Optimization is key to pay-per-click success. That is, you should be constantly improving your ad campaigns to generate more qualified leads at a lower cost per lead. One tactic to invest in is ad split-testing.
An advertising split-test is a scientific method by which you evenly display two different ads to a similarly targeted audience. The goal is to see which ad produces better results. The ads are in rotation – so every time a search is conducted on Google, a different ad displays. Ad A, ad B, ad A, ad B, ad A, ad B… and so forth. Therefore, if 1,000 individuals are exposed to your advertising, half will see ad A and half will see ad B.
After data has been tracked (I like to wait for around 30 clicks per ad to be certain of statistical significance), it’s time to analyze. But exactly what should you look for?
Recently I attended an online marketing conference in Seattle to find out the latest trends within PPC and more importantly – Google Adwords. As always, I was underwhelmed by the sheer amount of things I was asked to buy, and the amount of snake oil I was expected to consume… but one thing rang perfectly true as a 100% proven technique to win at online advertising with Adwords – Updating Your Ads.
I don’t mean updating your ads because they are bad or updating them because you have something “new” to say about your business. I mean always, always, always testing new ads. Why? Because you will save quite a lot of money doing so.
The Secret Formula
Google isn’t as complicated as you might think. There are some very basic ideas to keep in mind when dealing with them. The most important one of these being – don’t ever try to cheat them in any way. And this means that you should always do right by the customer, the publisher and in turn yourself when thinking about your ads. The second rule… Google loves money. But they make it in a very altruistic way.
With that said – Google applies a Quality Score to all of your keywords, and even slightly to your groups and campaigns (structures of ads within Google). It’s a very simply idea… the better your Quality Score – the less you will pay over time to advertise.
How do I get a good quality score? Well… write a really good ad. And rotate that ad with variations and adjustments as often as you can. The more your ad gets clicked – the more your ad will get shown. The ad is in direct correlation to the quality score. So you may be asking yourself, “I already have a great ad. Why do I need to change it?” We will talk later about something called multi-variant testing – but… know this… however great your ad is today, will not correlate through tomorrow. I.e. – write new ads to challenge the already existing “great ad”.
How Google Sees Your Money
Think of Google like a wheel… And there are 3 pieces of the wheel – the advertiser (you), the publisher (other websites or Google themselves), and the customer (your future client). Google wants everyone treated fairly, but it also wants to make the most money it can and to do it in a very egalitarian manner. They want all parties to get the best out of their experience with Google and they have developed their system around – IF YOU WRITE THE BEST AD – you are obviously the best advertiser. And hence – we will show your ad more and then make more money and the customer will be happy because they obviously like what you are saying… see the wheel? Good.
So here’s how competing campaigns look to Google:
Advertiser A is bidding $5 a click to run his ad and is getting a 2% Click Through Rate (CTR – how often an ad is shown / how often it is clicked)
Advertiser B is bidding $2 a click to run his ad and is getting a 5% CTR
Advertiser C is bidding $8 per click to run his ad and is getting a 1% CTR
Now what dictates a GREAT CTR? Well it’s a couple things but the most important thing is the quality, newness, and specificity of the ad. In order to get all those things clicking at the right time – we need to write and test more and more ads all the time.
So the way Google does their math is to say “If I serve this ad X times (let’s say 1 million) then I will receive Y.” The guys with the biggest Y will always win for Google. But since part of Google’s payment is predicated on the users interaction with your ads (clicks) than the best ad gets the best placement.
Advertiser A ~ 1M impressions X 2% X $4 = $8,000 (2k clicks to advertisers site)
Advertiser B ~ 1M impressions X 5% X $2 = $10,000 (5k clicks to advertisers site)
Advertiser C ~ 1M impressions X 1% X $8 = $8,000 (1k to advertisers site)
Now – which one of those do you want to be? Advertiser B of course – and the only way Advertiser B achieves that success is by writing and testing better ads than the competition. So… get out there and start mixing it up. Keep track of your successes and failures but always be testing to find the MOST effective ads you can. It will save you buckets of money in the long run.
Writing quality and unique content can be tough. More and more of your competitors are finding out that writing blog posts and posting regular updates to their websites is important to their website’s search engine visibility, so the natural reaction for anyone is usually “well, we need to be doing more than them”.
This may be the case, but how you justify and define “more” in that statement can make the difference between you keeping someone on your website, and you wasting their time.
It’s a known fact (and if you don’t know, you will soon find out) that there is a fine line between writing for search engines and writing for the viewer/potential client or customer. It’s extremely easy to write a piece of content that includes a certain percentage of the keyword you’re trying to target, and there’s a chance that this content may rank for those keywords if you spend some time building links to it and promoting it on social media sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+.
But are you confident that this content will engage your readers and represent a positive brand image for your company?
Have you actually thought about how well this piece of content, which is representing you and/or your company on the Internet, is converting visits and encouraging your visitors to visit additional web pages and find out more about you? (Tip: Pages per visit in Google Analytics is important, but take a look at the pages which have a very low average time on page and which entrance pages led to the visitor simply exiting your site. You obviously need to make some changes to these pages).
Sure, you could hire a copywriter to churn out as much content as you’d like on a monthly basis, but how informative is this content and what kind of value is it adding?
With Google updating it’s search algorithm over the past year or so to include how often a website’s page is shared on social media sites, and by what users (if your blog posts and stories are just being retweeted and liked by obvious spam accounts than you’re not really accomplishing much by the way) as a ranking factor, then it’s only a matter of time before how others vote on your content (how many quality +1’s you get, how many retweets and likes from trusted visitors, etc.) becomes another primary ranking factor.
