Successful Search Engine Marketing – 2. Creating Appealing Ad Text

In this second post in the ‘Successful Search Engine Marketing’ series, I’ll be providing some tips on how to make the most of the impressions your ads receive by writing compelling ad text.  Some of the recommendations in this post build on topics that were covered in the ‘Selecting and Organizing your Keywords’ article – if you haven’t done so already, check it out here. While many people will tell you that SEM is a largely scientific discipline, this is only partly true.  In order to be truly successful, you need to mix the more mathematical elements of SEM with the creative skills required in more traditional marketing channels.  Nowhere is this truer than when writing the copy for your ads.  Perfecting the delivery of your message to search engine users within a limited number of characters is an art form which can play a key role in generating qualified traffic to your website.

Most search engines have the same parameters for writing ad text, giving you a Headline of up to 25 characters, two Description lines of up to 35 characters each, and a final line for a Display URL, also with a maximum length of 35 characters.  That’s just 130 characters in total in which to get your message across to users, so you need to make the most of every word to encourage users to pick your site out of the list of advertisers returned by a search engine.

Make the Ad Text relevant and compelling

The first thing to make sure is that you are highlighting a unique selling point about your site in order to differentiate yourself from the competition and give users a reason to click on your ad.  Set users’ expectations by letting them know what they will see when they land on your website.  If the main selling point of your site is that offers CD reviews from thousands of users across millions of products, make that clear in your ad text.  This can help to improve not only the Click Through Rate (CTR) of your ads, but also the conversion rate of clicking on the ad to making a purchase on eBay.  Most of the time the more specific and targeted you can make your ad text the better. 

Last year eBay tested inserting the number of available listings for a specific product that matched purchased keywords into our SEM ads.  For example, a user searching for the video game ‘Call of Duty 4’ may have seen an eBay ad saying ‘948 items available’.  Compared to the best performing ad text we were running at the time, we found that including this information in the ad increased the CTR by 20% and the conversion from click to purchase by 10%.

Dynamic Keyword Insertion

You should also make sure that your ad is as targeted to what the user is looking for as possible.  One way to do this is by using ‘Dynamic Keyword Insertion’ to automatically insert the keyword purchased into your ad text.  This has two advantages when it comes to attracting a user’s attention: firstly, it gives the user an indication that your ad is relevant to what they were looking for; and secondly, any words in your ad text which match those used in the user’s query will appear in your ad in bold, standing out from the rest of the page.  In our experience, Dynamic Keyword Insertion works best when used in the Headline of your ad, as users tend to read this line first and so improvements to the ad text of your Headline usually have a bigger impact on your CTR than changes to the rest of your ad.  In addition, using Dynamic Keyword Insertion in your Display URL can be extremely effective, as it gives the user confidence that they will be taken to a page on your website that is relevant for the product they are searching for – though if you do this, you should make sure that this expectation of an appropriate landing page is met!  Dynamic Keyword Insertion is often most effective if used for ads purchased on Exact Match, since the keyword inserted into the ad matches perfectly the word(s) a user has typed into the search engine.  However, if used well Dynamic Keyword Insertion can still lead to a significant improvement in your CTR on Broad and Phrase match types.

In order to use Dynamic Keyword Insertion, you need to place the word ‘KeyWord’ inside curly brackets, followed by a colon and some alternative default text to be used in case the keyword purchased is too long to be inserted into the ad.  For example, if your website contains CD reviews and the keywords in your Ad Group are all the names of rock bands, you might submit an ad to a search engine with the Headline ‘Reviews of {KeyWord: rock} CDs’.  When a user search triggers your ad for the keyword ‘Green Day’, the user would see your ad with the Headline ‘Reviews of Green Day CDs’.  If the search was for a band with a longer name, such as Queens of the Stone Age, the alternative default text would be used and the Headline of your ad would read ‘Reviews of rock CDs’.  Given the developing trend towards searchers using longer keyword phrases, it is worth taking the time to optimize the default text you use with Dynamic Keyword Insertion, as users are now increasingly likely to see this part of your ad text.

