Yes, it’s that time of year again already. You haven’t even sat down for Thanksgiving dinner with friends or family, and already everybody is clamoring to compile their “Best [insert topic here] Articles of 2014″ lists.
Well, this round-up of 2014’s best paid search articles is worth checking out, because these posts offer tips, tricks, and insights that could help you start your 2015 campaigns with a bang.
I’ve categorized each article by PPC topics, so you can quickly check out the articles that are most relevant to your job. I’ve also added a key takeaway from each article, so you can still walk away with some valuable information even if you’ve only got time to skim through the list.
So, without further ado, let’s look back at the best of the best from this year – so far, that is.
1. 10 Things Nobody Tells You About Google AdWords - Entrepreneur
Getting into paid search is kind of like learning to drive – you’re going to stall out a few times, but before long, you’ll be cutting everyone off and leaning on your horn like a seasoned veteran. In this Entrepreneur article published in late September, Zebra Advertisement’s CEO Rocco Baldassarre breaks down ten things that nobody bothers to tell you when you first get into AdWords.
The first thing Rocco hits on is self-explanatory to paid search pros but is easy to miss for the novice, and that’s the fact that AdWords is much different now than it used to be. Strategies and tactics that were one highly effective could very well be outdated today.
Rocco also touches on the almost inevitable feature creep that can ruin even formerly high-performing AdWords accounts. Remember – just because a tool or feature is available doesn’t mean you have to use it.
2. These 10 Analytics Reports Will Improve Your AdWords Results - Search Engine Land
Most paid search professionals know that you can integrate AdWords data into Google Analytics, but fewer actually bother to hook the two applications up. However, failing to do so could mean valuable insights slipping through the cracks, leading to misguided assumptions at best and costly mistakes resulting from bad data at worst. Check out this article by Frederick Vallaeys on Search Engine Land to learn more.
If you learn just one thing from Frederick’s article, it should be that integrating AdWords data into Google Analytics can help you track more complex conversion paths. As we all know, users rarely take the path of least resistance between arriving at your site and ultimately converting, so understanding often-complex conversion paths is essential.
3. The Top 10 Best PPC Hacks… Ever! - WordStream
I’m going to take the liberty of including a couple of my own articles in this round-up, the first of which is this post from the WordStream blog from September. Based on a popular webinar that I co-hosted with Thue Madsen from KISSmetrics, this post includes ten ways you can turbocharge your PPC account.
Ever tried to win an argument by making your opponent mad? Do the same with your PPC ads. One of my top 10 PPC hacks is manipulating your prospects’ emotions with your ad copy, a remarkably effective strategy that can yield impressive results. Read how to do this, and much more, in the post.
4. 6 Key CRO Lessons I’ve Learned As Editor - ConversionXL
Tommy Walker has extensive firsthand experience of what it takes to really improve conversion rates. In this post from early November, Walker outlines six key lessons he learned during his tenure as editor of ConversionXL, all of which can – and should – be applied to your own campaigns.
Reiterating a point I’ve made repeatedly in the past, Walker advises against focusing on the small stuff like changing button colors. Sure, testing for these optimizations certainly has its place, but it shouldn’t overshadow the bold changes that could yield real results.
Oli Gardner, CEO of Unbounce, knows more than a thing or two about CRO. Fortunately for us, Oli offered some great lessons about optimizing for higher conversions in this guest post for The Moz Blog in May. Featuring tons of high-quality examples and accompanying screenshots (and more than a few jokes), this guide might just be the most entertaining guide to CRO you’ll ever read.
It’s hard to condense this excellent guide to a single takeaway, but one recurring theme everyone should remember is that failing to account for user expectations is probably the fastest way to tank your conversion rates. If you promise a user something, you’d better follow through and deliver what they expect.
6. Everything You Know About Conversion Rate Optimization is Wrong - WordStream
Can’t see the forest for the trees when it comes to CRO? You’re not alone. There are so many “experts” out there preaching a false gospel about conversion rates that it’s little wonder that many marketers are so full of misinformation. In this post from the WordStream blog in March, I outline why conventional wisdom about CRO is likely to lead you astray, and what you should be focusing on instead.
Don’t believe everything you read on the internet, especially when it comes to conversion rates. It’s that simple. Like a game of telephone, it doesn’t take long for well-intentioned advice to spread like wildfire and end up doing more harm than good.
