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Pay-Per-Click Isn’t a Dirty Phrase, It’s a Tool

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pay-per-click google ad campaigns


A Confession

Hello – My name is Kelley, and I use pay-per-click to help drive my business.  And I’m okay with that.

I was also banned by Google, although I no longer wear the scarlet G.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ve plans to talk a bit about my pay-per-click strategy on Google, using a system called AdWords, but I wanted to make a brief introduction and business case for using this kind of advertising before we dive into some of that content.

I don’t hear a lot of people in this industry talking about pay-per-click (PPC) as a marketing tool.  Everyone wants you to work on your organic search engine rankings, optimize for natural results and whatnot – and this is a fabulous goal.  But it can take some time.  And if you’re new online, or were taken out of the Google index like I was, you’ve got mouths to feed in the meantime, yes?

Keeping Business Afloat

Having a clue what we were doing with AdWords is what kept my business afloat while we overhauled Housechick, resubmitted to the search engines, begged forgiveness, and waited to be reindexed.  Because I do – and only want to do – a non-traditional business, spending money on paid search engine advertising is part of my business plan, it’s in my budget.  The return on my investment is sufficient for me.

Here’s the part that most people don’t get: you can used AdWords in shorter term campaigns as part of testing your site to know what really works and doesn’t work, for your market and your desired audience.

Seriously, You Can See What Works

Can I repeat that?  You can find out for sure what works and what doesn’t.

Not sure if adding a phone number to your registration form decreases registrations or not?  You can drive focused traffic to registration pages with and without the phone number via AdWords and find out for sure.

Is your target audience more likely to click through your site or application if you lead with the fear of loss headline, or the warm and fuzzy one?  Drive some traffic there, test the headlines with ad variations and two different landing pages, know for sure.

Or how about this – before you spend a bunch of time trying to optimize your site for keywords that you aren’t sure will drive visitors, how about running an AdWords campaign using variations of those words and phrases to see which keywords actually are used often and make visitors want to click?  And then go optimize your site naturally for those words?

Next time – some vocabulary, account setup, and understanding how to pay less for the same clicks.

Kelley Koehler, aka the Housechick, is usually found focused on her Tucson, Arizona, real estate business. You may also find her on Twitter, where she doubles as a super hero, at Social Media Training Camp, where she trains and coaches people on how to integrate social media into successful business practices, or at KelleyKoehler.com, a collection of all things housechick-ish. Despite her engineering background, Kelley enjoys translating complex technical concepts into understandable and clear ideas that are practical and useful to the striving real estate agent.

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21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Ben Martin, Va Assn of REALTORS

    October 2, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    According to CREST’s most recent survey, so few RE bloggers are using PPC (less than 10%), it stands to reason that there’s vast untapped potential out there.

  2. Kim Wood

    October 2, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    Way to use another resource while waiting for Google to get you back and coming, Kelley! I have not ventured into even really thinking about Adwords, but as always – know that AgentGenius is a good resource to look with people like you writing here !!!

  3. Lisa Sanderson

    October 2, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    I know nothing about AdWords and look forward to you learnin’ me. Thanks for sharing your secrets! And, uh, hurry up with the next article. Pls.

  4. Jay Thompson

    October 2, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    Kelley, I’m not sure where PPC got to be a four-letter word. As you mention, it is *fantastic* for “split testing” and identifying key words/phrases.

    And there is nothing wrong, at all, with using it as a main traffic source. It becomes problematic if it is the only way you drive traffic to your site. Problematic in that the moment you shut it off, your traffic stops. The nice thing about organic search is it sticks around despite your budget.

    PPC can also be very expensive for certain key words. But used right, with good landing pages and the right terms, it can drive very focused traffic.

    Really looking forward to learning more about it as I am definitely weak in this area. Curious as to what led to the banishment too if you’re willing to share, or if you know.

  5. Paula Henry

    October 2, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    Kelley – I use PPC, strictly in relation to driving traffic to my Property Search. I find the use of different landing pages interesting, since I have often wondered if asking for the phone number makes a difference in whether people are willing to sign up.

    Looking forward to more info on this topic.