Optimization

As with all other aspects of Search Engine Marketing, one of the most important things to remember is when creating appealing ad text is that you should be constantly testing and optimizing your ads.  In order to enable this, most search engines give you the option of having more than one ad in each ad group.  They will also rotate between your different ad combinations, giving them each a percentage of the total impressions for that Ad Group, in order to allow you to test which ad performs best.  In comparison to manually taking one ad out and putting a new ad in, this rotation of ads is extremely useful as it allows you to run true A-B tests of your ads, without having to control for external factors such as seasonality.  Given the numerous different variables to play with when creating ad text across four different lines of text, using this ability to rotate ads in a smart way is critical.

When you have multiple ads in the same Ad Group, there are two different settings you can use to rotate your ads.  The default setting for most search engines is to have the ‘Optimize’ option turned on.  This will rotate your ads, but insert the ads in that Ad Group which have the highest CTR into the auction to be shown against a user query more often than your ads with a lower CTR.  This has a number of advantages: firstly, since ads with a higher CTR are likely to attain a better position in the auction, you should receive a higher number of impressions as ads with lower CTRs may not appear on the first page of results; secondly, these impressions are more likely to result in clicks since these ads have a higher CTR; and thirdly, having ads with a higher CTR served more often should increase your Quality Score, thereby lowering the minimum CPC you need to pay in order to appear against certain keywords.

However, utilizing the ‘Optimize’ option for your ads is not always the right approach.  If you are A-B testing multiple ads, ideally you want to get an answer as to which ad is the best as quickly as possible, so that you can remove worse-performing ads from your Ad Group, leaving only the best performing (and allowing you to move on to your next test).  In order to do this, you need to be sure that the differences in ad performance are statistically significant enough to be able to say with a high degree of confidence that one ad’s performance is better than another’s because of the different ad text rather than any other random factor.  While there are complex formulae you can use to work out whether you have enough data to conclude that a difference in ad performance is statistically significant or not, ensuring that each ad has received at least 1,000 clicks is usually a good rule of thumb.  Using the ‘Optimize’ function to ensure that your best performing ads are shown more often means that it takes much longer for all of your ads to receive 1,000 clicks than would be the case if you turned this function off and rotated impressions evenly across your ads.

One other reason that using the ‘Optimize’ function is not always the best option is that CTR may not be the correct metric for which to optimize your ads.  While CTR gives a good indication of whether your ad is attractive to users, the clicks you are getting to your site from high CTR ads may not be very targeted.  For example, if you are a CD reviews site but use the Headline ‘Free iPods – click here’, you may well receive a large number of clicks, but those users will be disappointed when they actually reach your site.  Ideally you should try to track conversions from each ad variation separately, so that you can optimize according to the number of Purchases per Impression rather than CTR.  One real-life example here: a few years ago eBay tested using Dynamic Keyword Insertion in three of the four lines of ad text.  When analyzed on CTR, this ad outperformed all of our others by more than 20%.  However, when we looked at Revenue per Impression, an ad which included a message about finding great deals on eBay in Description Line 1 beat it by more than 20%, as the clicks generated were more targeted and converted better into purchases.  While optimizing ads according to Revenue per Impression takes more work than optimizing on CTR, it can be well worth the extra effort.   One way to do this would be to use a unique identifier in the destination URL of each search engine ad.  Then when traffic generated by this ad clicks on an eBay link, pass this same unique identifier through in the custom id field of the eBay Partner Network tracking link.  Then use the transaction download report to run analysis - see the advanced analysis section of this previous blog post for details on how to do this.

Stay tuned for my next blog post, in which I’ll give you some more tips on how to make those clicks pay even more by improving your landing page optimization. 

