Category Archives: Advertising

Negative Keywords in AdWords: Accentuate the Positive

If you are advertising on Google and you don’t know what negative keywords are, you need to find out.

Negative Keywords

Companies that are particularly vulnerable to not knowing about negative keywords are those that setup AdWords using Google’s Starter Campaign as well as those companies that employ a “set it and forget it” mentality for their AdWords campaigns.

Negative keywords are the words that you do NOT want to trigger your ads. They are words for things that you don’t sell or services you don’t offer. You can start your negative keyword list pretty easily by just thinking about related phrases that don’t apply to what you offer. For example, if you have a bookstore that sells only new books, you could use “used” and “free” as negative keywords.

If you are not sure which keywords you should add as negatives, take look at the Search Terms report in AdWords to find all the words that have triggered your ads in the last 30 days. In the Keywords tab in AdWords, click Details, and then All under Search Terms.

Search Terms ReportThe resulting report will show you keyphrases that triggered your ads to display. Based on the keyphrases on that list, you can determine which phrases should not have triggered your ads and add them as negative keywords.

I recently ran this report for a new client and they found that over the last 30 days they had paid $90 (30% of their monthly budget) for 87 clicks to their website for products they do not sell. Unless your campaign is setup with only exact match keyphrases, Google will show your ad for keyphrases related to those you specify.

By knowing and naming your Negative Keywords, you can Accentuate the Positive and make sure your ads only display for the correct keywords.

Why Google AdWords is Worth the Money (when it’s done right)

At heart, I’m quite frugal. The idea of spending money to “buy” clicks to my website via advertising vs. creating really great content that just gets found naturally seems counter-intuitive. However, there is a way to use PPC (pay per click) advertising, like Google AdWords, in a very cost-effective way.

When you’re setting out to optimize your website, you make your best guess at the keywords and phrases that are likely to bring the right traffic to your site, that will result in conversions (leads, downloads, purchases, etc.) You optimize your site for those words and phrases and you watch and wait. Since you can no longer get detailed keyphrase data from Google analytics, you look at things like traffic sources, landing pages and top content to try to discern the best performing keywords. Your data is limited and you are still guessing at which keyphrases actually drove the conversions.

Running a short-term ad campaign starting with your best guess at the right keywords can provide a wealth of information… and not just guesses, you can get real quantifiable data on which keyphrases people used to find your site, which ads caused people to click-through to your site and which phrases have the highest conversion rates. You can even find related search terms and phrases that you may not have thought of before.

You can then take the data you’ve gathered via AdWords and use that information to create a much more effective optimization plan for your website. You can focus on the keywords that you KNOW create click-throughs and conversions. You can use the new keyphrases to target your blog content or expand your product or service listings. You can use related keyphrases to expand the descriptions of your products and services. You can use AdWords as a real-time, very effective research tool for improving your website.

There is a caveat though…. I DO NOT recommend using the “starter campaign” version of AdWords that sets up your campaign for you by leading you through a series of simple questions. Remember, Google’s goal is to get you to spend money on advertising with them, your goal is to make money from the advertising you do with them. Invest either the time or money (DIY or hire someone) to setup or revise your campaigns. Getting the “hard facts” on the right tightly targeted keyphrases that reach the right audience with the right message is well worth the time and effort.

What are Google Shopping Ads?

If you sell products in your business, you may want to look into Google Shopping Ads. Used to be, you could setup a Google Merchant Center account and auto-magically (for free) you could get your product images and details to show up on Google search results. Unfortunately, those days are gone. Now they have Google Shopping Ads, which show up in the search results like this:

Google Shopping Ads


This sponsored search box shows up above all the other listings on the Google search results page, so, you can see why this would be a great place to get your products listed.

As with the old product listing ads, you will need both a Google Merchant Center Account and a Google AdWords account. You upload your product data to your Google Merchant Center account and then link it to your AdWords account. Shopping ads are priced the way many Google Ad campaigns are priced, that is, on a cost per click basis. You only pay when someone clicks on your ad and you set the amount you are willing to pay per click (in addition to setting a daily budget to insure that you don’t overspend.)

For more information on getting Shopping Ads started for your business, drop me a note at and we can chat about your goals, your budget and how to get started.


Identifying Ads in Search Engine Results

Score one for the FTC! A recent article on Digital Trends summarizes the “rap on the knuckles” being given by the FTC to the search engine companies because they’ve veered away from the 2002 guidelines that state that Ads must be “clearly distinguished” from the natural search results.

I have fussed about this before as I have watched the top ad banner background on Google search results continue to fade…

Advertising resultsThe top 3 results in this screenshot are Google Ads, as well as the whole right sidebar. It used to be that the ads on top had a much more distinctive yellow (or sometimes blue) background. It’s now a very pale peach color that I sometimes I have to look very closely at to determine where the natural search results begin.

