Best Lead Generation Tips from 22 PPC Experts

Lead generation using PPC is complicated. From offers, to Adwords, to landing pages, to lead quality, there are myriad of ways to mis-step and miss the mark. So what makes lead-gen campaigns effective? What’s the biggest mistake that you could make? I asked 22 of the top Pay Per Click experts those two questions and compiled their responses here.

Ready for a knowledge drop? You might want to bookmark this page. :)

**You can follow all 22 experts on this twitter list. Thanks @PPCJedi for compiling.**

Brad Geddes (@bgTheory)bradgeddes-sm1_2_

  • Best TipGo local! Searchers like to see their geography in the ad and on the landing page for most lead gen type companies. There are some exceptions, such as education when the person is often trying to leave the state. However, no one buys ‘national insurance’; they buy Seattle or Washington insurance. In addition, your campaigns often convert differently by location, so when you go local, its easier to work with local based bidding or exclude areas.   Going local can also help you engage users by other factors, such as income levels, the type of residence commonly bought in the area, and a host of other census type data. 
  • Biggest Mistake – Using a single landing page for all your keywords. I can’t count the number of times that a company might have 100 campaigns and 100,000 keywords and a single destination URL. I often see these pages or templates tested over and over again and can become exceptionally fine tuned; however, by just connecting to the user at a keyword, industry, or geographic level, it can significantly increase the conversion rates. 

Chris Haleua (@chrishaleua)chris

  • Best Tip – Focus on the various micro-conversion rates beyond the initial click and final conversion. Bidding and ad testing can make a big difference but they are not a panacea for the other PPC problems that can only be solved by maintaining accountability beyond the click. Examples: Find the bottleneck buried in fallout analysis. It is fine to have a top priority KPI like CPA that you respond to first, but when a keyword or ad has no conversions to calculate conversion efficiency, fall back to the other micro-conversion rates to find other optimizations worth spending time on. 
  • BONUS Best Tip 2When conversion signals dry up, filter for zero and find more opportunities by sorting the next metric closest to the bottom line. Invest a little extra work to estimate revenue from leads based on their type and close rates. Moving beyond CPA to estimated ROAS can improve the data-driven nature of advertising investment. Then fall back to close rates, completion rates, bounce rates, and finally CTR. Examples: What is the conversion rate from landing page to lead started? (Refine ad copy to qualify visitors before they click). What is the conversion rate from lead started to lead completed? (Simplify the form to balance detail with speed). What is the conversion rate from lead completed to sale closed? (Coordinate efforts between advertising and sales teams).
  • Biggest Mistake Avoid blindly accepting whatever landing pages that the client already has. Don’t just try to squeeze profitability out of an inefficient conversion process that was doomed from the start. Never underestimate how a little time spent on testing designs up front can save countless hours on SEM optimization later. The only lead gen campaigns that can sustain success are the ones that combine relevant ads with data-driven bids before the click and solid business plans with an aligned site after the click. 
  • BONUS Biggest Mistake 2 – Adobe Target and Optimizely are my 2 favorite tools for this job, but there are many others. The cost and learning curves of these tools pay for themselves quickly. During the early phases of any client engagement, discuss how much time and money clients are willing to invest in the essential first step of design testing. Some retailers might complain that testing tools only demonstrate a small part of the larger site redesigns that need to be funded in the long term. Smaller lead gen campaigns can avoid those excuses for caving in to inertia of the current site. Lead gen can be much more agile with even the simplest of testing tools. 
Robert Brady (@robert_brady)robert
  • Best Tip – Know your audience deeper than the keywords they search. Go beyond age, gender, income bracket. Get to know them on an emotional level. Discover their pains & passions at work. That will improve your targeting, your ad copy & your landing pages. Want to go even further? Learn their educational background. What are their hobbies outside of work? What do they enjoy reading? These will give you even more opportunities.
  • Biggest Mistake – Imprecise/inaccurate targeting (mostly due to not knowing your audience). Leads to lots of unqualified clicks & poor leads.

Pamela Lund (@Pamela_Lundpam

  • Best Tip – For effective lead generation campaigns I recommend telling people exactly what you want them to do in your ad text or on your banners. Frequently people you’re targeting with lead gen campaigns are in information gathering mode. You need to get them to click on your ad by offering them the information they are looking for, but once they get to your site you need them to take action rather than just reading the information and leaving. So you want to specifically tell people to use the contact form or enter their email address in your ads. By setting the stage in your ad with a call to action and an offer to provide information, you will get a strong CTR but people will be more likely to do what you want them to on your landing page.
  • Biggest Mistake – The biggest mistake I see is not testing landing pages or testing too many landing page changes at once. Simply moving a contact form or reducing the number of required fields on a form can dramatically increase conversion rate. When you start testing, focus on finding the layout that converts the best. Once you get the layout optimized, test the language you use and the offer you provide. For instance, does your page convert better when you offer a whitepaper or infographic in exchange for users submitting their information?
Nicole Mintiens (@Tregesynicole
  • Best Tip – Start with a wide search funnel, then refine and target. Begin by capturing (and most importantly TRACKING) a large audience and observe their search behavior. Once significant data has accrued, analyze search queries, refine campaigns with negative keywords and pause/remove under-performing keywords and ad text. Segment ad groups, write more targeted ad text and test variations of lead capture specific landing pages. Extra credit: Give visitors who didn’t complete the form on your initial landing page the one-two punch by remarketing to them on the display network and their Facebook feed
  • Biggest Mistake – #1 = Little (to zero) or incorrectly applied conversion tracking. Very Close 2nd = No landing page testing and iteration/optimization process. As Paid Analysts, SEM Specialists, Search Gurus, PPC Wizards [insert additional titles associated with our expertise] we can do stellar jobs leading herds to water but we can’t force them to drink if the landing page is a conversion wasteland.

