Q and A: Should we bid on our own brand name in Google AdWords?

QuestionHey Kalena

Can you please settle an argument we are having in the office?

My boss is suggesting that we should bid on our brand name in AdWords to make sure we come up at the top of Google searches. I don’t think we need to because we are already coming up high in the organic search results for our brand keywords.

Wouldn’t it just be a waste of money to pay for an ad?



Hi Kate

Sorry, but in this case, I agree with your boss :-) .  I think it’s good practice to bid on your own brand with pay per click advertising, for a variety of reasons:

1) Studies have shown that brands that rank high in both organic results AND paid ads receive more conversions than brands that just use one or the other, due to the saturation factor and extra brand exposure gained.

2) Unless you use paid search ads, you cannot guarantee that your brand will show up in the top search results for brand or product related searches. Organic search results will look different for everyone, based on their location, search terms used, their search history and personal preferences. The only way to guarantee a top spot is to pay for it. Also, ads will usually gain more clicks than organic results, depending on their location on the page, so you want to make sure you grab that brand click, no matter what prompts it.

3) You cannot control HOW your site will be shown in the search results unless you use paid advertising. Organic results may display the content of your page title, or a random snippet of text from your page, depending on the assumed context and what the search engine deems to be the most relevant. The organic click may also take visitors to a landing page you didn’t expect. Whereas your paid ad will show your brand in exactly the context you choose and take clickers to your preferred landing page.

4) If you have distributors or affiliates for your brand, it is possible that they may out-rank you in the organic search results for your brand-related keywords, therefore grabbing the click and making the sale, resulting in some loss of $ via commission. Making sure your ads out-rank them means you retain the full $ for any conversions.

If you are still sceptical, may I suggest reading Brad Geddes’ excellent article Should You Bid On A Keyword If You Rank Organically For That Term? where he shares the results of several detailed experiments to debunk the myth of PPC cannibalization.


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Q and A: What’s the difference between calls to action and action phrases in Google AdWords?

QuestionHey Kalena

I’m creating my own ads in Google Adwords at the moment.  When reviewing what I’ve learnt in your Pay Per Click lessons, it says under the Appropriate Language section:  “Must not feature call to action phrases (Eg click here, visit this site)”.

Yet, when I visit the Google AdWords Help Centre, it encourages the use of Calls to Action – Under the heading “Empower customers to take action”.

Have I got this twisted? Which is right? Is there a difference between Calls to Action and Action Phrases?




Hi Stephanie

The editorial rules and recommendations for Google AdWords can be confusing at times, with some advice seemingly in direct conflict with recommendations found elsewhere.

In terms of call-to-action phrases – there are very specific rules regarding the use of particular phrases within your AdWords ads. For example, you can’t use “click here” in the ad text, but you are encouraged to use other call-to-action phrases such as “learn more about” or “download your lesson”.

So the advice under the *Appropriate Language* section relates specifically to editorial guidelines, while the advice in the AdWords Help Centre relates to recommended tactics you can use, rather than specific wording.

Hope that makes sense :-)

I recommend reviewing the more specific editorial guidelines for AdWords ads as well.


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Fast Five in Search – Week 48, 2014



So this week I’ve been reviewing our Search Industry Event Timeline which forms part of our introductory SEO course at Search Engine College. I was struck by the sheer number of acquisitions made by search giant Yahoo over the past 20 years and how controversial some of those purchases have been for them.

So this week I give you: the Five Most Controversial Purchases Made by Yahoo.

Here’s this week’s Fast Five:

1) January 1999: Yahoo Acquired Geocities for $4.58 billion

In the 1990’s, before the rise of Content Management Systems and online web page builder services such as Google Sites and WordPress, there was Geocities. Everyone could have a web page at Geocities and populate it with as many animated gifs and flashing headlines as they liked. Yahoo saw the potential for eyeballs that Geocities presented and purchased the service for a whopping US$4.58 billion in stock in January, 1999, then proceeded to completely ignore it. The site finally died from neglect in 2009.

2) July 2003: Yahoo Purchased Overture for $1.63 billion

This purchase was a direct response to the growing success of Google’s AdWords paid advertising program. Originally known as GoTo.com, Overture was the first paid search advertising program and had no serious rivals until Google launched AdWords in 2000. Yahoo’s purchase included search engines AltaVista and AllTheWeb, which Overture had acquired just a few months earlier. Yahoo later rebranded Overture as Yahoo Search Marketing and ran it haphazardly until it became clear it was no rival for AdWords. In 2010, Yahoo’s partnership with Microsoft morphed the program into Microsoft adCenter and the combined service eventually became known as Bing Ads.

