PPC Optimisation Techniques 1

By Paul Morris
Following on from the Paul Morris Search Muze blog on reasons why PPC fails it is pertinent to go in to more detail (this is part 1 of a series of 3 posts) on Pay Per Click optimisation techniques eluded to in that post.

What will now follow is a series of 6 PPC optimisation techniques that will aid Targeting, QS (quality core), CR (conversion rates), CTR (click through rates) and ultimately costs and ROI (Return On Investment).

1/ 3 or more words please

In terms of keywords the difference between searching for internet marketing and internet marketing blog , is huge. The more targeted your adverts/ keywords are the better the CR, CTR, QS, etc should be.

If you put yourself in the shoes of a searcher looking for general information on a topic they will search for internet marketing , however people who want to specifically read about the subject of internet marketing will search internet marketing blog . The same can be said for most industries, so bidding on caravan is clearly different to buy a blackpool caravan – start thinking about targeted long tail phrases rather than lazy 1-2 term searches.

Disclaimer: I mention above the same can be said for most industries and by this very statement this theory does not apply to all sectors.

As an example I previously worked at a digital marketing agency and one of the clients was a recruitment consultant. They wanted B2B business of businesses advertising their jobs with them rather than attracting clicks from people looking for the jobs themselves. As you can imagine the click volume is significantly higher for the B2C sector rather than B2B however reasonable volume terms can be very similar e.g. Manchester recruitment consultants. With this search how do you know you are going to receive a B2C or B2B click? The only answer is to simply ensure your negative keywords and ad text prequalification is up to scratch (more on that in the next post on this topic) and you direct them to a targeted landing page.

2/ Broad match sucks

Correction Broad Match, or Broad Match Modifier, do not suck if you are researching that industry/ those terms with a test budget (utilise the search query report) however if you want to maximise QS, CTR, CR and ROI then do not touch it with a barge pole (caveat city again this is a general statement and, as an example, you could get around it with a major negative keywords list or you are broad matching in a niche B2B sector however let s not go there with the detail!)

After (and most certainly before!) your Broad Match foray, engage in more keyword research, add more negative keywords, use exact match and phrase match for the vast majority of your campaign, use some advert prequalification where appropriate and watch the quality traffic roll in.

3/ (generally) Bid on terms that lead to conversion

By again using my caravan example above, you can work wonders by bidding on thousands of long tail terms rather than on a handful of fat head terms. So not only will terms such as ‘buy a Blackpool caravan’ cost you less than bidding on ‘caravan’ but it is clearly a more targeted search with more intent thus your CPA (cost per acquisition) will fall dramatically as a result.

Disclaimer: The “(generally)” point has been placed in the title as it of course depends on what your acceptable CPA is, how your tracking operates (last click, first click or multiclick attribution), what your PPC KPI’s are, etc as to whether you in practice only go after terms that show intent and are further down the sales funnel.

Helpful bidding ideas:

  • Bid on Brand Names of Products & Items
  • Bid on Company Names & Manufacturers
  • Use buy, compare & purchase keywords
  • Leverage product reviews

4/ Search and Content

Make sure the content network is on (if it costs in of course CTR and conversion rates are generally significantly lower than a search campaign but then again so are the CPC’s) but in its own account or in its own ad group.

It is often a good idea to have the content network turned off initially and use placements on several hand-picked sites first. Then once the CTR is in a decent position and you have more knowledge about what works/ doesn t work then cull the poor performing sites and turn the content network on.

5/ Tight Ad groups

Ad groups should be themed, and if possible follow the structure of your site. Going back to point 1, if the keyword is internet marketing blog then the ad group may contain:

  • “Internet marketing blogs” “phrase match”
  • “Internet marketing blog”
  • [Internet marketing blog] [exact match]
  • [Internet marketing blogs]

By undertaking this work it allows you to have highly targeted keywords which will link with the relevant landing page and the right creative giving you the best chance of a better CTR, QS, etc.

6/ Creative Linkage

Your creative’s are the equivalent of the saying “eyes are the window to the soul” (yep, i’m a deep fella) to your website. As per your tight ad groups, your keywords need to be targeted and your creative s highly relevant and linked with those keywords.

As an example your creative might look like:

Internet Marketing Blog
Become an Internet Marketing guru
Search Muse has the skills you need

7 Reasons why you should use an seo agency

Following on from my last Search Muse post on why you should not use an SEO agency, I thought it only fair to balance the argument with reasons as to why you should use an Search Engine Optimisation agency

1/ Access to emerging SEO strategies

Todays hot new things of universal search, social media or local seo optimization will become yesterdays chip wrapping link farm, comment spam, competition bait or link exchange program. SEO constantly evolves and it s a full time job simply to keep up with emerging strategies, never mind doing the work for now and implementing activity for tomorrow’s hot new thing.

