18
Aug

Do They Really Want To Make Money At Google Adwords?

Google Quality Score Is The KeyThere’s been a bit of a discussion over at PPC Coach lately as to why some people’s ppc campaigns are getting slapped with high bids and why they just can’t seem to get any traffic to their offers. No doubt about it, trying to please the algorithms and editors at Google Adwords can be a bit of a pain sometimes, but it always helps to remind yourself that they are in the advertising business to make money.

What Google doesn’t want is to give you a platform to test a million crummy ads, sent to a million crummy landing pages trying to sell a bunch of crummy diet and make money with Google products. It used to be that you could throw heaps of mud at the advertising wall that was Adwords with hundreds or thousands of keywords and then pick out the things that stuck and you’d be making lots of money. Unfortunately I didn’t get in on that gig, but it was much easier back in the good old days according to those that have been doing this ppc thing for some time.

Now though, advertising space is at a premium and there are thousands of people and merchants competing for some of the same spaces where there used to be only a handful of those people. Google used to let ads that got poor click thru rates (CTR) run indefinately as long as they were getting some kind of click activity. Now, if your ads aren’t performing, you are going to get slapped with $1 to $5 first page minimum bids or a Low Quality Score rating and your ads won’t run at all.

Let’s examine some of the reasons that happens and what you can do about it. (This is pretty much my same answer as in the PPC Coach forums.) The discussion mainly focused around direct linking, but it is relevant to all ppc campaigns.

Google is just a huge pain – I run campaigns all the the time that should work, but they don’t because Google is a pain. After awhile you finally figure out it’s not worth fretting about and there’s nothing to do but move on and try something else.

Page rank – If the offer you’re sending traffic to has a 0 or 1 PR landing page, it’s a lot less likely big G will see the relevance to what you’re trying to do. Find something that has a better quality score if you are going to direct link.

Keyword In Ad Headline – On rare occasions you can get away with not using the whole keyword in the headline of your ad, but most of the time it is essential. Auto keyword insertion won’t work, you must type your keywords in manually so Google can see the relevance in them. Google can’t read the keywords in your list, they have to read them from your ad for a good QS.

Larger Picture Relevance – This is a big one here. Your landing page, ad headline, ad text and keywords all have to relate somehow and the whole mix can sometimes be a mystery. One thing out of bounds here and you will get high bids. More relevance overall means more conversions for you as well.

Adwords Account Age – The newer your account, the less you can get away with. If you start out getting great CTR’s then you will get a gold star from Google and they will be a little more lenient towards you.

Not  So Swift Account Manager – Some of these Adwords account managers are just lame and don’t understand advertising at all. I got an email once from some noobie accountmeister and he said my ads on one keyword couldn’t run because all I was doing was trying to send traffic to another site. Duh!, no kidding, isn’t that what a huge percent of adwords traffic is all about? I was sending traffic to my own landing page and he nailed me for 1 keyword out of about 50 I was running in the entire campaign. Nothing to do but move on. There’s too many other things to advertise to worry about 1 keyword.

Now that I’ve had some pretty good success at paid search marketing, my experience is that sending traffic to your own landing pages or direct to the merchant makes no difference at all. What matters is everything mentioned above. If you can’t get your ppc campaigns off the ground because of high bids the best thing to do is not to run stuff where your CTR is really low. The best way to improve your standing with Google is to get people to click on your ads so they make money, that’s why they’re in business, remember?

If you’re running crap offers that generate crap traffic and get lots of impressions, but no clicks, you look like a noobie to G and they will treat you accordingly. When I see that an ad group (1 keyword per ad group) is getting lots of impressions and no clicks I will pause it because thet affects the overall quality of your campaign and eventually it will affect the overall quality of your entire account. If you have 500 or 1,000 impressions and no clicks, turn that word off. I speak from experience here because I used to get nearly everything I put up slapped, but I finally figured out how to get good CTR and the ride has been much easier since then.

Promote quality offers in a quality way with relevant keywords and and landing pages and you will get great CTR’s. Google will then reward you with lower bids because they’re finally making some money from you and more importantly, you are making some money too.

