3 Google Shopping Options You Need To Consider

Note from Melissa: I’m so pleased to bring you the first guest post on my blog, written by none other than Matt Umbro, founder of PPCChat! And it’s a good one, so read on…

As someone who primarily works with ecommerce PPC accounts, I’ve found Google Shopping to be the best feature AdWords has ever created. This statement may sound over the top, but time and again I’ve seen Shopping produce case study worthy results. I’ve even gone on record saying that Shopping campaigns need to be the number one priority in ecommerce accounts.

As Google Shopping campaigns have evolved, so have the options available to advertisers. Today I’m going to cover three areas that advertisers should consider in order to further boost performance. These areas include:

•    Google Trusted Stores
•    Merchant Promotions
•    Product Ratings

All of these options take time to implement, but will help to improve merchant credibility and ad click-thru-rate (CTR).

Google Trusted Stores

Google recently ended the policy requiring merchants to submit shipping and order cancellation feeds as part of the Trusted Stores program. This program gives a “Google approved” endorsement in the form of a site badge to merchants who meet quality thresholds. This badge tells users that the website can be trusted to provide a quality shopping experience from browsing to product purchase confirmation.

Along with the onsite badge, a Trusted Stores checkmark shows in the ads.

trusted stores checkmark

Of the eight ads above, two have the Trusted Stores checkmark. Shopping ads are generally more eye catching than standard text ads anyway, but the checkmark further allows these two merchants to stand out.

Merchant Promotions

Shopping ads allow for promotional text, but it’s rarely seen. Only when the searcher hovers over the ad unit does it appear (if the advertiser has included this text at all).

promotional text

Even when the promotion shows, it isn’t emphasized as it looks like another line of text.

Over the last year Google has refined feature called Merchant Promotions that includes a “Special Offer” link directly in the ad. When clicked, this link shows the searcher the offer as well as the rebate code and when the promotion ends.

merchant promotions

In the image above, CafePress.com stands out from the four other advertisers by utilizing the special offer. The “Free Shipping with $49 Purchase” messaging is highlighted with a “Shop” button right there. Additionally, this message doesn’t appear to be time sensitive (saying that it expires in 132 days) and is most likely a site wide promotion. Even if the offer isn’t great or unique, it still helps to emphasize value adds against the competition.

Promotions can be setup and scheduled directly in Google Merchant Center. Along with the actual promotion and rebate code, you’ll need to provide the dates for when the offer will run.

Product Ratings

When I’m shopping and see products with four or more stars I tend to look at these first. Not only do the stars stand out, but also they tell me that consumers have positively reviewed the product. Text ads utilize these stars via the Seller Ratings extension.

product ratings

Now, advertisers have the ability to add product ratings to their Shopping ads and show review stars. In order to setup product ratings, these requirements must be met:

•    The reviews have to come from approved aggregators
•    Reviews have to be shared with Google
•    This form has to be completed

Here’s an example of product ratings in Shopping ads.

product ratings

 

Six of the eight ads utilize the product ratings. Similar to the Seller Ratings extension, more merchants are utilizing these stars. One might argue that not having the product ratings is a detriment to advertisers.

Final Thoughts

Shopping campaigns have come a long way in a short time and continue to evolve. Make sure you are utilizing the newest options in order to continue showing success from this great channel.

Matt Umbro is a Senior Account Manager in charge of Community at Hanapin Marketing. He specializes in eCommerce PPC and client relations, while also overseeing content production for PPC Hero. He is also the founder of PPCChat, a weekly Twitter chat where industry specialists discuss, analyze and debate various PPC topics using the hashtag #PPCChat.

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3 Signs That Google Hates B2B Advertisers

As you probably know, I work for an agency that deals strictly with B2B clients. B2B offers unique challenges for PPC, including lead tracking and pricey CPCs due to competition.

For years, Google Adwords has been our bread and butter. Their sheer market share makes them a must-use for B2B advertisers. But I’ve started to think that Google hates B2B advertisers. Here’s why.

