Posts Tagged adwords

PPC Targeting by Knowledge: Turning PPC Long-Tail Theory on Its Head

After 7 years running PPC campaigns, I thought I had it sussed. I thought that people searching for specific long-tail searches were further along in the buying cycle than people searching for shorter, generic phrases, and therefore more likely to convert. I thought that targeting long-tail keywords provided a great opportunity to segment different types of searchers, and bid differently depending on how much qualification was contained in their search. I thought long-tail keywords provided a great opportunity to respond to the specific needs and preferences of each searcher, and provide tailored and relevant ad messages which solve their unique problems.

It turns out I may be wrong.

A long-tail PPC strategy, consisting of thousands of keywords and thousands of tailored ad messages catering for a wide range of searcher needs and preferences, can indeed lead to higher click through rates, higher Quality Scores, lower CPCs, and higher conversion rates. It’s a methodology I have abided by for 7 years, generally achieving far superior results than more generic PPC strategies which instead target shorter, more generic searches.

The logic of long-tail theory is sound too:

  1. Compared to shorter keywords such as ‘flooring’, people who make long-tail searches such as ’14mm bamboo flooring melbourne’ are generally more knowledgeable about what they want, are further along in the buying cycle, and are therefore more likely to convert.
  2. Because the searcher has provided signals such as ’14mm’, ‘bamboo’, and ‘melbourne’, you can be more confident they are searching for exactly what you offer, allowing you to bid higher for searches which contain those qualifying words, leading to a higher return on investment.
  3. And because the searcher has been very specific, you can show targeted ad messages which are tailored to ’14mm Bamboo Flooring’, take the visitor to a landing page which showcases your 14mm bamboo flooring range, and be confident that your campaigns will generate fantastic results.

It all sounds great. But we are making one big assumption about one important variable – knowledge.

Knowledge Isn’t Always Good


Long-tail theory assumes that people who make specific long-tail searches are generally more knowledgeable, further along in the buying cycle, and more ready to buy than people who make shorter and less-specific searches.

I still believe this is generally true.

However, just because people who make long-tail searches may be more knowledgeable and more likely to buy, does not necessarily mean they are more likely to buy from you.

If the profitable clientele of your business consists of people who are not knowledgeable, not informed, and not aware of the specifics of your products and services, then even though long-tail searches may closely match your products and services, shorted generic keywords may be more effective at achieving the goals of your business.

Even if you sell 14mm bamboo flooring in Melbourne, receiving 100 clicks from a generic search such as ‘flooring’ may be more effective than receiving 100 clicks from the search ’14mm bamboo flooring melbourne’.

Over-Qualified Searchers


Just like you can be over-qualified for that marketing role you’re applying for, searchers can also be over-qualified. If your business specialises in selling to people who are not knowledgeable about the specifics of your industry’s products and services (perhaps because your target market largely consists of an older generation who tend to search for shorter words such as ‘flooring’ and ‘carpets’), then targeting shorter searches can be more effective than targeting long-tail searches. In this scenario, too much knowledge can actually be a bad thing.

It’s All About Your Target Market


Perhaps I’ve only previously worked with businesses who regard knowledgeable and specific searchers as potentially more valuable than less knowledgeable and specific searchers, with the theory that the more the searcher understands about the products and services of your industry, the greater the opportunity for you to demonstrate you can meet the searchers needs, so the greater the potential for targeted long-tail campaigns and a higher return on investment.

Perhaps I’m missing something.

Perhaps there are some people out there who actually enjoy a pushy sales approach and don’t mind businesses taking advantage of their naivety and lack of knowledge. Perhaps there are successful, profitable, and genuinely honest businesses who add real value by educating (and albeit selling to) this relatively unknowledgeable demographic – a demographic which favours face to face communication more so than the best deal – a demographic which might otherwise have struggled to research the difference between bamboo and laminate flooring if left to their own devices.


how not to sell


Perhaps I’ve been looking at keywords all the wrong way, and ignoring the fact that the lack of information is information itself – that the exclusion of signals is a signal itself. Perhaps I’ve been ignoring the fact that less is sometimes more.




Just because long-tail searches may be beneficial for most businesses, doesn’t necessarily mean it will be beneficial to yours. Depending on how your clientele choose to search (or choose not to search), a long-tail strategy may be either more effective or less effective than a generic keyword strategy.