Mark Kennedy (@markkennedysem)Mark_pic

  • Biggest Mistake – I’ll answer Q2 first since it leads to Q1… The biggest mistake with lead gen PPC campaigns is thinking the keywords and ads will do all the work. Yes, they will drive qualified visitors for your service (if researched and set up correctly), but the magic happens on the landing page. People send these visitors to the home page or a broad services page, when in actuality, they should utilize a nice landing page with calls to action, support assets or links, etc. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a site (or landing page) not even have a phone number. Or bury it down in the footer. If the end goal is to get a visitor to contact you, make that very easy to do. And with CMS’s like wordpress or programs like Unbounce, there’s no excuse for a bad landing page.
  • Best Tip – So with all that being said, my #1 tip is to focus on the landing page and CRO. A good keyword and bad landing page will never convert. A bad keyword and great landing page has a fighting chance. And bare minimum, make the phone number and/or contact form prominent and accessible. Then once you have a decent LP, test variations and test them again. Always try and “beat the champ”.
Garrett McGregor (@mcgregor212IMG_3066
  • Best Tip –  Focus your attention and energy on what’s working in the account. Test all aspects of the campaigns, continue to optimize so you understand your target market.
  • Biggest Mistake  – Adgroup and keyword level structure not following best practices. A poorly thrown together campaign will get poor results. Campaigns should be well organized with adgroups that contain relevant keywords, ad copy and landing pages that match the searchers intentions.

Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)Mel_2012

  • Best Tip – Track obsessively. Follow your leads through the sales pipeline as much as possible. It’s not easy or cheap, but it is well worth the investment.
  • Biggest Mistake – Awful landing pages! Pages with no call to action, with the form buried or absent, or pages lacking a value proposition (i.e. “what’s in it for me?”). I also dislike pages with modal windows that you can’t close – that’s an instant bounce for your visitors.

Joe Kerschbaum (@joekerschbaum)joe

  • Best Tip – Campaign structure. Implementing the proper keywords, ad group structure, and match types can improve CTR and conversion rate, but more importantly they can reduce irrelevant traffic and improve lead quality. You don’t want to clog up your sales team with poor-quality leads.
  • Biggest Mistake – Overlooking conversion optimization. I’ve seen well-structured accounts delivering users to terrible landing pages. You have to be thinking about pre-click and post-click opportunities.
John Ellis (@JohnWellis)john
  • Best Tip – My top tip for effective PPC lead generation campaigns is simple forms. It’s important for landing page forms to ask for the bare minimum. Often that bare minimum is name, phone number, email address, and little else. Users are uncomfortable giving too much information. Make it easy for them
  • Biggest Mistake – One of the biggest mistakes I see with PPC lead-generation campaigns is under-testing. PPC includes constant testing. That means constantly testing multiple landing pages, multiple ads, different call-to-actions, etc. Once a clear winner has evolved, throw out the losing ad and add a new one to the rotation.
James Svoboda (@Realicity)James-Svoboda-sq-800
  • Best Tip – The best tip that I can give someone who’s developing a PPC lead-gen campaign is to take into account how your Audience, Content and Conversion Goals work together.  I refer to this as a Liner Engagement Model.  For Search PPC campaigns these models take into account how the keywords work with the text ads to identify and shape the searcher intent, and then how they work with the landing pages and the conversions that you are trying to generate for this audience.  It should also take into account the geography of the searcher (city, state, nation or global) as well as device type (desktop, tablet or mobile phone), conversion type (call or web lead) and the mental match of searcher with keyword, ad and landing page.  Too often I audit PPC accounts that others have built and find campaigns and ad groups that are convoluted with loosely related keywords.  If you don’t have a defined segment that you are targeting, then you will produce lower converting traffic.  I gave a presentation at SearchFest a few month back on this and the powerpoint goes deeper into the elements of these Linear Models.
  • Biggest Mistake – Not creating Linear Models earlier. J No seriously though, I’ve been guilty of dropping too many loosely related keywords into an existing ad group instead of creating a new one, or sending that traffic to a loosely related landing page.  This is one reason why I dislike standard Broad Match so much, you just don’t have the control over the visitor journey as well as with Exact, Phrase or Modified Broad.  There is no better way to kill your conversion rates on a lead generation campaign than sending it to a bad page… unless it’s to the right page but the lead capture form is broken or the phone number is wrong.  Yea, made that mistake before.