Sitelinks Don’t Always Apply

I’ve written before about why sitelinks can be a worst practice, especially for B2B clients. In mid-2014, Google launched Dynamic Sitelinks – an even bigger nightmare for B2B advertisers than regular sitelinks. At least with regular sitelinks, we could just not add them. But now, it seems we’re stuck with them whether we want them or not.

Granted, Bing Ads also has dynamic sitelinks. I don’t like those any better than Google’s. But I wonder if Bing would have launched them if Google didn’t do it first.

Keyword Planner Suggestions Are B2C-Focused

I’ve long been frustrated with Google’s keyword planner and the crazy suggestions it offers. That’s the case whether you’re B2B or B2C. But what’s even more frustrating to me is that the keywords it suggests tend to be very consumer-focused. Even with something that’s obviously B2B like “business management systems,” it’ll come back with things like “what is a business management system” – not the type of queries an enterprise-level person researching a solution would use.

The Opportunities tab suggestions are even worse. Earlier this week I was reviewing Google’s “optimization” ideas for a client that offers a solution for businesses to sell gift cards to customers. Here are some of the “opportunities” Google wanted us to add to our campaign:

sell unwanted gift cards for cash
sell your gift card for cash
where can i cash gift cards
how to trade gift cards for cash
can i buy gift cards with a gift card
getting cash for gift cards
sell back giftcards for cash

These queries are clearly ones that would be used by consumers looking to offload unwanted gift cards – the exact opposite of what we’d want to bid on!

The only good part about this awful list is I used them for negative keywords instead. I’m sure that’s not what Google had in mind as an “opportunity,” but I took it nonetheless.

 Display Interest Targeting Is All B2C

Google has announced that starting next week, they’re retiring the Other Interests targeting option for Display campaigns. Doesn’t sound like a big deal – unless you’re a B2B advertiser.

Nearly all the B2B-focused targeting options are in the Other Interests category:

other interests
We’re left with affinity audiences, or in-market segments. Check out the fine selection of options in affinity audiences:

affinity audiences
See anything that looks remotely B2B-focused? Me neither.

In-market audiences are a little better, but not much. Here’s a view of the Business Services options:

in market audiences
Not awful – but we have clients who don’t fit into any of these categories. For those clients, we’ll be relegated to keyword or placement targeting, which doesn’t always perform as well. Clearly, Google has a bias toward B2C for display campaigns.

I’m sure there is a reason for this, probably because most of Google’s advertisers are B2C. But B2B advertisers have big bucks to spend. Many of their products and services are big-ticket items, and companies are willing to pay very high CPCs to advertise them. I rarely see CPCs below $20 in search for my clients. You’d think Google would want this money, but maybe not.

What do you think? Have your B2B clients struggled with Google’s B2C bias? Found any workarounds? Share in the comments!

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3 PPC Features That Aren’t Ready For Prime Time

There’s an old adage in the car-buying world that advises people never to buy a new model car in its first year. Why? The manufacturer hasn’t worked all of the bugs out yet, so you’re likely to encounter down time while the car is in the shop.

The same thing is true of technology: look at the iPhone 6 and all the gaffes it experienced early on. And Windows 8 is universally hated, to the point that Microsoft skipped Windows 9 and went right on to making Windows 10.

In PPC, we also come across new features that aren’t ready for prime time. Here are the top 3 PPC features that might have benefited from a bit more beta testing.

The New Adwords Editor

Last month, Adwords held yet another “announcement” event. One of the highlights, in addition to one of the speaker’s sweaters, was the rollout of a new Adwords Editor.

The current editor, while a must-have tool for PPC managers, has limitations. It doesn’t support shopping campaigns well. It doesn’t allow copying across accounts. It doesn’t have an “undo” button.

The new Adwords Editor v.11 has all of those features, and more. But it’s missing some key elements, too. And it’s buggy. Here are just some of the issues that PPC Chat users have reported:

•    Won’t load/ freezes
•    Error messages
•    Missing metrics
•    No callout extensions
•    Keyword planner is gone
•    No click data for sitelinks

I was all set to download the new Adwords Editor, and then I started seeing these reports. I decided to hold off. Perhaps Adwords is using the PPC community as one big beta test?