3) March 2005: Yahoo Bought Flickr for Between $22 and $25 million

There was enormous outcry when Yahoo! acquired photo sharing service Flickr and its creator Ludicorp. The acquisition reportedly cost somewhere between $22 and $25 million and was announced almost casually on the Flickr blog. Most people agree that Yahoo’s purchase ruined Flickr forever.

4) December 2005: Yahoo Acquired del.icio.us for an Estimated $20 million

Online bookmarking service del.icio.us was purchased by Yahoo late 2005 for an estimated $20 million. The once respected social sharing site was left to flounder for 6 years, before being sold off to the founders of YouTube in April 2011.

and finally…

5) May 2013: Yahoo Purchased Tumblr for $1.1 billion

Yahoo’s purchase of blogging and publishing platform Tumblr in mid 2013 was met with shrieks of horror from the blogging community, who had witnessed the slow death of other Internet services purchased by the search giant. Announced directly on her own cutesy Tumblr, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer promised “not to screw it up”. Whether that happens remains to be seen. The most positive feedback I can find since the purchase is a comment from Tumblr founder David Karp who admits that Yahoo has allowed Tumblr to maintain independence so far. Although that may change soon because apparently Yahoo is trying to turn Tumblr into a competitor for YouTube.

I wonder what Yahoo will buy next?

*Image courtesy of Threadless.


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Fast Five in Search – Week 35, 2014



It’s been an interesting couple of weeks in search and social. Some new features have been announced and some old ones switched off, with backlash in tow.

Here’s this week’s Fast Five:

1) Search Marketers Tear Into Google Over AdWords Exact Match Change by Matt McGee. Google have isolated the search marketing community this month, with their announcement that Exact Match keywords will be phased out of AdWords, forcing all advertisers to use close variants. I’ve blogged about this before, when Google first introduced close variants as the default option for match types, but at least then you could opt-out of close variants. Not anymore. I’m not happy and judging by the backlash on social media, neither is the rest of the search community.

2) Google at Work on Kid-Friendly Versions of Its Products by Chris Crum. While we’re talking about Google, some more positive news. The company is apparently working on a new system that would let parents set up accounts for kids under 13 and control how they use services and what information is collected about them.

3) Buying Stuff Within a Tweet is Reportedly Coming to Twitter via Stripe by Mike Butcher. It seems there are businesses that want to sell products from inside tweets. Twitter is reportedly planning to add *Buy Now* buttons within tweets that will make this a reality, by allowing users to enter payment information without leaving Twitter.

4) The Beginners Guide to Establishing Personality and Engagement on a Facebook Page by Jesse Aaron. I really like case studies for how to use social media effectively and this article on Social Fresh contains some goodies. In this post, Jesse Aaron shares 7 neat tactics to use on a business Facebook page to drive engagement and inject some personality into your brand.

and finally…

5) 30+ Advanced Google Search Functions You May Not Have Known About by Craig Smith. This Infographic caught my attention because I like to think I know a lot about Google Advanced Search and I wanted to see how many of the 30 functions I already use. Turns out I knew most of these already, but not *location:* and some of the short-code searches like < tracking number >, < flight number > and so on. Neat!

*Image courtesy of Threadless.


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Well Done Paid Search Advertising 201 Graduates

On behalf of Search Engine College staff, I’d like to offer congratulations to our latest graduates of Search Engine College for 2014.

Students named below have successfully completed our Advanced Pay Per Click Advertising course at Search Engine College and attained official certification status (requiring a passing grade of 70 percent or higher).

Pay Per Click Advertising 201

  • Meghan Jump
  • Christine Rokos
  • Sok Khann
  • Hinoh Garris
  • Mary Milner
  • Bonnie Dalager
  • Ashley Washburn
  • Diana Weaver
  • Leona Miller
  • Brett Wohlgemuth
  • Shannon Wampler
  • Linda Ng
  • Cherish Moss
  • Thomas O’Brien
  • Andrea Taylor
  • Christina Bruns
  • Brendan Holmes
  • Artez Young
  • Cherish Moss
  • Lee Chapman
  • Monica Johnson
  • Lori Smith
  • Robert Stevens
  • Maria T Castilho

Congrats to you all! Please contact your tutor if you are still waiting to receive your hard copy certificate, Status Page or certification seal.

Don’t forget to like our Facebook page and follow our Twitter profile @secollege for College announcements such as lesson updates, press releases, new courses, events and milestones.


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