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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Done With Entrecard

Done With EntrecardThe time has finally come to remove the Entrecard widget from Affiliate Confession and make better use of the sidebar space it has occupied. Over the last couple of months some major bloggers have dropped Entrecard and some of my favorite places to advertise (that have brought me the most traffic) have left as well, but the last straw in helping me make that decision was when Lisa from To Create A Website rejected my Entrecard advertisement because she is also leaving Entrecard.

I’ve had a 9 month love, hate relationship with Entrecard and sang it’s praises when I first installed the widget on this blog at the beginning of December 2007. Through those 9 months I’ve tried massive advertising experiments, purchased credits from eBay and Entrecard itself, won thousands of Entrecard credits and spent massive amounts of time dropping cards and trying to find blogs worthy of advertising on.

And that’s where my main issue with Entrecard comes in. Trying to locate blogs worthy of spending your hard earned credits to advertise on is a huge time waster mainly because 97 to 98% of the blogs in the Entrecard system are one small step above being spam blogs. And unfortunately the pricing system for advertising isn’t based on actual traffic a blog receives, it’s based on how many ads are waiting to be shown in the blog’s que. This sometimes creates hugely overpriced ads that bring little to no traffic.

The process of hunting down blogs in your niche, visiting them to see what they look like, weeding through blogs that have advert prices above 1000 credits, yet have less than 10 rss readers, getting less than quality traffic from your ads and then sticking with that process week, after week, after week is just too cumbersome. Where Entrecard fails in my opinion is that the adverts you place only last for 24 hours. In my last advertising blitz I spent somewhere around 8 hours using up 30,000 credits, advertising on 300 different blogs and did get some low quality visitors to the tune of 250 to 300 oer day. But that only lasted for 10 days and the whole process starts over again.

That just doesn’t work economically for me. If I’m going to spend 8 hours doing advertising for my blog, it should last longer than 10 days and bring better quality traffic. Entrecard is too much like those lame traffic exchange systems where you earn traffic credits for visiting other sites in the system you aren’t interested in just to get people who aren’t interested in your site to visit you. Sadly, Entrecard is not much different than that.

If you have an ad already in my que it will run, but as of today, I won’t be approving any new ads. See ya later Entrecard.

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Harsh Reality 6 – Those Who Analyse The Most, Do The Least

AnalysisThere comes a time when you have to put away the facts and figures, forget about the costs, stop trying to figure out how many people are doing the same thing you are, quit trying to analyse the code underneath the latest WordPress or BANS template and just jump in with both feet ready to do battle.

When I used to train people in the mlm group I was in, there was this one guy that came to our training sessions who always came with the biggest ideas, the nicest graphs and charts, the best marketing materials and he would go over his ideas, charts and materials endlessly, and guess what, he never made a dime, nor did he attempt to. I knew from the second time I met the guy, he wasn’t going to do anything. He analysed his business to death and killed it.

While it is important to do your due diligence in the niche you’re going into and research keywords, competition, offers, payouts, affiliate companies, available tools and a few other things, all the research and the statistics in the world aren’t going to sell products for you. My personal philosophy is that if you have a good idea for a niche or business on the web, you should have started it yesterday. Because of the time it takes a site to get indexed and start bringing you organic traffic, your new idea can’t wait for you to spend 2 or 3 months analysing all the minute details. It’s better to put that site up as soon as you can, get a few incoming links into it by writing articles and tweak it as you go.

Obviously, you want to have the framework of a site in place before you launch it and if you have a more interactive site or membership site, you have to have enough material that your readers will find interesting and encourage visitors to come back. But for the general affiliate site such as a Build A Niche Store site there isn’t any reason to not launch your site immediately after you find your niche and decide on a domain name. All the other work of writing and adding content and making your store look pretty can come later.

When you put your web project out there for the world to see and hopefully stop by and make a purchase, you can always work on the code later, you can always add more content later, you can always buy more advertising to bring more visitors, you can always add an additional revenue stream and yes, you can even change that sucky logo later. But if your site is still in the design and analysis phase, or the someday phase after 3 to 6 months, you can’t do any of those things and more importantly you won’t be taking checks to the bank to cash them any time soon.