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28
Apr

Paint What You See, Not What You Think You See

Paint What  You See“Paint what you see, not what you think you see.” Those were probably some of the most profound words uttered by a teacher in a painting class I was taking while working on a graphic arts degree. It helped me finally “see” what I was doing wrong in drawing and painting still lifes, people and landscapes.

The trouble us budding artists had was that we knew what an apple, an orange, a wine bottle, and a human face looked like close up, but from 20 feet away we were trying to draw in the detail that we knew was there, but couldn’t actually see. When we all eventually realized to just paint what we saw, the entire process became much easier.

If you think about what you do in affiliate marketing and especially how you work your paid search campaigns, sometimes doing the stupid simple things, or at least being able to realize what they are, can make a huge difference in your business. Taking a step back and examining what you really see and how you really get conversions, what makes people buy, or fill out a lead form and ends up making you money can be an eye opening experience. It will probably turn out to be different than what you may have been led to believe or thought you had your head wrapped around.

For the longest time it was like I was banging my head against the wall trying to figure out this ppc thing and just about 4 or 5 months ago it really began to literally “click” for me. The conventional wisdom for years was to throw thousands of somewhat related keywords into a few different ad groups, see what converted and then trash the rest. The trouble with that philosophy was that you could have hundreds or thousands of words that end up getting 1 or 2 clicks each and you continue to hold onto them while they get 3, 4 and 5 clicks, waiting to see if one of them may convert while they up costing you lots of cash (especially in a competitive niche) and valuable time watching them. I now never, ever use more than one keyword in an AdGroup.

There are certainly lots of ways to make ppc work, but what started finally paying off for me was when I realized that there is an entire group of impulsive individuals just waiting to pounce and spend money on the hottest thing or get the latest bit of information that’s important to them especially when it’s recommended by someone else or has the force of the all powerful media behind it.

Up close it looks like ppc is a huge chore with all the market research, keyword research, tracking, quality score issues, bid prices, conversions and everything else that goes with it. The right in your face view of ppc marketing is fraught with details, but once you step back and take a look at the bigger picture the fundamentals are really quite simple. The basics are no more complicated than: find a source of lots of cheap traffic and send it to a relevant offer that converts.

Whatever you think of the media, when it comes to identifying hot trends, hot products and niches relevant to us affiliate marketers, they are absolutely your friend. If you keep an eye on the Drudge Report, the morning shows, the nightly news and the extended news programs like Dateline, 20/20, 60 Minutes and others and then regularly check Google Trends, Insights For Search, Yahoo Buzz and anything else that keeps track of hot topics, everything you need to get gobs and gobs of traffic is right there.

The more familiar you become with watching trends, the easier it becomes to identify topics that could possibly be a successful ppc campaign or other affiliate marketing venture for you. It is becoming much more frequent that I get up from watching one of these news programs right in the middle of it, start a ppc campaign and and end up making money 15 minutes later. And the great thing about these hot topic campaigns is that no one else is bidding in that space, plus if they don’t end up working, the cheap traffic doesn’t end up costing you much.

You’ll probably have to run several of these type of campaigns until you get the hang of it and figure out what makes people react and buy and more specifically what works for you and the way you target your ppc efforts. For some of you, this will probably be fairly easy if you are already in touch with trends, popular culture and the like. It was an initial effort for me because I tend to shy away from trendy subjects so it was hard to identify what was important and would eventually be profitable.

The bottom line though is not to over-complicate the process because even if you are remotely familiar with the news and general happenings you already are in touch enough to make your affiliate marketing and ppc efforts work much better. You may just have to refocus, take a step back, and learn how to paint what you see, not what you think you see.

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6
Apr

Attention Amazon Associates – No More Direct Linking Via Paid Search

I just got an email at 5:01 this morning from the powers that be at Amazon.com letting their associates know that as of May 1, 2009 they will no longer allow direct linking from paid search ads. If you are an Amazon affiliate and have been making a bit of cash this way, as I have, you’ll have to wrap everything up by the end of this month.

