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How To Tell If the Google Robo Call Is A Scammer

SCAM ALERT! red Rubber Stamp over a white background.If you’ve been in business more than a week, you’ve probably already gotten a call from someone to talk about your Google listings. Recently, these calls are more commonly coming from autodialers. “Hi, this is Sharon, your local Google Specialist!” followed by a number of attractive claims. Anyone in internet marketing starts to laugh within a minute. Then we wonder how many people actually get sucked in.

What If It’s Really Google?

Short answer. It isn’t. It is possible Google may call you about AdWords or to confirm information in Google My business, Google Play if you have an app, or about other Google products. However, it will always be from a live person who will prove they are with Google by sending you an email with a @google.com email.The only automated calls Google makes are phone verification calls that you specifically request to update listing information. Google Safety Center outlines their policy when it comes to this.

So What IS Going On?

The last time I got one of these calls, I marveled at how many times the automatic message violated Google’s Terms of Service in 15 seconds:

-They identified themselves as Google

-Guaranteed first page placement

-Guaranteed unlimited clicks

-Failed to mention their own company name

Because of this, I concluded they couldn’t’ be an AdWords Partner because no Google AdWords Partner would jeopardize their relationship with Google in this way. I decided to take the call and pretend interest to see what the deal was. I never got a business name, but what I did get was a basic outline that told me they were selling a simple internet listing submission service for an insane amount of money. Toward the end, I started asking some intelligent questions, and let on that I knew too much and was promptly hung up on.

When To Hear Alarm Bells

  • When it comes to anything related to internet marketing, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

  • No reputable internet marketing agency will ever “guarantee” placement. We have no way of knowing how many people will search for your kind of business in your service area next month. The point of what we do is to grow the volume and quality of visitors to the site and the results of what happens when they visit, but guarantees when it comes to this are dishonest and unethical.

  • If they’re giving you answers before asking you questions, there’s probably something wrong. No two companies are the same and internet marketing is all about helping you accomplish your business goals. So how can someone recommend you need something before talking to you about what you’re trying to accomplish?

What Can I Do About All Those Annoying Calls?

Another short answer — really not much. If you’ve already registered for the National Do Not Call Registry, you’ve probably noticed it doesn’t’ really do much to slow them down. Google suggests you report the offending parties to the Federal Communications Commission or you can help them track down violators by reporting them directly to Google. Truth be told, you’re best off following Google’s first piece of advice on the subject. “Hang up.”

I’d Hire a Pro to Manage My AdWords, But Those Management Fees!

Notepad with words PPC pay per click concept and marker.

These words are most often followed by something to the effect of, “my brother in law says he can do it”, or even better, “I can probably do it just as well myself.” When Google first created Adwords, launching the Pay-Per-Click revolution, they made it so anyone could just create an account, list what keywords they wanted to show up for, set a max bid and budget, set a service area, write a couple lines of ad text and wah-lah! You’re advertising online! Therein lies the beginnings of billions of dollars worth of wasted ad spend.

Where Does Most PPC Waste Come From?

PPC waste comes from many areas of PPC management, but let’s break it down into two categories: things an amateur can probably fix and things best left to a professional.

PPC Waste an average person can fix on their own:

Much of wasted spend comes from poorly managed keyword lists and improper settings on the account, both of which a sensible amateur could fix by digging around or googling how to fix their Google.

First, keywords. Once you put in a business category, Google suggests hundreds of keywords broken down into a dozen or so Adgroups. Blindly hitting “Add All” and thinking why not appear for everything is the first step down the path of waste my money. The list has to be gone through with a fine tooth comb, each adgroup needs to be checked to make sure the grouping makes sense. Geographic target for each adgroup may be different because you might advertise a very small service area for one service but a much larger one for a different service. What page of your website should each adgroup land on? What should the ad text read for each individual keyword? Managing your keywords is a big job, and it’s one thing many put way too little into resulting in massive amounts of wasted spend.

The other area that an amateur could help himself more on is proper settings. Understanding matching settings like Exact Match, Phrase Match, and Broad Match can be the difference between, as I once showed a new client who sold backyard play sets, appearing just for “wood backyard playsets” and “dangerous wood backyard play sets you definitely shouldn’t buy because they will kill your children” (yes, that client’s ad really showed up for the latter search.) Geographic settings are another killer. What kind of setting is best for you? Should the settings be the same for all products and services? Have you set up negative settings, for example, if Arlington, Texas is in your settings, have you made Arlington VA  a negative? What about the search partner network? Should your ads be showing there or is it a big waste of spend that should be directed toward higher quality searches?

