Posted 25 February, 2011 by in Events , PPC

My Highlights from SES London Part 1: Introduction to Paid Search

If you follow me on Twitter you would have heard on Tuesday that I was debating whether I should/could liveblog my way through all the sessions at SES on Wednesday.
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Now if I’m honest although the idea of liveblogging the various sessions sounded great but I quickly found that many of the speakers ran through their content so quickly that for a complete novice like me, any attempt at getting coherent, useful content up on this site in a half decent time would have been nigh on impossible so the recap post became the more viable option. Then when I looked at all my notes from the day I realised that there were so many great tips & ideas that a single recap post wasn’t going to be enough either so I’ve now decided that I’ll give each session I attended their own post. It was a full on day so over the next few days I’ll try and get each post up as quickly as possible.

Also, just to give you all a quick heads up, as this was my first visit to SES London because my primary interest is in paid search the majority sessions I chose to go to revolved around this subject. There are loads of really great posts out there that talk about the other SEO and social sessions that went on that day, with the SEO Chicks & State of Search guys covering a lot of the sessions really well.
Session 1 – Introduction to Paid Search, Guy Levine ( Return on Digital )

Like it says in the title of this session Guy discussed what PPC is and where newbies to the discipline should start when looking at running campaigns. A fair few people in the audience had already indicated that they weren’t wholly ‘green’ to the subject, however, the way Guy went through the various bits and pieces ensured that everyone had a good base to start from and it made sure that everyone was on the same page right from the off.

“PPC is a great industry for people with OCD”

Guy started by saying that the best way to create and run PPC campaigns was to make sure that the account set up was done correctly, meaning that the various campaigns and ad groups were set up as tight as possible. Tight targeting with the keywords, ads and landing pages was something he pushed as being the key factors in successful campaigns. Hopefully if you’re reading this post you’ll already know that but just like the basics he ran through it’s always good to remind people that without these basic things you can’t expect brilliant results.

Guy mentioned that when he was looking at creating keyword lists he liked using , this site is useful as you can put up to 3 separate words and they will concatenate them together. I know personally I like to use excel when creating keyword lists and if you’re pretty handy with the various SEM Excel formulas you can do the same using the CONCATENATE or ‘&’ functions. He also came out with a great quote (well it was in my eyes, but that might just be because I’m an excel geek).

“…excel is your best friend.”

Guy also highlighted Google Insights for Search as a great tool to identify trends in search volume. This tool is something that I am fan of as well so I’m glad it got a mention, like Guy whenever you use this as a reference it’s always good to keep the client informed of what’s going on in the industry, and whether you are seeing search volume trending up or down, that way they’ll know that maybe times could get better/harder in the future.

To make sure that your PPC campaigns are running at their best Guy suggests something that all PPCers should know you must test, test & test again. He suggests that advertisers should run at least 3 ads and test CTR & CPA and keep refining the ads as you go, always looking at ways of improving the results.

Another great tip from Guy is that if you are running campaigns on both the search & display (content) networks then you must make sure they are running separately so that you are able to analyse performance.

Culling & developing keywords was something else that Guy discussed during the session saying that advertisers should use the ‘see search terms’ function in the AdWords UI to highlight what queries your searches are matching against and then using them as either positive or negative keywords. Guy said that he’s noticed that searchers don’t really look at the ads and will sometimes click on an ad even it’s not relevant, using negative keywords will help reduce this number of useless clicks. As Guy put it:

“The smartest person in the world will still act like a four year old when put in front of a search engine.”

To end the session someone in the audience asked how they should split their budget between the search and display networks (if this was you sorry, let me know & I can update this post). Guy thought for a while how best to answer this question so that he didn’t just give the usual “whichever way is best for your campaigns” but after a short pause this was really the only answer he could give. This is also something I agree with there is never a one size fits all answer with budgets they do need to be set according to each campaigns performance.

The next session I went to was what turned out to be the very popular ‘Content Marketing Optimisation’ with Lee Odden. This session was also jam packed with great stuff and when I’ve finally made my notes legible to the outside world I’ll get them up on here so keep your eyes peeled for that post!