Title, Content and URL Length
AdWords – The title length is limited to 25 characters. Two description lines are limited to 35 characters each. The display URL is limited to 35 characters.
Yahoo Search Marketing - The title length is limited to 40 characters. Description is limited to 70. Yahoo also lets you create optional 190-character descriptions that are shown on some partner networks. Yahoo treats plural and singular keywords as equals. If you bid on “cat” your ad will show up for both “cat” and “cats.”
AdWords sets a maximum bid price, and your bid will never exceed that price. In many cases, the actual cost per click will be less than your maximum bid price because your bid has to exceed the second highest bidder. If for example your maximum bid is $2, and the second highest bid is $1,50, you’ll pay slightly above $1.50. You can also set a daily spend limit. Google charges a $5 set up fee, which is converted to click credits.
Use Google Traffic Estimator to see estimated bid prices in all countries.
Yahoo Search Marketing treats your bids the same way; that is, your costs per click will not exceed the maximum bid price. Yahoo charges a $5 sign up fee which is converted to click credits. You can also pay $199 for Yahoo editors to set up an account for you, but don’t use this option – do it yourself.
Click Through Rate
Both Google and Yahoo include click through rate (CTR) in quality score computation. The click score rate is the relationship between ad clicks and the number of times your ad shows up. If the ad is served 10 times and gets 5 clicks, than the CTR is 0.5. The higher that rate, the better.
Both Google and Yahoo offer bid discounts to advertisements with high click through rates. It’s possible to have a lower bid, but hold number one spot. Search engines reward high CTR because the more ad clicks they get, the more money they make.
Google holds a search engine and search ad market share of around 70 percent. Its dominance allows for greater distribution and reach throughout the world.
You can test keywords before doing SEO or test a business idea relatively cheaply.
You can reach up to 70% of the search market.
You can use advanced filtering to target prospects by zip code, city or geographic area.
Yahoo Search Marketing
Yahoo’s distribution is much smaller then Google’s, at around 20 percent. Yahoo traffic delivers lower conversion rates, but costs less per click.
Both Google and Yahoo will show your advertisements on their content networks by default. You can turn off your ad distribution on their content networks in campaign settings.
Content networks deliver much lower conversion rates than search ads. Google’s content network is very relevant and carefully matches ads to the content on the page. They slip from time to time however, and show offensive ads, but in general I find them very relevant.
Yahoo’s content network is much less relevant. Sometimes they show completely unrelated ads – only for the sake of profit, it seems. Yahoo has long promised to improve it, but they have not delivered to date.
If you’re new to pay per click, it’s best to opt out of content networks and focus only on search. You’ll save money without losing much in the way of conversion rates.
Google allows you to select specific sites on which you can show your ads. If you know your audience well, you can craft very persuasive ads and show them only on selected websites. If you do choose to use content ads, set them up separately from search ads. This way you can measure content ROI vs search ROI.
Content ads, especially display ads, are best fit for branding.
Google also lets you filter out websites on which you do not wish to advertise. Simply block the URL of the site, and ads will not show there. You can also opt out from a whole category of sites, like domain pages and offensive content. To truly know if a site sends poor traffic, you need to track it and base your decision on stats.
AdWords offers more features than Yahoo Search Marketing. Google’s goal is to eventually dominate the advertising market, and they are serious about it. On top of search, content and display ads, AdWords lets you launch newspaper ads, TV ads and radio ads. Google struck deals with some newspapers, TV and radio stations around the US. So far they have not had much success, but as TV advertising loses value, Google’s accurate tracking system looks more and more appealing. Microsoft caught on to this, and is developing its own ad delivery platform.
Cable companies and broadcast giants are not stupid, and may align to block Google together with Microsoft from getting much distribution in traditional media space by developing their own competing platforms. To this day, mainstream media CEOs don’t like to talk ROI, because it’s poor, but as time goes by and Google/Microsoft press on, they will be forced to.
Google Website Optimizer
Website optimizer is a free multivariate testing platform designed to increase conversion rates delivered by online ads. In essence, you set up two (or more) different landing pages and rotate those pages for each new visitor who clicks on your ad. Two different visitors see two different pages, even though they clicked on the same ad.
Once the tests are over, you can go to the control panel and see which version of the page performed better. If A delivered a five percent conversion rate and B delivered seven percent, then stick with B.
AdWords Dynamic Keyword Inclusion
It’s been proven by tests that ads (and search listings) that have keywords bolded in the title are more likely to get a click. If you have a group of keywords you can use the same body text, but enable dynamic keyword inclusion in the title tag. When users search, the ad title will change to match their keyword, but the body text will stay the same. As a result, the click through rate may go up, together with quality score.
Microsoft Adcenter offers a similar feature.
Keep in mind that if your competitors are using the dynamic keyword feature, your ad will look very similar to theirs, so it might be a better idea to stay static.
Every computer has an IP address. The IP address lets search engines know your country, city and area, so they get a pretty good idea of where you are. Using this data, Google allows you to customize your ad reach to specific geographic regions by: state, zip code, country, or a combination of those options.
Geotargeting is very useful if the business is located in a specific city and does not need traffic from other cities. For example, a mortgage broker in New York isn’t interested in traffic from LA; in fact, that traffic only wastes money. To offset this irrelevant targeting, he can set up geotargeting filters in AdWords campaign options.
Google is also experimenting with Map ads; you can try them from AdWords options.
Yahoo offers a similar feature called local match. You can set a geo-radius around your business location of up to 100 miles. Local match requires you to have a physical business address.
Yahoo offers paid inclusion into their search results; this is called Search Submit. The program works like regular PPC ads, and Yahoo charges each time someone clicks on the ad.
Yahoo is the last search engine to have a paid inclusion program, for which it gets bombarded all the time. This program makes Yahoo more biased towards on page criteria in order to make it easier for sites using Search Submit to rank on search results. There’s Search Submit Basic with a five-page inclusion limit, and Search Submit Pro, with a $5000 monthly minimum spend.
Pay Per Click Bidding Tips
Don’t get into bidding wars, especially for generic terms.
Don’t bid for very broad terms that don’t convert well, unless you’re after branding.
Use negative keywords to block phrases for which you don’t want the ads to appear.
Start out with high bids to appear near the top. As the ad gets good CTR, lower your maximum bid and let the ad fall into the lower position. Since you’ve already collected a good CTR, you can spend less and still show up in the good spot.
Use Traffic estimator and the AdWords keyword tool to glance at how competitive each market is.
Check competing sales paths from the ad click to the thank you page. Note their ups and downs. Copy the best features.
Write ads for conversion, not for click through rate. There may be less clicks and higher bids, but more overall conversions which justify it.
Google and Yahoo Help Forums
If you need help, use the forums listed below and ask questions of community members.
Yahoo Search Marketing