Most of the common sense things listed above can be done by anyone with a little common sense. They are all good ways to avoid waste. Don’t get me wrong. A pro will do a MUCH better job at managing your keyword lists, setting negative keywords, and deciding what settings are right for you. However, they are things you could figure out how to do decently.  But when you look at all the ways a pro goes about ensuring an adwords budget provides the best possible return on your investment, you realize Red Adair might have been talking specifically about paid search when he said, “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

What an AdWords Pro Knows

A real Adwords pro has passed multiple Google certifications and probably has years of experience doing what will take you years to figure out.

Tracking and Attribution:

How do you know exactly what your investment is accomplishing? How do you know what is working and what isn’t? How do you know specifically if a term or a group of terms is sending people to the website who take no action or if it’s sending people to the site who do what you want them to do? A pro will start with setting up tracking. Analytics goals added to contact forms and javascript to transpose phone numbers with tracking numbers when a visitor arrives as a result of a paid search. Whatever result we are trying to achieve, a method must be in place to attribute the result to the investment.

Cost Per Conversion Focus:

A good pro has years of training and experience managing PPC campaigns with a cost per conversion focus. If it costs me $1 to drive one kind of visitor, and one of 10 picks up the phone to call, my cost per conversion is $10. An amateur might think that was a better click than the one he has to pay $2 for,  but the pro sees one of 3 visitors from the $2 click calling and realizes it’s only costing $6 to convert.

Let’s look at that in terms of money. Say your average customer is worth $25.  If you spend $1,000 on Advertising, with a $10 cost per conversion, 100 people call you and you make $2,500. Great, right? That’s a 250% return on your investment! But the pro took the same budget and using a good cost per conversion focus delivered 166 phone calls, and put $4,100 in your pocket. Does that $350 management fee still sound like a lot?

Quality Score Improvement:

There are two ways to get your ad to get better placement on Google. Raise your bid or improve your quality score. If you’re asking “What’s Quality Score and Why it’s So Important?” click that link and start part one of our 3 part series on that subject. The fact of the matter is, the amateur raises the bid. The pro manages the bid, raises it if he needs to, but works mostly on improving quality score. He does this by improving the relevance of the ad text, working on the content on the page the ad is directed to land on, and working on the ad to improve the ad’s click through rate. How important is that? Look at the chart below to see how much quality score impacts Click costs in Adwords:

Let’s look at it in terms of money again. The amateur in the example above was paying $2 for the good click. The pro takes it over and sees a quality score of 2, and quickly works on it to improve the the quality score to a still poor (for a pro) average of 5. Average click cost goes down to $1.36. Average cost per conversion goes down to $4.08. The same $1000 budget as before now delivers 245 phone calls. The business now makes $6,125 off the same budget. Over the course of the next few months, the pro does his real work and gets the quality score to a very respectable 8. Click cost goes down to $.85. Average cost per conversion goes down to $2.55. The same $1,000 budget now delivers 392 phone calls. The pro made this business $9,800 which is $7,300 more than the amateur was originally satisfied with because they didn’t want to pay the $350 management fee.

Suddenly it makes sense, doesn’t it?

What is Quality Score and Why is it So Important to me? Vol. 3

Quality Score on Green Puzzle.One of the best things Google did when they started the Pay Per Click revolution was they made it available to everyone. Any business owner if they chose could go in, create an AdWords account, set their geography, pick their keywords, and it’s off to the races. Of course, it’s also one of the worst things they did.

For the last few weeks, we’ve taken a deep dive into how AdWords actually works and why your bid isn’t the most important thing to pay attention to.

Understanding what Google’s trying to accomplish and how quality score works is a great first step. Now, let’s continue this series and examine not just how to improve your quality score, but also what happens to your ROI when you take a quality score first approach to your paid search.

How Can I Improve My AdWords Quality Score?

Knowing the importance of Quality Score and how it is arrived at is one thing. It’s another thing to understand how to improve it. We’ll get into deeper specifics in a later article, but the quick, common sense answer is, you know how quality score is arrived at, so look at how your ad does for each piece.

  1. Click-Through Rate — Look at the click-through rate for a particular search, then look at the ad you are running for that term. How can you change that ad to make it more attractive? What can you change to get a consumer to decide that you are the right result for him? Are you searching for yourself on Google directly to see your ads on the results page instead of using Google’s Ad Preview tool? Think about that. Every time you search for yourself just to see if you are there and don’t click on your own ad, because why would you, you lower your click through rate and cost yourself more money in the long run.
  1. Relevance of the Ad Text — Look at each ad you are running, and what keywords you are running that ad for. Does the text in the ad speak specifically to a consumer looking for a particular product or service, or is it more general? If your ad only contains general information, create a new one that is more specific. If the ad is specific, but the click-through rate is low, think of ways to connect with the user and to stand out from all the other ads on the page, what would make YOU click on an ad if you were searching for that service?
  1. Quality of the Landing Page — What will happen when the user lands on the page you are linking to? Will it load quickly? Will they be able to read it on a small mobile screen? Does it contain information specific to what they are searching for? Did you make a promise in the Ad Text like “$100 off your entire system” that isn’t mentioned on the page they land on? Many of the factors that determine the quality of a landing page for Google’s PPC algorithm are the same things that are addressed by Search Engine Optimization. If you have been doing PPC for a while, and you feel like your quality scores are stuck, an investment in SEO will likely have a positive impact.