  6. Jason Sandquist

    October 2, 2008 at 6:50 pm

    I had a landing web page through a certain website provider, not going to name names or anything but was screwed royally. They wanted so much $$$ and promised to deliver so many leads. They had it set up on a per month fee. Well the a-holes blew my budget within the first week and it brought nothing. I sound mad about it but it is water under the bridge.

    Definitely will try it again, no way a bad thing and a great tool. Looking for the great advice for the DIY people, I can have more control over it.

  7. Matt Stigliano

    October 2, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    Kelley – Can’t wait for this thread of posts! I’ve looked into Google a few times, just poking about and seeing what was there, but never really got too into it. Interested to see where you lead us and what advice you’ve got from being the guinea pig to forge ahead.

    Jason – I got a call for the same idea (maybe same company) – they wanted a lot of cash on a monthly basis. My question to them…how do I know the “leads” aren’t generated by your staff and its not just you clicking through? He stuttered when answering that one. I hung up.

  8. Vicki Moore

    October 2, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    I’m glad I’m not the only one doesn’t know how to use PPC. Bring it on, woman!

  9. Mariana Wagner

    October 2, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    HouseChick … Will you reference “wiffle bats” in your series?

  10. Jack Leblond

    October 2, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    PPC is a great tool for generating traffic while working on your organic rankings, and for doing testing. Oddly enough, many people think then when you reach the first page in the listings you should drop your PPC. Actually, some studies have shown that PPC combined with strong organic rankings increases the click-though of the organic listing by about 60%.

  11. Mark Eckenrode

    October 2, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    woot! ppc is a marketer’s dream for so many different reasons. can not wait for what you got to share.

  12. Ruthmarie Hicks

    October 3, 2008 at 12:41 am

    I think it can be useful – HOWEVER, you can’t let yourself get addicted. I know someone who is paying over $600 a month on PPC. That’s nuts – Sure he’s at the top of the search engines, but his organic search results have been stagnant for a couple of years.

  13. Tim Baur

    October 3, 2008 at 5:45 am

    PPC is great but you have to have many systems in place to be profitable. It’s all about ROI. For every dollar we spend the return is $10 and there is definitely room for improvement……looking forward to hearing more of your ideas Kelley.

  14. Julie Anne

    October 3, 2008 at 8:46 am

    I am up in the air about it. I used ppc and had great traffic, but poor quality leads. I think I need to redifine the key words as you say. My website is producing more and more leads as we work on it, but a little boost would be great about now.

  15. Missy Caulk

    October 3, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    Kelly, I use it too so will probably do some piggy backing off this post. I was at a meeting this week at the Chamber. One of my past clients spoke from Google. He said, and I have done of flip on it on youtube and AR.

    70% more people click organic

    30% Pay per click

    Conversion rate is much higher even with 30% clicking.

    It works and I am doing good in a terrible MI economy, and market. I think most people are just afraid of what they don’t understand. IMHO

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WeChat ban blocked by California judge, but for how long?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) WeChat is protected by First Amendment concerns for now, but it’s unclear how long the app will remain as pressure mounts.

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WeChat app icon on an iPhone screen

WeChat barely avoided a US ban after a Californian judge stepped in to temporarily block President Trump’s executive order. Judge Laurel Beeler cited the effects of the ban on US-based WeChat users and how it threatened the First Amendment rights of those users.

“The plaintiffs’ evidence reflects that WeChat is effectively the only means of communication for many in the community, not only because China bans other apps, but also because Chinese speakers with limited English proficiency have no options other than WeChat,” Beeler wrote.

WeChat is a Chinese instant messaging and social media/mobile transaction app with over 1 billion active monthly users. The WeChat Alliance, a group of users who filed the lawsuit in August, pointed out that the ban unfairly targets Chinese-Americans as it’s the primary app used by the demographic to communicate with loved ones, engage in political discussions, and receive news.

The app, along with TikTok, has come under fire as a means for China to collect data on its users. U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has stated, “At the President’s direction, we have taken significant action to combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data, while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of U.S. laws and regulations.”

This example is yet another symptom of our ever-globalizing society where we are learning to navigate between connectivity and privacy. The plaintiffs also pointed out alternatives to an outright ban. One example cited was in Australia, where WeChat is now banned from government officials’ phones but not others.

