Ecommerce Adviser http://www.ecommerceadviser.com Maximize online profitability Sun, 29 Dec 2013 05:10:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.3 Tracking SERP Results: Rank Tracker? http://www.ecommerceadviser.com/tracking-serp-results-rank-tracker/ http://www.ecommerceadviser.com/tracking-serp-results-rank-tracker/#comments Sat, 28 Dec 2013 22:43:42 +0000 http://www.ecommerceadviser.com/?p=346 Up until recently SEO experts, enthusiasts, agencies, clients and everyone with an opinion natural search seemed to be making a case as to why keyword rankings, often generated by way of a rank tracker, were not the best metric to use when measuring effectiveness of a SEO campaign. This mentality really snowballed with a lot of band wagon jumping and SEOs with delusions of grandeur insisting that they can do so much more than offer ranking reports that clients should take the new more business focused analytics data.

Some critics even went further saying that the tracking of rankings was actually a bad idea and should be discouraged and only the bigger picture, tied into the overall success of the business should be considered when evaluating the campaign. This is despite some of the biggest and most respected players in the game still offering various kinds of rank tracking solutions.

Leaked Keyword Data

Leaked Keyword Data

Google moved the goalposts on the SEO game when they stopped passing natural search keyword referral data to analytics (although it seems on occasion some of this data still leaks through when I examine my Piwik data) and made the granular reporting that search engine marketing had been previously built on impossible. Up until this point, when people said everything online was trackable it really was. Site owners and markets were able to track user behavior, conversions and ROI down to a keyword level and identify which keywords not only brought in the most traffic but also which provided the best rate of conversion.

Tracking keyword positions in the SERPs has always been a useful and important metric despite what you have read from so called experts, it is true that you could do a lot more than simply look at the position in which your keyword ranks to gauge if your overall marketing strategy is effective, however, at the end of the day if you are employing a SEO agency or working on link building you are doing this with one end result in mind which fits nicely into the below chain of events:

  1. Increase the volume of relevant (qualified) traffic to your site by
  2. Increasing the number of people who find your site when searching by
  3. Improving the ranking of specific relevant keywords

You could break the above down more and even link step 1 back into making a profit, you could go even higher and link it into your company mission statement but the end action that drives the success all the way up this channel is increasing search engines rankings and if that is something you are going to invest time or money into you need to be able to track the results of your effort.

Purists on rank tracking

Quite a lot of people in SEO denounce the use of rank tracking software as something that should not be done, reasons for their unjust condemnation include:

  1. Automated queries to google “not been allowed”
  2. The accuracy of rank trackers been questionable
  3. The increase of personalised search impacting rankings
  4. The impact of local results on the SERPs meaning you might not see the same thing as someone in the next town when you search

While the above arguments to have some weight there are really strong counter arguments to all of these points:

  1. Automated queries to google “not been allowed”
    Who cares if it is against the terms of service, as a business person who needs to track their results and can use this information to increase profitability would you let this stop you?
  2. The accuracy of the rank trackers been questionable
    There are good and bad rank trackers, most of the people who criticise or make the sweeping statement that “all rank tracking software is inaccurate” have never used any otherwise they would not make this inaccurate statement
  3. The increase of personalised search impacting rankings
    It does impact rankings, these same people were probably also a part of “personalised rankings has killed SEO” crowd but like surviving members of Hells Gate they have now moved onto something else unfounded. Simply don’t use the personalised search results when checking the change in rankings or increase in overall SERP exposure.
  4. The impact of local results on the SERPs meaning you might not see the same thing as someone in the next town when you search
    As with 3 above, this does have a little weight to it but there are hosted rank trackers, proxies and lots of other wonderful things that knowledgeable SEOs have access to and can make use of.

What exactly should you track and report when monitoring keyword positions in the SERPs?

You obviously need to identify the current position but you would also want to show the increase/decrease on a keyword level. It is also important to log these over time rather than just vs the last position reported. A record of the change daily, weekly and monthly is important to track trends and the further back you can chart, if you are doing a good job, the bigger ranking improvement you will be able demonstrate.