Although it seems obvious to test different types of keywords to determine which performs best for you, remember that the vast majority of people who visit your website won’t ever convert. It therefore makes sense to consider the knowledge level of your target market even before you set your PPC campaigns live, to maximise your chance of profitability.


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Google AdWords Sitelink Extensions: How to Find Your Optimum CPC Bid

When you have a finite Google AdWords budget, and your budget is being hit, all other things equal it makes sense to lower your bids until your budget is no longer being hit. That way, so the theory goes, you will get more clicks for the same budget. And since research by Google suggests that there is little difference in conversion rate by position, you could reasonably assume that a higher number of clicks is generally associated with a higher number of sales.

However, ever since Google rolled out sitelink ad extensions, ads appearing in the top positions on Google are no longer similar to ads appearing on the right hand side of Google. Ads with sitelinks now have 3-4 extra links, and up to 100 extra characters text, compared to non-sitelink ads. Although sitelinks are generally well accepted to increase CTR, if your sitelinks go one step further and create additional value (i.e. by pointing out the key benefits or selling points of your business), then sitelinks could also increase your conversion rate.

And if this is true – that the use of sitelinks does increase your conversion rate – then since sitelinks can only be shown when your ad appears in the top positions of Google, we can reasonably assume that appearing in higher positions on Google could increase your conversion rate from Google AdWords.

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13 Practical Uses For Your Google Brand Ads

Last month, eBay released a study suggesting that showing paid ads for your brand terms on Google is a complete waste of money.

As an experiment, eBay paused their paid ads for the keyword ‘ebay’, and found that the reduction in clicks from their Google paid ads was made up for by an increase in clicks from their Google organic listings. eBay therefore concluded that bidding on your brand name is a complete waste of money.



Wrong. If, like eBay, you simply provide an ad message for your brand name as a mere navigational link (i.e. so that your simply appear in the paid listings), you will probably notice that any increase in paid clicks from your brand keywords is met with an equal decrease in organic (natural) clicks from your brand keywords, with no added value being created.

However, paid ads for brand terms can create significant value for your business if the execution of your brand ad strategy is more involved than simply providing a mere navigational link, for example:

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3 Advanced Strategies to Extract New Keywords from Your Google AdWords Search Query Data

So you’ve realised your current Google AdWords strategy is missing out on a big opportunity to connect with long-tail searchers who are further along in the buying cycle and more likely to convert. You’ve also realised you’ve collected a wealth of search query data while you’ve been running your current Google AdWords campaigns over the past few months or years. You therefore want to use your search query data to improve your long-tail targeting, reach these searchers at the later stages of the buying cycle, and increase your return on investment (ROI) from Google AdWords marketing.

However, when analysing your search query report, it can all too often be overwhelming. It can be hard to know where to start. You find yourself falling victim to analysis paralysis, and give up without making any tangible improvements to your campaigns. So to help mine your search queries for new long tail keywords, below are 3 techniques I find incredibly useful:

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The Australian Google PPC Opportunity

Back in 2009, I looked at the standard of PPC ads being displayed on Google in Australia, using the Sydney hotel industry as an example. I found that the majority of PPC ads being presented on Google by Australian businesses were poorly targeted and unengaging, and concluded that considerable opportunities exist for Australian businesses who take the time and effort to develop tailored and effective long-tail Google PPC campaigns.

Three years on, despite Google PPC marketing becoming more widespread among businesses in Australia (and arguably more competitive and expensive as a result), there still appears to be very few Australian businesses who provide high-targeted and tailored ad messages which cater from the growing long-tail of search. A huge amount of valuable keyword and search query data now exists for every PPC advertiser, but it appears that most PPC campaigns in Australia still consist of only a few hundred keywords and only a few hundred ad messages.

Due to the increasing popularity of Google, people are now typing a wide range of specific searches into Google, and are expecting more relevant and helpful search results and ads. However, when searching for these specific long-tail phrases, it appears that the general standard of PPC ads in Australia is very poor. For the search ‘sydney hotels near the rocks’, for example, notice how few PPC ads make any mention of The Rocks (a location in Sydney). The searcher has typed a specific phrase where location seems to be an important consideration, yet few Google PPC ads fully cater for their needs and requirements.

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