Chris Howard

European eBay Partner Network team leader and one time eBay UK SEM manager

Tiger Direct Holiday Sale - Up to 47% Off

The eBay Tiger Direct Store just launched a huge holiday sale featuring rock bottom prices on HDTVs, GPS units, Laptops, Cameras and more. The best deal is this Garmin Nuvi 255 coming in at a whopping 47% Off MSRP, only $99.99. Another favorite is the Acer Aspire One 10.6" Netbook available in pink or black for only $299.99. All of these deals feature Free Shipping and quantities are limited to supply on hand, so these could definitely sell out soon. The sale officially ends on 11/24/09, but some items may continue to be available beyond this date.

Use this deal file along with the link generator tool with either the custom url or item id feature to link directly to these products, or to the main landing page. We've got a heap of great sales lined up for the coming weeks, so keep an eye on the promotional category of ePN blog for the latest and greatest. Please note this specific promotion only applies to the US program.

The importance of using the correct tool id

The tool id is the part of your eBay Partner Network tracking link that identifies which tool you are using to drive traffic, whether that be a creative, Custom Banner, Link Generator, RSS or API call.  Although the tool id is included in links or code created within the eBay Partner Network interface, recently we’ve noticed that many of you aren’t using the correct tool id and whilst having the wrong id won’t break your links, it is still important to provide the right one for two reasons: 1. The Tool/Creative report can be very useful, especially if you have many different banners or widgets on your site, as it will enable you to identify the tools that are performing best. You can find the report in the of the Reports tab in the eBay Partner Network interface. 2. The eBay Partner Network team use tool level data to help optimize existing tools and make better decisions about future tool and widget development.

To check if you are using the right tool id, take a look at your tracking link.  In the example below the tool id is highlighted in red.

http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/707-53477-19255-0/1?campid=12345678&customid=87654321&toolid=10001&mpre=encrypted destination URL

The tool id should correspond to that of the relevant tool, banner or widget.  Therefore in the example above, the tool used is the Link Generator.  If you find that you are using the incorrect id, you should amend your tracking and insert the correct one from the table below this article.

If you are using the wrong tool id, we’d like to get feedback on when and why that has happened, so we’d be grateful if you let us know by commenting on this post.  This information will help us identify any issues and improve the product to make it easier for you to include the correct id.  We also know that many of you have custom-built solutions that combine multiple tools (for example, using multiple API calls to combine different data into one view for your users.) Please let us know if you think it would be helpful to have a separate Tool ID for a generic "Custom Tool" that you can use in these types of eBay integrations.

Thanks in advance for making the necessary changes to your links and your suggestions,

The eBay Partner Network team.

Category

Tool

Tool ID

Link

Link Generator

10001

API

PlaceOffer

10006

API

GetSearchResults

10007

API

GetProducts

10008

API

GetSearchResultsExpress

10009

API

GetCart

10010

API

SetCart

10011

API

FindItems

10012

API

FindItemsAdvanced

10013

API

FindPopularItems

10014

API

FindPopularSearches

10015

API

FindProducts

10016

API

FindReviewsAndGuides

10017

API

GetSingleItem

10018

API

GetMultipleIItem

10019

API

GetUserProfile

10020

API

GetMyWorld

10023

API

FindHalfProducts

10025

Widget

eBay ToGo

10003

Widget

Editor Kit

10004

Widget

RSS Generator

10005

Widget

Custom Banner - beta

10026

Widget

Relevance Ad

10028

Widget

Data Feeds

10029

Widget

Motors Widget

10030

NB – each banner has a different id, please visit the Creative Generator to find the correct one.

‘Tis the Season for Finding Great Deals on Gifts at eBay

You may be asking yourself, what can I do to optimize my site to take advantage of the Holiday Shopping Season? Well, we’ve been gathering information from several teams here at eBay to give you an update on exactly what to expect and ways you can leverage these promotions. Starting in early November eBay is launching a targeted offline ad campaign across several channels including major TV networks, magazines and newspapers, and even in-mall digital display boards. The tagline of this campaign is: Come to think of it™, eBay. This is great news for affiliates, because you can expect a large brand campaign like this to help make your online marketing efforts even more successful. Keep an eye out for new creative with this promotional messaging that you can use. Now, let us fill you in on some exciting promotions happening on-site. There is an art and joy to thoughtful giving. This year eBay’s holiday message is refreshingly short and sweet: “Gift Thoughtfully.” No other gift source delivers a greater diversity of interesting, meaningful, and affordable gift ideas – a unique combination of selection, value and the greater good.