2/ Knowledge = Power

Linked with the strategies comment, large agencies have almost certainly worked in your vertical before and know what SEO techniques work thus saving you time, resource and money getting up to speed.

3/ Tools

Agencies often have in house tools or access to several expensive external tools (and the brain power to use them effectively) that it would not be cost effective to research, use, monitor and report back on in house.

4/ Advice

You do not always have to hire an SEO agency to do the actual work; you can employ them to become consultants/ trusted confidents. The importance of having a sounding board, providing you with new ideas, advising on what to do/ what not to do cannot be underestimated.

5/ Do you really have the time?

You might know how to do some or even most of what the agency can do however can you really find the time to do it?!

Outsourcing SEO takes much of the confusion out of planning, stops internal factions debating what to prioratise first, provides an owner/ scape goat if things go wrong(!) and ensures the correct SEO strategy is employed.

6. Cost

It can cost more cold hard cash to outsource your SEO when comparing it to an in house operation. This is not always the case though as you have to be aware of the extra time and cost it can take to do the meaningful work, keep up with training, etc. If the ends justify the means and you take in to account the opportunity cost then the expense can be easily justified.

7. Results

The SEO agency should be able to achieve better results than the in house team. Period.


8 Reasons why you should not use an seo agency

By Paul Morris
I thought it interesting to analyse some of the reasons why you should not use a Search Engine Optimisation agency (view my next Paul Morris Search Muze post on all the reasons why you should use an SEO agency)

1/ Unrealistic or poorly defined expectations

Sometimes clients want to be number 1 for hundreds of Fat Head terms within unrealistic timeframes.

SEO is no PPC.

It takes time to rank for targeted terms and sometimes the terms set by the HIPPO (highest paid person’s opinion) are simply unachievable within the budget. This unrealistic goal setting can be the clients fault however equally it can be the agencies fault for not helping to clearly define what the success criteria will be.

2/ Website meddling

If the client IT or marketing department makes major site amends without discussing them with the agency first then this can have major negative SEO ramifications. e.g. a change to the navigation or url structure, deleting a few pages, etc can . If the client cannot ensure this interference is kept to an absolute minimum then it might be pointless engaging with the agency in the first place.

3/ A poor SEO agency

Perhaps the SEO agency doesn t really know what they are talking about OR they are under servicing the account due to lack of resource/ because they plan to bleed the client dry OR they are poor at managing client expectations OR they do not understand your business… Whatever the reason, a poor agency should be avoided at all costs.

4/ SEO knowledge gaps

Because the client has little detailed SEO knowledge and the agency is poor at making the client understand, few decisions or the wrong decisions are made thus stifling results. A large amount of the blame falls at the agencies door as they should think of ways to educate the client e.g. email seo facts of the day, twitter/ rss updates, blog articles relevant to their sector/ site, personalized seo training seminars, regular catch up meetings/ phone calls, etc.

5/ I want to be number 1 like yesterday

It can take several months to enjoy major SEO activity benefits and if you want results NOW then perhaps SEO is not for you and you should focus on other acquisition channels such as PPC.

6/ Lack of support

If the client s other agencies and own internal departments are not fully supporting SEO activity then this will cause problems. Web developers might impact site performance and/ or development or perhaps you’re ‘simply’ missing a trick by not involving content writers, social media managers, PR department, etc whatever the reason; by not involving all interested parties your rank(s) and traffic will suffer.

7/ You already have the skill set in house

In the current climate of wanting greater control and haivng to reduce more businesses are considering taking SEO in house as they have all the skills they need (or are willing to recruit them). Just make sure you really do have the necessary skill sets (rather than simply thinking you do)!

8/ You cannot afford it

Again this seems rather obvious however an SEO agency is generally not recommended for sites with low traffic and margin. It can be hugely beneficial to employ an SEO agency (check my next post on reasons to hire an SEO agency) however it could cost several 1000 per month to employ a decent agency and the potential ROI needs to stack up to justify the investment.

debt management infographics

Debt climb


Fuel Tanker

debt funeral infograph

olympic infograph

poverty infograph

Snakes and Ladders

In the company i currently work for, Baines and Ernst, we obtain inbound links by using a variety of techniques; one of those being infographics.

I thought I’d share some of the first mock ups on the Search Muse blog of our brain storming session (above).

