Paid Search Branding and Tools

Originally Posted by Lee Odden
July 13, 2005
Online Marketing Blog

In the ongoing effort to maximize advertising spending on paid search campaigns, companies are continuously looking for ways to improve efficiency and ROI performance. Vendors develop tools to help automate the labor intensive task of managing large paid search campaigns, but Dana Todd, CEO of Sitelab says, "Automation has not met up with reality."

The "Paid Search and Keyword Optimization for Gurus" session covered a variety of topics dealing with paid search ranging from optimizing best practices to case studies of using paid search for branding.

First up was Dana Todd, who described her ideal, all in one, do it all, wish list for a bid management tool. She pointed out that tools that optimize against a return sound great, but are not always realistic.

Trends in optimizing search ranged from better understanding and mapping external and online events to the issue of whether to build or buy bid management tools or dashboards.

The current trend in keywords is "more is better" but that doesn't work for all businesses. Companies with smaller budgets will simply dilute their effectiveness by chasing the tail. Todd recommends paid search campaigns with more modest budgets focus on the highest converting keywords.

Optimizing best practices takeaways:

  • Long tail keywords aren't always cheap. There's always a cost - set up, bidding, writing creative and management.
  • Bid on branded terms. People are increasingly using search as a navigation method so it makes sense to bid on your brand phrases.
  • If more keywords is appropriate, use tools ranging from provided keyword suggestion tools to concatenation of phrases, thesaurus and log file mining to uncover additional phrases to bid on.
  • What to do with keyword "losers"
    • change landing pages
    • change price points
    • change the creative. change the creative again
    • change your expectation - not everything can be measured in terms of leads generated

An interesting case study from Todd illustrated how a spa manufacturer offered prospective customers a free branded software tool for designing decks enabled their client to uncover a whole new group of keywords. The campaign resulted in impressive increases in site interaction and conversions.

Next up was Cheryle Pingle, Founder of Range Online Media, who discussed the branding benefits of paid search.

With 85% of advertisers planning to increase online ad budgets it makes sense to discuss the benefits of paid search outside of direct lead generation and sales.

Reasons to maximize search for branding:

  • Impressions are free
  • Targeting audience to lift sales online and offline
  • Adds credibility to brand because users associate top ranking with credibility

Pingle offered her own case study involving a laptop manufacturer that wanted to dominate search visibility on laptop related phrases to create brand awareness. Results were impressive with a lower overall CPC and an increased average order size of over 20%.

Also discussed were bidding tools ranging from black box bidding tools that use artificial intelligence to rules based interface bidding tools.

Things that can affect your bid tool performance:

  • Seasonality
  • Merchant sales
  • Offline media promotions
  • Volatile price fluctuations
  • Post click activity hard to account for

The perfect tool does not yet exist, but both Todd and Pingle are optimistic about future tool development. In the meantime keep in mind that current bidding automation tools will most likely not reduce your staff costs but increase them due to tool complexity and inability to quickly respond to changes.

During the Q and A one attendee asked whether it's better to have one agency to both PPC and organic or is better to go with a specialist for each. Pingle replied that Range had recently acquired a SEO firm, so in their case one agency for both would be fine.

Ending the session out, Todd offered the following percentages in regard to the PPC and Organic keyword mix: For organic SEO, focus 70% on high volume keywords and 30% on long tail phrases. For PPC, focus 70% on long tail keywords and 30% on high volume phrases.

About The Author:

Lee Odden, President of TopRank Online Marketing, originally posted the above article at the Online Marketing Blog on July 13, 2005. His company TopRank is a search engine marketing firm that specializes in organic search engine optimization, online public relations and blog marketing.

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