This holiday season eBay plans to strengthen merchandising around the most popular gift items for Him, Her, and the Kids. There’s even a great Holiday microsite at Holiday.eBay.com that you can direct your visitors to. This is a useful page as it’s a hub for finding gifts for all types of people, including a promotion that will run from November 27th – December 8th called the 12 Days of Deals. During this time one deal each day will be launched as a mystery deal, pulled from our holiday product hotlist. The 12 deals will focus on Tech, Toys, Home, and Media category items that are sure to make excellent gifts! We plan to rotate in new “skins” during this time for the Daily Deal live banners to reflect the 12 Days of Deals promotion. Also, check out our 2009 Holiday Hotlist for items shoppers can’t wait to get their hands on this holiday season!

seasonal-468x60

We have updated our seasonal and World of Good creatives available for you to utilize to reinforce your Holiday messaging. You can find the seasonal creative in sizes 125x125, 120x600, 160x600, 234x60, 300x250, 468x60 and 728x90.

wog-468x60

You can select from updated World of Good creatives in sizes 300x250, 160x600, 728x90, 125x125, 120x600, 234x60 and 468x60.

Good luck with your holiday promotions,

The eBay Partner Network Team

Promote World of Good This Holiday Season

world-of-good-300x160 Now you can realize even more revenue from the eBay Partner Network when you add WorldofGood.com by eBay to your marketing mix. WorldofGood.com now offers multiple ways to include WorldofGood.com to your marketing mix, including new flash banners pulling live products, widgets, and Findings API support. The flash banners reflect a unique look-and-feel designed to appeal to socially conscious buyers who want unique artisan products that align with their values and interests. eBay charges sellers standard seller fees and commissions on WorldofGood.com items, so affiliates can make as much money with these as with regular items for sale on eBay. Best of all, because the WorldofGood.com market is highly targeted to a socially conscious audience, conversion rates can often be even better – which means a potentially strong revenue stream for you!

Here are some particularly interesting facts about this opportunity:

• WorldofGood.com provides a sustainable shopping experience. The site surfaces unique item attributes such as Goodprint, Trustology, and producer photos and stories, building an emotional connection and credibility with the user. • The marketplace targets the LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) segment, a US marketplace that’s at $227 billion and growing fast. • More than 200 unique sellers, each verified by one or more respected, independent Trust Provider organizations, sell on WorldofGood.com. • The site features thousands of ethically sourced, Fair Trade, and eco-friendly products showcasing artisans and craftspeople from around the world in more than 40 categories, including Jewelry, Art, Home & Garden, and Bags & Purses. • A “shopping cart” (not available on eBay!) enables WorldofGood.com buyers to purchase multiple items from multiple sellers in a single transaction. This is a great benefit for affiliates - the cart value per transaction could be high. • A robust Community hosts hundreds of discussions, blogs, and articles – sharing the WorldofGood.com team’s expertise with buyers and sellers, engaging them in the process, and educating them on sustainable shopping.

What’s the program? The WorldofGood.com program is run by the EPN. The listing fees and final value fees are the same. The revenue share reflects your share of eBay’s actual revenue, not the final sale price of the items purchased. Your earnings are direct deposited into your PayPal account. Your reports will show your WorldofGood.com activity as a line item, so you’ll be able to view and optimize your campaigns to maximize your potential eBay Partner Network revenue.

With the new Quality Click Pricing model, the size of your site doesn’t matter. The price paid per click on a given day will be published the following day. You’ll be paid for each click that is directed to an eBay site. The price paid per click will be dependent on the quality of the traffic delivered to eBay.

