Paid Search & SEO Snake-Oil Salesmen…

Most of you folks who read this regularly know I am a professor and subject matter expert for the Online Advanced SEM Course and Masters Certification courses for USF. Some of my experiences as such form the basis of this post:

While many students who take the course/s are relatively new to the industry, some are veterans and are just looking to get the qualification (not a bad one to have as the market keeps growing and companies start asking for qualifications). But sometimes we get a savvy young entrepreneur or busy owner who has spent a fortune (literally) on paid search campaigns with very little to show for it, and they have decided to take matters into their own hands. I applaud them while I hang my head at the state of our SEM industry where many providers continue to effectively make money without knowing or doing a damn thing right.

In my experience, these wannabe ‘agencies’ have told the client that brand exposure should be the driving force, and thus, impressions rule! That little gem is followed by promises, and sometimes proof, of a high click-through rate (CTR). This click through rate (which actually isn’t all that high mind you at around 1-2% – on the relevant key-phrases) is cited as the industry average (I disagree [and throw my toys out the cot in a hissy-fit for which I should get a reward] on a number of industries with which I have had direct involvement). Please note there are many really great PPC firms out there, and I can point you in the right direction. (I’m not paid to do so which is why I say contact me for my advice, I won’t advertise unnecessarily.)

I have had students involved in many retail and service B2B and B2C industries. A few have, as business owners, simply taken the course to learn enough on the PPC front to lose the agencies who are bleeding them dry, and have in addition learned some salient organic optimization basics to take to their in-house developers…. I digress.

PPC Sharks – What I’ve Seen Lately to Watch Out For – Sharks want your repeat business because they take between 10-18% of your spend (industry standard last time I checked)

  1. Sharks want to boost your clicks, so they write blinding adcopy that vaguely relates to what you are selling:
    1. E.g. you are a hotel in Florida (competitive, no?) and they write adcopy based on keyword research running you up with a beach front location, an inhouse spa and a swimming pool…. You have a spa, but you are 2 blocks from the water and you have no pool. Your advertisement CTR (click through rate) is fantastic, your placement in the SERPs (search engine results) is wonderful, but you cannot fulfill the other 2 requirements… bounce rate sky-rockets… but bounce rate and conversion was not part of the contract, because the supplier/customer did not know it was needed. They were sold on the idea of getting clicks, and trusted the agency. They are paying for every click, in many cases more than $9 per click.
  1. Sharks want to boost your clicks, so they make all your keyword BROAD MATCH.
    1. That means that if you are advertising ‘bathroom toilets’, and they broad match that phrase, the chances are that your ad will show up for everything related to bathrooms – it’s a pretty solid given, including bathroom tiles, floors, baths, sinks, décor, curtains, showers etc… Impressions will be awesome, CTR depends on how shady they are… but there is an easy way for you to check:

i. Ask for the login to your Google Adwords account, and ask your agency account manager to stay on with you as they guide you through finding and clicking on your most expensive campaign:

  1. Tell them to open the keyword view (it’s pretty intuitive and you could do it on your own)*
  2. Look at the keywords. If you see keywords without any surrounds, you’re being duped, by surround I mean just the words without “ “ or [ ] around them, like this:
    1. White bathroom toilet
    2. toilets
    3. toilet

If you see the words or phrases without any qualifiers at all, you are in trouble. What you should see are phrase or exact match phrases for small budget, small business operations with a specific product or line offering. Phrase match keywords are surrounded by “ “, so “white bathroom toilet”, and exact match phrases are surround by a square bracket [ ], so [white bathroom toilet].

WHAT does that MEAN?

Phrase matching means that if someone types in anything before or after your phrase “white bathroom toilet”, or the phrase itself, your ad will show; so ‘ceramic white bathroom toilet’ will be displayed, as will ‘white bathroom toilet cover’.

Exact matching means that the EXACT phrase will show, “white bathroom toilet” must be typed in for your ad to show.

Remember, you have 3 Objectives Regarding PPC (paid search advertising) – High Level

  1. Broad exposure looking for impressions
  2. Limited exposure but driving brand awareness targeting clicks to site (funnelling down)
  3. Conversion based advertising targeting pre-qualified searchers who are ready to buy.

Sharks want to boost your clicks, so they write blinding adcopy that vaguely relates to what you are selling:

Very few businesses, even big businesses, will allow a pure exposure ’broad’ campaign to run. The metrics are not effective nor are they efficiently measureable without significant pre-launch planning. But small businesses are being sucked in all the time.

I have seen this with more than one student, and while I am thrilled to be in a position to educate and/or help them, I am hissy-fit rats-ass angry (déjà vu?) at the agencies who perpetrate this crap.

Lucky for me I do know a number of agencies I highly recommend for their integrity. Let me know if you are interested in finding out more about them.

And be careful out there with your money, OK? Spend well, swell well.


Spread the word:

We'd be honored if you'd help support SEMI by Stumbling us or voting for us on Sphinn.

Stumble it!

3 Comments so far... perhaps you would like to leave one?

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.