It can also be useful to combine the above information on a summary level and show key benchmarks like the number of words in the top 3 today vs the time measurements defined above. The total number of rankings in the first 10 places is particularly useful to track as this is the 1st page and can show where a site or business is trying to take over the first page with a combination of its listings.

A really simple reason why you should carry out rank tracking

Clients love it, no matter how well educated a client is in online marketing and no matter how well you can demonstrate the conversion rate of traffic that is acquired via natural search C level business people love to be able to type in their vanity terms in google and see their site at the top of the page. Providing a rank tracker report illustrating current search positions for all terms in scope and highlighting the movement on these terms month on month definitely has appeal.

Regardless of how involved SEO professionals try to become in providing added business value, and this should make up a huge portion of any pitch, the bottom line is a lot people will always see people doing SEO for what it is on the simplest level, increasing the rankings on specific keywords so more people click through and when you deal with someone analysing on this level you need to report to them in the simple terms they understand.

A cynical reason why people working on SEO don’t like to provide search engine rank tracker reports

Most people, like it or not, are negative. It has been proven that people who come home from a holiday and have had a bad experience are far more driven to post a negative review online than the people who had a fantastic time. The same mentality can really distract people who are given a, on the whole, positive rankings report.

If a portfolio of 20 terms shows gradual improvement on, for example, 17 terms with 2 staying static and one falling 10 place which do you think would be the one on which the client focuses?

Rank trackers are either run either:

  • Manually on demand (usually on locally installed rank tracking software such as Market Samurai) or,
  • Via an automated process (usually on a hosted rank tracking service or if the software variant described above is installed on a dedicated machine).

Either way, on larger portfolios of terms these can take time to complete.

<p?Manually running a rank tracker is a commitment; this is especially the case if it needs to be done at a specific time to keep the reporting data consistent – this means more work for the SEO guy.

Having an automated report run is no more work but it is likely that, if the client knows the report can be run “as often as required” they will ask for it daily.

Following SERP rankings on a daily basis can seriously effect your mood and not in a good way. Making this kind of information available to a client could well lead to an influx of calls and questions around your service as keywords hop up and down. This kind of information can be useful in the right hands but in the wrong hands it can turn what would normally be a perfectly good client in to a time hogging pest! One snapshot per week showing the big movers should usually be enough.

Selecting the best solution when you need a rank tracker

If you are now convinced that rank tracking is a vital metric or even if you are on the fence but willing to give it a go, if you plan to track more than a handful of search terms you are going to want to make use of either a tracking service or some software.

Hosted or local, that is the question

Hosted (usually more of a service paid for monthly) trackers are more hands off than the downloaded software option, this is probably the first decision you need to make based on:

  • Cost/total budget,
  • If you are wanting to make a one off payment or happy to pay a recurring fee,
  • If you are doing SEO for a client can you add the cost of generating ranking reports into your retainer,
  • How involved you want to be with the tracking process,
  • How reports need to be made available/if you need to report results to a client.

Ranking reports

The last bullet above introduces the concept of ranking reports, the actual report that is generated containing the information in a presentable form as opposed to just viewing the rankings and changes in the user interface which might be quick and efficient for the tech savvy or the SEO inclined but business people are far too accustomed to their PDFs, charts and data exported to simplified formats to review.

Choosing rank tracker software

Choosing a rank tracker and a breakdown of the advantages of hosted/local and then a review of some products within each of these categories will follow shortly, keep coming back, rank tracking is something that is going to be under the microscope over the next few weeks!

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Media Stacking http://www.ecommerceadviser.com/media-stacking/ http://www.ecommerceadviser.com/media-stacking/#comments Fri, 02 Dec 2011 23:57:31 +0000 http://www.ecommerceadviser.com/?p=329 You know when you wish you had taken action on something that you didn’t but you still didn’t take that action even when you were given a second chance to do it? That is a situation I now find myself in.

Back in 2006 I thought about trademarking the term “media stacking” in relation to a service I was going to market which was going to consist of a multi pronged approach to bring people to a company website. I am no legal expert and I never really got past the idea stage. Once thing I know is that if I had done this I would have been able to market a “media stacking” marketing solution in the UK and no one else would have been able to promote under that name.

