You’ve paid for search engine advertising but haven’t seen the results you expected. Why? Because you’re doing it all wrong. And this Paid Search expert will tell you how to do it right.

Tod Maffin: So paid search, before we start talking about what people are doing wrong. Let’s define paid search first, what are we talking about with that?

Mona Elesseily: You know when you go to say go wrong and you’re typing a query, you’ll see two types of results. See organic results which are kind of the results down the left hand side of the page and then you also see paid results are results that tend to appear at the top of the page and down the right hand side of the page that’s what we’re talking about. We were talking about paid search.

Tod Maffin: So I run paid search as before, I’ve like keywords on Google, I’d spend… I don’t know a few thousand bucks on them and I don’t know that I ever got ever more than like a handful of leads. What did I do wrong? What are people doing wrong when they’re buying these online ads?

Mona Elesseily: I’ll give you an example here. So panorama photo is a very broad term, let’s say you wanted to target. You were selling software that how to kind of stitch pictures together and put panoramic features together. If you chose the word panorama photo, I just think it could be people who are online looking who just want to see this panoramic pictures and a slew of other things, right? So, the mistake here is that people don’t really understand, they think oh, the broader my keyword terms the more broadly I’ll calibrate and the more traffic I’ll get and the more I’ll be able to generate sales, that’s not true. When you’re choosing keyword terms those keyword terms need to be really really specific to the products or services that you’re selling in order for you to generate sales, that’s the way it works online.

Tod Maffin: And I think lot of people are realizes this concept of negative keyword so you can eliminate phrases. So you know if you sell tennis shoes, you can say I’m looking for people who are searching for the phrase tennis shoes but not if they use the word cheap, discount or sale.

Mona Elesseily: Let say you had a few broad or keyword terms in your account for whatever reason you have a strategy based around broad keyword terms. Sure, they are extremely important there. They are also just as important when you have those specific keyword terms as you say like you might be targeting somebody who is looking for tennis shoes but not looking for running shoes, right so?

Tod Maffin: You know everytime I go in to the Google ad words sort of backend, it started out a few years ago really simple, it was like what keywords do you want to buy, how much you want to pay, click go. And now, it is this just monstrosity of complicated. I mean it’s great I guess for pros. Can the average person still go in and do this or do they need like is there… you know certainly there are large agencies that can do this for you really well but not cheap? Is there a middle ground, is there a way that people can get in to this and use it without kind of having to become an expert in paid search?

Mona Elesseily: Paid search back in a day and back in a day was probably 10 years ago was pretty easy. Now, you have… oh geez display, you have mobile, you have video, you have all sort of marketing and everything, you have all source of things you can do in there. So, if one wanted to do it themselves I would say that a really good way they kind of get yourself up to speed is to make sure that you’re reading there some really good websites out there that you can get some really valuable resources from. So one of them that I really like and that I write for as well because I like it so much is called search engine land. There’s a page search column there that you can read and there are a lot of fantastic writers there who am, are you know. And another part of this is that you have to be careful where you get your information because there’s a lot of misconceptions when it comes to paid search. So I would say make sure you’re reading but also make sure that you’re reading the right stuff.

Tod Maffin: I read that column, I read your column in there in fact and you talk about what you call a pain reliever page which I want to get to in the moment but other things that people are doing wrong aside from keywords. If you were to say other than keywords being too broad, what is the other thing that people are doing all wrong?

Mona Elesseily: People are not spending enough time thinking about the ads that they’re putting out. So you have a very small amount of space and you have to try to do a thousand and one things, right? You want to… this is a game of trying to differentiate yourself from other advertisers on the page, right? So what you want to do, is you want to make sure you know your unique selling propositions and your value propositions and you want to make sure that you’re matching them in your ads. This sounds really obvious, I know and especially big brands they think oh will people know what I’m all about, I don’t have to repeat that but you do, you do and conversions tend to go up quite dramatically when you do. A very good example with this is [inaudible]. You’ll notice up and down, left and right they’re always saying free shipping and returns although we know that you get free shipping and returns. You want to try to be as specific as possible with those ads to, so people tend to come and talk in terms of… you know come and we got great prices and we got… you know it’s just tends to be a very general they try to take one very general ad and make that ad apply to all search to different types of products, the best ads that are going to work for you, I mean the ad to speak specifically to the products and sources that you’re selling. And then you want to also make sure that your words are really simple. People don’t understand acronyms, they don’t understand industry jargon, so you just want to make sure that you’re speaking in the language that your customers tend to speak in and not doesn’t tend to be the language that people speak internally out of company.

Tod Maffin: If a day I was doing a search, you give a lot of keynotes speeches that do I as just Scott Stratten and Steve Dotto both of whom are on the podcast as well and I was doing a search for one of the names of… I don’t know why Google’s ad, for the names of one of the speakers bureau and in the ad section a direct competitor of theirs popped up. So I guess they bought the keyword of their competitor, is that legal?

Mona Elesseily: Yeah, you can be that.