Bing Ads Universal Event Tracking (UET)

I was excited to get started with this much-ballyhooed tracking tool from Bing Ads. It’s called “universal” because it was supposed to be one tracking code for all accounts across an agency: “In Bing Ads, tags are defined at the customer level. This means that you can use the same tag to define and track goals across all your accounts and campaigns. This flexibility allows you to instrument your site just once (when you create your first goal) and keep defining new goals to measure without ever needing to add another tag to your site.”

In reality, while that is technically true, in practice it’s not that simple. First of all, you’ll find the tracking code in different places, depending on whether your client’s account is a “built in” account or a “linked” account.

I’m not even sure what that means, except it means I can’t see the UET code for all my clients when logged in to our agency Bing Ads account. Apparently, for some accounts, I have to log in to the child account. Which I didn’t even know existed for Bing Ads. And I certainly don’t have logins for any of these child accounts.

To make it even more interesting, Bing is retiring the old conversion tracking scripts effective in April. So we’ve all got less than 3 months to figure this out. I’m a little scared.

LinkedIn Ads

I wrote about LinkedIn back in November 2013 and the fact that they didn’t want my money. Merry Morud wrote about their terrible interface back in July 2013.

Here we are 18 months later, and the only thing that’s changed is their timeout – it takes a little longer than 5 minutes now to time out, and it doesn’t log you out when you’re actively working in the interface.

Every other complaint that Merry made about their interface still exists. It’s crazy that LinkedIn, with its $8-10 CPCs, hasn’t done a single thing in a year and a half to improve their UI. Twitter and Facebook have made huge leaps ahead, while LinkedIn sits and languishes with its awful UI and expensive clicks.

One thing that really bugs me about LinkedIn Ads is that there is no way to keep sponsored posts from displaying to people who already follow you, nor from your own employees. We’ve had clients who’ve ended up paying (at $8-10 a crack) for their own employees to “like” their sponsored posts. Crazy. The LinkedIn Ads UI is definitely not ready for prime time.

Found any other PPC features that aren’t ready for prime time? Share in the comments!

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Dynamic Sitelinks Gone Wrong

Back in July, Google launched dynamic sitelinks, which are sitelinks that Google automatically appends to ads.

Google touts dynamic sitelinks as a “(tool) adding value to your ads while saving time and simplifying campaign management.” But for many advertisers, it’s yet another example of the dumbing down of PPC. And for B2B advertisers, dynamic sitelinks often spell disaster.

In B2B, it’s common not to use sitelinks, because there’s one specific landing page you want to drive traffic to. In fact, many times sitelinks are a worst practice for B2B.

With dynamic sitelinks, Google, in their infinite wisdom, is choosing random pages to display as dynamic sitelinks. In fact, even if you are using sitelinks, they may be overridden if “Google thinks it’s best.”

This is disastrous for many B2B advertisers who deliberately aren’t using sitelinks. Often, there is only one relevant landing page for PPC – one that’s been optimized for conversion. Other pages on the website likely are informational in nature and have no way to generate a conversion. So, we deliberately decide not to use sitelinks for these advertisers.

Here’s an example:

dynamic sitelink 1

The destination URL for this ad is a page specifically optimized for conversion. The dynamic sitelink extension goes to neither an e-commerce nor a lead gen page.

Here are a couple more examples:

dynamic sitelink 2

dynamic sitelink 3

The first one is showing the About page. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen many About pages that are designed to drive conversions. The home page would be a better choice in this instance.

The second example is for one product with one relevant page. Google has chosen a page featuring a totally different product – freezers instead of milk coolers. While Google may think that’s relevant, it’s not – this client has asked us to focus on milk coolers only, not freezers.

If you’ve ever worked with B2B clients, you’ll know that for many of them, it’s like pulling teeth to get even one optimized landing page created. Now, your hard work is potentially going to waste by Google deciding to pick random pages to show alongside your carefully crafted landing page.

