality Score And What They Impact.

According to Google, there are two “types” of Quality Scores. The AdWords help documentation goes into a little more detail, but the guys over on PPC Hero pretty much nailed it in their Quality Score Handbook (Essential reading by the way) when they said:

Search Network Quality Score is different from Content Network Quality Score. Also there are different Quality Scores for setting minimum bids and ranking ads for the Content Network, Quality Score and the maximum cost-per-click determine the ad rank on content pages. For search, Quality Score, along with maximum CPC, determines ad rank and determines promotion to top of page.

The Google & Search Network Variations/Exceptions.

There are slight variations to the Quality Score formula when it affects ad position and first page bids:

  • For calculating a keyword-targeted ad’s position, your landing page quality is not a factor. Also, when calculating ad position on a Search Network placement, Quality Score considers the click through rate (CTR) on that particular placement in addition to the CTR on Google.
  • For calculating first page bid, Quality Score doesn’t consider the matched ad or search query, since this estimate appears as a metric in your account and doesn’t vary per search query.

The Content Network Variations/Exceptions.

The Quality Score for calculating an ad’s eligibility to appear on a particular content site, as well as the ad’s position on that site, consists of the following factors:

  • The quality of your landing page
  • The historical CTR of the ad on this and similar sites

The Quality Score for determining if a placement-targeted ad will appear on a particular site depends on your campaign’s bidding option.

If your campaign uses cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM) bidding, Quality Score is based on:

  • The quality of your landing page

If your campaign uses CPC bidding, Quality Score is based on:

  • The historical CTR of the ad on this and similar sites
  • The quality of your landing page

Brad Geddes of bgTheory has a handy Quality Score chart with all of this information (reformatted for this post) :

quality score table

SECTION 3: IMPROVING YOUR QUALITY SCORE

Now that you know as much as Google is prepared to share about Quality Score, how it is calculated, and roughly how much weight is given to each factor, what factors can you as an advertiser realistically influence? As it happens, quite a lot! Let’s go into each of the major factors and look at what we can improve.

Improving Your Quality Score for the Search Network

The CTR and historical CTR of the keyword and the matched ad on Google

The CTR of your ad / keyword pair is by far the largest factor in determining Quality Score. The important thing to remember is that the CTR is normalized to your position so your CTR is judged good or bad for Quality Score reasons based on the performance of other ads currently and historically in this position.
Bidding more to move up to the number one position will more than likely improve your CTR, but it will rarely do you any good if your ad doesn’t get a better Quality Score than other ads have received in that position in the past. The goal here is to make your ad so relevant and enticing that the searcher just has on click on it. You can explore the topic of Improving CTR in more depth in some of my previous posts.

It is also important to aggressively research and add negative keywords. This will increase your CTR and reduce your exposure to those searching for something you do not provide. Consider running an AdWords Search Query Performance report daily or weekly, mining your server log files, or checking your Analytics account for negatives and add them to your campaign negative list.

A final historical CTR improvement tip: always bid (and bid high) on your company or brand name. You will get a massive boost in historical CTR because 70%+ of the time, your ad is what searchers are looking for. You will pay pennies per click and decrease the normalized Quality Score and historical account CTR of any competitors bidding on your brand or company name!

Your account history, which is measured by the CTR of all the ads and keywords in your account

Account history is a tough one and is subject to a lot of speculation. Unfortunately, I believe a lot of it to be true. Advertisers with older accounts which have performed well in the past have a huge advantage over advertisers with new accounts. It can take anywhere from 1 week to 4 months to “shake off” a “bad history.”
This is also what some people refer to as the account level Quality Score. It is not so much a type of Quality Score as it is a factor. Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done here with a new account apart from making sure that you have a solid understanding of the factors to get your account off to a flying start (ie: a high CTR off the bat).
If you have an old account with a poor historical Quality Score, you might feel tempted to create a new account to counteract this. This is against AdWords’ policy. If you want to be on the cutting edge and have an appetite for risk, you can beta test new AdWords search ad formats. New formats generally show huge CTR improvements before they settle into the consciousness of Google users.

The historical CTR of the display URLs in the ad group

A relatively new addition to the QS family, historical CTR of the display URL in the ad group is an easy one to get right. Make sure you initially split test the hell out of your ads/display URL and make sure you stick with the one that drives the highest CTR. Adding keywords to the subdomain and subdirectory of display URL can give massive improvements. Especially if the keywords are trademarks. Frank Pipolo has some good tips on using test domains for this.