What do I do next? eBay Partner Network and WorldofGood.com have all the tools you need to run very successful campaigns. And WorldofGood.com offers its own banner ads that you can upload to your site. You just need to ensure that all your traffic is tracked and that you abide by the terms and conditions.

Get started!

1. Link Generator: This is the same as eBay.com. Select the Custom URL option. Go to WorldofGood.com, copy the URL, and then paste it in the Custom URL field. Fill the rest of the fields and click Generate Link.

2. Creative: WorldofGood.com will be publishing new flash creative that will surface live items in the near term. a. 120x600: Tool ID 711-53200-19255-144 b. 160x600: Tool ID 711-53200-19255-141 c. 300x250: Tool ID 711-53200-19255-140 d. 468x60: Tool ID 711-53200-19255-146 e. 728x90: Tool ID 711-53200-19255-142 f. 234x60: Tool ID 711-53200-19255-145 g. 125x125: Tool ID 711-53200-19255-143

3. Widget: Go to http://worldofgood.ebay.com/widgets/ and build a custom WorldofGood.com widget. Earn affiliate revenue by entering your EPN campaign ID.

4. APIs: WorldofGood.com is supported by the following API’s. Add “ItemFilterType” parameter in request with value of “WorldOfGoodOnly” for the following APIs. a. findItemsByKeywords b. findItemsAdvanced c. findItemsByCategory d. Construct the Worldofgood.com URL: http://worldofgood.ebay.com/viewItem?ItemId=ENTERITEMID

If you’re not already registered for the eBay Partner Network, sign up now.

Learn more https://www.ebaypartnernetwork.com/files/hub/en-US/index.html https://publisher.ebaypartnernetwork.com/files/hub/en-US/aboutEbay.html

To your continued success,

The eBay Partner Network Team

No Payment Threshold for November 2009 Payment

Hello Partners, As promised in our blog post from July, we will be removing the minimum threshold again for the November payment disbursement. The payment disbursement from Wednesday, November 25, 2009 will have no minimum threshold. This means that as long as your eBay Partner Network account is in good standing, you will receive your outstanding balance paid in full, even if your balance due is less than 25 (USD, CAD, EUR, GBP or AUD).

For the November 2010 disbursement we will remove the payment threshold again, allowing us to better serve you.

Note that as always, eBay Partner Network reserves the right to suspend payment temporarily if a Partner is placed under investigation for violation of our Code of Conduct or our Advertiser Terms and Conditions. In such a case, the Partner will be contacted.

Thank you for your continued partnership. The eBay Partner Network Team

New Reporting Features Coming November 11th

Hello Partners, We are rolling out new reporting features on November 11th, and we want to make you aware of the new functionality.  

By Month

You will now have the ability to run reports ‘By Month’ in addition to the current options.  The ‘By Month’ report is similar to the ‘By Day’ report, but summarizes and graphs your metrics by month.  You must choose a date range and can optionally filter your results for a single campaign, tool and/or program.  The graph for the ‘By Month’ report will plot data for each month in the date range you selected. You can also change the graph to display daily data for an individual month by selecting that month in the report.

How to run a ‘By Month’ report: Once you are logged-in to the eBay Partner Network dashboard, go to the ’Run Report’ tab and select ‘By Month’ as the Report Type.  Then select criteria from the following filters and click the ‘Run Report’ button:

  • Date Range
  • Program
  • Campaign Name/ID
  • Tool Category
  • Tool Name or ID ( pre-populated when selected)

Transaction Download Report

Please note that under the Quality Click Pricing payment structure, when running Transaction Download Reports manually you will need to run the ‘Download all events’ option in order to access your report.  This option will now be the selected by default.  Note that the report content has not changed and that there will be no impact to publishers that automatically retrieve this report via the ePN API.   When accessing the report via the ePN API you will need to continue specifying ‘Download all Events’ in order to access your report. 

Click Filtering (on-going enhancements)

We have had a few reports that some of our affiliates have been experiencing issues with bots inflating their click numbers.  We have been working on a few additional click filtering rules to continue to improve our capabilities in this area and ensure click counts in ePN are an accurate representation of valid clicks.  We will continue to roll these out in the coming weeks.  