Saying this, the option to do this may well still be available but I am no longer at a point where offering a service like this would be of interest to me, perhaps some large marketing agency will take this action or perhaps the phrase will just grow in popularity and because household in the way it is used.
This term is appearing on more and more websites and becoming more mainstream every day, it is in refrence to people consuming several types of media at the same time.
Watchig the TV while surfing the web on a mobile phone would be an example of media stacking in this context.

Why did I feel as though this was something I should trademark or something I had any right to?

I used this phrase in this context in my dissertation sumbitted in 2003, the title of my work was:

“To test the unquestionable academic strenght of Borden’s (1964) twelve point framework as a generic marketing model in an ecommerce intense organisation”
I can find no record of the term been used in this way prior to this and of course there are electronic and hard copies of everything I submitted which I still cling to as proof.

The work was submitted in partial fulfillment of my MSc in Ecommerce, the section in question is below should anyone be interested in seeking out the origin of this term.

 

5.3 Push and pull

There is evidence of International Aviation utilising a classic push strategy to support a pull strategy. In the section of the interview describing advertising the interviewee discusses how the main aim of advertisements in the aviation magazines is to drive traffic to their website upon which is a complete brochure for download and lots of other product information. This strategy is making good use of new and old media as it is using the cheapest media to display the majority of information and the more expensive media [magazine space] to a lesser extent, however, the two media are supporting one another. This is example of a single promotional campaign running and across multiple channels all of which support one another. It is becoming more common for people to consume several types of media in a short space of time and pushing people to a website via more traditional media is becoming a standard. Watching the TV while on a laptop presents opportunity to push and pull at the same time, Internet radio consumed through same device you are using to browse websites would be an even purer example of media stacking.

 

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Track your SERP results with Market Samurai http://www.ecommerceadviser.com/track-serp-results-market-samurai/ http://www.ecommerceadviser.com/track-serp-results-market-samurai/#comments Sun, 07 Nov 2010 02:22:09 +0000 http://www.ecommerceadviser.com/?p=200 This post is several years old, you would be better off reading the updated post on rank tracking software.

When working on a clients SEO project a purest might argue that the best metrics to measure performance are the number of keywords used to bring traffic to the site, the number of none brand terms for which you are listed or even something as bottom line as ROI, however, from a clients perspective you cannot get away from the classic “ranking report” or rather their desire to see it.

Clients like to know where they rank for what keyword and where they ranked for that keyword last month, it’s reassuring to see what raw metric is driving all of the others even if this is something the SEO industry is trying to distance itself from.

One long standing problem with “ranking reports” is that they are boring and visually unappealing unless you want to put some serious time into design or have some software automate the process for you. The problem with the software option is that when google changes the way it displays the SERP the software can fail and will require updating. Historically this has been a problem, enter Market Samurai (there has been no payment for this post and there are no affiliate payments made on sales).

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The Basics of Link Building http://www.ecommerceadviser.com/basics-link-building/ http://www.ecommerceadviser.com/basics-link-building/#comments Sat, 21 Nov 2009 00:48:16 +0000 http://www.ecommerceadviser.com/?p=131 The most valuable link

The most valuable link is one that your competition cannot get for as long as it sticks

This blog isn’t intended as a source of basic search engine optimization tips – there are already plenty of SEO “experts” clogging Twitter with posts like “showing the user different content to the search engine could get you banned”. But over the coming weeks we will be posting several entries explicitly showing how to be effective in link building. Rather than just posting these entries It seemed like this topic required an introduction rather than just starting with “link building tip #1”, as we don’t want to alienate anyone.

The acquisition of links is considered one of the most basic concepts in SEO, but the actual practice of gathering links is something people often struggle with – it’s time consuming and some markets. So, we’re going to give you the kind of justifications you would need to convince an outsider that a link building project is worthwhile. Then we’ll look at the best ways strategically to go about obtaining links.

Question: Do I need to bother with link building?