Our brief was simple: Develop debt related infographics that will result in debt/ financial websites placing the infograph on their website and linking back to the Baines and Ernst website.


Firstly, we engaged in quite alot of work researching infograph styles we thought our audience would like, the types of websites we could appear on and topics we could graphically showcase.

Then we picked the right agency to help us develop the ideas.

We then met with the agency on several further occasions (still ongoing as the above are mock ups) to bounce ideas back and forth on what the finished infographs would look like.

The next step will be the most interesting – the syndication of the infographs, tracking and analysis of the results.

the best SEO infographics

By Paul Morris

I love infographics and as a result thought I’d create a Search Muse blog detailing 7 of the best SEO and PPC infographics. 


1/ PageRank Explained – Whilst Pagerank is a little 2006 i like the level of difficulty this infograph shows

seo mountain

2/ ‘The case of disappearing ink’ – shows the growth of digital search methods and the decrease of more traditional search methods

seo infograph

3/ Order and Importance of Link Juice – I like this infograph as i disagree with it (the order and importance of the elements)!

 link juice

4/ Time spent on SEO – Made me smile!

4 essential

5/ SEO Tactics – One that you can again debate as to where the types of activity fall on the scatterplot however this is a really nice pictorial representation of SEO tactics activity and the risk/ reward model attached to each.

seo tactics infographics

6/ Old search engines – what are they doing now? – Rather rude (click on the image to enlarge) however it made me smile and reminisce about the good/ bad old days.

rude search engine infographics

7/ Pacman SEO – My very own infographic that shows Pacman frequenting the world of Search Engine Optimisation, gobbling up the SEO pellets and avoiding the SEO pitfalls.

 pacman seo the original

Reasons why PPC fails

By Paul Morris
google ppc success

By Paul Morris

This Search Muse post will cover some of the reasons why PPC campaigns fail. It does assume that you have a sound product in a market that is ‘possible’ to PPC to with achievable CPA’s.

PPC ROCKS. PERIOD. However sometimes it doesn’t rock. Sometimes the CPA goes through the roof and sales/ downloads/ subscriptions go through the floor. If that’s the case then you need to get your thinking cap on and find out why.

There are some Must Do’s and Must Dont’s with a PPC campaign and if your ppc manager or agency are not doing them then they need to be taken out back and shot.

  • Keyword Selection
    • Not enough long tail keywords
    • Too many broad match keywords
    • Irrelevant keyword groups per ad group
    • Too many keywords per ad group
    • Little or no use of negative keywords
  • Campaign/Ad group Structure
    • The PPC account should mirror or, at the very least, take note of the website structure
    • The products should be broken down into tight/ related themes
  • Keyword Matching
    • Usually always broad match (at least use broad match modifiers!)
    • Dynamic keyword insertion is seen as ‘an easy way out’ of doing any real work
  • Campaign Settings and Types of PPC
    • Day-parting should be considered
    • Under spending budgets i.e. lost impression share
    • The content network, retargeting network, site links, other ppc providers (e.g. facebook, yell, Linked In), ppc product listings, etc are overlooked
  • Ads/Creative’s
    • No call to actions, poor formatting or spelling
    • Adverts do not directly relate to the targeted keywords
    • Either too many or not enough adverts
    • Winning ads (it’s very important the PPC agency/ manager understands the definition of a ‘winning ad’) are not always promoted over underperforming ads (and if they are then the cycle of testing should begin again)
  • Landing Page selection
    • Usually the landing page is too generic OR in the worst case there is clearly a better page to direct traffic to that already exists OR by ‘simply’ creating another page the quality score/ conversion rate will increase
    • A/B or multivariate testing has not been attempted
  • MisDirection
    • The big boss who ultimately made you bid on those fat head terms in the beginning also had a hand in that shocking website/ landing page thus the boss’ ego inhibits the major change that will enable your ppc manager/ agency to do something about those poor results

So as a starter for ten (there will be future ppc blogs on optimisation) my first major tip is to delve into your account/ ask the right questions and challenge the right people.


Guest Blogging spookily from a guest blogger

By Paul Morris
For today’s Search Muse blog i hand over to a friend of mine who knows a thing or three about SEO…

Some people involved in SEO feel that links are links no matter the source (unless they are from some really dodgy neighbourhood) however I’ve always believed that source relevance is an important factor in Google’s algorithm and not to chase any old high PR source – the common sense approach with blogs is just too undeniable to completely disregard relevance in building your links.