Is Quality Score REALLY That Important?

If you care about how much it costs to get someone to pick up the phone and call you, it sure is! The truth about quality score is that the algorithm sees it in much greater detail than what Google shows you in your AdWords account, but what they do show you is invaluable information as to why your AdWords investments are making or losing money, and how to better manage your budget.

One of the most influential names in the business, the paid search tool vendor Wordstream, has amassed a large amount of data from their users about all paid search metrics. They have published some incredible findings about how important quality score is to your bottom line.

The score you see in your account is a number between 1 and 10. The worst is 1 and the best is 10. Wordstream has found, using a quality score of five as a benchmark that auctions won on keywords with a quality score of one pay about four times what the same position would cost a user who had a quality score of five for that term. Moreover, an ad placed with a quality score of 10 on average pays half what an ad with a quality score of 5 pays for the same position on the same keyword in the same location.

Think about that. That means that an ad with a poor score that pays $30 per click would pay $7.50 for the same click if they managed to get the score up to just average. And if you really do a great job and get the score to 10 (Note that this is a rare feat, 8 is considered to be an outstanding score) would pay $3.75 for the same click, from the same consumer, looking for the same thing, in the same location.

What does Quality Score REALLY Mean?

Let’s think about what that means. Fact. Not everyone who visits your website decides to do business with you. For simplicity’s sake, let’s use a 1/10 ratio for the imaginary keyword we are looking at here.

So if 10 people read what you have to say, one will call you to buy your product or service. That means that campaign managed by the guy who thought he could do it himself and didn’t want to pay the “exorbitant” management fees an expert would charge is paying $300 to get ONE PHONE CALL. While the guy who puts some time and effort into it, and has some idea of what he’s doing pays $75 for the same phone call, from the same consumer. The guy who hired the expert who managed to run the quality score up to 10 paid $37.50. Now look at it in terms of a $5,000 total budget. Business #1 got 16 calls. Business #2 got 66. Business #3 is rolling in the dough after receiving 133 calls on the same budget.

Yes, I just oversimplified everything. No, you can’t expect a quality score of 10 for all the terms in your keyword list. But hopefully, you’ve just seen why it pays to hire someone who really understands how to manage it! “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.” — Red Adair

What is Quality Score and Why is it So Important to me? Vol. 2

Magnifying glass on word keywordsOne of the best things Google did when they started the Pay Per Click revolution was they made it available to everyone. Any business owner if they chose could go in, create an AdWords account, set their geography, pick their keywords, and it’s off to the races. Of course, it’s also one of the worst things they did.

During this series, we are taking a deep dive into how AdWords actually works and why your bid isn’t the most important thing to pay attention to.

Why Is Quality Score So Important In PPC?

Our last post talked about what Google’s trying to accomplish and how AdWords works. This time, we will learn about why you need to be paying so much attention to your quality score.

One of the first things to do is to clear up some important misconceptions about quality score. Google’s PPC algorithm gives each keyword in your AdWords account a new quality score every time it is submitted for auction.  So every time a user does a search for a keyword you have in your account, your quality score is recalculated for individual auction. The misconception that quality score is an account level or adgroup level thing is dangerous since it gives someone not paying enough attention to detail a false sense of security. The same goes for the misconception that a quality score is set for a period of time, such as monthly. Quality score is fluid, constantly changing.

There are three main components that affect your quality score:

How relevant is the text in your Ad to the Keyword searched?

Here is where you begin to understand how much attention to detail is required to manage an Adwords Campaign properly. If a plumber just lumps all their keywords together under one Ad that says “I’m the Best Plumber in Ft. Worth, Texas” How can he expect a good quality score when that ad is placed in front of someone who just searched for Water Heater Repair in Dallas?

How Relevant is the content on the Landing Page to the Keyword searched, and how good will the user’s experience be when he lands on that page?

This is one of the biggest mistakes made by people trying to manage PPC accounts themselves. As with the example above, what is more relevant to the search, that plumber’s homepage, or the water heater repair page? Wouldn’t the consumer who just searched for “water heater repair” be better served by landing on a page that talks about exactly what he’s searching for? Why make him search around your site for it?

Also, will the user have a good experience on that page? Will it load quickly enough so the user doesn’t become frustrated? Will the promises you made in the ad be fulfilled by the information they find on the page? Is the page mobile responsive so a mobile user will be able to read it easily?