Johnathan Dane (@JohnathanDane)johnathan

  • Best Tip –  It has to be dedicated landing pages with a great focus on conversion rate optimization (CRO). So many PPC companies and individuals out there focus on bidding and/or ad creation, hoping that they can nail it perfectly and hit that CPA or lead volume goal, not knowing that it usually comes with sacrifices in either margin or volume. There’s no shortage of advertisers that send traffic directly to websites with either no clear call-to-action or incentive to capture that lead and it’s really unfortunate. They might be getting results, but they’re just not reaching their true potential. The biggest wins that I’ve found are when you can be super specific with the message match of keyword, ad, and landing page. If you’re able to double the conversion rate through CRO testing, then you’re now bringing in twice as many leads at 50% of the cost, all while you’re still spending the same monthly ad budget as before.
  • Biggest Mistake – In my opinion, the biggest mistakes are not your usual “red flag” broad match keywords, but actually where you’re sending your traffic to. Lead-generation PPC can work if you have an awesome site, but most advertisers lack big time on creativity or the ease of conversion for the visitor. It’s disappointing at the same time, because you know PPC is an amazing tool at growing businesses, but many people think it’s just a turn-key solution when there’s actually a lot more work involved than what you’d think. So to answer your question :) The biggest mistake I see in PPC lead-generation campaigns is not having a specific landing page to handle the targeted traffic your creating.

Aaron Levy (@bigalittlea)aaron

  • Best Tip – Speak the language of your customers. Chances are very few people in your target audience are searching for specific head terms; they’re seeking to solve a problem. Make sure your keywords reflect the “problem” your audience may have, and that you’re effectively answering it with your ads.
  • Biggest “yeesh” – Ignoring (or abusing) the Google Display Network. Simply cloning search campaigns to the GDN isn’t gonna cut it, nor is turning a blind eye.  Google released a myriad of targeting features over the last year or so that can really help you hand pick your audience and get them interested in your brand before they even begin searching. 

Sam James (@SamuelDJames)samuel

  • Best Tip – My number one tip for effective PPC lead-generation is to gain as much insight as I can of how the offer is worth the investment of divulging contact information, and for whom. Without this insight, you start with too many targets, too little in the means of persuasive copy, and confusion that can take months and years to work through. As is always the case, it also doesn’t hurt to be on the same page as your client.
  • Biggest Mistake – The biggest mistake I see made in PPC lead-generation is decisions made from CPL alone, without treating every impression opportunity based on achieving the end goal of the client. I’ve seen too much damage done by a focus on a volume of leads, which made the entire department seem to be doing better than it was, hurting the whole company. A lack of this focus, can also lead to constantly shifting priorities and initiatives, because of overcorrections. 3)      My Twitter handle is @SamuelDJames 

Heather Cooan (@HeatherCooanheather

  • Best Tip – Tight chain of relevance from search term to ad copy to audience segment. I’ve been known to say that digital advertising success is 70% account structure and 30% data. I think this holds true across all verticals, between lead gen and eComm, and across all digital advertising channels. You must get the right message to the right people, which means a tight, granular account structure with consistent messaging based on data.
  • Biggest Mistake – The biggest mistake for many is avoidance of less restrictive match types. Often times lead gen campaigns are trying to reach a very specific segment of searchers, which means lots of one off converting queries that come in off of broad and modified broad match keywords. Without these less restrictive match types it’s just about impossible to cover all your basis and either don’t convert or leave opportunity on the table.
Greg Young (@PPCJedi)greg
  • Best Tip – There is a lot of value in realizing that not all searches are created equally; as a result, marketers shouldn’t use the same single offer for all traffic, but rather utilize different assets/offers depending on the keywords that trigger the ad.  Your visitor’s search may have been a: question, solution, brand, product, symptom, or problem.  Make sure that your offering/page matches what their query suggests they are looking for.  Some sample offerings based on queries could be: If query denotes a question, offer a guide; if query is about a competitors brand, offer a comparison; if query is about the product offer a trial.  Organize your keywords so that you’ll know what the visitor is searching for and then be able to serve up a lead capture page that better serves your visitors.
  • Biggest Mistake – One of the big mistakes I find with PPC lead generation is that companies will generate leads without having tracking in place to measure quality.  It is worth the time and money to get tracking properly implemented, and tied to your CRM so that you can optimize your campaigns for Quality Leads rather than just maximizing quantity.  If you don’t know which leads are turning into prospects or sales, then you can’t focus budget on your best sales performers.
Ginny Marvin (@ginnymarvin)ginny
  • Best Tip – I’m sure lots of other respondents will have great #1 tips, instead I’ll offer some avenues to test. I would recommend testing Twitter lead gen cards, which allow users to submit their information without leaving Twitter. The ad format is user-friendly, and Twitter’s targeting options continue to get more sophisticated. The caveat is it can be time intensive to manage and optimize Twitter campaigns, so be prepared to dedicate resources to it. Another avenue that looks promising is from PerfectAudience. They just started beta testing a product that allows companies to retarget each others’ audiences to reach new prospects. It’s a double opt-in program, so companies are in control of who they let retarget to their audiences and auctions are managed in a way that others don’t bid up the original cookie owner’s CPCs.
  • Biggest Mistake – Not testing landing pages. I’ve seen companies use the same landing page template for years, still. And when the CPAs are adequate, I get it, I do, but there are so many helpful tools and companies out there to make landing page testing easier for those that don’t have in-house resources. Every lead gen initiative should have landing page testing factored into the budget and timeline. Your CPAs, and sales team, will thank you.