The quality of your landing page

This is another subjective topic. However (and this is very important), Google has hired thousands of what are called “Ads Quality Raters.” These are actual humans outsourced by Google who sit at home and rate your ads and the quality of the pages those ads go to. To improve on this factor, it is important to pay very close attention to the Landing Page and Site Quality Guidelines here. I wrote a quality score post years ago on this exact factor, and a lot of the tips are still relevant.
Google also has thousands of Search Quality Raters, not to be confused with Ads Quality Raters, who look at and rate pages for classification in the organic search results. While I don’t have the Ads Quality Rater operations manual, the Quality Rater document is out in the wild for all to see. I’ve heard there is an awful lot of crossover.

Remember, you should ensure your landing page is capable of passing a human check. Make sure it follows the rules and never forget that once it is reviewed, it will be reviewed again.

The relevance of the keyword to the ads in its ad group

You’ve heard it many times before. Make sure your base keyword is in the ad title, ad text and display URL. Easy peasy, even for the tiny fraction of weight it carries.

The relevance of the keyword and the matched ad to the search query

This one is a little trickier. Again, attack your negative keyword research aggressively — consider it an essential daily task. This is a more advanced area where going through some detailed buying cycle analysis and segmenting search phrase intent can really pay off. The effort-to-reward ratio will vary here. Getelastic has an amazing post on something very similar here.

Your account’s performance in the geographical region where the ad will be shown

This factor is a relatively new addition to the Quality Score algorithm. I wrote a post about using geo-targeting to improve CTR previously, but the important takeaway is not that blanket geo-targeting is the right way to go, but that you should pay attention to the geographic areas that are performing poorly and consider creating a dedicated campaign or adgroup for this area or remove it completely. Run an AdWords Geographic Performance report to see where you could improve. Consider using local colloquialisms in your ad text for those specific areas to help improve performance.

Other relevance factors

While there is no way to know for sure what all potential factors are, some common sense can be applied here. The first thing to work on is your bounce rate, or more specifically “back-bounce-rate.” Yes, you read that right. Google has mentioned throughout the years that if a visitor clicks your ad and immediately hits the back button, this is an indication that the page was not relevant. In fact, Google explicitly prohibits the disabling of the back button functionality in their policies.

We also have anecdotal evidence that adding your root or base keyword to your landing page title tag and the other keywords in the adgroup around your copy improves Quality Score marginally. If you have the time, it would be ideal to create a landing page for each individual keyword. When this is not possible, a landing page dedicated to each adgroup usually does the trick.

Page Load Time/Other Factors
You may have noticed “page load time” or “site speed” left out of the factors above. To be honest, I’ve never seen a poor Quality Score due to slow page load time. From my experience, as long as your page loads in a reasonable length of time, you don’t even have to worry about this for now. If increasing your page load by a half second has any impact on Quality Score, it is minimal. There are also many other marginal factors I won’t go into, but Bradd Libby does.

Improving Quality Score For Content Network

There is a lot of crossover in the areas where you can improve your Quality Score on the search and content networks. Let’s look at the factors we can influence to improve Quality Score on the content network. In most cases these are a little harder to influence and take a lot more time and resources, but they are worth the effort if you want to succeed on the content network.

The ad’s past performance on this and similar sites

You can do a little or a lot with this one — from site and site section targeting all the way up to joining the community (if it is a forum for example) to get to know the users of the site and what makes them tick. As a member of the site, what ads or ad text would you find most relevant? I have seen some people even targeting the site users themselves (ie: an ad headline that says something like “Attention Redfly Blog Readers! Want to know more about increasing your keyword Quality Score? Click here!

Another tip is to try image ads and compare their performance against your text ads for each site (if the site accepts image ads). Many advertisers still don’t use image ads, so there is a huge opportunity to jump straight to the top of the pile.

The relevance of the ads and keywords in the adgroup to the site

Consider using Google AdPlanner to get the demographics of the site, and target your ad copy to those demographics. Also have a look at what other AdSense ads are showing on the site and make note of ads that are consistently displayed over time. In general, those ads are what Google finds most relevant to that site (at the time). If you can’t beat them, join them.

The historical CTR of the ad on this and similar sites

Again, use Google AdPlanner to see the “Other sites Visited” section of the site you are targeting. Run a site targeted campaign on some of the lower trafficked related sites. This will improve your “related performance” on similar sites. It might be a lot of effort but not only will you improve overall content network performance, but you will gain significant long tail content network leads or sales.

SECTION 4: Troubleshooting Quality Score

There are numerous things that can cause a sudden drop in Quality Score or a slower, more gradual decrease. Here are some of the most common Quality Score problems and what you can (or cannot) do about them.