We continue to try and improve the tools and reporting that is available for our partners.  If you have thoughts or suggestions, please send them to Affiliates-Program-US@ebay.com.  While we may not be able to respond to all suggestions personally, we value your input greatly.

To your continued success,

The eBay Partner Network Team

Murray Newlands' Top Ten Tips for Writing Product Reviews

Murray Newlands is a reformed lawyer, who began his internet marketing career in 1999. Murray’s impressive career includes working with leading agencies, advertisers and networks. In addition to founding the affiliate network Affiliate Heat, and author of eBooks such as Carbon Footprint Ebook and Twitter Ebook, Murray is an evangelist of green affiliate marketing. You can find out more about Murray here. murrayhead

Top Ten Tips for writing product reviews on your sites:

1. Know the buyer. It sounds obvious but products are bought by people. Knowing who is going to purchase the product will help you to focus on writing content geared toward them. If the item is going to be bought by a 18 year old girl your review will be quite different then if your buyer is a 50 year old male biker.

2. Enter the buyers' conversation. Once you know your buyer and you are about to write your review, consider the terms your buyer will search for, what questions they will have about the product and how the product will help them. Then tailor your review using keywords for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) of your blog. Use Google External https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

3. Be specific. People who start searching for a product look for "red shoes". People who want to buy and are close to making a definite decision are more specific. They know what they want. They will search for "2008 Red Nike Air Trainers size 10 US".

4. Use product numbers. Ever search for a toner cartridge for your HP Laserjet 64p N? If so, you know what I mean. You need to find just the right product and you search using product numbers. The same is true for computer accessories, electronics, gadgets and auto parts among other product categories.

5. Make the writing personal but professional. Writing in your own voice and using your own words helps buyers connect with you. Buyers are more likely to buy from someone they connect with.

6. Take product photos. Photos add authenticity to your review and show the condition of the product.

7. Make a video. More than anything, a video of you demonstrating the product brings it to life. This also adds to the authenticity of the item and increases your trust value to the reader.

8. Be seasonal. Different products sell well at different times of the year. Consider what people are buying and why they are buying before you write your review. Think about holidays, especially gift giving events. Plan your reviews so that buyers have time to get their purchase shipped.

9. Sell related products in the review. A review can cover more than one product. Promoting memory cards when reviewing a digital camera is an example of this. You can include the keywords people use when searching for these two items in one post.

10. Use the brand. eBay is a well known brand for people who buy online. Your review can reflect that eBay is a trusted site where they can find the products they need and want.

Find more on Murraynewlands.com Marketing Blog.

Thank you Murray, The eBay Partner Network Team

Successful Search Engine Marketing – 1. Selecting and Organizing Your Keywords

Many of you will know that Chris Howard leads the European eBay Partner Network team, but what you may not know is that in a previous life he spent five years running eBay UK’s Search Engine Marketing team.  In this article and in subsequent posts, he will be sharing some of his top tips for optimizing SEM traffic to your site. When speaking to publishers, one of the questions we are asked most frequently is how people can improve the quality of traffic they are sending to eBay.  While there are a number of ways in which you can do this, one of the most important things you can do is to optimize the traffic to your own site.  We know that Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is one of the main sources of traffic to many of our publishers’ websites, therefore we thought this would be a great opportunity to blog about some SEM best practices.  The tips are a mixture of basics and some more advanced techniques, so hopefully there will be some information of value for publishers of all levels of SEM experience. 

I have divided the tips into six main areas of focus and I will cover off the first of topics here, with the others following over the course of the next few weeks. 

1. Selecting and organizing your keywords 2. Creating appealing ad text 3. Landing Page design and optimization 4. Where to buy your traffic 5. Deciding how much to pay for your traffic 6. Optimizing for success

1.  Selecting and organizing your keywords

Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the most crucial aspects of running a successful Search Engine Marketing campaign is choosing the correct set of keywords to purchase.  Within this, there are three different elements that you should consider: creating your keyword list; targeting your keyword list; and organizing your keywords to maximize their chances of success.