David Szetela (@Szetela)david

  • Best Tip – At least test call extensions (where the phone number appears adjacent to the ad on the search results page) and click-to-call (where the only option when the ad appears on a smartphone is to make a phone call. For many advertisers, phone leads outnumber web-form-submitted leads.
  • Biggest Mistake – Too many required fields on web forms. Every additional field depresses conversion rate – or said another, each field that is elminated boosts conversion rate.
Martin Röttgerding (@bloomarty)martin
  • Best Tip – With lead generation the conversion side of the story is often crystal clear: A lead is a lead. But only if it’s a new one – so don’t count conversions twice. The easiest way to do this is to just focus on converted clicks. More importantly, don’t pay again for a click when it’s already converted. Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) are great for that. You don’t even have to put new remarketing tags on your site. The AdWords conversion tracking code doubles as a remarketing tag and covers the only audience you need for this. So go ahead and use it to make a simple remarketing list of people who converted. Then add it to your campaign and exclude the audience. Or just add it to see how much money you’re currently wasting on people who’ve already converted. :)
  • Biggest Mistake – My all-time favorite mistake is to have a campaign lose a large percentage of impressions due to budget constraints. If you can’t raise your budget, simply lower your bids (this goes for CPA bids as well). This will lead to lower ad positions, which will in turn lead to lower CTR, meaning you’ll need more impressions per click – no big deal when you have so many unused impressions anyway. In essence you’ll get more clicks for the same investment. On one hand it’s a big mistake, on the other hand it’s a great opportunity. Don’t miss it!
Richard Fergie (@richardfergie)richard
  • Best Tip – If running global campaigns, be *very* careful about lead quality from the content network.
  • Bonus Best Tip – Offering something (e.g. a whitepaper) in exchange for a lead increases conversion rate. But I’ve found the number of AAA quality leads stays about the same – these guys are such hot prospects that they’ll sign up anyway. Having a bigger pool of slightly lower quality leads isn’t normally a bad thing though.
  • Bonus Bonus Best Tip – Find out what they do with the leads once you’ve generated them. Make sure they can handle the deluge during busy times or lots of money can be wasted. And remember that clients hate a lead-follower-upperer (what is the right word?) sitting doing nothing; speak to them about changing efficiency targets during quiet periods.
  • Biggest Mistake – See “Best Tip” above :-(

John A. Lee (@john_a_lee)johnlee

  • Best Tip – Don’t be afraid to try new campaign types (a la beta features, etc.) or new channels (display, social, etc.). Time and time again I find I can take my lead gen performance to another level with new channels. Of course, test – your performance may vary.
  • Biggest Mistake – No call tracking. Online conversions are a big deal. But 9 times out of 10, phone calls are as big of a deal or bigger. Track ’em. Leverage call extensions and get a 3rd party tracking tool in place (Mongoose Metrics, ifbyphone, etc.).
  • Bonus Biggest Mistake – Poor landing pages or offer. The foundation of lead gen is a quality landing page that converts. The lead form is still a transaction – what will the visitor receive in exchange? Some advertisers are lucky to have brands or services that will attract leads no matter what happens. We are not all so lucky. Review what you can offer the visitor in exchange for their information. Free trial? Demo? White paper? Maybe a contest (tread lightly here)?
Kayla Kurtz (@one800kaylakayla
  • Best Tip – Accurate & thorough attribution modeling! Too often one medium or another (could be PPC, but maybe not) doesn’t get the credit it deserves when it comes to the ultimate goal of generating quality leads. If PPC played any part in causing a consumer to submit their information to a brand, then PPC should at least get some assist points. Absolutely focus on the bottom line and what medium (hopefully PPC) is driving the most last-click leads, but don’t short sight yourself or your campaigns by not fully attributing all leads to all mediums that helped push them.
  • Biggest Mistake – Not enough focus on the *entire* funnel. It is certainly expected that the bottom of the funnel (aka – near closing) leads are more valuable, but how do you think those leads got there? They started somewhere in the funnel picture and it’s highly unlikely that they came in nearly ready to buy, so from keyword scope to ad copy messaging to ROAS/ROI goals and reporting — loading fresh, less-ready-to-buy leads in to the funnel is crucial.

What tip is your favorite? Do you have your own tip that wasn’t mentioned? Leave it below and I’ll add the best tips to this article!