Maybe even the ratio of how many pages a website has to how many retweets/likes/+1’s it has? I could see it down the road, where a website that has 1,000 pages of content but only a few “votes” would be outperformed by a website with 200 pages and the same amount of “votes” (note: I would still consider inbound links from trusted non-social-media as a vote).
And, while many don’t believe that average time on site, average time on page, pages per visit, and other traffic-related factors play a role in how a website ranks, I always think that it might.
This is a list of the SEO techniques that a group of SEO experts from around the country have identified as what Google sees as red flags, and when I see things like
“a high percentage of external links pointing to one page with the same anchor text”
“sitewide links from external sites”, and
“sitewide internal links from footer links”
I think to myself that all of the techniques listed above are seen by Google as ways that traditional SEO’ers were using to try to gain an unfair advantage. Most of these methods are made possible by software and scripts that make these methods extremely easy for a webmaster or SEO’er to implement, and I look at web content from a similar viewpoint.
It’s very easy to use services such as Textbroker.com and freelance sites such as elance.com, guru.com, etc. to find cheap content which can be churned out quickly, but do you really think that the $10 blog posts that you had done in less than 24 hours is going to result in your viewers saying to themselves “wow, that was ground-breaking!”?
Finding ideas for topics when it comes to web content is usually where most people have a problem. Take some time and look at your competition’s website. Get ideas of what kind of content they’re posting (as long as you’ve identified this competitor as someone who posts content in good taste versus just posting to post), and make a list of topics that you can space out over a month’s time.
I can say, from experience, that posting quality content on a regular basis can be tough from a time management perspective as well. A good tip I’ve heard over the years is- once you start writing, don’t stop. If you’re writing a blog post one night and you feel like you’re in the zone, keep going until your fingers hurt. Save those blog posts and schedule them to publish throughout the coming weeks.
Inbound link popularity is (and likely always will be) still the primary ranking factor when it comes to search engine rankings, but the equation for a successful inbound link structure is the same as website content when it comes to what makes a website more visible- the better links/content, and not the most links/content, will make a website successful. Hard work and effort will always prevail over the wholesale and automated approach when it comes to web content, link building, web development, and everything else. It’s Google’s job to make it so.
So you’ve created a winning lawyer ppc campaign and are driving potential clients to your site. Your landing pages are informative and create trust. Your calls to action are clear and to the point. Now comes the moment of decision. Now comes the time for the prospect to contact you.
There are three primary ways a website contact can request a case review (short of showing up at your office): web forms, phone calls, and live chats. The more options you give a potential new client to reach you, the better the chances are that they will convert into a lead. But there’s a hitch! You want to be able to track all your leads back to the ad and keyword that generated it. Without that you don’t have a good picture of what’s working and what’s not. Web forms are easy – AdWords is setup to track these. But phone calls and chats aren’t so easy. In this post, we’ll discuss how to track live chats back to the AdWords campaigns that generated them.
Step One: Enable URL Tagging.
To track chats in Google Analytics, you first need to tag the destination urls in your ads. This may sound a little odd right now, but will make sense later! To tag your urls, follow the following steps:
Sign in to your AdWords account.
Click the “My Account” tab and select “Account Preferences.”
In the “Tracking” section, click “Edit.”
Modify the “Destination URL Auto-tagging” checkbox.
Click “Save Changes.”
Step Two: Attach Event Tracking To Chat Software.
Google Analytics has what are called “Events.” An event can be anything: from playing a video to downloading a file. In order to so, however, you have to add some special code to the event occurring – in this case, a chat occurrence.
You probably use a third party chat provider, like Client Chat Live or NGage. If so, send them this event code. Otherwise, have your programming install this in the chat software on your website.
Expecting something more complex? Sorry to disappoint.
Step Two.Five: Wait Until After Your First Chat.
The next few step requires at least one chat to come through. Sigh
Step Three: Segment Out Your Chats In Analytics.
Now it’s time to connect the tagged urls and the events. Google Analytic has what are called “Advanced Segments,” or filters that allow you to display only the data from certain kinds of visitors. To track chats back to the PPC campaigns that initiated them, you’ll have to create a segment that only displays visits with chats.
Log into your Google Analytics account and go into your website reports.
In the left sidebar, under “My Customizations,” click on “Advanced Segments.”
On the screen that appears, click “Create new custom segment” near the top right hand corner.
There are two drop down boxes to the left: “Dimensions” and “Metrics.” Select “Dimensions.”
Select “Content” and then select and drag the option for “Event Action” over to the report.
Under “Condition,” select “Contains.” Set the “Value” to “Open.”
Name the Segment and save it.
Step Four and Onward: Analysis.
After you’ve been collecting data for a few weeks, you can start looking at the metrics. Go into your Google Analytics report. You will see an option in the top right hand corner for “Advanced Segments.” Select your chat segment and unselect the “All Visits” box. Now all the data you see in your report will be from visitors who chatted with you!
In the left hand bar, select “Content,” and “Top Landing Pages.” The resulting list of urls will all have Google AdWords tags attached to them (think back to Step One). Now you can extract the ad ID numbers and keywords from these and combine them with the conversion data you pull on web forms and phone calls for split testing purposes.
Want to improve your lawyer ppc advertising conversion rates? Ask for a free Search Ninjas pay per click account audit.