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.


Like to teach yourself AdWords? Start here.


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30 Days as Geek For Hire – Day 12: Congratulations, You’re Hired

I awoke to a nice surprise in my email in-box on day 12. The email subject line read “Congratulations – Your Proposal was Chosen”. Turns out I had won my first Elance gig!

The female intimate apparel company had decided my skills met the brief and had chosen my proposal over more than 20 others. The relief at having two months of guaranteed income was immense.

Congrats-ElanceBut at the same time, I was a bit nervous about the whole Elance process. Having already been bitten by a dodgy vendor, I had also been reading some horror stories about freelancers being ripped off and being powerless to fight back.

According to Elance, as long as I used their Work View system – utilizing their built-in time tracking software Tracker – and submitted time-sheets on time I would be protected and paid. With Work View, Elance documents your work in real time as it progresses. While you have it switched on, the Tracker software takes screen-shots of your desktop at random intervals and posts them to the Work View section of the Elance Workroom. Clients can view the work and provide input and comments. What could possibly go wrong?

The information captured with Tracker is then used to automatically generate detailed time-sheets and you submit them at the end of the week with additional project notes if needed. Elance generates an invoice to the client and provided the client has AutoPay set up, payment is automatically made by Elance to the freelancer 7 days later. The idea is that clients can verify they are paying only for hours worked (rather than your online erotica habit) and the freelancer is guaranteed of payment.

There have been quite a few complaints by freelancers about Work View being invasive and inaccurate so I was wary. But – privacy concerns aside – I wasn’t about to turn down my first official Elance gig. So I accepted the terms of the project and downloaded the Tracker software installer.

Because Tracker runs on Adobe Air and because Adobe have twisted the knife in the back of Open Source developers everywhere dropped support for Linux – even though the majority of programming gigs on Elance are Open Source based – installing the Tracker software on Linux was a minefield of complication and head slamming frustration. An hour later I finally found the solution, but I still had to jump several hurdles and create my own exe script before my Ubuntu Terminal would play nice.

The next step was to nominate a payment method. I could choose from being paid into my PayPal account or via wire transfer into my nominated bank account. Not wanting to poke the sleeping IRD monster with a stick, I chose the latter. Elance informed me that there was a 5 day waiting period for my account to be verified, but apart from that, I was finally ready for my first paying gig.

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Google Analytics: Wellington and Christchurch Workshops

Google-AnalyticsI’m presenting two Google Analytics training workshops on behalf of the Institute of IT Professionals (IITP) over the next couple of weeks. The first one is in Wellington and then I’ll be heading down to Christchurch for the other.

Under the banner Using Google Analytics to Increase Website Traffic and Conversions, these half-day workshops will show you step-by-step how to set up Google Analytics and what key metrics to track in order to measure the success and improve the performance of your web site. Included will be real-life case studies, practical examples and sample reports that you can immediately adapt to suit your own analytics needs.

Don’t think you’re in for a boring day of number crunching either. For proof that Analytics can be fun, check out this video produced by the Google Analytics team. It takes the frustrations we’ve all experienced with online checkouts and shows how they might play out in real life:

At the end of the workshop, attendees will be able to:

  • Set up a Google Analytics account.
  • Implement Google Analytics tracking code into their site.
  • Determine which are the most important web site metrics to track.
  • Track visitor pathways that lead to conversions.
  • See how their web site visitors are interacting with their site.
  • See what keywords are providing the most traffic to their site.
  • See what web sites are providing the most traffic to their site.
  • See what pages on their site are the most popular.
  • Track various marketing campaigns in Google Analytics e.g. AdWords, SEO, email campaigns.
  • Determine the best performance indicators for their web site.
  • Interpret analytics data and make web site decisions based on that data.
  • Create meaningful web site analytics reports for customers and stakeholders.