Granted, we all know that few people click on the sitelink itself – most clicks happen on the actual ad, which goes to the landing page. But the problem I have with these random dynamic sitelinks is that they make the ads look weird. Instead of adding to the experience, dynamic sitelinks potentially detract from it – risking CTR and other key metrics for advertisers.

And what about advertisers who’ve tested sitelinks and found they hurt performance? Yes, it does happen – and now those advertisers are stuck with a “feature” that they know doesn’t work for them.

Google does offer an opt out form for those who don’t want dynamic sitelinks added to their campaigns. You’ll have to fill it out for every single advertiser.

And even then, it may not help.

We filled out the form for the advertisers in the examples above. We heard nothing from Google for nearly 2 weeks. When we finally did hear back, Google’s response was to “just wait.” Not “we’re opting these accounts out,” but “wait.”

That’s unacceptable. Guess what, Google? We paused all these campaigns until we can get the situation sorted out. You’re not getting another dime until we know we can serve relevant, high-performing ads for our clients.

I know that for many advertisers, dynamic sitelinks are a great thing. For ecommerce advertisers, they’re undoubtedly a huge timesaver. But they’re not for everyone. All Google needs to do is give us the explicit choice: let us opt in or opt out at the campaign level. Then everyone would be happy.

What’s your take on dynamic sitelinks? Boon or bust? Share in the comments!

Special thanks to my coworkers, Jessi Link and Mark Herman, for providing the background and screen shots for this post.

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PPC Remarketing: What Not To Do

By now, we’re all accustomed to being followed around by remarketing ads. Those of us in PPC are particularly attuned to remarketing ads. We know what they are, first of all. Most of us can probably spot a remarketing ad on the first impression. Second, we visit a lot of different websites as we research competitors, read news, and check display campaign placements. It always makes me chuckle to see our clients’ competitors as I move about the web.

I don’t blame the competitors for following me; after all, they don’t know why I was on their site and didn’t convert. As long as they don’t show me hundreds of impressions per day, it’s not a problem. Then again, there are some remarketing ads that seem nearly ubiquitous, almost to the point of harassment.

Here’s an example of an ad that most PPC pros probably see at least 20 times per day:

remarketing ad

Now, I think WordStream has good products – I’ve praised several of them in posts I’ve written. And I have nothing but respect for Larry Kim, their CEO. But I gotta be honest – I’m tired of seeing their ads all day long, everywhere I go.

How to avoid harassment: Use frequency caps! I usually start with 5 impressions per user per day. And even that might be high – I’ve gone as low as 1 per day.

Now, I’m sure the fine folks at WordStream have probably tested the frequency threshold and likely are serving the right number of impressions to drive the results they’re looking for. But gosh, these ads are everywhere. I’ve even tried to get them to stop showing by going to different pages & sites – I gave up after about 50 impressions.

This week, I got to thinking about another, bigger problem: showing salesy remarketing ads to people who already use your product. I credit my co-worker, Ben Nusekabel, with pointing this out. Here’s the ad he sent me – for the project management software we all use every day!

remarketing ad

Now, I love so many things about this ad: the copy, the art, the call to action… If I’d seen it, I probably would have downloaded the ebook! But here’s the thing: they’re wasting money on me, because I work for a company that already uses them.

The solution? Don’t remarket to people who log in to your site. Create an exclusion list for them.

Here’s another one, for the videoconferencing program we use:

remarketing ad

Great – I started seeing this ad AFTER a video meeting in which I gave a presentation from my home office in Michigan to our main office in Cincinnati, while I was logged in, of course. At least this ad wasn’t interesting enough for me to click on it. So maybe the key is to use boring creative? (I keed, I keed.)

And finally, the icing on the cake:

remarketing ad

Yes, our friends over at Adwords want me to check them out. “Try Google AdWords,” they say. As if I’m not logged in to their interface from dawn till dusk. This one made me laugh out loud. Yet another example of Adwords not using their own best practices.

I’d have been ok with seeing all of these ads if I weren’t logged in to their sites at the time I saw them. Makes me wonder if their PPC department or agency doesn’t understand how to use remarketing. At least it’s good for a few laughs.