One Source that I’ve used increasingly is My Blog Guest (MBG). Ann Smarty and her team of mods have nailed what SEO blogging is all about, and I’ve been rather impressed with the opportunities MBG has provided for link building.

MBG allows you to either submit content, or take content, as long as you keep the hyperlink within it. The content is unique and it provides quality, fresh links and importantly, it forces the client’s link profile to stay relevant (in the most part).

Fundamentally you offer an on-topic website with free, high quality content and in return you receive a relevant link = everyone’s a winner!

What I’ve found so far
I have been lucky enough to have linked up with a few websites in the debt and financial industry recently (I’m the SEO manager for one of the largest UK debt management firms) and the results have been top notch: none of my links have been removed, no dodgy tactics including redirects, no-follows or anything untoward attempted.

Time Saving
Now in 2011 few people have time to check where the suitable blogs or link neighbourhoods are however MBG makes scanning suitable sites very easy, as you can tag your interest e.g. debt, travel, retail, tech etc and then gain contact frmo those only interested/ relevant to your niche.

the moderators have done a great job here; I have even fallen fowl to their detective talents, and gained a slapped wrist for (mistakenly = honest!) mistakenly trying to release duplicate content. This is yet another reason why I continue to use the service as i know it’s policed as I have no wish to spend time researching and writing an awesome article for it to only end up on an adsense farm.

Building Relationships
My last point is that of creating relationships with influential and relevant bloggers as it’s amazing how helpful/ useful these bloggers can be when it comes to syndicating that killer article or press release.


Paul Morris note: This article was written by Garry Hudson (a digital dude for 6+yrs)


hal varian ppc GOD

everyone loves Hal

By Paul Morris

I like this video as it features the living legend that is Hal Varian and he explains the quality score algorithm brilliantly

Google Quality Score Summary: The Google AdWords system calculates a ‘Quality Score’ for each and everyone of the keywords in your account. The system looks at a variety of ranking factors (click through rate’s key) to measure how relevant the keyword is to the ad text used and then to the user’s search query. A keyword’s Quality Score updates in relative real time closely related to its performance. In general, a high Quality Score (measured out of 10 with 7+ generally being considered ‘good’) means that your keyword will trigger ads in a higher position and at a lower cost per click (CPC)

top tools old

top seo, ppc and analytics tools

By Paul Morris
The following Search Muse post details some useful SEO and PPC tools – it’s not an exhaustive list however it’s a starter for 10…. 

Analytics – google.com/analytics/ , about.searchignite.com/uk/ and google.com/doubleclick/ – These range from free to expensive and whilst Google analytics is an excellent free tool it will not track more complex ‘relationships’ such as multiclick attribution. 

Webmaster Tools – google.com/webmasters/tools/ – Essential back end tomfollery
Google Global – redflymarketing.com/internet-marketing-tools/google-global/ – allows you to see what Google search results look like in different countries 

One stop shop –  seomoz.org/cart/purchase_select , raventools.com/ and influencefinder.com/ – A one stop shop with lots of SEO and PPC tools incorporated in the one interface 

Link Analysis – majesticseo.com/ , siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/ and opensiteexplorer.org/  – I LOVE Majestic SEO!

Keyword Research – semrush.com/ , spyfu.com/ , wordtracker.com/ and adwords.google.co.uk/select/KeywordToolExternal  – I like the simple things in life hence Google keyword analysis generally does the job

General competitor research -hitwise.com/uk/ – Whilst I’m not a huge fan (I have ‘parted company’ with HitWise in two of the past companies I have headed up!) it is definitely a competitor analysis tool you should consider   

Trends/ Insights – google.com/trends and google.com/insights/search/ does what it says on the tin 

ToolBars – seomoz.org/seo-toolbar and quirk.biz/searchstatus/ – Nice toolbars for website analysis 

Internal link analysis – woorank.com/ and home.snafu.de/tilman/xenulink.html – Catches errors and gives general advice on site fixes 



Mr Messy

And so my blog begins…

I like MR Men.

The Hargreaves bunch entertain my 11 month old son in the early hours of the morning (Milkshake; Channel 5) whilst I try to sleep.

As a result of my Mr Men love, I was inspired to use my second favourite Hargreaves character, Mr Messy (my first is on my 404), as a visual ode to online marketing.

As you can see from the above image, an individual searches and then converts.

There are however many touch points in the meat of that conversion sandwich.

Whilst the individual might start their journey on Google by clicking on a paid or natural link; the consumer is likely to have several further touch points before eventually converting to an enquiry/ subscription/ lead/ sale.

And so my blog begins 🙂

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