Ever since eBay made a similar change, I guess it was about a year and a half ago, Amazon became one of the only all inclusive affiliate programs that still allowed direct linking. By all inclusive, I mean that with Amazon there is hardly a product in the world you can’t get through them, thus giving affiliates in almost any niche the ability to direct link. Being able to direct link to Amazon via paid search left the possibilities wide open for anyone that knew ppc fairly well and wanted to make some easy money. No matter the product, model number, color, size, shape or whatever, you can get it at Amazon and affiliates could send customers directly to any page right from Google, Yahoo, MSN and other paid search platform. Unfortunately, that will no longer be allowed.

This is a serious bummer since I’d been doing this exact thing for the last several months earning a few hundred dollars in commissions on a monthly basis and had been planning to scale this up quite a bit. It’s not the end of the world since I’m learning to take everything in stride, it just seems to be the nature of the affiliate game. You have to learn how to constantly adapt in this business or you’ll find yourself out of work.

Update: I thought I’d add the content of the email below:

Dear Amazon Associate:

We’re writing to let you know about a change to the Amazon Associates Program. After careful review of how we are investing our advertising resources, we have made the decision to no longer pay referral fees to Associates who send users to www.amazon.com, www.amazon.ca, or www.endless.com through keyword bidding and other paid search on Google, Yahoo, MSN, and other search engines, and their extended search networks. If you’re not sure if this change affects you, please visit this page for FAQs.

As of May 1, 2009, Associates will not be paid referral fees for paid search traffic. Also, in connection with this change, as of May 1, 2009, Amazon will no longer make data feeds available to Associates for the purpose of sending users to the Amazon websites in the US or Canada via paid search.

This change applies only to the Associates programs in North America. If you are conducting paid search activities in connection with one of Amazon’s Associates Programs outside of the US and Canada, please refer to the applicable country’s Associates Program Operating Agreement for relevant terms and conditions.

We appreciate your continued support and participation in this advertising Program. If you have questions or concerns, please write to us by using the Contact Us form available on Associates Central.

Sincerely,

The Amazon Associates Program

Now that direct linking to Amazon from paid search is gone at the end of the month, it just makes being an affiliate all the more interesting. Share your thoughts, especially if you are direct linking to Amazon.

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31
Mar

PPC Coach 6 Month Review

PPC CoachI’ve been a member of PPC Coach for a little over 6 months now and it has probably been one of the most valuable purchases I have ever made on the internet. While I’ve purchased ebooks, hard copy books from bookstores and other training programs online, nothing has produced the results that PPC Coach has.

Using techniques taught in the program and developing my own techniques from the training modules has helped me produce more than $21,500 in revenue (Of which about 70% has been profit) since becoming a member.

Before becoming a member of PPC Coach my successes with pay per click marketing were almost non-existent. Several years ago I was able to produce some leads for myself during a stint with an mlm company and then went on to continue to produce leads for a company providing leads to that same mlm business, but profit margins were very thin. However, most of what I’ve tried involving ppc has been on the losing side. PPC Coach completely turned that around.

PPC Coach consists of training videos, tools, a forum and monthly training modules that are only accessible on a consecutive basis so as not to get overwhelmed with your tasks. The first month gets you going on polls and shows you how to set up your landing pages, choose offers and most importantly explains how to get lots of traffic to your polls. I’m sure you’ve seen some of these polls such as IQ surveys, political surveys or others asking for your yes or no opinion on some such subject.

Without giving away any of the inside secrets, I can tell you that learning how to do these polls was the catalyst to much bigger and better things. The training modules and videos show you how to work various aspects of pay per click marketing such as how to write effective ads, look for traffic sources, structure your campaigns, find the best converting offers and lots of other things.

The forums at PPC Coach are also invaluable as well. There are forum members and regular posters who have made over $100,000 per month that are more than willing to offer their advice if you just can’t seem to get the hang of things or don’t understand something about one of the tools or just need advice on something you’re trying to figure out.

To get the full impact of PPC Coach, it is important to follow the directions “Coach”, as he is called, suggests. Coach highly recommends new students watch all the videos and spend several hours in the forums to get familiar with everything before they start out on their first ppc campaign. This is exactly what I did. I pretty much dumped everything I thought I knew about pay per click marketing and just followed the directions and absorbed everything for the first 3 weeks or so.