What Click Through Rate does this Ad get when displayed for this keyword when searched from this geography?

Notice the detail there. Search Engine Marketing experts often talk about the importance of Click-Through-Rate. It is the single biggest factor in determining your quality score, and although Google does not publish the details of exactly how the algorithm scores all the factors they look at, it is very clear that click through rate is far and away the biggest, most important thing it looks at. If you think about it, it makes sense. This is the only actual human factor the algorithm can measure. How often is the ad displayed for a particular search over how often it is clicked when displayed? If an ad is clicked very often when displayed for Italian Restaurant near me, then people must connect with it and want to see what’s behind it, so it must be a good result for that search. It’s important to remember that Google’s Algorithm, as smart as it is, doesn’t speak English. It speaks mathematics.

Click through rate is calculated at a per ad per keyword level though, not at the AdGroup or Account level. It’s another misconception that costs AdWords investors a LOT of money in wasted spend.

Check back with us next time when we conclude this series by talking about what can be done to improve your quality score and examine the effect an improved quality score has on the end result.

What is Quality Score and Why is it So Important to me?

PPC (Pay per Click Advertising)

One of the best things Google did when they started the Pay Per Click revolution was they made it available to everyone. Any business owner if they chose could go in, create an AdWords account, set their geography, pick their keywords, and it’s off to the races. Of course, it’s also one of the worst things they did.

For the next few weeks, we will take a deep dive into how Google AdWords actually works and why your bid isn’t the most important thing to pay attention to.

Smartly Investing in Pay Per Click Advertising

Investing in AdWords or any investment in paid online media is just that. An investment. Investing in anything without clearly understanding the market is a terrific way to lose money. Can you imagine participating in an antique auction with no understanding of the value of what you were bidding on or even how the bidding system worked?

Interestingly, the antique auction is a particularly good metaphor, since that’s what Google’s Pay Per Click advertising boils down to, the world’s biggest auction.

This is not an article to talk about how Adwords works, if you need to know that, it’s a good idea to have a long talk with a paid search expert before spending a dime.
Properly managing your pay-per-click budgets requires you to pay close attention to some factors. Those factors include but are not limited to conversion rates, cost per conversion, average cost per click, average position for each keyword, click through rates for each ad and each keyword, and one metric that will help you understand how and why a particular keyword is working for you: quality score.

How are PPC ads placed on Google?

To understand why quality score is so important, first you have to understand how Google places pay-per-click ads and how they rank the ads. For most searches, Google places seven pay-per-click ads on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP.) Anyone can place an ad linking to any page on their website. Each ad is given a position relative to all other ads bidding for that keyword based on that ad’s AdRank for that term. AdRank is determined by two major factors — bid and quality score.

Bid is self-explanatory. You set your bid based on how much you are willing to pay for a click through to your website. The click comes from a user doing a particular keyword search from an IP address located in a particular geographic area. You might be willing to pay a lot to bring someone to your website to learn about a very profitable product or service, but you might not be willing to pay as much to bring someone to your website if they are looking for a product or service that doesn’t benefit your business very much.
For this reason, Google allows you to set your bids keyword by keyword if you so choose. An Adwords manager professionally managing your pay-per-click budgets would easily pay that much attention to detail. Small business owners trying to manage their AdWords themselves, however often make the mistake of setting all their bids at the AdGroup level. This makes the bid the same for a large group of keywords, or even worse at the account level, bidding the same for every keyword they want to show up for.

One of the two ways an AdWords manager can improve the average position an ad is appearing in for a particular keyword is raising the bid for that keyword.

The other half of your AdRank score is your quality score. If it doesn’t make sense to increase your bid for a search, you need to improve your quality score. This is much trickier to accomplish and is often one of the most misunderstood things about pay-per-click advertising.
Let’s first look at why Google assigns quality scores. Why not just put the highest bidder at the top of the list? That would make sense, wouldn’t it? Not if you think about why Google exists, and why people use Google.

People use Google because they trust that if they search for something on Google, they will quickly find a web page that will answer their questions and provide them with the information they are looking for. The better Google does with helping you find your answers as quickly and efficiently as possible, the more likely you are to continue using Google, and not look for your answers elsewhere.

Imagine if you will, Google ranked ads only according to bid. You do a search for “Hospital near me.” If Google was paying attention only to bid, there is no way the small local hospital could outbid a big insurance company who wanted to place an ad in front of someone looking for a hospital to tell them they should have better insurance, right? But you’re not looking for information on insurance companies, and if the first three listings you saw were for Insurance companies, next time you tried juggling chainsaws with a hangover and needed to get to a local hospital, maybe you’d look on Yelp instead.

Understanding what Google’s trying to accomplish is a great first step. Check back with us as we continue this series and learn about why you need to be paying so much attention to your quality score and what can be done to improve it.

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