What about you? What are the craziest (or best, or creepiest) remarketing ads you’ve seen lately? Share in the comments!

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The Adwords Red Bar of Death Is Killing Me

Ever try navigating within your PPC account and seen this?

red bar of death
It’s affectionately called the “red bar of death” by PPC advertisers, and it used to show up relatively infrequently. Starting about a month ago, I noticed more and more tweets on the PPC Chat hashtag from people saying they were seeing the red bar of death. Most of the tweets at that time were from our friends in the UK and Europe, so I figured something was going on over there.

Then I started seeing it myself, more and more. Then I saw this:
adwords down
And this:
adwords down again
Mountain View, we have a problem.

It seems as though everyone is seeing the Adwords red bar of death:
rbod tweets

It’s gone beyond ridiculous at this point. Twitter users point out that the issue happens in nearly every instance of Adwords daily usage: in every browser, navigating from one campaign to another, filtering, segmenting, editing… the list goes on. And nothing we do seems to make it go away for more than a day or so.

Adwords has maintained near-silence the whole time this has been going on. Last week, after the tweet I sent in the image above asking why the silence, they finally sent me a direct message on Twitter.

The DM contained a link to report the problems I was having. Finally! I thought. We can all get a resolution on this, if for no other reason than to bombard Adwords with form fills from the sheer number of PPC pros having this problem. So I tweeted out the link.

I promptly got another DM from Adwords – this time, asking me to delete the tweet. Why? Because apparently they handle these issues on an individual basis, so the form was meant for “specific cases” only.

Fair enough. But newsflash, Adwords: TONS of users are having the same problem, and it’s gone on for weeks! Why create a form meant for single users when this is a nearly universal problem? It almost seems like you’re underestimating the extent of the issue.

To their credit, Adwords did send me a public link to contact support, and I deleted my earlier tweet and sent this out instead. But this is just a link to their general support options. We all know how well that works (i.e., it doesn’t). Meanwhile, we’re still getting the red bar of death and other errors on a daily basis.

Hey Google, in case you haven’t noticed, the holidays are fast approaching. PPC advertisers need to get all their holiday campaigns teed up, launched, and managed. We don’t have time for continual outages and errors. Several people said they couldn’t access their shopping campaigns at all yesterday. That’s a major problem.

This fiasco is yet another indication that Google may be getting too big to fail. And it’s not the first time we’ve gotten terrible support from Adwords. But this goes beyond silly feature announcements and uneducated reps. This is a system-wide, worldwide outage that’s been going on for at least a month.

Adwords, it’s time to step up and fix the platform that’s your bread and butter. Now.

What about you? What have you done when you’ve gotten the red bar of death? Has Adwords reached out to you individually? Are you noticing any patterns in when it happens? Share in the comments!

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Tablets = Desktops, and Other Google Fibs

On a recent PPCChat, the PPC world scored a coup – an interview with an Adwords representative. This was something we’d been asking for for a long time, and the members of PPCChat waited with anticipation for the chance to ask Google some hard questions.

While I was ecstatic that our fearless PPCChat leader Matt Umbro was able to get Matt Lawson (ML) from Google onto the chat, I was less than ecstatic with the answers ML gave.

(Let me be clear – Matt Umbro did a stellar job preparing the questions for ML and managing the chat. He rocked the house as always!)

One of the first questions was whether we’d ever get a tablet bid modifier. Bing Ads is adding a tablet modifier later this year, so one might think that Google would wise up and do the same. Alas, no such luck. ML toed the party line and maintained that “Our data suggests tablet and desktop behavior are closely aligned, but if that changes we’ll revisit in the future.”

Well, I don’t know what data he’s looking at, but it ain’t the same data I’m looking at. I don’t have a single client who gets the same results from tablets as they do from desktops. Most of our clients see about 1 conversion from tablets for every 4 from desktop. I tweeted as much – and got more favorites on that tweet than I think I’ve gotten from any other tweet:

my tweet about tablets

While I was (and am) frustrated by Google’s continued insistence that tablets and desktop are the same, I was excited for the rest of the chat. Sadly, it didn’t get better.

