Dumbass of the Week: Pay Per Click Advertisers

DuhIt’s been ages since we’ve had a Dumbass of the Week, but I saw something yesterday that prompted me to resurrect the title once more.

A staff member here sent me a screengrab from a Google search he had made and pointed out one of the Sponsored Links / AdWords ads at the top of the page (see screen grab below) . He had conducted a search for *cheap glasses new zealand* and Google displayed a range of organic and paid results on the SERP.

Here’s a screengrab of the original search page showing the top 3 sponsored results:

PPC-error2

When my colleague clicked on the 3rd Sponsored Link on the page, it took him to a 404 Error Page. Thinking that the URL was simply malformed and he could find what he needed from the home page, he stripped the tracking URL down to the top level domain and refreshed the page. Again, he was taken to a 404 Error Page.

At first I thought perhaps the site was offline temporarily or simply not loading in his browser so I asked him to send me the destination URL from the ad so I could try.

Because I have the Google Toolbar installed, when I tried to view the same broken link, instead of a standard 404 error, I received a Google error page stating: “Oops! This link appears to be broken. Did you mean: www.­lessforspecs.­co.­nz?”

Aha! Mystery solved. The advertiser Less for Specs had accidently used dot com in their destination URL instead of .co.nz. Turns out, the dot com site doesn’t even exist, which is probably for the best as they would have been paying to send traffic to their competitor’s site if it did.

Normally, the AdWords system detects malformed destination URLs and either doesn’t approve the ad or sends you an alert very quickly and pauses the ad for you. However, for whatever reason (perhaps the dot com site did exist at one point), the ad was allowed to go live.

An identical search today doesn’t trigger the same ad, so perhaps the problem is resolved. Maybe Google alerted them of the problem. Perhaps the mistake was made by a 3rd party agency managing the site’s PPC campaign. But who knows how many people clicked on the link and were taken to a 404 error page before it was fixed? Who knows how many dollars the mistake cost the advertiser in click costs in the meantime?

Now, I don’t mean to single out Less For Specs. I’ve seen similar errors in Pay Per Click ads by many companies over the years, heck, I’ve made them myself. But seeing this example reminded me that we should be taking more care with our PPC campaigns in order to get the best value for money out of them.

Here’s a list of common PREVENTABLE errors I’ve seen in PPC ads:

  • Malformed destination URLs.
  • Incorrect or misleading display URLs.
  • Destination URLs leading to a *this page is under construction* placeholder.
  • Forgetting to pause a PPC campaign during a scheduled site outage (I have to admit guilt on this one!)
  • Moving a domain but forgetting to redirect PPC landing pages.
  • Not knowing about an unscheduled site outage for 48 hours.
  • Spelling or grammatical errors within ads.
  • Sexist, racist or otherwise ignorant ad wording.

Yes, some PPC systems such as AdWords and Microsoft AdCenter have built in checks to prevent dumb user errors, but they’re not bullet proof. Dumbass happens. Just don’t let it happen to you.

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Clever Use of AdWords Lands Man Top Advertising Job

What’s a job at the top of your field worth to you?

To unemployed advertising executive Alec Brownstein, it was worth around USD 6. That’s what Alec paid Google AdWords to get the attention of New York’s top advertising agencies and score himself two job offers.

Alec decided he wanted a job at one of New York’s top ad agencies. But to get an interview via the regular channels could take months. So he decided to bypass normal job application procedures and appeal to the egos of the Creative Directors instead.

How did he do it? He set up PPC ads using Dynamic Keyword Insertion that would appear whenever one of the Creative Directors Googled themselves, otherwise known as a *vanity search*. So a Google search for Gerry Graf, David Droga, Tony Granger, Ian Reichenthal or Scott Vitrone would trigger Alec’s ad to appear.

The ad read:

Hey [Director's Name]
Googling yourself is a lot of fun.
Hiring me is fun, too.

A click on the ad led to Alec’s site and contact details. According to Brownstein, nobody was bidding on the names, so he was able to achieve the top ad slots for around 10 cents per click.

The result? Alec scored interviews with 4 out of the 5 Creative Directors and job offers from both Ian Reichenthal and Scott Vitrone of Y&R Advertising. He took one of the offers and now has a permament gig at Y&R New York.

