I attended two days of PPC Summit in SF this week and extracted more knowledge than I can handle. The instructors really knew their stuff and it was only a $900 investment if you signed up early.

Learn as Much as You Can

I feel that Internet marketers should learn SEO and PPC best practices and then be exceptional at one. When I made my e-commerce site live in 2005, I tried PPC for a few weeks and decided to focus on SEO instead. The idea of getting free traffic was too irresistible. Now that I’m familiar with white hat SEO, it was time to rekindle my short lived affair with PPC. I don’t like using these black/white hat labels but if you want a sustainable, organic business…you gotta go green :p

How to Battle Expensive Key Words

I noticed that bid prices are ridiculously high compared to 2005. If you want to compete, you MUST know your goals/objectives when launching a campaign. Will it be for increasing company revenue, profit, brand recognition and so forth. Then you need to recognize what the final conversion will be – a sale or lead (registration, white paper download, phone call).

Assuming you know how to get keywords and organize them into groups, the next step is to optimize your site for conversion. There isn’t a cookie cutter way to do this because we all have different objectives and market products/services from different verticals. However, it’s been proven that being relevant will give you an edge, independent of industry. Relevancy for PPC means putting keywords in tight ad groups, writing ads that are keyword specific and creating a landing page with a mixture of relevant keywords. Not only will this keep your target customer focused and lead them closer to a conversion, it will also increase your Google Quality Score. I am running a small test campaign and all my keywords are rated “Great”. This means I am paying less for a better position because my keywords and content are well aligned.

Better Google Tools and the Content Network

Another significant change from 2005 is the improved Google content network. It’s possible to make it work as long as you really know your customers, their behavior and your sales cycle. For my test campaign, I am paying $0.9-0.20 for quality keywords on search so I didn’t rush to market on the content network. There are many tools and analytics software available to help you test and optimize. One of my favorites is the free Google Adwords Editor. Adwords also allows you to run custom reports down to the keyword performance level.

Consider Microsoft

What really knocked me off my chair is the over-the-top benefits Microsoft is offering Internet marketers. Their Excel 2007 Adcenter plug-in is by far the best free desktop application. Jorie Wateman, Lead Program Manager of Advertising announced that a plug-in will be available for Excel 2003 soon. Check out their free web based adCenter Labs program. There are many useful tools there including Detecting Online Commercial Intention, Product Classification, Keyword Group Detection and much more.

Did you know that their keyword research tool spiders LIVE DATA as opposed to cached data from Google and Yahoo? She also said that the tools they offer advertisers are the same tools they use in-house. This means total transparency for advertisers and no more “partial” data.

When a company has a lion’s share of the market (search) and other players like Microsoft are going the extra mile to attract advertisers, then I strongly suggest that you give them a try. If competition is healthy, it will be for the best interests of advertisers while improving the overall Internet user experience.

Brief Caution

Google is a wonderful company because they know how to please their investors and stockholders. They also own Youtube which allows us to watch our favorite music videos from the 80’s and 90’s without paying for it. At first I thought Google was only bitter to spammers (sometimes deserved like the ones that promise top 10 results and the ones that promote useless garbage) but after reading blogs, forums and hearing out a few advertisers, I guess they can get disciplinary to paying customers too. So my advice is to closely monitor your campaigns and play by their rules. They change the rules constantly and it may be a major inconvenience but we have to be nimble and abide by the new ones.

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