Creating your keyword list

The most important factor here is to make sure that the keywords you are purchasing are relevant to your site.  Untargeted keywords are likely to get a very low Quality Score from the search engines.  Not only will this mean that you have to pay a high minimum CPC for these keywords, but it can also have a negative impact on the performance of more targeted keywords you are purchasing.  Though all search engines operate slightly differently, in most cases keywords for which you do not have a large amount of history have a Quality Score assigned to them based on the performance of other keywords in the same AdGroup, or, if there is still not enough data, all keywords in the same account.  In other words, large numbers of untargeted keywords can undermine all of your other SEM efforts.

When generating your keyword list, make sure that you do not just use high volume, generic terms.  For example, if you have a site offering CD reviews, don’t just focus on buying keywords such as ‘CD reviews’.  Longer, more specific keywords – for example, ‘Green Day album reviews’ or ‘21st Century Breakdown CD reviews’ – often convert better and normally have fewer other advertisers bidding for them, meaning you can drive traffic from them at a lower CPC. 

There are many different ways to generate good quality keywords to help send traffic to your website – here are a few of our favorites: • If you have search functionality on your website, look at your query logs to see what terms people are searching for.  If people are using a keyword to search on your website, the chances are that an ad for your site on a search engine targeted at the same or similar keywords will generate some interest from search engine users. • If you have product catalogs on your site, the names of these products can often prove to be good keywords.  Likewise, if you integrate eBay listings directly onto your site, you may be able to use the listing titles to generate relevant terms. • If you track the organic traffic coming into your website from search engines (otherwise known as traffic from Search Engine Optimization, or SEO), look at which keywords this traffic has come from.  These keywords can be very valuable in SEM as well, especially if searching for them does not bring your website up on the first page of organic results. • Search engines offer you a variety of tools to help you generate keywords relevant to your site.  For example, Google offers the Keyword Tool which provides ideas for keywords based on generic terms you enter (e.g. ‘CD reviews’) or the content of your pages.  Google also offers the ‘Search Query Performance Report’, which shows you the raw user queries that generated an impression for your keyword ads (see the section on ‘targeting your keyword list’ for more details). • There are also a number of ways for you to access data on the best performing keywords on eBay for your particular area.  For example, the Pulse, Bestselling Artists, Popular Keywords and Popular Products pages all give lists of keywords and products users regularly search for and purchase on eBay.  For more detailed data, Terapeak offers a wealth of information about the most successful keywords on eBay whatever categories you are looking to promote.

Targeting your keyword list

Once you have decided which keywords you want to purchase, you need to decide how closely a search engine user’s query needs to match the keyword you have bought in order for your ads to show – in other words, which ‘Match Type’ you want to use.  Most search engines offer three different Match Types for your keywords: Broad, Phrase and Exact.

• Broad Match is the default option. If you purchase the keyword 'CD reviews,' your ad could appear when a user's search query contained either or both of the words ‘CD’ and ‘reviews’ in any order, possibly along with any other words – for example, a user query for ‘review Green Day CD’ could trigger an impression for your ad. • Phrase Match is selected by entering your keyword in quotation marks – for example, “CD reviews”.  More targeted than Broad Match, your ad can show when a user search includes the words ‘CD reviews’ in that order, possibly along with other words.  For example, your ad could be triggered by a search for ‘Green Day CD reviews’, but not by a search for ‘reviews of Green Day CD’. • Exact Match is selected by entering your keyword in square brackets – for example, [CD reviews].  In this instance, your ad can only be triggered by a user searching for the words ‘CD reviews’ in that order, with no other words before or after. 