Clever eh?

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Google Display Network to Showcase Media to Advertisers

Google has announced that all their non-search display advertising will be collectively called the Google Display Network from now on, replacing the existing Google Content Network.

The new network covers Google display ads on Google Maps, YouTube, Gmail, Google Finance, Blogger and other ad partner sites.

Google made the announcement on their Inside AdSense blog, claiming the move was to make their display media clearer to advertisers:

“The Google Display Network will comprise all of the sites where advertisers can buy ads through Google, including the over one million AdSense and DoubleClick Ad Exchange partners as well as YouTube and Google properties such as Google Finance, Gmail, Google Maps, and Blogger… The Google Display Network offers all ad formats – text, image, rich media, and video ads – enabling advertisers to unleash their creativity and engage visitors on your websites in various ways.”

If you’re an AdSense publisher you’re already part of the Google Display Network. No changes have been made to how AdSense works and no action is required by you to opt-in. However, if you use AdSense for search, your AdSense for search ad space won’t be part of the Google Display Network.

Advertisers will continue to be able to purchase ads on your search results pages in the same way they always have.

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Q and A: Is there a Google method to find the ranking and traffic of a specific search term?

QuestionDear Kalena…

Is there a Google method to find the ranking of a specific search term? For example if I’m tweaking my site as I sell thermo seals, I’d be interested to see if more people search for ‘thermo seals’ or ‘winter window leaks’ or ‘stop window drafts’ etc. etc.

If I see that one term gets 5,000 hits or is ranked #17,500 where as another one gets 7,000 hits and is ranked #12,345 then I’d be sure to talk the talk of the higher rated search term. I’d like to enter terms, get some form of ranking and then enter another term, so that I have an apples to apples list of results.

Thanks

Dave

Hi Dave…

Although Google is generally against automated rank checking / reporting, they do allow you to research historical organic search data using their Insights For Search. This will allow you to compare search patterns and volume for various search terms and keywords across specific regions, categories, time frames etc.

For paid search listings, you can use the Google Adwords Traffic Estimator. This gives you estimates on the typical number of clicks you’re likely to receive if you were to bid on these keywords using Google’s Pay Per Click system – Adwords. And with this information, you can then identify which keywords are worth optimising for. Generally, more people click on organic search rankings than paid listings, so this type of data won’t give you an exact figure if your focus is organic traffic, but it certainly works well as a guide.

If you’re willing to spend some money and would like to see what keywords your competitors are focusing on (along with the traffic they attract and a whole bunch of other competitive information), you could try tools such as SEM Rush, Compete.com or SpyFu.

There are plenty of other tools out there that can help achieve similar results, so if you have a favorite or would like to share the tools you use, add some comments below.

Hope this helps!

Cheers

Peter Newsome
Brisbane SEO with SiteMost

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New Offerings from Google

I haven’t got time to review them all in detail yet, but I’ve noticed a number of new initiatives launched by Google over the past week or so that deserve mention here.

Ad Sitelinks in AdWords

Ad Sitelinks is a new AdWords feature that allows you to extend the value of your existing AdWords ads by providing additional links to content deep within your sites. Rather than sending all users to the same landing page, Ad Sitelinks will display up to 4 additional Destination URLs on your search-based text ad for users to choose from.

Google Comparison Ads:

Comparison Ads is another new feature of AdWords, which lets users compare multiple, relevant offers more easily. Comparison Ads ads value to the ad experience on Google by letting users specify exactly what they are looking for and helping them quickly compare relevant offers side by side.

Google Page Previews:

Google has added a new option to web search called Page Previews. Click on *show options* and select *page previews* after running a search. Google will then show a longer snippet, plus a site thumbnail for each search result

Google Fading Home Page:

Google has been experimenting today with an even more minimalist home page than usual. The new *fading* home page hides everything on the page apart from the logo and the search box until you move your mouse over it and then the remainder of the navigation fades in.  A few people mentioned this one on Twitter but I haven’t seen it in action yet.

Have you used or noticed any of these yet? Please let us know what you think via the comments below.

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