Tod Maffin: I wasn’t sure, it seems a little… is that a common practice, do you recommend people do that?

Mona Elesseily: So what you can do is you can include the keyword term in your account but you cannot include the keyword term that kind of trademark term in your ad copy. So the brand owner will have an advantage and that that brand will appear in their ad copy. You however can appear for some brand terms I’ll say like the larger brands what they’ve done is they’ve gone in and spoke Google. There is no way that anybody can advertise for our terms but there’s certain terms that are ban but there’s others that are not ban whether it’s that wiggle term that I’ve just spoken of.

Tod Maffin: Over the most party, if you are the head of advertising of Nike you could theoretically buy the keyword Adidas to come up in a search. You just can’t mention Adidas in the actual ad copy, is that right?

Mona Elesseily: That’s exactly right, and that is if Nike and Adidas haven’t gone in and spoke Google place to ban on kind of their trademark terms so that nobody can advertise on them. I have a feeling those larger brands have done that.

Tod Maffin: So people use two broader keywords they don’t spend enough time crafting the ads, eliminate the acronym things like that. What is the third biggest thing that you see people doing all wrong?

Mona Elesseily: The third mistake that people make is that people are not testing different variations of their ads, so and small changes really small changes can mean box and really significant box actually. So I’ll just give you some example, you know when you’re testing ads there’s kind of a process that you work through at the beginning when you’re first testing, you’re going to test larger variations, right? So you’re going to test them, different value propositions, different unique selling propositions, different offers etc. As you are testing kind of… as you’re figuring out kind of those larger elements that work their testing is actually gonna get smaller but there’s still a lot of well hanging fruit when it comes to those smaller variables that you’re going to test. So there’s things like shop now versus buy now, there can be differences there. There’s a very simple test like a headline test, like including the word sale versus including the word online. Their significant opportunity to test here and their significant opportunity to see differences in your bottom line.

Tod Maffin: Can you do that even with a small budget, like I get if you got a $500,000 budget you can multi vary a test till it has come home but what if I’ve got $200 budget, is there room to do that?

Mona Elesseily: There are tools that can calculate your statistical significant, and you’re trying to calculate statistical significant yourself. I personally like to look at at least a hundred conversion of [inaudible] so that’s that means if you’re selling a widget a hundred sales of those widgets, so it can be a little bit harder. And that the data is actually quite deceiving, at the beginning you may think that something is pulling and something is working and then by the end of the test you’ll see that it’s actually something else. So, you have to be careful there. What I would probably do is that if I had a smaller budget, I’ve start with the product or service that kind of made a lot of sense to me, where there was opportunity online and throw all of my money at that and see if I can kind of get some insight as to what’s pulling and what’s not pulling and then I take that insight and I feed it in to the other campaign or other services or products that you’re selling as a starting point and then you just kind of work on testing those areas.

Tod Maffin: You know the podcast is called You’re Doing It All Wrong, so let me confess what I do wrong and I like the thing that I’ve stopped but sometimes I haven’t because I’m just lazy or something. Well I create an ad and the click destination, so where the webpage the people land on when they click, is sometimes has just been the front page of my website and I’ve learn through reading your articles in search engine land and other sites that the concept of a landing page, right at the page of the people I feel land on when they click is so critically important and you’ve got an area or a type you call a pain reliever page, tell me a bit about how that works?

Mona Elesseily: So in all of our testing obviously we’ve found that there are certain areas that, in changing landing pages, there are certain elements on the page if you include them or exclude them or if you tweet your pages that you’ll get lift, right? So there’s a few, I like an image. The image on the pages actually really important and…

Tod Maffin: Okay that’s the page people end up on?

Mona Elesseily: Yeah, the page that people end up on. The image on that page if you have an image on the page which you’ve should is really really important. So sometimes people try to get really cute and what they’ll try to do is like let’s say you’re selling condos and you’re generating leads, so they’ll have like somebody in the image scratching their head and they’re totally confuse and they don’t know what to do. Well, that’s cute but it wouldn’t and it doesn’t tend to convert as well if you had a page that had pictures of condos on it. People like to see that consistency, people’s brands or wired to see this consistency. So if they go from searching to stay in your ad that talks about condos, to see a condo on that page there’s that consistency there and convergence tend to be better. If people don’t know a lot about your company, it’s important to tell people a little bit about of you. You’ve been around since 1970 like these are kind of… it’s to develop trust, right? So think about the reasons that people coming by for you and tell them in a really short… not even a paragraph in short sentence or two kind of like we’ve been around since 1960 and we’ve done $18 million in sales and we’ve been featured in blah blah blah, you know this kind of trust elements tend to be really important on the page and people also want to know who they’re dealing with, right? So, I like feature because of benefits on a page. People don’t read pages anymore, they tend to scan them so what you want to do is you I like to include them on my pages as bullet points. And again, you need to know why people are purchasing from you right and knows features and benefits need to resonate with your end or with the target audience that you’re going after. Now, if you don’t know them a very good way to find out is by running page search ads, right? So, in this whole process you can kind of uncover them or discover what it is that kind of gets people interested in your product or service.