Taking in all that PPC Coach has to offer has helped me develop my own system by teaching me to think outside of the box. And that is critically important to succeeding in with your ppc efforts in today’s highly competitive marketplace. Most anything we as affiliates are going to be promoting, especially offers from CPA companies, is nearly saturated when it comes to the most obvious paid keywords. If you are going to compete and drive traffic to these offers via ppc, you have to be able to see around the most obvious paths and find words with very little competition.

Without the aid of PPC Coach I’d probably still be floundering around losing money with my paid search efforts.

The cost of PPC Coach is $49.99 CAN per month which comes out to about $42 US. PPC Coach isn’t for everybody, but if you are tired of losing money and are serious about getting your ppc marketing efforts off the ground, PPC Coach is the real deal.

You can sign up for PPC Coach here.

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6
Mar

Remember, Your Affiliate Business Can Change In A Single Day

Ending yesterday’s post about my February Income Report, I reminded everyone that your affiliate business can turn around in a single day. Well, because of a kickin’ ppc campaign that started running yesterday morning and a big sale from one of my vacation sites through a CJ merchant, that’s exactly what happened.

Yesterday was a record day for my affiliate earnings and brought in more than half as much profit in a single day as I earned in all of last month. The total affiliate earnings for the day was just over $800 after expenses and a majority of that came from just one pay per click campaign through Google Adwords. Funny how things happen, you’re just trudging along trying to make something work on the affiliate roller coaster ride and boom, like magic you find a winner.

Check out the screenshot from Market Leverage below:

ML PPC Campaign

But it’s not really magic, it’s because I kept hammering away at it until I dug up a winner. Initially I had some good success with PPC Coach in working small campaigns involving email and zip submits with payouts of around $1.25, but was hesitant to move on to anything with bigger payouts because that usually involves spending more money per click. The best I had done in the past with anything that pays over $10 was only breaking even or earning $30 a day or so, until this present campaign.

I had slowed down on working ppc because it’s pretty intensive and needs constant attention and I had other projects and previously good earning sites that needed more attention. But because of the potential of ppc marketing, I would occasionally throw some mud at the wall and see if something would stick. But it wasn’t just random junk, there is a plan behind the whole thing, and here’s what I’ve been doing:

One of the tricks I gleaned, or at least deduced, from PPC Coach is to look for a traffic source as the first priority. I know that may sound strange to get your brain around, but if you think of major sources of traffic first and then pair it with an offer, instead of thinking about that acai berry pill nonsense and how you’re going to get traffic to it, amazing things can happen (I know, some guys are making bank on acai berry scams, but most aren’t).

I log into Market Leverage, Neverblue and Azoogle almost every day and just look at the offers to get familiar with what’s there and at least once a week or so, I spend a few hours in each affiliate interface to look at payouts, EPC, network earnings, landing pages, creatives and more so I’m pretty aware of the kinds of things I want to run. I don’t salivate over something with a $32 payout, I just want to know what’s there that fits my business.

And then every day, or multiple times a day I head over to Google Trends and see what the top 100 searches at Google for that specific hour are (Trends is updated every hour). When you click on an individual keyword phrase, you can also see what other related terms are hot as well. It doesn’t happen but a couple times a week, but every now and then it all clicks and there’s something that could be a hit.

I’ve been sending traffic directly to Amazon and various offers through the CPA networks using this method and the great thing about it is, even if your campaign is a loser it doesn’t cost very much to do because most of clicks cost less than 10 cents each. Do a search on most of the hot keywords at Google Trends and you’ll see that sometimes there’s not even one advertiser bidding on them. Can you say, 1 cent clicks?

The point is to be familiar with the kinds of offers that fit your business and a couple times a week you’ll identify a big source of cheap traffic that will fit an offer you’ve already identified. Most of these good campaigns don’t last that long, but sometimes because these trends get picked up and blogged about frequently, the life cycle gets extended and you can continue to earn a little, or a lot, for a decent length of time.

I don’t work this system that hard because I don’t have time, but if you wanted to dedicate some serious time to following Google Trends, I’m sure it would pay off even bigger than what happened yesterday. Hopefully that campaign will last for a few weeks.

Never forget, your affiliate business can change in a single day.

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