Sudden 1/10 Quality Score on all (or most) Keywords & Huge First Page Bid Estimates

quality score dropped to one

This is an extremely common problem and is characterized by an advertiser noticing a very sudden drop in traffic from AdWords. In a lot of cases, your search network traffic stops first and is followed shortly by your content network traffic. This unfortunately is known as a “Google Slap” and occurs when a review has taken place on your account and you are no longer deemed to be complying with the outlandishly opaque landing page and site quality guidelines.

Cause: You are linking or deemed to be linking to a bridge page, a get rich quick scheme, an affiliate page that’s only purpose is to redirect traffic to another domain, an affiliate site that provides no added value, a data collection site (a site that collects users’ email addresses or other info in exchange for a free product / whitepaper, etc.), a “poor quality” comparison shopping site, an arbitrage site, or a scam site.

Solution: Despite what you think about your own site, Google, the Ads Quality Raters, and the QS Algorithm/Bot feel differently. They more than likely feel your site falls into one of these categories. In this case, there is very little that you can do. If your site falls into the “scam site” category, expect to be banned permanently or investigated by authorities.

If you feel that your site absolutely does not fall into any of the categories, request a quick look over of your site on the AdWords Help Forum and then request a manual review by contacting Google here.Note that it should be a 100% false positive if you are to get this reversed so be completely sure that your site doesn’t even fall remotely into one of those categories. Remember, AdWords does not run on auto pilot. Real people will look at and inspect your account.

One High Volume Keyword has a Quality Score Of 2-4

quality score in adwords editor low ctr

This problem happens when a specific high volume keyword, usually a single word or two-word phrase, slowly drops its Quality Score and starts costing more. Because these keywords are usually high volume, they can generate a lot of traffic, and a low Quality Score on these keywords can cause a significant drop-off in exposure and sales.

Cause: High volume and low CTR.

Solution: Add negative keywords to the campaign, use exact match, remove the keyword (be careful as this can impact an adgroup “theme” on the content network) or place the keyword in it’s own ad group and optimize the ad copy and display URL aggressively.

Very High (Even 10/10) Quality Score but a Huge First Page Bid Estimate

10/10 Quality Score but a Huge First Page Bid Estimate

Unfortunately, this is not a problem with your Quality Score. When it comes to certain keywords, there are quite literally hundreds of advertisers. Assume all advertisers also have a 10/10 Quality Score. What determines which ads show? That’s right, good old fashioned bid price.

Cause: High volume of advertisers.

Solution: Bid higher and use the backend to improve ROI and increase lifetime customer value (LTV) so you can afford to bid higher.

In Conclusion

AdWords Quality Score is still a closely guarded secret, as is Google’s organic search algorithm. While it may not be possible to figure out every factor, just like the organic search ranking factors, it is possible to extract enough meaning to understand them and make them work for you. The great scam / affiliate purge of 2009 may have made things easier for existing advertisers, but at the current growth rate of PPC and online ad spending, it’s only a matter of time before the paid search results become as competitive as they used to be. Those of you who understand Quality Score will be in a far better position to get more from your AdWords advertising spend than those who do not.

I hope you got some value from this post. If you did, please share it with others who might get something from it too.


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PostHeaderIcon Mulley Communications Online PR Workshop

On Saturday, the 23rd of January, I attended an online PR workshop run by Damien Mulley from Online PR Company, Mulley Communications. I’m a little late to the party, but that’s only because I had to rush out and buy seasons 1-6 of The West Wing and watch them all back-to-back. Thanks Damien!

Online PR

The Workshop

The course / workshop was broken down into the following areas:

  • Basics of Online Communications
  • Developing a Communications Bible
  • Developing a Communications Philosophy
  • Working with Blogs, Forums, Twitter, etc.
  • Finding Tools – Who is Talking about you Online?
  • Crisis Communications

The Day

The Day started off early and I got in a little face time with Dena, Darragh and Leo. I also had the privilege of meeting Martina Skelly of activate.ie (who I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to speak with as I had not had my morning triple espresso). Next time Martina!

The event was held in the Radisson Blu, a venue where I’ve managed to meet numerous online marketing folks for some reason. It seems to be the new Dublin venue of choice.

The day started off on a very casual note — just the way I like it. Everyone in the room introduced themselves (except those who were late) and everyone felt immediately at ease. There were no awkward “Am I going to be asked to get up and give an elevator pitch?” moments. Again, it was just the way I like it.

Damien, who is amazingly comfortable speaking in front of people, kicked the morning off on the topic of grassroots media campaigns using examples from Techcrunch and Hotelicopter, and then dove straight in on the subject of “influencers.”  I have a feeling a lot of the presentation was ad-hoc, but it felt very prepared. Damien didn’t need to bother with fluff. Yet again, just the way I like it.

