July 17, 2018

Auditing PPC Campaigns via a PPC Health Check – SMX Melbourne 2012

I’ve embedded the slides from the presentation I gave at SMX Melbourne earlier this week; Auditing PPC Campaigns: The PPC Health Check.

Not as good as being there in person, but check it out and if you have any questions at all please let me know in the comments.

I’m speaking at SMX Melbourne 2012!

Quick post to let you know I’ll be speaking at SMX Melbourne next month!

I’ll be discussing  PPC Audits – should be a blast.

So if you’re in Melbourne, it’s not too late. Come along!

Here’s a slick promo video from Barry and the team too…

Hope to see you there… and If you do come along be sure to say hi!

GlassHat.com: Search Academy MD Matt Collis Advises Not To Waste Money On SEO

Interesting news today from Matt Collis and the Search Academy team in Sydney concerning their new SEO planning platform, GlassHat.com and how this proprietary platform will help drive efficiencies within an SEO program, and more importantly drive better results.

I’ll have more information on this new platform as it comes to light, but in the meantime I have republished the full press release below.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

Jul 16, 2012 – Recent statistical research from Search Academy, the Sydney-based SEO firm, provides strong evidence on how many Australian advertisers may be wasting their time on Search Engine Optimisation.

The issue, according to Managing Director Matthew Collis, is that most SEO firms “conduct SEO solely on the recommendations of an associated guru or based on generic industry perceptions, effectively putting your SEO on their ‘one size fits all’ SEO conveyor belt. Organisations such as SEOMoz provide compelling evidence towards what all the influencing factors are towards a website’s ranking, yet if you take a look one step deeper you might be enlightened to learn that the list of priorities change for every industry, client, and keyword”.

Collis draws up on examples such as the consumer electronics sector, which when analyzed by his firm demonstrates there is more value to be gained in Social Media activities than any other aspect on or off the website. This compares dramatically with the Health sector, where users less often share information on Social Media sites than in consumer electronics, where the SEO value is found predominantly in authoritative and detailed content.

“It makes sense when you think about it, but to date we are not aware of any client that is being provided with a data-led, systematic approach to discovering what the right SEO priorities for their business are” Collis says. It seems, when left to being advised by an SEO firm as to which activities to undertake, the response if often related to the services they sell – for example, almost without exception every SEO firm will point to content and link building as important factors, but their services are sold in accordance with how they have been packaged rather than towards that client’s specific priorities.

“The simple fact for many advertisers is they could easily be buying services they do not need, and in the worst-case scenario be buying services that are damaging rather than improving their rank”. Collis goes on to explain “if you perform in-depth analysis up front, as we do, you might find that you already have too many low quality in-bound links and that it is your site’s page load time that needs improved as the priority. We have never come across two clients or keywords that require the same project plan, and in many cases the statistical analysis provides surprising insights which buck commonly held SEO beliefs”.

“Search Academy’s services are driven by a proprietary methodology which has been developed into a full service software platform called GlassHat. We take reliable and highly correlated data from a variety of sources such as Majestic SEO (for inbound link data), website scraping, Social Media APIs, and Search Engine ranking tools. We then put through a series of rigorous statistical tests to determine which will affect our client’s website ranking the most. We then turn that into an Activity Plan which is updated on a monthly basis so it reflects any search engine algorithm or competitive landscape changes”.

Companies currently buying SEO services, which is not based upon bespoke SEO research, may well be wasting money on these services, in the same way as someone who ignores a road map wastes time and petrol.

About Search Academy:
Search Academy is the centre of excellence in search marketing – advice is available ‘on demand’, at accessible rates and with full transparency, flexibility, and control over the work carried out.

Search Academy helps business owners, heads of marketing and Search Campaign Managers to improve their understanding of the benefits that SEO, SEM and Social Media can have for their organization.

Google Release Penguin Update 1.1

In case you missed it, Matt Cutts announced an update to the Penguin Algo on Friday. Nothing major it seems, only impacting 0.1% of English language searches (so if you are part of that 0.1%, congratulations you win a t-shirt).

It’s interesting for a number of of other reasons though. As Barry Schwartz ponted out, all the speculation that that updates were occurring since the Penguin update was first rolled out were wrong! It also highlights that for all those naive enough to think that this was the last of the spam attacks and were counting there lucky stars because their sites are still ranking… I reckon it’s only a matter of time.

AdWords Ad Rotation Changes – Here’s What You Can Do.

Three days ago while attending SMX Sydney, as I was sitting down contemplating the changing world of SEO, my mind was brought zooming back to PPC with this post from Google.

It seems nothing is sacred in our AdWords tool chest anymore! Hot on the heels of changing how Exact and Phrase match work,    Google have now updated ad rotation settings to, quite frankly, ensure they maximise overall ‘clicks’ on their network.