Hat tip to @ArnieK for the idea. :)

Adwords (Not Provided) Resource

Advertisers are scrambling to understand the new announcement that Google will be “removing the query from the referer on ad clicks originating from SSL searches on,” according to Paul Feng, the Adwords Product Management Director. But what does it all mean? Probably not what you think. Here’s my round up of all announcements, opinions, and articles on the Adwords (not provided) news. Similarly, I did this last year with the Enhanced Campaigns announcement.

**Last updated 4/14/14**

From Google Themselves:


This is a Big Deal:

This Isn’t That Big of a Deal:

Effect on 3rd Party Platforms



My opinion is this isn’t worth worrying about, but the trend towards taking data away is. Might be a move by Google to screw 3rd party tool providers. All these changes by Adwords is making Bing look much more attractive (tablet targeting, etc).

Thanks for reading! If you have any others I missed let me know @lukealley or leave a comment.

Adwords Needs More Security, Much More!

*note, I’m completely joking*

I have beef with Adwords. Not grass fed beef which is dang good. But beef that I could possibly give the wrong person access to my account! Right now, when I grant someone access to my account/MCC I have to get to do this:

  1. Navigate to the Account Access tab
  2. Click on +Users
  3. Type their email in
  4. Type their name in
  5. Choose the Access level
  6. Send them the invite… Then they are in, right? Nope. Luckily I have to  get to do more…
  7. BONUS – Wait for them to accept
  8. BONUS – If I take Google’s advice I should contact this person via phone or face-to-face and confirm he or she accepted the invite.
  9. BONUS – Then and only then should I grant this person access.

Seriously Adwords??? I have to grant access to the access I already gave out, ONLY ONCE? There needs to be better security on Adwords accounts than this. This isn’t my bank account (which only has a simple login) this is for PPC! There needs to be more granting of access. Utah PPC companies should unite!

Proposed Granting of Access (SRSLY?)

Here’s what I propose for granting access to accounts:

  • Send the user an invite to the account (current)
  • User accepts invite to account (current)
  • Grant access to invited user (current)
  • User confirms granted access (NEW)
  • Confirm the users confirmation of granted access (NEW)
  • User approves confirmation of confirmation of granted access (NEW)
  • Enter a CAPTCHA code to finalize the approval of confirmation of confirmation of granted access (NEW)

We’ll title this the Security Redundancy Special Loop Yield or SRSYL? for short. This will help take false accesses from 0 down to 0. Or maybe lower because the process has too many steps! But hey, we’re ok with that as long as the account is protected.

Don’t Stop There

In all my time of managing accounts you know how many times I’ve heard of people being hacked? Zero times! You know what that means? Our guard is down and we need more security. What could we do? More Captchas! We don’t want robots getting into our accounts so what if we did something like this:


Call Me Maybe?

But if security is really important to Adwords then they won’t stop at SRSLY? and Multiple Captchas… they need our number! I mean, everyone else is doing it so just grab our number for securities sake.

The best way to do get our number? Have us confirm it with another phone number!

*note, I do actually appreciate that my accounts have never been hacked*


Optimizing Keywords on the Display Network: Pro Tips from the PPC Jedi

Keyword targeting on the Google Display Network (GDN) continues to change year over year. To run a successful GDN campaign you’ll need to fully understand how keywords function on the display network. This post will give you advice on best practices and functionality tips to get the best performance from your keyword targeted GDN campaigns.

Imperial AT-AT Fail
Be sure to implement GDN Keyword best practices and avoid an epic fail.

Understanding Google’s Contextual Engine

Google Display Network keywords are a form of contextual targeting.  Lets make sure we understand contextual targeting works.  Google analyzes the content of each webpage that is part of the Google Display Network. Google touts that their contextual engine “continually scans every page in our network and matches your ads to highly relevant content. The algorithm takes into account: keywords, frequency of words, audience signals, font sizes, word placement and linguistics.” After that evaluation, they determine the ‘central theme’ of the webpage. Google then uses the display keywords you have set to match with these webpage themes.  So just because a page contains the keyword you are targeting doesn’t mean your ad will trigger, because it isn’t matching keywords to words on the page but rather the page’s general content/theme.  On the Search Network, Google matches keywords to a user’s search term.

Does match type matter on GDN?

On the Google Display Network all of the keywords are considered to be Broad Match types.  There is no need or benefit to adding phrase or exact match keywords.  Also, since they are broad, you don’t need to include misspellings, plurals, synonyms, and other variations of your keywords. On The GDN, your keywords help Google know what relevant sites to show your ads on; this is called automatic placements.

