8 Lessons From 2008 To Help In 2009 (Part 1 of 2)

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If 2008 taught us anything, it was the value of search engine marketing in a recession. While banks went broke and high street stores suffered dramatic falls in foot traffic, online sales flourished. In many ways the last 12 months have been a time for experimentation, particularly for pay-per-click advertisers who’ve found new and improved functionality bestowed upon their 70 character ads almost on a monthly basis.

Now however, there’s a new term feel about search marketing and time to put into practice all of the things we’ve recently learned. So, what advancements were made in 2008 and how can we use that knowledge to design better paid search marketing campaigns in 2009?


1. Google Ad Planner

Intended for media agencies and large scale publishers, the Google Ad Planner tool was announced to much fanfare and was one of the year’s most popular new additions. Intended to tally up advert reach and audience relevance, media planners enter target audience demographics, suggest web sites linked that that audience and then sit back as the tool researches the web to compile a list of suggested sites the audience is likely to visit. Data such as related searches per site and site demographic, Google Ad Planner should feature very strongly in 2009 when accountability becomes the buzz word de jour.

Use the facility to research suitable outlets for content network adverts and gain a greater insight into search patterns and visit habits of your most desired clientele. This window into the best sites for your target market will help to wipe out wasted ad spend and if cash is tight, give you enough information to rule out sites that are a ‘maybe’ and concentrate only on the pages most closely matching your client profile.

2. Quality Score Changes Mean Better Targeted Adverts

Throughout the year, Google worked to update their Quality Score algorithm, finally settling on a clutch of changes. The more precise requirements took ad position’s influence on click through rates into account and shepherded in tougher ad quality thresholds for the sponsored search area. Related changes included an assessment of the landing page quality time and the termination of the minimum bid facility.

Although these changes may have cost advertisers clicks and exposure in the short term, in the long term embracing this new way of thinking will lead you to a tighter, more integrated campaign. If you haven’t already revised your account to meet the new guidelines, do so immediately. Not only will this save you cash by making you eligible for the better positions at a lower cost, it will also naturally assist with advert targeting, ensuring more relevant ads are shown to more relevant search users. Read this article for more in-depth look at the new requirements.

3. Add New Advertising Formats To Your AdWords Campaigns

Every year advertisers are encouraged to extend the depth of their campaigns by integrating new media formats such as video and mobile ads. Google took this further in October by providing advertisers not just with encouragement but with a tool to actually make the broader campaign a cost effective reality.

If you haven’t yet researched the AdWords display ad builder, put it close to the top of your New Year’s Resolutions list. A mini designer in the making, the ad builder works like a design team to create display adverts to fill all possible placements across the content network. The tool allows you to play around with colors, backgrounds, images and text to build professional quality display adverts that can be even be placed in video and game spots. If you’ve found that your text ads have suffered a dip in CTR or conversion as visitors shop around for a better deal, a display ad could add just the right amount of pizzazz to your campaigns. As with all new formats, set up a dedicated tester campaign first with an affordable budget. Concentrate on those products or services best suited to this more visual style of advert and track results closely. When you’ve familiarized yourself with the ad builder tool, you can also investigate the impact of design changes on the more successful adverts. Combine this tool with the media planner to ensure your new advert reaches only the most appropriate of eyeballs.

4. Go Back To Basics With The Keywords Tool and Search Volume Metrics

We live in an information age and although that can sometimes mean having data for data’s sake, the more in depth statistics and detailed figures from the revamped keyword tool are worth clearing a half hour diary slot for. Most advertisers select their keywords and then stick with the same assortment of phrases for the life of their campaign, with a few edits here and there. The keyword tool challenges you to change this approach by linking results with search volume data.

A summer innovation, the keyword tool’s search volume data metrics not only help to cost out a potential new campaign but can be used to determine account structure. Create a new ad group around high-traffic keywords with closely targeted advert text and specific landing pages to ramp up advert relevance. This is particularly useful if you’re chasing better conversions on your account as you can use the data to direct a suitable budget at words with a high foot fall.

Taking time to read through the search volume for keywords suggested by the tool will also help budgetary planning. If allocating finances efficiently is a headache, this feature will come in handy as purse strings are tightened. Combining this knowledge with the regular keyword data (advertiser competition, trends, estimated costs and related positions) will allow you to tune up your campaign for better targeted traffic and hopefully, sharper returns.

About the Author

Rebecca is the managing director of search engine optimization agency Dakota Digital a full-service agency offering SEO, online PR, web copywriting, media relationship management, and social media strategy. Rebecca works directly with each client to increase online visibility, brand profile, and search engine rankings. She has headed a number of international campaigns for large brands.

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