Below are the details and booking links for Wellington and Christchurch events. Please share with anyone in your network who you think might benefit from attending:

Using Google Analytics to Increase Website Traffic and Conversions – Wellington
Date: Tuesday 18 August 2015
Time: 1:00 – 5:00 pm
Venue: Terrace Conference Centre
Terrace 5
Levels 2 – 4
St John House
114 The Terrace

Using Google Analytics to Increase Website Traffic and Conversions – Christchurch
Date: Monday 14 September 2015
Time: 1:00 – 5:00 pm
Venue: Airport Gateway Motor Lodge
45 Roydvale Ave

Similar events for Auckland will be announced shortly. Workshops for Hamilton and Dunedin are not currently booked, but can be arranged upon demand by clicking the On Demand link on the pages above.


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30 Days as Geek For Hire – Day 11: When One Door Closes…

doorsI had a great start to Day 11. In the morning I managed to get in touch with the potential Hawaiian client and had a promising 30 minute phone conversation about what they were looking for. It ended with an invitation to pitch for the management of their site migration from one domain to another, including related SEO clean-up and fun with 301’s, canonicals and lost links, oh my!

Then I received a message on Elance. I’d been invited to pitch for a 6 month SEO project for an Australian-based female apparel company. I was really intrigued by this one and put my proposal together quickly, before anyone else had the chance to respond. The client contacted me within 30 minutes of receiving my proposal and asked for a project plan and budget. So I requested access to her Analytics, set her up on the Google Search Console and ran a mini SEO Audit.

She’s also keen to trial Google AdWords and have someone run A/B split testing on social media campaigns. What I’m most excited about the project is that it plays to all my strengths and gives me the opportunity to work on SEO, AdWords and social media, ensuring I won’t be bored. Hopefully I’ll hear something back tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I had been asked by my long-time friend Kim Krause-Berg to join a team of web veterans in contributing some low-cost web-based services to webmasters in the US via her site Creative Vision Web Consulting. So the rest of the day I spent in a WordPress cloud, creating my service pages and packaging my skills into logical digital products that wouldn’t break the back of a small business. I decided to keep all my services at the USD 99 price point, as they say $100 is a psychological barrier when it comes to online purchasing.

Thinking I had reached my opportunity quota for the day, I was surprised to receive an email from a local client and friend, whose partner was interested in meeting me. Apparently he runs a local web agency and was looking someone with SEO skills to provide related advice to digital start-ups. Perfect! So I got in touch with him and we are scheduled to have a coffee next week.

My promising day ended with a glass of wine and a smile on my face. Bring on Day 12.

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30 Days as Geek For Hire – Day 10: Direct to Hawaii, via Narnia

Could it be Aloha Hawaii?

Could it be Aloha Hawaii?

Compared to the disaster that was Day 9, today was relatively uneventful.

I had a phone call from Christine – Yudoozy’s Chief of Freelancers – who needed to take my profile through the vetting process before she could release it to potential employers. This involved a 15 minute chat with me and the provision of contact details for at least two recent clients or employers.

Next, I found a Skype message from a tour company based in Hawaii, who were apparently after some SEO advice. Aloha! Imagining claimable business trips to Hawaiian islands had me extremely motivated. Mentally packing my bikinis and sarong, I dialled the number provided. Unfortunately, the call went through to voice-mail, so I left a (possibly manic) message for them to call me back.

Around lunchtime, I received an @ reply on Twitter from the online testing company responsible for the provision of skills tests for ODesk and Elance. Having seen the first few posts in this “30 days” series, they were apparently amused by my brutally honest feedback about the quality of their skills tests and wanted to discuss it in further detail. They invited me to get in touch via email, so I sent them some of the stabby comments helpful notes I’d taken during the skills testing process, and threw in a few suggested improvements.

The rest of the day was spent on LinkedIn, where – egged on by well-meaning SEO buddies – I joined some popular industry groups in the hopes of making desperate pleas for work in the face of upcoming bankruptcy making a good impression and promoting my services via conversational networking.

Somehow, I got side-tracked into a pointless conversation about the merits of GitHub and ended up in the geek version of Narnia for the afternoon. But hey, at least the day didn’t end with me refunding money to another asshole.

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