Short Answer: Yes, if you want to rank in the search engines.

Detailed Answer

Yes. The only exception is if you have an established, respected and trusted domain that already ranks well in the search engines and you are targeting a non-competitive term. If this is the case, you might get away with putting up a new highly optimized page on your existing domain.

Search engines respond to queries (searches) by showing the most relevant results from previously indexed web pages. The decision around which pages to display will largely be informed by which site, and page, is regarded as “the authority” on a given query. For example, if you search for the term Jaguar parts, the more authoritative sites on that topic stand a better chance of ranking than those regarded as less important. Domain trust comes a close second to authority. Trust is built in a very similar manner.

The single most contributing factor in deciding if a website (or web page) is an authority (or is to be trusted) is the site’s trail of backlinks (sometimes called a backlink profile or backlink footprint) – that is, an assessment of all the links that point back to the site. You may have heard the analogy that a link to your site is like a vote for it. Life would be much simpler if all votes were equal…but as you would expect, some votes are more equal than others!

It is a common misconception that the strength of a site’s vote is related to the pagerank of the site and of the page on which that link appears. Although there is some truth in this, building links purely through a pagerank focused approach is just clumsy.

Question: So what makes a link valuable?

Short Answer: Relevance, authority, trust, page position, anchor text and natural flow of traffic from the linking location

Detailed Answer

Relevance

When you acquire a link from a relevant source, that link has more weight than a more general link from a site or page that is unrelated to your content. The more relevant the link, the more value that link will be credited with. A complex algorithm is employed by the engines to evaluate pages and part of the evaluation process decides upon the topic of a page.

Authority

Links from sites which have established themselves as an authority on a specific topic will have more weight than links from sites which have not established themselves. This means that an authority link from a relevant page on a related site is extremely valuable.

Trust

Search engines will “trust” credible sites, and a relevant link from a trusted site carries significant weight. One element that establishes a website’s level of trust is the site’s backlink footprint. The more “good” links a site has from authoritative trusted sites, the more it can be trusted. Pages on a domain are also allocated a trust factor, and a homepage is more likely to be trustworthy than a forum page. This is because a homepage is the site’s front to the world while the forum contains content which the site owner has less control over – and in the worst case, contains totally unmoderated content.

The main objective of equating trust into rankings is to eliminate low quality spam sites from search engine results pages (SERPs). Presently, sites that are new and appear to be spam are prevented from gaining significant ground in the SERPs. As a general rule, such sites have a poor backlink footprint, and linking out to them is something you should avoid if you want to increase the level of trust in your own domain. Linking to a neighborhood of bad sites immediately associates you with them – and naturally, you are less likely to trust someone in a bad neighborhood.

Link Position/style

This is a grey area with no explicit statement from any authority figure at the time of writing (of which I am aware – please enlighten me in the comments section if you know otherwise), but I feel confident in saying that different areas of a page are trusted more than others. Links at the foot of a page carry less weight than those in a side bar, and they too are less powerful than links in the header. But the best type of link is a contextual one which sits within relevant body copy of a page.

In addition to the position of the link outlined above, it’s useful to note that text links carry the most weight, image links with alt text come second and flash/java links finish close to the bottom. Anything leading edge from a design perspective (Flash) is not good for SEO, however, we can do some magic things with CSS styles on HTML menus quite effectively.

Anchor Text

While the link itself is a vote for the site, the anchor text could be said to be the “definition” of the vote. Search engines validate the topic of your page by using the exact text used to link to your pages. the “anchor text” is the wording used in the html link for example in the following link the words “penny shares” form the anchor text: Penny shares

While it helps to have internal links within your website that point to different pages, having external links (the voices of others) to define these pages adds considerable weight. This is especially true when these definitions come from reliable sources, when there are multiple different sources, and when those sources are considered to be authorities on that subject.

By this point you should start to see how it’s all coming together.

For example. Suppose your website is about lizards, and one particular page is about lizard food. You would link to that page using words like “types of lizard food”, and that would help search engines to define the page content. If a partner site also linked to that page using the words “healthy lizard food”, this would add weight to the page and increase the trust of the search engines that this page is indeed about lizard food.

