PPC – Quality Before Cost

searchYahoo has finally joined Google and MSN in the way they list their paid results in their search engines.

When Pay Per Click (PPC) ad’s were first introduced in the search engines, the guys who were at the top of the listings were the ones who paid most for a click. This restricted people in being able to set up PPC Campaigns as those with the most money would always be on top, making it difficult for companies with smaller budgets.

This caused some companies to expliot the system and also introduced Click Fraud. Companies would employ individual’s to go around and click on their competitors ad’s to use up their daily budget giving others a chance to rank in a prominent position in the sponsored listings.

Since then, Google and MSN have both changed how they rank sponsored listings, it is no longer about who bids the most to get to the top of the sponsored listings. Major search engines want to keep their results relevant to the end user, if the highest bidders send users to useless sites, then it is unlikely a user will continue to click on those ads, therefore, it was clear something needed to change.

There are a variety of factors that search engines look for to produce a “Quality Score” which determines where PPC Ads rank in the sponsored listings. Not all factors taken into account are known, however they do include:

Click through rate (Popularity of the Ad)
Relevance of the Ad copy
Landing page relevance/quality (The page the vistor lands on from clicking on the sponsored Ad)
Bid Amount

Neil McCarthy, client development director of search agency Tamar, says he’s seen little change since Google introduced landing-page quality:

Money and click-through rates are far and away the most important factors, how much you’re bidding and your popularity still come top in search. Landing page is factored in, but its really those two that count.

It is interesting to see that by changing the way websites rank in the sponsored listings are coming closer to search engine optimisation which is to do with how you optimise a page for the organic listings. Although PPC campaigns do not affect your organic listings, they way search engines are now ranking PPC Ad’s are becoming similar to how an SEO will optmise a webpage. This is mainly due to PPC Ad copy and Landing page quality which both make up a part of the overall Quality Score.

If you are running Pay Per Click Campaigns for “Brown Bears” then you would have that phrase in the title of your Ad as well as in the copy. The page that people are directed to once the Ad has been clicked on, would also need to be optimised for that phrase. If this is the case, then the Landing page quality will be good, and this should have a positive affect your position in the sponsored listings.

So it is no longer those with the larger budgets that dominate the PPC listings, but more those who learn how to apply those factors to their Campaign ads as well as taking into account the relevance of there pages.

Social Networking

bebo.jpgUser behaviour over the internet is constantly changing as new developments and ideas capture the internet audience. There has been a significant change in user behaviour over the last few years since Social Networking websites have found themselves on the internet. This was particularly evident amongst the mainstream brand and media websites who found themselves scrambling to capitalise on the increasing popularity of these sites.

The most popular Social Networking websites are MySpace, Bebo and Facebook. Bebo and MySpace are the most popular, with fast mover Facebook on their tail.

Hitwise reports in June 07 that Bebo ranked 5th across all online industries, wheras MySpace ranked 8th and not far behind was Facebook, who ranked 14th.

myspace.jpgShopping and Classified websites such those in the Music section have seen a 121% increase in traffic from Social Networking websites year on year. Play.com received a 55% increase from MySpace referrals more than Yahoo!

Apparel and Accessory websites saw a 98% increase with TopShop and ASOS receiving twice more traffic from Social Networking websites than Yahoo! and MSN combined.

So what is the attraction of Social Networking websites? Sharing information, ideas and common interests through your own online profile is appealing. Making new friends and signing up for social gatherings opens up new events and new friends which people would not have usually found the opportunity for.

So with the growing popularity of these Social Networking websites, how can commercial companies benefit from them? Well, the truth would be, not all can, however, there are some industry sectors that with the right approach could find an increase in their online traffic simply because they took the time to participate in these Social Networks.

TopShop found that MySpace was the second highest referring website to send traffic to their website. This was more than the traffic they received from Yahoo! and MSN combined! When you read something like that, then it is certainly makes you stand up and take notice. TopShop have an Community profile set up on MySpace, this includes a section where people are able to discuss new fashions and shopping ideas. People found this interesting and participated in the group. TopShop found the right approach and it paid off.

facebook.jpgSimilar sites to TopShop will not be experiencing the same because they have not yet participated in these Social Networking websites. Until they do, they will be left behind, because it seems that Social Networking websites are the way forward and should be considered as a part of your online marketing campaigns.

Even if you “think” participating in Social Networking sites will be of no benefit to you, it is still worth giving it a go, and as the saying goes, you’ll never know unless you try it.

Google Checkout

google_checkout.gifGoogle Checkout is Googles version of an online payment software which was launched in the UK in April of this year.

Google Checkout has been compared to eBays PayPal, however, it does not allow the transferring of funds from one person to another. It basically provides consumers with an easy online payment system that can be applied to websites who sell products or services online.

checkout_listings.jpgWhat is really interesting about using the Google Checkout system, is that Googles Swerling has said that by using Google Checkout, this could make a difference to your quality score which determines your ranking position in Google Adwords (Your pay per click management campaigns).

The reasoning behind this is that having Google Checkout may not in itself affect your ranking position, but having the checkout badge next to your listing could encourage people to click on your ad, therefore increasing your Click through rate (CTR).

Googles Swerling said:

It would have an effect to some extent. Having a Checkout badge does’nt affect your ranking per se, but it could feed into the quality score. Our proposition is much simpler that that, though. Google Checkout is a product that users appreciate and which solves a problem for merchants: how to attract buyers.