There are pros and cons of each of these Match Types.  While Broad Match gives your keywords the most extensive coverage and is therefore likely to generate more traffic for you than Phrase or Exact Match, the traffic you receive will probably be less targeted, since your ad may show for some less relevant queries.  One way to reduce the impact of this on Broad and Phrase Match Types is through use of another Match Type, Negative Match.  By putting keywords preceded by a ‘-‘ symbol into your AdGroups or Campaigns, you can prevent irrelevant user queries from triggering your ads.  For example, if you own a site about golf equipment, you may want to purchase the keyword ‘golf’.  In this case, it would be a good idea to add negative keywords such as ‘- courses’ and ‘- volkswagen’.  You should also use Negative Match to comply with your merchant’s Terms and Conditions – for example, when purchasing keywords for your websites you should always include the word ‘eBay’ and misspellings on Negative Match.

Conversely, using Exact Match will give you lower traffic volumes, but the traffic you do receive is likely to be more targeted.  The revenue you will make on each click from a keyword in Exact Match also tends to be more predictable since you know in advance exactly what a user will have typed into a search engine to trigger the ad.  Similarly, if you are inserting the keyword purchased into your ad text, an Exact Match ad will normally perform better than a Broad Match ad since the language used in the ad will match perfectly to the user’s query (for example, when a user searches for ‘CD reviews’, he or she would see an ad featuring the words ‘CD reviews’).  In order to achieve a high level of traffic when using Exact Match, building out a large list of less-generic keywords is crucial.  One method many advertisers use is to purchase more generic keywords on Broad Match at a low CPC in order to generate new, long-tail keywords to buy on Exact Match.  If your tracking system supports it, we would also recommend that you track the conversions coming through from each user query that triggered one of your Broad or Phrase Match ads, and compare these with the clicks for each of these queries in your Search Query Performance Report.  This will tell you which queries will be valuable to add as Exact Match keywords and which should be added as Negative Match keywords.

Organizing your keywords

Once you have decided which keywords you want to buy and which Match Type(s) to use for those keywords, the next step is to organize these keywords into logical ‘Ad Groups’.  The way in which you structure your keywords is important for a number of reasons.  Firstly, most search engines store your ads at an Ad Group level.  What this means in practice is that the ad text a user sees will be largely the same for all the keywords you have put into the same Ad Group.  For example, if you have an entertainment site divided into two sections, CDs and DVDs, you should have at least two Ad Groups, one for CDs and one for DVDs, in order that you can tailor your ad text specifically for the relevant keywords.

The second reason that it is important to structure your keywords logically into Ad Groups is that, as mentioned above, most search engines store some component of their ‘Quality Score’ evaluation of each advertiser at the Ad Group level.  One of the main inputs to this Quality Score is the Click Through Rate (CTR) for ads in that Ad Group.  Since this can impact the amount you must pay per click for all keywords in that Ad Group, it is important to keep keywords of a similar theme in the same Ad Group in order to make your ad text as targeted as possible, thereby increasing your CTR, Quality Score and hopefully reducing your CPCs!

A third reason that the structure of your Ad Groups is important is that looking at your data at an Ad Group level can be a useful, manageable way to analyze the performance of your traffic.  If SEM constitutes a large proportion of the traffic into your site, we would recommend that you structure your SEM Ad Groups and eBay Partner Network Campaigns along similar lines.  This will make it significantly easier for you to tie together how much it costs you to drive traffic to your site and then on to eBay Partner Network with how much you will earn for this traffic.  This information is crucial for optimizing which of your keywords you should continue to purchase, as well as all other aspects of Search Engine Marketing that we will cover in the blog posts over the coming weeks!

Chris Howard

ToolUp Sale - Up to 74% Off through 11/2/09

Today the Tool Up eBay store just launched a huge tool sale complete with name brands like Makita, Skil, Dremel & Milwaukee, all up to 74% off retail. These brand new products all come with Free Shipping, including this highly sought after Makita 18v 7 piece combo set for only $589!

This sale runs from now through November 2nd 2009, unless certain items sell out ahead of time. Please take a look at this deal file for all the details surrounding each product in this sale. In order to link to the main landing page or individual products, use the custom link generator tool with either the custom url or item id options. Please note this specific promotion only applies to the US program.

- The eBay Partner Network Team