For this reason, the classic “click here” anchor text is now being hustled out of fashion. It is non-descriptive and it doesn’t help target any keywords (other than “click here”, of course).

As different pages on your site will be about different things, you might have pages on lizard food, lizard habitats, lizard hygiene and lizard life expectancy. It would therefore make sense to acquire links to all of these pages with relevant anchor text and to consider breaking them out into different targeted pages.

Clearly, exact duplication of the phrase you want to rank for in the anchor is the best option in a theoretical world. But having some variation is a good thing. For example, it’s important that your page about lizard life expectancy is linked with “lizard life expectancy”, but it would also help to have “how long will your lizard live”, “lizard life length”, etc. This is because in the real world people search for different things (and you should evaluate the number of searches on each specific term against your targeted phrases). Varying the anchor text while staying on topic makes the link building process seem more natural to the engines (the chances everyone who naturally stumbled across your site and linked to it of their own accord using exactly the same text is slim) so will help avoid any spam flags and providing the anchor text is related to the content it will help define it and add credibility.

This type of deep linking enhances the chances of an individual page appearing in the SERPs, and it gives the site more weight overall.

The natural flow of traffic from the linking location

This is definitely not something you should overlook. If your link can bring a flow of natural traffic from the site which it lives on, then you will have the added benefit of visitors. And we mustn’t forget about visitors. All the work you are going to do to achieve high rankings is basically intended to pull in visitors, and a really good link will do this by the very nature of its placement. Let’s face it, if a link is bringing in visitors, then it will go some way to ticking all of the boxes we’ve just talked about.

How to plan a link building campaign

If you are thinking about a link building campaign for the purpose of improving your rankings in the SERPs, then you have already realized that on page optimization is not going to be enough to get you where you want to be. Link acquisition is where you need to be.

Put simply, the most effective thing you can do is acquire as many backlinks as you can that fit the criteria that has been defined above. You might not need more links than your competitors, but you will need a better link profile all in all. This might mean more links, might mean links from more IPs, more trusted links or more relevant ones, aim for more links to the best practices defined above and you will outrank the competition.

Amassing links

Contrary to what many experts would have you believe, getting lots of links from a single domain can be very advantageous – and it can provide you with an easy way to collect several different versions of your anchor text. If you’re able to acquire several links from a single domain (perhaps you have a good relationship with the webmaster) then it presents you with the opportunity to easily acquire a selection of varying anchor text from that domain (possibly to different deep linked locations within your site) thus targeting different phrases. If the domain in question meets the other criteria above to make it a worthy link neighborhood this will greatly help towards ranking for more than one term. Networking is a powerful thing!

One thing to note here is that Google only accredits the first outgoing anchor text link to a domain on an individual page. So for example, if the text “one thing” at the start of this sentence linked to your page any anchor text lower on the page would not carry weight. This is why it’s useful to have multiple link with different anchor texts on the same domain. That said, it can prove useful, but not if they reside on the same page.

In conclusion

The above steps will help you target different keywords and potentially allow you to give your vote many different definitions. But you need to go further. Increasing the number of vote definitions you have you will still need to raise the number of votes overall (bearing in mind those watchwords – authority, trust, position and anchor text guidelines).

Even when you achieve the rank you desire within the search engines, linkbuilding is something you should continue with. Admittedly, once you have got where you want to be you can often slow down in your link building. But there is an argument that says links can lose weight over time. If you acquire a mass of links which push you though to the first page before stopping, you are also in danger of appearing as though you have created all of your links using an unnatural process (spam flags).

Search engines aim to rank content in order of relevance to search queries, and they encourage only natural link building. If a website owner publishes a piece of high quality content and it naturally attracts links, it is likely that there could be a surge in the number of links initially pointing at it. And more would be acquired gradually over time, even when people eventually stop linking to that content in mass.

This natural approach is one that most SEO experts would advise you to adopt. In my experience, gaining no links over a period of time and then gaining a few hundred a week and repeating the process does not cause a problem. I can’t say for sure if a couple of hundred links a week would fly below Google’s radar, and if you want to be super cautious with your site, following the best practice advice would be the best approach. To get flagged as a spam site for the volume of links you build you have to do something pretty special.