Pro Tips for Creating GDN Keyword Lists:

  • When organizing keywords, make sure that you continue with ‘normal adgroups best practices’ and put closely related keywords together into their own adgroups. Use common themes to segment your keywords as much as you can.
  • Google has suggested, “Each ad group should typically have between 5 and 50 keywords.”  I would suggest that you keep your adgroups tighter with 5-15 keywords.
  • Avoid keyword themes (adgroups) that are aimed at targeting audiences.
  • You can use Google’s Display Planner to help you build your keyword list.
  • Avoid repeating keywords in the same ad group.  Since the GDN only uses broad match types it is unnecessary to include different match types of the same keyword, plurals, and misspellings.
  • Again, since we are using broad keywords, your long-tail keywords from search don’t need to be included. Shorter keywords of 2-3 words in length tend to work the most effectively.

The Lightsaber, weapon of a Jedi

  • You will not need to find every synonym of your keywords (as you might with you top performing phrase and exact keywords from search); the broad match type will work as a thesaurus for you.  Focus on making sure that you have the right topics covered, but don’t fret about spending all day finding variations of the same words.
  • Remember when starting a new GDN campaign that you should probably start with lower bids than your search campaigns.  You can often get display clicks for less than you’ll find on search, and it is generally safer to increase incrementally.
  • Explore targeting keywords that are not necessarily your current product offering.  The idea here is to increase your reach with your target audience.  For example, if you are selling lightsabers online, your target audience is likely the Jedi.  You will obviously use lightsaber related keywords.  If you were to add “becoming a jedi” and “jedi training tests” keywords then you would be reaching an audience that is new to becoming a Jedi and would obviously be in need of a lightsaber.  Using keywords outside of your product offering works because, unlike paid search, we are not matching intent.

What do Negative Keywords do on the GDN?

Do negative keywords on the GDN work the same as negative keywords on the search network?  The short answer is no; but they are pretty similar.  Excluding keywords will limit the visibility of your ads on the GDN. When you exclude keywords from your campaign or ad group, Adwords attempts to avoid showing your ads on GDN sites that contain those terms; it is not a guarantee though.  Keyword exclusions aren’t as precise on the GDN as they are on the Search Network, (remember we are dealing with page themes, not search queries) so your ad could still appear on pages containing your excluded terms depending on the other keywords you are targeting. One other thought, your ads still could show on pages that contain variations of the terms that you select as keyword exclusions.

Let’s look at some examples

Let’s say you roll around in a sandcrawler and sell droids with your Jawa buddies.  You would create a keyword list that includes terms related to droids.

Wrong Droid
“These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”

Websites about droids would be targeted by the keywords on your list. You would want to exclude terms like Verizon and Motorola to prevent your ads from appearing on sites about phones.

Keep in mind compound keywords though; for example, “tractor beam.” If you were to just use the negative keyword –tractor, your ad might still appear on pages that contain the term “tractor beam” because the meaning changes when “tractor” and “beam” are combined.

Here’s how to exclude keywords:

    1. Click the campaign/adgroup that you’d like to exclude keywords from.
    2. Go to the Display Network tab.
    3. Click the Exclusions link below the statistics table (bottom of the page).
    4. Make sure you are on the Display keywords tab.
    5. To exclude keywords from an ad group, click the Add exclusions button in the “Ad group level” table. To exclude keywords from a campaign, click the Add exclusions button in the “Campaign level” table.
    6. Add your excluded keywords (one per line).
    7. Click Save.

Still Struggling with Google Display Campaigns?

Need professional assistance? Reach out to the PPC Lead Generation Experts.

May the Force be with you

Yoda: “No more training do you require. Already know you, that which you need.”
PPC Manager: “Then I am a PPC Jedi.”
Yoda: “No. Not yet. One thing remains. GDN. You must confront the Google Display Network. Then, only then, a PPC Jedi will you be.”

Why PPC is a CFO’s Best Friend, Even in Lead-Gen

Marketing impact is difficult to measure.

No, it’s not, if you’re in digital marketing where nearly everything is tracked, measured, and optimized. However, that mantra is oft repeated to this day. Most recently an article ( on LinkedIn was the latest to argue this.

One line stood out:

3) Marketing Impact is often hard to measure. Marketing is more art than science. It’s hard to know whether all those millions of dollars spent have led to increase in real sales. And when a downturn comes, the marketing budget is often the first to be cut.

I believe in Science.

Now, I’m no Picasso, though my PPC account’s are works of art according to my mother, but PPC is becoming more and more a science. The metrics to track, patterns to find, and correlations to be made are nearly endless. To name a few we can track impressions, clicks, cost per click, cost, leads, phone calls, pageviews, visit duration, bounce rate, how your breath smells(just kidding), what you’re thinking(also kidding), and quality of leads. Yes, even quality of leads. While lead generation PPC isn’t something new to the industry, it’s something that can be difficult for most business to implement.

PPC is becoming more and more a science.

Tracking quality of leads doesn’t have to be hard though; once you have the proper elements in place it’s a matter of digging into the data like any other metric. What are those elements you say? Here are few of them:

  • Breakdown of the sales funnel – Leads aren’t just closed or not closed. Many fall in between as they are nurtured to closing. You must determine what those leads are worth as they move along the pipeline. What’s the quality of each lead?
  • Proper tracking in CRM – is your sales team tracking all leads as they move? This is key to knowing what’s going on.
  • CRM and PPC account integration – how are you getting that beautiful data back into your PPC account? Automation is best suited for that. Want to know how we are doing it? Call me! 877-873-9298 ext. 703. :-)
  • Adjust your account daily for each lead’s status – 3rd party tools are best suited to make these changes.