I was expecting there to be a lot of focus on Twitter but was very grateful that here was no focus on any one medium in particular. This was my biggest fear about the day — listening to someone rattle on about Twitter. It was nothing like this.

Damien went on and covered a lot about negative reputation management, which was quite interesting and a subject I feel will be very important in coming years.

There was then some audience participation and I got the most value from the day at this stage when the idea of “photowalks” and facilitation came up. There were some good nuggets of information here.

The next part of the workshop focused on SEO and reputation management. I believe there could have been a lot more said on this subject but I’m a little biased in this area. Leo and I provided the names of some tools for this part. As they are paid tools, I’ve included screenshots showing how they can be used in relation to Damien’s presentation. The tools are OpenSiteExplorer and MajesticSEO. Below I have included some sample images of reports I ran for Mulley.ie on OSE.

Opensite Explorer Screenshot

In the next example I used Majestic to run a basic link report on the same site. You can use both tools to complement each other and analyze the link graph of any site you choose. If anyone from the workshop would like me to run a report for them, let me know. We have lots of credits with each and it’s sometimes better to try before you buy. I can highly recommend each of these tools.

Majestic SEO Screenshot

The next part of the day was extremely interesting, valuable, timely, topical, and relevant. Darragh Doyle, the Community Manager for Boards.ie, gave a talk on the very high profile security breach on the boards.ie website. Darragh went into some great detail on the steps that the Boards and Daft team took to resolve the situation and it turned out to be the perfect example of how to do crisis management right. It was almost as if the security breach was intended from the start to serve as the perfect case study for this workshop.

Next up was the topic of “owning the search results for your own name.” There was some good stuff here.

On a whim, Noel Rock gave a fantastic spur-of-the-moment talk on Soccer Stars for Haiti. He did a great job considering he was put on the spot like that. ;) Noel’s talk transitioned smoothly into the final official area of the workshop. Christian Hughes (who despite having lots to say, can talk the talk) gave a quote I still remember that’s worth mentioning:

A”Anything ‘viral’ is doomed to fail as the idea of ‘viral’ is inherently flawed. There’s no such thing as ‘a viral;’ things ‘go viral.’”

The day closed with a nice informal open session. I’m not so sure this would be suitable for “newbies” as there were a lot of high caliber PR and marketing folks who knew what they were talking about throwing around some interesting ideas. These were smart people. I doubt it could be recreated though.

The day finished earlier than I expected. I was very thankful — not because the content was bad (quite the opposite) but because I hate sitting down for a whole day. The length of the workshop was absolutely perfect.

The Feedback.

  • I would have liked to see more actual case studies.
  • I think the length the day was perfect. I wouldn’t try to make it longer.
  • I would have liked if we all went to lunch together.
  • I really liked the open session at the end. I think this should be an official part of the workshop.
  • I liked the “no pitch” policy. I think it’s important even if some people did ignore it.
  • I would have liked more info and examples on dealing with the mainstream press and their process.

In Conclusion.

The day was great. The day was valuable.

Would I recommend this workshop? Yes.

Would I pay for this workshop? Absolutely.


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PostHeaderIcon The RedFly 2010 Marketing Conference & Event Schedule

Want to meet with us in 2010? The Redfly team will be traveling the globe to attend a wide verity of Internet marketing and blogging events in 2010. Why not get in touch if you’re at any of the same events or even nearby and we can go for coffee or just shoot the breeze?

Below is a chronologically listed schedule for the remainder of this year. Do say hello!

January 23rd: Mulley Communications Online PR Workshop Dublin

Online PR

The Online PR workshop run by Damien Mulley of Mulley Communications is putting on it’s inaugural workshop dedicated to online public relations, reputation management, online communications and crisis communication. The event will be held at the Radisson Blu hotel in Dublin and is set to be a sure fire hit.

February 4th: Dublin Web Summit

Dublin Web Summit 2.0

The Dublin Web Summit run by Paddy Cosgrave will take place in Trinity College Dublin. It will feature influential keynote speakers such as Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, and Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress as well as delegates from a massive array of Irish companies (and a guest appearance from bohemian economist David McWilliams) .