Tod Maffin: So using a link to the research tool?

Mona Elesseily: Yeah, exactly. Paid search is actually awesome as a research tool, awesome, awesome, awesome. There’s obviously the more traditional ways, you can do focus groups, you can talk to some of people that has bought your product or service etc. So there are a lot of different ways in which you can get that information but it’s important to have the information on the page. And then another element is you want to have a strong call to action and this is obviously really powerful because for a couple of different reasons, you obviously wanted to tell people what to do, people get confuse if they’re… you know they come to a page and they’re not kind of told what to do and another reason it’s important is that it helps you in your tracking, right? Oftentimes people kind of set up these campaigns but they’re not tracking the right matrix. So if you’re identifying your called to action that helps you kind of plug it in to your tracking as well as like I am selling widgets, so I am tracking the number of widgets that are sold. That’s a really easy example, oftentimes is not as easy like if you’re selling service or product or software sometimes people are downloading a white paper and then they’re going to the website and then they’re… if it’s to be to be product, let’s say you’re selling software, people are downloading a white paper and then maybe there was a phone call and then maybe there’s a sales of the cycle that is a little more complicated, it can help you with that as well.

Tod Maffin: Are there some things and called the actions that are sacrosanct that are scientifically proven and what I’m thinking of this is that you know the button that say buy now or download free white paper and I’m specifically asking about the color. You know I’ve seen all these debates that orange is the best color for buttons, no blue is the best color. Do we have an answer of that? What is the best color for a button?

Mona Elesseily: Well, I can tell you what the worst color is and that tends to be a red.

Tod Maffin: Wow, I see I would have thought that would have been right up there because it’s bright it stands out on the page.

Mona Elesseily: No, it’s like a stop color it’s like stop, don’t buy here and go away.

Tod Maffin: Wow.

Mona Elesseily: Oranges and blues tends to convert a little bit better I think just as importantly. It’s important to test the wording on your buttons as well, right? So, you know there’s a hundred different variations that you can include on a button so my advice to you is not only to test the color but to test the wording on the button and also to actually test the size of the button, sometimes when you increase the size of the button conversions tend to go up.

Tod Maffin: Mona, what is the biggest mistake you personally have ever made in a running online paid ads?

Mona Elesseily: Well, the biggest mistake that I made was that my ad copy was way too general and way too generic. So, I’ll give you an example. I work for Cathay Pacific and the ad copy was this follows: Fly at the heart of Asia with Cathay Pacific. This is way too general, who the heck is got to… you know this was 10 years ago nonetheless but if you look at the way they compete now, the airlines compete in terms of selling seats you know they’re talking about price, they’re talking about seat sales, they’re creating urgency, there’s only a few seats left. You know they’re telling you how many people have purchased this type of stuff is the… these are the elements that are going to help people buy.

Tod Maffin: What’s coming up in the future like you know what are things that people need to pay attention to in the next 18 – 24 months and how things are going to change and how they’ll have to adjust their strategies?

Mona Elesseily: This is going to be no secret to anybody but it’s mobile. So mobile is on the horizon, it’s here. Eventually, we’re going to be able to do everything on our mobile phones right? So right now we’re a little limited, the screen sizes are small, we tend to like to kind of search on our mobile devices and then go to our desktop and make purchases. By the end of 2015 half of clicks will be for mobile and then by the end of 2017 half of then will be for mobile.

Tod Maffin: Wow.

Mona Elesseily: This has to do… we’re going to be spending our ads or we’re going to be spending more money on mobile ads.

Tod Maffin: Should we be changing the copy or the headlines or the format of the ads to account for mobile?

Mona Elesseily: Right now what we’re saying is that people are going to their mobile phones to do things immediately, they want to make a purchase, they want to visit a store, they want to make a phone call. So reflecting this immediacy in your ads is really good and actually leads to higher conversions from what we have seen. So mentioning the word mobile, mentioning the word online, you know basically addressing that you know that people are coming to on their mobile devices is really powerful and helps in terms of conversions at this point.

Tod Maffin: I am looking forward to the day when my most part call vote to have a block so that it won’t let me buy… I mean I have a problem enough online shopping and looking at… you know that stupid that crazy one click on Amazon gets me everytime I swear at least once or twice a day and like yeah I’ll just get that. One of these days hopefully they will have a block form and it will be like no… yeah I go to click the buy now button and it will just say, “Tod, why don’t you think about that for a few days?” and then locked me out.

Mona Elesseily: I don’t think that’s the way advertising works but nice try.

Tod Maffin: It would be nice. Mona Elesseily, look she is one of the top paid search expert. She is VP of Online Marketing Strategy at Page Zero Media, she write at search engine land and a whole bunch of other one. You can see her and lots of marketing comfort it’s all over the world talking about the stuff and, where can people find you Mona if you they want more information?

Mona Elesseily: The company website is and you can also find me on Search Engine Land.