All marketing channels may not be easy to track and measure, but in the world of digital that job is much easier. PPC is one of those marketing channels that you can track down to the penny and know what has happened. If you’re a CFO, you CAN know if PPC has increased real sales, and during a downturn will be the last to be cut.

*Photo courtesy of*

13 Tools to Crush PPC Reporting

All PPC account managers know that dreaded feeling  that comes as their monthly reporting days approach.  That is, of course, if they don’t have an automated reporting tool already in place.

Reporting is an important part of PPC management.  The client (or upper management) needs to know if we are hitting goals, or at least making progress.  It also gives us the opportunity each month to prove our worth and hopefully continue to earn a paycheck.

For those PPC managers out there who are looking for automated PPC reporting, I have begun compiling a list of reporting tools/services (see the goodness below).  Full disclosure, I have not demoed all of these tools and the list does not go into the features and benefits of each service.  However, it does provide trial periods, pricing, contract lengths, and PPC Networks integration data.  Most of the data has been gathered from each tool provider’s website (links are included). Keep in mind that some tool providers work hard to keep this info secret so that you will have to contact them to get prices.  When doing so, it can be helpful to contact these providers before signing up as several are negotiable on price.

Obviously, not all of these prices can be compared apples to apples, as several of these reporting tools include bid management tools, which can provide a huge value, but can also drive the cost way up with percent of adspend costs of up to 5%.

Adwords Enhanced Campaigns Resource

Advertisers are scrambling to understand Enhanced Campaigns and get their campaigns in order for the fundamental shift in how Adwords is managed. We’ve compiled a list of as many sites as we know of that are reporting on this change. We will be reading and re-reading anything we can get our hands on to understand the changes! Hopefully this will be helpful to you too:

Last updated – 4/2/13 – I’ve marked my top 5 most useful posts with ***

From Google Themselves:

Articles That Will Best Help You Prepare

When to Upgrade to Enhanced Campaigns

Enhanced Campaigns – Pros

Enhanced Campaigns – Cons

Enhanced Campaigns – Neutral

We will be updating this as often as we can so come bookmark and come back later!

If you have any site’s we’ve missed add them in the comments and we’ll add ASAP. Also, if you need a Utah pay per click company that knows Enhanced Campaigns, check us out. :)

Luke Alley Shares PPC Landing Page Secrets [Video Clip and Slide Deck]

Last night I had the pleasure of watching our very own director of PPC, Luke Alley present “Ways to Make Money with PPC” as well as how to avoid losing money with it.  This event took place at Eastern Arizona College for the small business owners of the Thatcher, Safford and Gila Valley Arizona area.  I wanted to share this awesome clip from the event last night I happened to capture on my iPhone camera (so sorry for the low quality) where Luke was talking about the perfect PPC landing page.  This clip is chalk full of “gold” nuggets (no pun intended, just check out the clip to see what we mean) and good stuff if you are needing help with PPC and landing pages.

PPC Landing Page Best Practices

Check out the entire presentation here:

Luke Alley Speaking
Luke Alley speaking at Eastern Arizona College
Luke Alley
Luke Alley Speaking on PPC

It’s a Good Time To Be In Pay Per Click

When I was a junior in college I came to a crossroad that ultimately shaped my career. I had been offered an internship at Publicis, a traditional ad agency that is well known, and I accepted about 7 months before I was going to start. However, between accepting the internship and starting it I was introduced to the world of Pay-Per-Click advertising. I took a class on it, started working for free, and eventually was lucky enough to land a job doing it. The time came where I had to choose between interning with a well-known agency, or doing PPC for a small-home grown PPC agency.

I chose PPC and I made the right choice.


A friend of mine did an internship with the same company and ended up without a job at graduation, while I became a partner in my PPC Company. It’s a great time to be in Pay-Per-Click advertising. If you doubt that or feel like your PPC job is boring, here are a few reasons to reconsider:

  •  Online Marketing is Growing- while traditional media spend continues to decline digital spend is increasing. According to a recent study by, spend on search marketing will increase from $14.38 billion in 2011 to $21.53 billion in 2015.
  • Google Is On Your Side – Google wants PPC to succeed, so they do everything they can to make it work. Some of the latest changes that favor PPC are extended headlines, sitelinks, enhanced sitelinks, and more control over match types. Fortunately for Adwords users, all the data is stil “provided”. PPC makes up close to 97% of Google’s revenue. If PPC fails, Google will fail. Google is not going to fail anytime soon.
  • Lots of PPC Jobs Available- According to there are over 3,400+ jobs available right now for PPC! I personally knew several friends from college who were jobless at graduation, and I also personally know several friends who got jobs doing PPC. It seems that traditional marketing jobs are declining and new media jobs are increasing.
  • It Works- I see lots of articles written about how other online advertising methods are better, how CPCs are too high, and even that PPC is dying. In my experience PPC works. Dream Systems Media has a thriving PPC business. Clients are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars monthly on lead generation and ecommerce sales. Yesterday a client told us, “I’m easily seeing a 500% return on investment with PPC”. PPC works.

