Category Archives: SEM – PPC/Paid Search

Strictly the paid search component of SEM

Find a Lawyer – How to Guide

How do I find an attorney/lawyer to represent my best interests and with whom I am able to speak freely? This question was posed to me recently by one of my best friends from college. If you don’t want to read this entire post, my executive summary was simple: Leverage the Internet as a decision-making tool.

  1. Use a broad-based, horizontal search engine (Google, Yahoo, MSN) to generate search results for sites that can be considered as subject matter experts. In this case, we are searching for local attorneys and lawyers.
  2. Search engines nowadays are intelligent enough to provide local results for broad queries such as “lawyers” or “attorney” in their search results pages. The same can be said for other verticals such as real estate and health/medical.
  3. On these search results pages, subject matter experts (aka vertical search engines) generally receive top placement.
  4. Intrinsically, broad-based horizontal search engines like Google are not designed to provide comprehensive, trustworthy content that they own… Being navigational in nature, search engines strive to provide search results listings to sites their algorithms consider most relevant to the search query entered.
  5. Personally, I like to use online search tools to evaluate and research both vertical directories as well as the end level service providers (individual real estate agents, doctors, or attorneys).
  6. Search for any reviews on the vertical search sites returned by your search on a broad engine – select one vertical search site with favorable reviews and use it to conduct a search on local attorneys who specialize in areas of law relating to your needs.
  7. Pick a couple attorney listings and save them in a spreadsheet.
  8. Conduct name searches for these lawyers/law firms on broad search engines like Google to see if they have any negative references.
  9. Rank attorneys on your spreadsheet using +/- scores for positive/negative references.
  10. Contact lawyer or law firm to set up a discovery call.
  11. Repeat #10 several times
  12. Select a lawyer/firm with whom you are most comfortable.

PPC Traffic Projections Part Deux: Estimating Impact

To compensate for the extended hiatus, let’s dive right into ppc estimates and projections for a new campaign. I can not stress enough how important it is to conduct keyword research as the initial step. Keyword research is comprised of not only aggregating search impression volume from the search engines, but also of mining data from the most important data set available to you – site side keyword searches and top navigational paths.

Regardless of how optimized your UI/UX is, visitors to your site generally can be bucketed into several conversion funnels. Even if you feel your UI/UX leaves much room for improvement, visitor behavior on the current version of your site can be used for product enhancement decision-making in addition to surfacing areas of opportunity.

ppc-projectionsI have always been a proponent of launching new campaigns using exact match and a disproportionately high daily budget. A tight list of exact match search phrases will allow you to maximize your CTRs. A high daily budget will allow you to compile performance data more quickly. There is not much optimization that can be done without this data with a sample size large enough to allow for a high confidence level. CPCs will obviously vary greatly by vertical, but the benefit of high CTRs is manifested in higher quality scores and subsequently lower CPCs.

Again, this is just my opinion, but I have always presented paid search traffic projections using matrices. Two-dimensional variable axes for CPC and CTR is usually a great starting point. This will get you to the visitation impact. We’ve only just begun. From here, you should create another matrix using visits and conversion rate as the two dimensions. This will give you a confident estimate for conversions.

At this point you will be able to calculate ROAS. Although ROI and ROAS are used interchangeably, they are entirely different beasts. ROI factors in overhead such as development effort and all ancillary resource costs. ROAS is plain and simple. ROAS = (Revenue)/(Media Spend). This number is usually represented as a percentage. 100% ROAS means you generate $1 of revenue for every $1 of media spend. If your ROAS is less than 100% then you have some “splanin” to do.

I will try my best to draft the third part of this series in the near future, but my boss is a slave driver. <– This is just a test to determine whether or not he actually reads my blog :)

PPC Traffic Projections and Investment Cases Part I

CEO/CFO/CMO: I’m sick and tired of hearing you complain about lack of budget and what you could do with $X additional budget for PPC. Create an investment case and provide an aggressive ROI/ROAS number to justify the incremental budget, you <expletive deleted>.

Direct Report Responsible for SEM Initiatives: Yes, sir/ma’am! (Mutters under breath, “How the !@#$ am I supposed to do that?”)

CEO/CFO/CMO: I’ll operate under the assumption you have the predictive forecast modeling in place already… So you’ll have the investment case to me in 15 minutes, right (It’s 6PM local time)???

Direct Report Responsible for SEM Initiatives: You betcha (Mutters under breath, “How the !@#$ am I supposed to do that?”)!

Direct Report Responsible for SEM Initiatives (Subsequently referred to as “SEM Analyst Who Is Severely Overpaid”) action plan: Crap, let me search for “PPC Traffic Projections.”

SEM Analyst Who Is Severely Overpaid: “Wow, the first organic search result is from Ian Leong’s SEM blog! He sure is reputable, credible, synonyms^100.”

12 minutes to go until guaranteed delivery time…

Measurable return and ability to predict site traffic impact are a couple of the greatest strengths of online advertising. Personally, I like to start with clearly defining the goals/objectives for the investment case.

Is visitation lift your primary metric for defining success? Or is there a conversion point (form submission, white paper download, product purchase) downstream that you can use to determine cost per lead or cost per acquisition? If branding (difficult enough to quantify) is your primary objective then I would consider adding a display advertising component. Otherwise, stick with paid search. Don’t underestimate the branding effect of search either. There is a great section on this in the 2009 Search Marketing Benchmark Guide from MarketingSherpa. No, I don’t work for them :) You can find similar research conducted by Enquiro here.

The Google External Keyword Tool can be used to estimate search impression volume for your keyword list and get average CPC’s for each. From there, you should probably extrapolate the total number of clicks based on three clickthrough rates (0.5%, 1%, 1.5% for example).

(Impressions) x (CTR) x (CPC) = Estimated Cost (Insert your budget here)

Now solve for total clicks using basic algebra. You DO remember how to manipulate numerators and denominators on each side of the equation, right? The methodology for display ads is similar except you will most likely be using CPM instead of CPC.

Once you have total clicks, you can take it further to attempt to close the loop. Take your existing site conversion data (visit to lead ratio, click to download ratio…) and cut it in half to be safe since your campaigns will obviously not be optimized at launch. Use that number to see what impact on conversion the incremental visitation will provide.

People who consider themselves “experts” in their fields tend to oversimplify things and fail to expand on points where “lay(wo)men” need further clarification. Although I don’t consider myself to be a SEM expert, I do believe I am well versed in the search space. Feel free to shoot me an email if you want to discuss this subject further or just to tell me I am an idiot :)

SEM Analyst Who Is Severely Overpaid: This guy actually sounds like he knows what he’s talking about. I can’t wait to read Part II of this series to see what else I can steal to repurpose for my own benefit!

Ian Leong’s response: Fret not, SEM Analyst Who Is Severely Overpaid! Plenty more tips you can take credit for after this message from our sponsers.

<Insert Interstitial, Roadblock, Intercept Survey…>