It’s much better to analyse and tweak an already existing project than it is thin air. Thin air doesn’t pay the bills.

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Does Entrecard Work For Branding?

EntrecardA few days ago I posted that Entrecard is now selling credits for $9.50 per 1,000 and suggested a less expensive way of acquiring Entrecard credits through eBay for less than half the price. That post got a couple of interesting comments I though would be worth discussing to see where everyone is with Entrecard advertising and branding.

John from JT Pratt’s Blogging Mistakes commented that rather than spend money on buying Entrecard credits, he would spend that money via Adwords, driving traffic to a niche site and hopefully see a better return on his advertising dollars. This raises a good question on whether Entrecard is a viable advertising medium at all, or if it is just good for getting a little traffic and occasionally meeting other bloggers through dropping your card on their blog.

I have to keep repeating that any way you look at it, advertising on Entrecard is a lot of work. I’ve purchased 25,000 credits or so in the last few weeks, spent about that many and have spent a considerable amount of time looking at blogs to advertise on. And the main problem I see with this method is that, even though I’ve generated some 200 to 250 extra visitors every day, in 8 to 10 days you have to start the process all over again because every bit of your advertising is used up. I think this is the achilles heel of Entrecard. Too much time spent for too little results.

But what about the branding aspect of Entrecard? Over the last 2 weeks or so, more than 300 blogs have displayed and who knows how many thousands of people have seen the AffiliateConfession.com 125 x 125 banner and domain name. So if anything else, the name of this blog is getting in front of more eyeballs on a daily basis.

The sole purpose of buying Entrecard credits for me is to brand Affiliate Confession. That’s where I’m at with this present effort. I’m not really trying to earn money by sending traffic to this blog through Entrecard, my purpose is to get as many people as possible to see the AffiliateConfession.com url and name and get that burned into people’s brains. The money from this blog will come later.

While branding through Entrecard is only one of the channels I’m working through, I don’t honestly know if it is worth it. Marketing your brand is hard to track since there aren’t really any dollars being generated directly from the efforts. I am seeing increased rss subscribers, comments and questions sent through my contact form, but it remains to be seen if this increased activity is due to the time, effort and money spent at Entrecard.

As John suggested, the cost is also an issue. With $100 you can buy roughly 10,000 credits through Entrecard itself or you can buy roughly 25,000 credits through eBay as long as someone is selling them. This is why I suggest going through eBay and saving more than 50%. Alternatively, if you price your keywords right, you may be able to send 500 targeted clicks to a niche site, or even your blog, through Adwords for that $100.

What do you think? If you were in the process of branding yourself, would you rather spend $100 for 10,000 to 25,000 Entrecard credits or spend that money on more targeted clicks from Adwords on something else?

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One More Shot At Entrecard With 10,000 Free Credits

Entrecard AdvertisingI don’t spend that much time doing the Entrecard thing any longer, but I do occasionally drop a card here and there and buy an advertising spot when I have a few spare minutes. I think people are beginning to see that the time spent with Entrecard is not really paying off because it’s a lot of work for a little benefit.

But I will give things one more shot here because I just won 10,000 credits in a contest John Chow was sponsoring over at his blog. That’s a lot of credits and it can buy a ton of advertising, so it will probably be worth the time go through the blogs in my niche at Entrecard, finding good ones and spend them all to see if I can increase my traffic for a couple of weeks. It would take you 33 days to earn that many credits just by dropping 300 cards per day. Of course you will earn more credits than that in 33 days because of drops on you and credits earned through accepting advertising on your blog, it’s just an illustration of how out of kilter things are at Entrecard.

My initial thought is to not spend that much time at all and just go for the lowest priced blogs in a massive sweep of 600 ads or so. I’m probably going to do that and then hit up a few of the higher priced blogs for a little wider exposure.

After I spend all the credits I’ll report back on the results.

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