Matt asked “Do you believe AdWords will ever enter the account management market and charge like an agency would?” ML’s reply? “I don’t believe so. I have former agency folks on my team, so I know how complicated that world can be. We want to focus on delivering a great product, and expanding to include direct account management would distract from that.”

Well, this is just plain BS. Maybe Google isn’t charging for account management, but they’re definitely doing it. I have heard from several people whom I trust that Google has approached their clients asking to manage their accounts, and is actually doing so in some cases.

Lest I paint too negative a picture, not all of the chat was bad. ML indicated that Google might actually consider separate bids or modifiers for search partners: “We’re always balancing simplicity with control. We have such a large customer base that we often bias toward simplicity, but we get that there are always going to be sophisticates (like you PPCChatters) who want more control. Despite the fact that it’s unlikely to change soon, it’s a valid request and one which we will continue to evaluate.” While this comment validates my claim that Adwords has been dumbed down, it’s good to know that some type of control over search partners is at least still on the table.

In fact, ML said that Google pays attention to PPCChat, and that our feedback gets passed on to the powers that be at Adwords. I was encouraged by this news.

ML also liked the idea of creating an advisory council comprised of PPCChat members:

adwords council

They’d be wise to do so – after all, Bing Ads has had an advisory council for a while, and they share news, updates, features, betas, and more with the group. Having an advisory council goes a long way toward creating client goodwill. I’d be happy to be a part of a Google council.

My overall takeaways from the chat were these:

  • I’m happy that Google agreed to the chat. This is a huge step in the right direction.
  • I’m also happy about the possibility of search partner bid modifiers. I’ve been begging for this for years.
  • However, overall it felt like ML was just restating the Google party line. That was disappointing.
  • Finally, I’m not sure he was totally honest – and I’m not the only one:

hmm

Did you follow the Adwords PPCChat? What did you think – was it great to hear from Google, or were you frustrated with the answers? Share in the comments!

Postscript: Minutes after I finished writing this post, Adwords announced they were getting rid of the option to not include close variants of keywords. This is yet another blow to PPC managers who want and need more control over their PPC traffic. I don’t think Google is listening, do you?

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Top 10 PPC Training Resources

Whether you’re new to PPC, or are a seasoned professional, there’s always more to learn. Here are 10 PPC training resources for you and your PPC teams to check out.

PPC University

This free resource from the good folks at Wordstream is loaded with everything practitioners need to know about PPC, from the basics through advanced topics.

PPC University is separated into three tracks – PPC 101, 102 and Advanced PPC. Each lesson builds on the last in simple language that anyone can understand, with no jargon! This is a must-check-out resource for anyone who’s new to PPC, or who needs to brush up on any aspect of PPC.

Certified Knowledge Adwords Training

Want to learn from the best? Then check out the video training modules over at Certified Knowledge. Taught by Brad Geddes, who is probably the smartest PPC pro I know, these video lessons cover everything from fundamentals to advanced topics, and even selling PPC. You’ll be an Adwords expert when you complete these modules. There’s a free trial, so go give it a try!

Google Analytics Academy

While not specific to PPC, Google Analytics Academy courses are definitely worth the time. These free, self-paced courses include digital analytics fundamentals, Google Analytics platform principles, e-commerce analytics, and mobile app analytics. And they’re adding new courses every few weeks. I’ve taken a few of these, and have found them valuable for helping to explain analytics and tracking to clients.

In addition to the above courses, there are multiple PPC certifications out there. Preparing for the certification exams is a great way to get PPC training.

Google Adwords Exam

Get certified in Google Adwords by taking the various Adwords certification exams. This post will help you prepare for the exams.

Bing Ads Exam

Bing Ads also has a certification program. Find information on training modules and the exam on the Bing Ads site.

Market Motive

The PPC courses at Market Motive are also taught by Brad Geddes. If you’re interested in SEO, the instructor is Todd Malicoat, otherwise known as Stuntdubl. He has been around the SEO scene forever and is very knowledgeable.