February 15th – 18: OMS & Search Engine Strategies (SES) London

Online Marketing Summit London

The first search related conference of the year kicks off with a double whammy. The online Marketing Summit and Search Engine strategies have teamed up to offer search geeks and search engine marketers everywhere a bumper 4 day search conference featuring the legendary author of Web Analytics An Hour A Day, Avinash Kaushik. The conference will feature well known guest speakers such as Richard Baxter, Lisa Myers, Ciaran Norris, The lovely folk from Ayima SEO and legend in his own right, John Myers of Mediavest. I’ve also heard there is due to be quite a large knees up at the LondonSEO party. To get a 20% discount on the cost of this event, use the promo code 20SPG when registering.

March 6th-7th: Wordcamp Ireland

Wordcamp Ireland

Another inaugural event, WordCamp Ireland will be held in Kilkenny, Ireland (which for some reason I’ve never been to). Wordcamp promises to be two days of everything WordPress related. The event is being run by Pixel Pusher Sabrina Dent and will feature well known bloggers and techies such as Donncha O Caoimh, Joost de Valk, Niall Harbison. Redfly are also one of the sponsors of this event for which we have been promised that there will be a “Redfly Cocktail” made available to all attendees.

March 27th: Irish Blog Awards (Galway)

Irish Blog Awards

The fourth annual Irish Blog Awards (which takes place in a different county every year) will take place in Ireland’s “Culture Capital”, Galway. The blog awards, run by Damien Mulley (Is there anything he isn’t involved in?) is set to be a night of fun, frolics, recognition and … well, cool awards. Redfly is also sponsoring the best group blog category. Good luck to everyone who makes the shortlist!

April 22nd-23rd: Search Marketing Expo (SMX) Sydney

Search Marketing Expo (SMX) Sydney

The Search Marketing Conference & Expo in Sydney is “Australia’s #1 Search Marketing Event and is the “must-attend” Search Engine Marketing and Social Media event of the year in Australia”. SMX Sydney will feature speakers like Greg Boser, Todd Freisen and the always lovely Gillian Muessig or SEOmoz.

May 17th-18th: Search Marketing Expo (SMX) Advanced London

Search Marketing Expo (SMX) London

SMX Advanced in London is the only search marketing conference designed exclusively for experienced internet marketers. We’ve heard some great things about SMX Advanced sessions and have never been in the US for the Seattle event. No speakers have been announced at the time of this post but we’re positive that this is going to be great. Dedicated to a conference without a schedule or speaker list? It must be good. To get a 15% discount on the cost of the event, enter the promo code REDFLY010

May 20th: IIA Congress Dublin & Net Visionary Awards

Net Visionary Awards

The IIA Annual Congress 2010 will be held on Thursday 20 May in the Crowne Plaza Dublin Northwood followed by the Net Visionary Awards 2010 that same evening. The IIA Congress usually operates on an annual “theme” of which most of the sessions are (at least loosely) based on. We’ve been a member of the Irish Internet Association for nearly two years now and this will be our first congress.

Spetember 17th-19th: Think Tank San Diego

Think Tank San Diego

For the past two years, something urgent has always come up to prevent us from attending this. Hopefully this year will be different. Think Tank is a conference with a difference run by one of the nicest blokes in the industry, Dave Klein of PurposeINC (Yes, the same Dave Klein who runs the Pubcon Charity poker tournament and fixes back problems). This is an invite only event and caters for experienced online marketers with a friendly no-pitch setting.

October 4th-6th – Search Marketing Expo (SMX) New York

Search Marketing Expo (SMX) New York

The third Redfly SMX of the year because we’ve never been to an SMX before and believe they deserve a chance considering the good things we’ve seen and heard. SMX Seattle promises Sessions that are fast-paced, Q&A-packed, frequently controversial, always informative…and don’t stop to cover the basics. For those fluent in search engine marketing, SMX Advanced is full of others who speak your native language.

October 11th-13th: A4U Expo London

A4U Expo London

A4U Expo in London is one of the funnest events with the widest verity of attendees of any other conference. A4U focuses not only on the affiliate marketing industry, but the search industry that surrounds it. While we keep our involvement in the affiliate space fairly clear of the Redfly blog, the quirky and incredibly intelligent people you can meet at this conference makes it a must-attend.

November/December: Pubcon Las Vegas (Exact date TBC).

Pubcon Las Vegas

If A4U is one of the funnest conferences, Pubcon Las Vegas is without a doubt the funnest. Let’s face it, it’s in Vegas, it can hardly be anything but fun. Pubcon is the de-facto search marketing conference. It’s one of the oldest and most respected conferences of the year. Those who have been to one (or a few) know that it needs no introduction, those who have not should come along with us this year for the educational and online marketing event of the year.

Get In Touch.

If you would like to arrange a sit down, some lunch or just a chat at the bar at any of these events, get in touch. We’ll be more than happy to get the first round in.


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