But even so, you should always work out the risk and potential reward on a per site basis.

The next few posts will identify the most effective ways to build a quality backlink profile, the techniques will be enlightening to some and common sense to others, subscribe to the RSS to be informed as soon as each update goes live.

Update to original post:
If you are working on improving your ranking please see the post regarding selecting the best rank tracker for your requirements.

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Competitor keywords, trademarks and adwords http://www.ecommerceadviser.com/competitors-keywords-trademarks-adwords/ http://www.ecommerceadviser.com/competitors-keywords-trademarks-adwords/#comments Thu, 17 Sep 2009 19:21:21 +0000 http://www.ecommerceadviser.com/?p=45 Bidding on trademarked keywords

Are the competitors keywords fair game?

It may soon become a criminal offence to bid on a competitor’s registered trademark to advertise your products or services through Google AdWords and other PPC advertising solutions. Google have already clamped down on the use of competitors trademarks within ad copy but this could soon be taken a step further to give additional protection to branded terms and potentially eliminate bidding on competitor keywords altogether.

Numerous national European cases have been passed to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) as they work to ascertain whether the bidding on competitors trademarks should be classed as infringement upon them.

The adwords bidding system has historically been (and still is) ungoverned, meaning a company is free to use another company’s trademarks in order to attract people who may be searching for a rival brand.

While it will be some time before the ECJ makes its judgement, the Advocate General is expected to reveal his feelings on this issue in the near future. In most cases, the views of the Advocate General are borne out in the ruling of the ECJ, so his opinion carries a great deal of weight. Regardless of the eventual decision, now is a crucial time for a large number of businesses. Some will be looking to exploit this system before it’s too late, others will be looking to clean up their act in case the ECJ decides it is unlawful.

Exploitation and Damage Limitation

If the ECJ decides that bidding on registered trademarks within AdWords is illegal, those companies whose trademarks are being used without their permission will have some interesting opportunities for recompense:

  • They can issue legal proceedings to get an injunction
  • They can sue for damages
  • They can demand an account of their competitor’s profits attributable to the trademark infringement

They can also recover any legal costs for the above. Clearly, while each of these presents a significant financial benefit, the biggest advantage will be the prospect of holding a nailed on legal claim against a competitor. As a business, that gives you a great deal of leverage!

Once a decision is reached – and the industry has no idea which way the decision will go – evidence will likely disappear very quickly as competitors cease bidding on competitors’ trademarked terms (see below for details) or even through google and other facilitators covering their tracks. Because of this, now is a good time to gather evidence should the opportunity arise when googling your own brand names and trademarks. Screenshots of google results pages and where they click though to may prove useful down the road, although this in unlikely to be enough on its own.

Risk and Mitigation

If you don’t bid on competitor keywords (or trademarks) in this manner, you’ve nothing to worry about and for the coming weeks this might be a good policy to adopt.  It may be worth making sure you have registered your own, to ensure that your competitor cannot. Equally, it’s a good idea to exercise some vigilance and check that nobody in your business has done so – even unintentionally. Ignorance is unlikely to be an excuse.

Protect your own brand

Protect your own brand

If you are bidding on a competitor’s trademark to help promote your own business, the time may be fast approaching when you need to make sure that the other company doesn’t find out. The easiest way to ensure this is to suspend your AdWord account: google states that once you action this process, all adwords will stop within the hour. This link will take you to a page that gives instructions on how to do this:

Close your google adwords account

It may then be advisable to open a new account for the purposes of re-establishing links to your own trademarks and key words even at a cost to your quality score. On the other hand, if the ECJ rules that this practice is actually lawful, you can simply reinstate your original account. After all – it’s better to lose some revenue from AdWords than it is to face a lawsuit and the resulting payout. Now might be a good time to review the revenue generated though bidding on a competitors brand terms if you have not done this for some time, it’s not really the time to be taking a punt on a not-so-profitable search engine estate branding exercise.