Online Marketing Institute

Aaron Kahlow’s Online Marketing Institute is another good resource for PPC pros. This PPC training will be higher level than some of the other courses, but covers more topics.

Direct Marketing Association (DMA)

DMA certification comes with a well-respected name, and a price tag to match. But you’ll get a good overview with this program.

Web Marketing Today’s PPC Fundamentals Series

I wrote a series of posts for Web Marketing Today that provides a good starting point for anyone new to PPC. I give this to all of our new hires.

PPC Chat

While not an explicit PPC training course, the weekly topics covered during PPC Chat on Twitter are as good a training module as any around. Join PPC experts from around the globe every Tuesday at 12noon Eastern time to discuss various PPC topics. Streamcaps of the chats can be found at the PPC Chat website.

What are your favorite PPC training resources? Got any go-to’s for newbies? Share in the comments!

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26 Free Must-Have Tools for PPC Success

Nearly every craft uses tools to get the job done. Carpenters have hammers and saws. Doctors have expensive medical devices like MRI machines and tests. Writers have a computer (or a typewriter, or pen and paper).

PPC is no different. While it’s certainly possible to manage PPC using only the AdWords and Bing Ads online interfaces, doing so will be less than optimal.

I asked 20 PPC experts to share their must-have PPC tools. They responded with gusto. Here are their top recommendations for 26 free, must-have tools for PPC success.

When it comes to free tools, Google is king. One-third of the tools on the list are from Google!

1. AdWords Editor

A few of us old-timers remember life before AdWords Editor. It wasn’t fun. I was doing in-house PPC at the time, and we actually hired an intern to update ad copy for us, it was that arduous to do manually. With Adwords Editor and its many bulk editing features, those days disappeared. Several experts mentioned Editor, most with a comment like “Duh! It’s essential.”

2. Google Analytics

The AdWords and Bing interfaces only go so far. They don’t tell you what happens after the ad click. Use Google Analytics to gauge bounce rate, pages visited, and many other analytical gems that will help optimize your marketing efforts.

3. AdWords Scripts

We’ve recently started using AdWords Scripts, and it’s become obvious they’re a must-have. Use them for exception reporting, daily stats, and client reporting – amongst other things.

4. Google Plugin for Eclipse

Use this plugin to help develop AdWords Scripts. (Recommended by Leo Sussan.)

5. Google Documents

I love creating shared Google Docs for internal and external use. It’s even possible to have multiple users editing them at once – something you can’t do with Microsoft Office. (Suggested by Larry Kim of Wordstream.)

6. Google Drive

Google Drive is great for storing Google Docs and other files. (Suggested by my coworker Ben Nusekabel)

7. FTP for Google Merchant accounts

Who wants to update thousands of product listing ads manually? Use FTP to send your merchant feed to Google automatically. (Recommended by Matt Vaillancourt.)

8. Google Suggest

Google Suggest is a fun and enlightening way to do keyword research. (Recommended by Aaron Levy of SEER Interactive.)

9. Bing Ads Editor

Not to be outdone, Bing Ads has some great free tools of its own. While Bing Ads Editor isn’t as robust as AdWords Editor, it’s still a must-have PPC tool for those using Bing Ads.

10. Bing Ads Intelligence

I love this Excel plugin for keyword research. It’ll show search volume, create ad groups, and provide demographic data – all in Excel.

11. Facebook Power Editor

If you’re running more than one simple Facebook Ads campaign, you need to be using Power Editor. It’s like AdWords Editor for Facebook. Use it to create audiences, play around with targeting, and create an image bank for your campaigns.

12. Excel

OK, it’s free if your computer has Microsoft Office, which 90 percent or so of us do. Excel is necessary to analyze and manipulate PPC data. Many of the experts named it a must-have.

13. Excellent Analytics Plugin for Excel

Use this plugin to pull Google Analytics data into Excel and make reporting easier. I’m definitely going to check this one out. (Recommended by Arianne Donoghue.)

14. Statistical Significance Spreadsheet

This is a simple, yet often overlooked, way to streamline tracking of ad copy and landing page tests. (Recommended by Andrew Bethel.)