Beeler has said that the range in alternatives to preserving national security affected her decision to strike down the ban. She also explained that in regards to dealing with national security, there is “scant little evidence that (the Commerce Department’s) effective ban of WeChat for all US users addresses those concerns.”

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Instagram makes IGTV videos more accessible with automatic closed captions

(SOCIAL MEDIA) This new feature for Instagram opens avenues for viewers who don’t or can’t use audio on IGTV videos, creating more accessibility for all.

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Instagram live being recorded will now feature auto captions.

In an effort to expand accessibility efforts, IGTV videos on Instagram will now include an auto captions option. While its parent company, Facebook, has included auto captions on uploaded videos since 2017, this new-for-Instagram feature is expected to widen audience viewership and increase potential viewing by those who prefer watching sans-audio.

In a statement by Facebook, the company states: “While there is no shortage of information, not everyone can access it. It needs to be available to the hundreds of millions of people in the world who are deaf or hard of hearing. According to the World Health Organization, over 5% of the world’s population – or 466 million people – have disabling hearing loss, and that is projected to increase to over 900 million by 2050.”

Current events have made the need for auto captions even more critical for inclusion. “The rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic caused a spike in both the supply and demand of public health information. Several local and state governments, that were accustomed to holding live press conferences but didn’t have the resources, staff or technology to record, stream, and caption their live events, turned to Facebook Live. Several governments also discovered that video captioning was not just a nice-to-have, but imperative, especially in the absence of available sign language interpreters,” states the company.

Currently, Facebook provides auto captions for videos in 16 languages and has announced that Instagram’s IGTV will have access to the same features. The caption accuracy is determined by the video’s audio quality, although AI technology is constantly improving in both precision and speed.

Additionally, branded content ads are likely to see an increase in consumer interaction. Recently published data by Facebook shows ads visually designed for watching with the sound off have 48% more relevance to viewers and a 42% higher purchase intent. As auto captions normalize across social media, users can expect ad content to utilize this feature to the fullest.

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New tool organizes your Reddit feed (and makes it actually usable)

(Social Media) Reddit’s UI hasn’t always been super intuitive. ‘Deck for Reddit’ organizes your feed into themed columns, making it way more user-friendly.

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Deck for Reddit on display on laptop on desk.

Love it or hate it, the mass collection of forums on Reddit have some form of content for everyone. The simple UX design places content straight down the middle of the screen and the infinite scrolling feature allows you to view a limitless amount of content from cute puppy images to cringe-worthy videos. However, its simplicity isn’t very practical, and is something that I think should be voted down.

Yes, Reddit has come a long way from its previous text-heavy form, but there is still a lot to improve on. Charles Yang, a frustrated Reddit user, has created a web app that could change all that: Deck for Reddit, a desktop optimized, alternative way to browse your favorite forums.

“I built it to show as much content as possible at a glance, while respecting your screen real-estate,” writes Yang.

Currently, the web app is in open beta. With a very similar experience to Tweetdeck, this Reddit tool seems to hold some promise.

On the far left side of the website, there is a list of icons with all the subreddits you’ve subscribed to. Clicking on an icon will take you directly to that subreddit column. This is very convenient for users with a bunch of subscriptions. Additionally, by making several subreddits visible on the screen all at once, Yang succeeds in his goal of taking advantage of the vast empty white space that Reddit failed to use.

From this display, you can click on a post, and it instantly expands to show all the comments. Hit the back button, and the post collapses. Now, you are back to seeing all the posts related to that subreddit. And at the top of each subreddit, you can easily sort the content by what’s new, popular, and trendy. Engagement has never felt easier.

Along with everything else, this extension also adds another great feature in setting customizations. The theme can be switched from light to dark mode. Fonts, text size, and even the shape of the subreddit icons can all be adjusted. Preferences can be changed to hide viewed submissions and reduce animation motion. And if you’re slacking off at work or want to chill, you can set it to hide NSFW content.

Overall, Deck for Reddit makes the user experience smooth sailing, and it truly makes Reddit the “front page of the internet.”

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