Ray Kroc said, “The two most important requirements for major success are: first, being in the right place at the right time, and second, doing something about it.” If you are in PPC you are in the right place, now what are you going to do about it?


photo courtesy of

Competitive Research Tools: Data Analysis

This is the first post in a series looking at competitive research tools and their data accuracy. We’ll be looking at today.

dog licks ice cream

Competitive research tools are meant to serve one purpose, to get accurate data on the competition and turn that into actionable items. So how do you know ifthe data that you are getting is actually accurate or not? Perhaps you’ve plugged in one or two of your own accounts, maybe you’ve just trusted the data, or maybe you’ve not cared. Well now is the time to care! Sharing is caring, so we are going to share data on several of clients and compare that to the competitive research tools data.

As of now I have NO IDEA what we will come up with.

First, let’s get a little information about and their features. If you want a full review of their tool Google “spyfu review”, however for this post we are going to focus on accuracy of data. Features:

  • Classic- allows you to see competitors budget and keywords.
  • Kombat- gives you the keyword overlap of up to 3 competitors.
  • Keyword SmartSearch- allows you to generate keyword lists and easily filter.
  • Ad History- shows a month over month history of ads.

Down and Dirty with Data

We’re going to take different accounts and test the following areas for accuracy:

  • Budget
  • Keywords


Spyfu gives a range for the budget. We took the mean of the range to make the data easier to understand. Our numbers were taken from separate dates within the last two weeks.






There is obviously a significant difference in the budgets. This got me thinking that perhaps Spyfu is only tracking budgets on the search network. Here is how budgets look when only looking at numbers within search.






Average percentage difference was still 39% higher, but more accurate. Lastly, I took the average previous months budget and compared Spyfu’s previous months budget (found by hovering over the previous month in the chart).






This was the closest to being accurate. With seasonal and accounts less than 3 months old being most inaccurate.


  • The previous months data, found by hovering over the previous month in the graph, was more accurate than the current months data, which is prominently displayed.
  • Numbers were more accurate for accounts with budgets that were consistent and unchanging for several months.
  • Seasonal clients and accounts with less than 3 months data were significantly off.


For keywords we took the entire list of active keywords in our accounts (no paused, low search volume, etc.), took out any match types (because it appears that Spyfu does not account for match types) and then compared our total number to their total number.







  • It appears that the larger the account the larger the discrepancy. However, in those accounts there are also more long-tail keywords, which may account for that difference. I compared keywords for one account that had received impressions to Spyfu’s keywords and found that there were few in common. One possible conclusion for this is that broad or phrase match keywords were triggering other variations of keywords, relevant of course.
  • Keyword count and accuracy are more inaccurate for larger accounts.
  • Keyword lists are not 100% accurate so they should be not be assumed to be winners immediately(duh?).

While Spyfu’s data is not completely accurate there are still many benefits to using the tool for competitive research. Budgets are slightly off but can still be used to get an idea of where budgets in your industry are at. By comparing several competitors you can tell who is spending the most. The keyword tool can give you keywords to expand your account or get it started. The Kombat tool seems to be the most useful tool that Spyfu has to offer.

I’m interested to hear how accurate is with your own data. What do you find when you plug in your own account(s)?


****Update – March 19 – Response From Spyfu****

Hey Luke,

Mike Roberts with SpyFu. This is cool stuff.

You’re definitely right that our budgets are search only; no content network, no partner sites.

When we publish the budget numbers we post a range. Something like $165-$330. The fewer data points we have the wider that range is; it’s an expression of uncertainty –> very much like presidential polling sampling errors (+-6%). The larger the sample size (inclusive of history), the more accurate the results.

I’m curious what you did to turn our budget into one number. Did you take the bottom number, the top number, the mean? [I took the mean -Luke]

I’d be curious how often your client’s budget falls within the actual range. [I added this to the chart]

In any case, calculating someone’s ad budget from what we see them advertise on is akin to predicting intelligent life on other planets based on the wavelength of their star. There are so many factors that determine budget (Quality score, bid strategy, position, cost per click [which we get from Google, but they don’t report accurately], Shopping, Videos, Images)

Here’s the thing: When we say someone advertises on a keyword, it’s 100% true — there’s a cache page you can use as an audit trail going back to 2006. Ad budget is the biggest extrapolation we make; the farthest from the raw data. My goal when I first calculated that number was to make it so that given that I know my own Adwords budget, can I estimate how much bigger (or smaller) a player my competitors are in the market. Then, secondarily, I wanted to be able to roughly gauge the size of a client, competitor, or partner; are they spending hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, millions? It’s kind of hard to tell by looking at someone’s website, right? Make sense?

Anyway, I love what you’re doing. Thx.



photo courtesy of