15. Analysis ToolPak for Excel

Use the free Excel plugin Analysis ToolPak to add advanced hypothesis testing to Excel at no cost. (Another recommendation from Sussan.)

16. Uber Suggest

Use Uber Suggest for keyword research. I’ve even used Uber Suggest for blog topic idea generation. (Another great recommendation from Levy.)

17. Keyword Wrapper

Use this easy-to-use tool to quickly create keyword sets in all match types. Build out your keyword list in minutes with this tool. (Recommended by Mark Kennedy of SEOM.)

18. Phrase Builder

Enter a few words, and Phrase Builder will mash them up into keywords. (Another tool recommended by Kennedy.)

19. Soovle

Soovle serves up common searches on a multitude of sites, including YouTube, Answers.com, and Amazon, in addition to the usual search engine subjects. (Yet another keyword tool from Levy.)

20. Convertable

Convertable is a free lead generation tracking service (in beta). If you aren’t ready to give Salesforce a try, check out Convertable.

21. SplitTester

SplitTester is my favorite free online statistical significance tester. Just plug in clicks and CTR (or conversion rate) for 2 ad variations to see which one is the winner, and at what level of significance.

A Few More PPC Tools

Several experts suggested tools that are fixtures in any office, and yet are essential for PPC. Microsoft Outlook and Spotify were two that Lisa Sanner from PointIt finds necessary. I have to agree.

Finally, no list would be complete without the tools that each and every PPC expert uses every day:

  •     Experience (Sanner)
  •     People (e.g., sales teams, live chats) (Sanner)
  •     My brain (Michael Madew) and Matt Vaillancourt)

Special thanks to Aaron Levy, Andrew Bethel, Arianne Donoghue, Ben Nusekabel, David Szetela, Larry Kim, Leo Sussan, Lisa Sanner, Mark Kennedy, Martin Roettgerding, Matt Umbro, Matt Vaillancourt, and Michael Madew for contributing your suggestions.

In addition to these free tools, here are 18 Must-Have Paid Tools for PPC Success.

Hopefully you’ve learned of a few new helpful free PPC tools from this list! What are your must-have PPC tools?

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on Search Engine Watch on March 11, 2014. It was so popular there that I had to share it with my readers! Enjoy!

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Google: Too Big To Fail?

On Tuesday, Google made what was played up to be a huge announcement of new features. Search marketers feared they were in for another Enhanced Campaigns-type of blow; it turned out to be pretty benign.

Talk on Twitter during the announcement was interesting, though. Google led off with a “history of radio ads” narrative that was boring and, frankly, off-topic – which drew jeers from the Twitter crowd.  Then they talked about promoting apps – another underwhelming feature. Finally, they talked about some new bulk editing, experimenting, and reporting enhancements that look cool and truly useful. The final reactions on Twitter? Meh.

twitter reaction to google announcement

Much has been said about what ended up being an overreaction by search marketers prior to the announcement. Some of it rubbed us the wrong way. I maintain that our fears were warranted, given the disruption caused by Enhanced Campaigns last year.

But what struck me about the announcement is the fact that Google led with apps, as though this was the big thing that advertisers really cared about.

Based on my own needs and the chatter on Twitter, they’re wrong. I don’t have a single client who wants to advertise apps – in fact, I don’t think I have a single client who HAS an app. So why was Google pushing apps so hard?

Ever heard of Google Play?

Google is creating products that will serve their interests – not their customers’ needs. They’re headed towards a slippery slope.

The new reporting features also indicate that Google thinks they are bigger and better than the bid management and reporting platforms. Yet another slippery slope.

When companies start to believe they’re above the rules, they start walking into “too big to fail” territory. When companies think that “all your data are belong to us,” they start walking into “too big to fail” territory. When companies tout a huge “announcement,” only to push something that 90% of their customers don’t’ need, they start walking into “too big to fail” territory.

So what do you think? Is Google too big to fail? Are they oblivious to the needs of their customers, the advertisers? Were we fools for being concerned and worried about the announcement? Or did the announcement give you pause? Share in the comments!

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