‘Facepalm’ as Search Engine Watch have also said

So what exactly have they changed on us?

As advertisers we have long had the ability to define how our ads are rotated within ad groups:

  1. ‘Optimise for Clicks’,
  2. ‘Optimise for Conversion’, or
  3. ‘Rotate’.

I’m assuming you know where to find these settings (campaign settings > advanced settings > Ad delivery: ad rotation…) but essentially they have, for a long time, allowed us to align out Ad delivery with basic campaign coals or tactics.

eg. After traffic – optimise for clicks, after sales – optimise for conversion, want to scientifically improve CTR & CR – rotate them!

No surprises here.

However Google have now said the following:

Starting next week, the “rotate” setting for ad rotation will change. Instead of rotating creatives for an indefinite period of time, this setting will only rotate for a period of 30 days. After that, the setting will then optimize to show the ads expected to generate the most clicks.

After 30 days (when there have been no edits to any ad within a particular ad group) the ads will begin to optimise for ‘clicks’. Each time an edit is made, the counter is reset for another 30 days.

There is no doubt here that Google have run the numbers and see a great opportunity to drive increased clicks (revenue) from advertisers who may be using the ‘rotate’ setting with minimal actual testing an optimisation going on. There will also be many advertisers with far too many ads in their rotating ad groups, diluting impressions across all and potentially hindering the account’s ‘performance’.

This however brings us to the crux of the issue. Google is defining performance for all as ‘clicks’. I don’t know about you, but for most advertisers, performance is about conversion, not ‘clicks’ alone.

This change will enable us to provide users with the most relevant ad experience and should help advertisers improve the performance of their AdWords accounts.

I don’t have a problem with Google making money, and we can pretty safely say that this change will help Google achieve more clicks from certain AdWords campaigns. What I am concerned about is the way Google have given us no option to opt out, or change, the behavior that occurs after he 30 day period.

Whya can’t we choose to default to ‘optimise for conversion’ after the 30 day period?

So,  Who will be most affected? What can we do moving forward?

Any ad group that does not receive a statistically valid number of clicks within a 30 day period is impacted the most – eg. there will not be enought data to make a call on the winning variant before you neet to reset the test by making an update.Those where volume is high can, at a minimum, produce a winning variant.

However the problem extends father than this.

Even with high click volumes, you will still have to remember, (after 30 days) to either reset the test (by changing something), set to optimise for converson, or pause all but the winning ad in a ad group, until you are ready to test again. This could work – but the challenge is scale. If you’re working in an agency on multiple accounts, get ready to fill up your calendar with ‘campaign ad setting reminders’ because no matter what your strategy is from this day forward, once those ads stop rotating, you’ll be optimising to the highest in CTR / click volume.

One last point – apparently, once this change is live, ad groups that are set to rotate, but have not had an update in the last 30 days, will start optimising to ‘clicks’ automatically.


## UPDATE (June 4th): Google have announced an update to the new rotation settings – the rotation period will be extended to 90 days (from 30) and advertiser will also able to opt out all together via filling in this form.


AdWords Quality Score Reporting Update: Improved Transparency for Advertisers

On Tuesday, Google released an update to their AdWords Quality Score reporting that lifts the hood a little on the individual components that make up your QS.

When you hover over the status icon in the Keywords tab, you will now see a rating for each measure, ‘Expected clickthrough rate”, “Ad Relevance” & “Landing page Experience”. The ratings are:- Average, Above Average or Below Average.

This should be a welcome addition for most advertisers (direct and agency) as it takes away a big chunk of the guess work and may actually save you time!.

This scenario may sound familiar to you:  You may be  (or have a client or a manager who is) obsessed with the QS for a particular group of terms. You may have them sitting at 7 or 8 out of 10, but no matter what you do, you’re cannot get it any higher…

STOP, breath slowly, and listen to me… As far as QS goes, NOT ALL KEYWORD TERMS ARE CREATED EQUAL. If the intent of the query is not all that commercial, QS will likely never get to double digits. So now you can stop wasting your time.

Check out the new rating for your keywords, and get a more accurate read on the Quality Score potential. If you’re getting Average to above average on all three measures, but your QS is only at 7, then perhaps this is close to as good as it gets for that term.

Image credit: Inside Adwords blog.

Attack the low hanging fruit first – look for terms that are performing well for you (CTR ,CR, CPA – whatever your goals), but have below average ratings for one or more areas of the QS and focus on at least getting those to Average or above average.

Don’t waste your time obsessing over why you can’t get a QS 8 keyword to QS 10. if the ratings are telling you you are above average, then perhaps it’s as high as it’ll go.

Let me know what you think of this new reporting feature in the comments.


## Update: It’s worth being clear that this IS NOT a change to the way Quality Score or Ad Rank is calculated, It’s simply a change to the way Google are reporting it.