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Using PPC/Adwords in a B2B environment http://www.ecommerceadviser.com/b2b-ppc/ http://www.ecommerceadviser.com/b2b-ppc/#comments Wed, 06 May 2009 21:01:31 +0000 http://www.ecommerceadviser.com/?p=17 PPC Stop & ThankGetting the most out of pay per click advertising in the B2B realm

B2B environments are far more complex, both on and offline than other advertising environments, and this complexity carries over to online advertising. Generally, the B2B environment has a longer sales cycle as well as a convoluted purchasing process; one that is typically done in a manner which means that the decision to buy often does not lie with an individual who may be exposed to your advert while searching, but any number of people (who many have never seen your advert or even of heard of you). The actual purchasing process within larger organisations, no matter how modern and streamlined, rarely lend themselves to a paperless checkout/purchasing process. This is something that we will be revisiting here in the coming weeks.

A B2B PPC campaign could see a huge amount of clicks on a given keyword; and in fact, these clicks may even convert to sales. However, as we know, clicks and conversions alone do not make the process profitable – in retrospect they could make for a huge expense.

In order to profit through PPC advertising, you will have to develop and implement a model specific to your company from the very start. And depending on your exact business model, it is important to tailor the campaign towards predefined, concise goals that sit alongside and complement the overall model.

Knowing the acceptable price per acquisition is often the best starting point, and drilling down to acquisition by specific channel can provide you with even further insight. B2B models often assert a fairly high cost per acquisition after giving consideration to the customer lifecycle. But with a pay per click campaign this acquisition can be polluted by individuals (c’s rather than b’s) who have little or no long term profitability, and this can really skew such findings.

Defining the goals and developing the model is, of course, highly dependent upon the (range of) product both for sale and promoted within the campaign –some products that really do PPC in the B2B realmmake things easier for marketers. For example, a supplier of clocking-in equipment is not likely to attract a huge amount of interest from individuals, and therefore marketers and advertisers will not need to worry about shielding the campaign from unprofitable consumers as much as a supplier of wholesale storage bins would. Worst case scenario means that all of your keywords around the words “storage” and “bins” could attract an influx of traffic from consumers wanting household bins.

Keyword tools and tools that try to identify the quantity of traffic generated by specific search terms have their place in the development of an adwords campaign as well; but there effectiveness is limited. There is no way these tools can recognise or account for the true value of a keyword to your business; and this one thing that forms the foundation of a successful paid search campaign. To a keyword tool traffic is traffic, all of equal value.

The root of the problem

The problem stems partially from adwords’ inability to specifically target businesses in the same way an offline mailing would. Because you cannot decide who clicks your ads when running an adwords campaign online, you will likely experience a high number of inappropriate clicks on an ad that fail to convert – and this can be costly especially where small business and startups are concerned.

With PPC, marketers cannot even filter out ‘bad clicks’ by functioning as trade only as a bad click would need to be made in the first place just to reach a page providing this information – and of course by that time it is already too late. Of course with offline mailing you can target companies and even consumers much more directly; but in today’s information age, who wants to spend the time and money associated with printing out materials and mailing them all over the country?

There is no quick fix for the above problem; however, there are several best practice guides in existence which aim to streamline your PPC campaign within the B2B realm. The problem with these guides, however, is that (perhaps in an attempt to appeal to a larger audience) they are quite general and apply the standard rules of PPC advertising.

The guides referred to above may be ideal for those who are just learning the basics of PPC and trying to apply it to a B2B world, however, anyone who wants to profit from a successful online campaign­­ will need significantly more insight. Guides focusing on ad copy, budgeting, the long tail and negative keywords, all of which are vital to a successful campaign are not enough on their own. How many times can you repackage googles adwords guidelines and call it good advice?

In the coming weeks we will explore some techniques that can be applied to a B2B PPC campaign on an account, technical and business level to enhance what you have already and lay the foundations for success in the future. We will also look at the legal issues which surround PPC advertising when competitor keywords and trademarks are involved Subscribe to the RSS to be alerted when the post is live.

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