According to a survey done by the FTC, I’m not the only one having trouble see where the ads end and the natural search results begin…

“A recent online survey by a search strategies company found that nearly half of searchers did not recognize top ads as distinct from natural search results and said the background shading used to distinguish the ads was white,” the FTC said in the letter.

Read more:

Google is not the only search engine who received notification from the FTC. There were 7 general search engines and 17 specialty search engines that received notification to improve their ad labeling practices.

What do you think?

Choosing an SEO/SEM Company

There are a lot of companies offering SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) services. How do you know which one is going to be the best fit for your company and budget?

It helps to have an understanding of how search engines index and rank websites. Knowing how the search engines work and how competitive your important keyphrases are can help you judge how much assistance you will need to improve your website visibility. Google didn’t used to be as transparent as they are now about how the search results work. These days, you can get guides directly from Google on how to improve your website’s visibility.

Google OptimizationConsider your budget, both the money you have available to spend on internet marketing and your time…. sometimes it’s better for you to invest some time in learning what needs to be done and doing it yourself. Google has a whole SEO guidebook filled with helpful information, that I highly recommend. However, if the whole idea of DIY SEO/SEM makes you break out in a sweat, it’s time to bring in some experts.

Some useful questions to ask an SEO include:

  • Can you show me examples of your previous work and share some success stories?
  • Do you follow the Google Webmaster Guidelines?
  • Do you offer any online marketing services or advice to complement your organic search business?
  • What kind of results do you expect to see, and in what time-frame? How do you measure your success?
  • What are your most important SEO techniques?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • How can I expect to communicate with you? Will you share with me all the changes you make to my site, and provide detailed information about your recommendations and the reasoning behind them?

read more:

SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is search engine advertising vs. search engine optimization. SEM agencies set up ad campaigns that show up on search results and/or related websites based on your company’s keywords and location. The primary overlap between SEO and SEM are the keywords you would like your site to be more visible for.

I primarily use Google AdWords for SEM and they have recently instituted an audit procedure for advertising agencies to be sure that the agency is being transparent about the keywords being advertised, the average costs per click and other statistical information about the campaigns. The questions to ask an SEM company are similar to those you would ask SEO firm. Make sure that they are willing to be transparent with you and share any analysis data that you ask for on a regular basis. Checking the analytics is the best way to know if your campaigns are working or not. If you’re interested in giving AdWords a try, let me know (I have coupons for new advertisers.)

As with most things, it helps to get a referral from someone you know and trust, ask around to get recommendations.


Why Google AdWords?

Let me start by saying if you’re interested in giving Google AdWords a try, I have a whole bunch of coupon codes that I can give out. Some are $100 coupons, others $300. Google recently changed their program so that you do actually have to spend some of your own cash before the coupons kick in, but it’s still a great deal and a great way to try AdWords.

Google AdWords

AdWords can be a great tool for many businesses to gain visibility and boost website traffic. The companies I most often recommend AdWords to are those that have brand new websites or those who want a quick boost as they begin to implement SEO for their websites to improve traffic in the short term.

AdWords allows you to target specific keyword phrases worldwide or within a very narrow geographic area. You can target your ads to search or to the display network (other content sites (like the ads you see on the side of this blog post). There are text ads (advertising Haiku), image ads and video ads.

Depending on the business, AdWords may or may not be a great long term strategy. For some companies, the return on investment in AdWords is excellent and that alone warrants continued advertising. For other companies, the ROI is not as good and AdWords is a better short term strategy.

I am a Google AdWords Certified Partner and my specialties are helping new advertisers get started (remember the coupons!) and helping existing advertisers improve their campaign performance. I am not an expert on image or video ads, but I have been able to help clients more than double their click-through and conversion rates, with no increase in costs.

If you’re interesting in learning how Google AdWords can help your business, please get in touch.


New Google AdWords Coupons

Google is piloting a new program for AdWords coupons. Instead of the $100 free to start, you get $300 when you spend $100. Putting a little of your own cash in the pot to see how you can make AdWords work for you.


Definitely worth a try. $100 investment in advertising, when you can practically pinpoint your audience certainly sounds like a good deal to me.

Drop me note if you’re interested in starting an AdWords campaign.

How to easily add Google AdSense to your WordPress Blog

I have a Google AdSense account, that I use on this blog and on my personal blog and hubpages. I wanted to experiment with adding ads above and below posts on the blog, but didn’t want to have to copy/paste the ad code everytime.

I found this nifty WordPress plugin, called Google Adsense plug and play. With a neat interface that allowed me to easily link to my publisher account and choose the ad units I wanted to display and where.


10 things you should know about Ads Quality – AdWords Help

10 things you should know about Ads Quality – AdWords Help.