Gideon Sundback celebrated in a Google doodle

Where would we be without this man!? Gideon Sundback, Swedish-American inventor of the “zipper”,  celebrated in today’s Google doodle. Zippedy-do-da!

Gideon Sundback celebrated in Google doodle


Editor’s Note: I now know who to curse when the zipper gets stuck!

New Matching Behavior for Phrase and Exact Match Keywords in AdWords

Google announced today via the Inside AdWords blog that, from around mid-may, exact match and phrase match will actually have the option to no longer be as strict as they are now,  so an ‘exact match’ may also include very close variants:- misspellings, plurals / singulars, stemmings, accents and abbreviations. Wow. (As in ‘WTF are you doing Google?’ Oh yeah right, increasing yields.)

Interesting move for Google as it will no doubt increase impressions inventory and clicks revenue for certain keyword / account segments, but I would be careful when deciding whether to actually turn this on as it may not be the right move for all account types and verticals. Especially if you have already invested time in building out a kick-butt exact match campaign!!

If you’re only running broad match campaigns at the moment, then no stress, Google already love your money you long time.

Naturally, this will actually work well to help expand exact match impressions, but will it maintain a laser focus on intent and relevancy???  err. no. (which is why you built an exact match campaign – right?)

I’m seeing the setting available in AdWords now – But Google have said that the feature will not go live until mid May.

What was not clear from the Inside Adwords blog post was whether this setting would actually be the new default campaign setting, but looking at a live account now, the modified exact and phrase match (MEXPHAM for short!) looks to be disabled by default. phew, but do check your own exact / phrase match campaigns.

Screen shot of the options in campaign setting tab FYI!

## Update: I just checked another account and an exact match campaign defaulted to ‘Include plurals, misspellings and other close variants’. Cheeky Google.


The Google Panda Update, One Year Later {Infographic}

Just over one year ago (on Feb 23/24th, 2011) Google announced the first, and now infamous, Panda update.

To “celebrate” this momentous occasion, Search Engine Land and BlueGlass have collaborated to bring us this shiny new infographic.

If you’re interested in more detail regarding the Panda update I also encourage you to take some time out to read the full post on SEL.


Google Panda Update Infographic

Google Panda Update - One Year On

99designs.com Review and Logo Competition Case Study

Have you heard of the site 99designs.com? In 3 short years it has become the #1 marketplace for crowd sourced graphic design on the internet.

Basically, 99designs aims to connect a passionate design community from around the world with customers seeking designs… This community then ‘compete’ to produce the best design for a given job. The winning designer gets paid, and the customer receives quality, and affordable, design services. win win.

In essence, 99designs allows you to ‘crowd source’ designs from all over the world, and then only pay for the design you actually like. Very different from the ‘old’ model and certainly rubs some of the purists the wrong way, but hey, it works!

I recently read that in just 3 years, 99designs has paid out an amazing $25 million to their designers and grown the business to the point where over 1,000 new design contests are launched every week. At present they are paying out around $1.2 million dollars to designers every month.

I’m going to briefly discuss the logo design side of the business but you can get pretty much anything designed with these guys from web sites, banner ads, business cards and stationary, right through to T-shirt designs.

Now, I’ve a confession to make, I personally have not yet used their design services (you can tell by my lack of logo!) but I’ve been recommending them for ages to friends and co-workers as I’ve constantly heard good things about the results.

About 3 months ago a built a site for my father’s Melbourne based finance broker business – CapitalBrokers.com.au (using Genesis Framework from Studiopress – best. wordpress. framework. ever.)

Now you can jump ahead and see the final logo if you like, but you’ll miss the story…

David (my father) has been running his own commercial finance broking businesses for the last 27 years and has rebranded probably about 5-6 times throughout this period.

However after running his competition on 99designs it’s pretty safe to say that this was probably one of the least expensive logo / stationary designs, but also the most  rewarding, he’s ever done!

How successful was David’s logo competition? Try over 150 designs from close to 40 individual designers! David’s logo competition was so successful in fact that a customer service rep at 99designs actually asked him how he’d done it!

The key, it seems, was communication.

David didn’t offer any more money. It was a standard $295 logo comp. What he did do however was offer continuous feedback to the designers who had already engaged with the project. For this effort he was rewarded!

Crowd sourcing for logos, web sites or other design needs may not be for everyone. But if you are in the market for a new look or identity then for a few hundred $’s it’s definitely a sound investment.

Give 99Designs a try today!

Pro Tip:

  • If you want to maximise the number of logo entries you get, it’s not always just about the $’s, if one designer is submitting solid logo’s but you have ideas for how they could be better, let them know. Not only will they submit more variations. But the end product will probably be of an even higher standard as a result.

And here’s Davids logo!


Capital Brokers Australia's winning logo




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