This year, Facebook made it pretty clear that you’ve got to pay to play, much to the chagrin of marketers everywhere. However, even a minimal investment in Facebook advertising can boost your visibility significantly, and in this post from The Moz Blog in February, Brian Carter shows you how a budget of even $1 per day can yield real results.
Although Facebook has become largely useless for organic purposes, it’s a powerful platform for paid advertising. Fortunately, you don’t need to be heir to the Rockefeller fortune to see a return on investment from Facebook advertising, so check out the data Brian presents in this post and then get to work.
These days, personalization is paramount. With the amount of rich demographic data marketers have at their disposal, there’s no excuse for anybody not to be tailoring their content to highly specific audiences. In this post from March, Marty Weintraub of AimClear explains why combining psychographic targeting with content marketing is a sure-fire recipe for success and backs up his assertions with a lot of actionable data.
It’s time to fundamentally reevaluate what display ads can do for your business. Rather than think of display ads within the context of traditional advertising, instead think of your display ads as extensions of your existing content production calendar and a means to generate conversions faster, drive influencer awareness, and increase your social footprint.
I’ve been evangelizing about content remarketing for some time now, but I’m consistently surprised by how few marketers are leveraging this incredibly powerful technique. In this guest post for HubSpot from October, I explain how to design content remarketing campaigns that will increase click-through rates, overcome user ad fatigue, and provide you with the return on investment that your content deserves.
In today’s media environment, great content simply isn’t enough anymore. The “build it and they will come” mindset can be a long, painstaking process that might not even yield any real results. Start creating content with remarketing in mind and get ready for a tsunami of satisfied readers clamoring for more of what you’re offering.
10. The Ultimate Retaliation: Pranking My Roommate with Targeted Facebook Ads - My Social Sherpa
You already know how powerful Facebook ads can be, but this post from My Social Sherpa was too good not to include in this list. Brian Swichkow explains how, by creating a custom audience segment of one individual (his unsuspecting roommate), he was able to pull off one of the funniest pranks of the year. It’s a very funny read, but there are some valuable lessons for marketers in here, too.
If you know your target audience well enough, the sky’s the limit when it comes to ad targeting. Sure, Swichkow used this to hilarious effect with this elaborate yet inexpensive prank, but the experience demonstrates how highly segmented paid social targeting can be one of the most effective ways of reaching audiences with niche products or services.
For many marketers, Pinterest is easily overlooked. However, this sleeping giant could become one of the marketing industry’s dominant powerhouses if it plays its cards right. In this Forbes article from November, Jeff Bercovici explains why Pinterest should be on everybody’s radar as an advertising platform, and why the popular social platform could pose a genuine threat to established players like Facebook.
While Facebook and Twitter offer marketers an invaluable insight into users’ lives, Pinterest promises something few other platforms can offer – a glimpse at their desired future. Pinterest users exhibit levels of intent rarely seen on other social networks, and this data could prove hugely influential to marketers seeking to understand where users want to be in the future, not just where they are today.
12. With New Ad Platform, Facebook Opens Gates to Its Vault of User Data - The New York Times
Few industry announcements were as eagerly anticipated as Facebook’s momentous decision to capitalize on its vast database of user information as part of its relaunched Atlas advertising platform. Unveiled during the Advertising Week conference in New York, Atlas will revolutionize online marketing, so much so that even the Gray Lady took notice.
Although the prospect of unprecedented targeting options offered by Atlas had marketers practically salivating, this New York Times piece also raised some valid questions about Atlas’ impact on user privacy and the perception that user data is being sold to the highest bidder. Facebook may well be standing on the precipice of a truly game-changing technology, but Mark Zuckerberg’s cavalier attitude has burned him in the past. Will history repeat itself? Only time will tell.
13. Farewell ‘Pure’ Exact Match, AdWords Will Soon Require All Campaigns to Use Close Variants - Search Engine Land
Paid search might not have the mainstream appeal of paid social, but that doesn’t mean major announcements by Google have any less weight. In my final pick of marketing articles of the year so far, Greg Finn writes for Search Engine Land about Google’s decision to mandate all campaigns use close variant matching in AdWords.
Although this move could have beneficial impacts for some advertisers, the lesson here is that Google can — and does — change the rules of the game frequently. The outcry over this move wasn’t as loud as those of previous announcements, but it’s important to remember that if we want to play in Google’s sandbox, we have to abide by the rules – even those we don’t care for.
Well, that just about does it for this round-up. Of course, we’ve still got around five weeks until the New Year, which is plenty of time for some more excellent PPC marketing content to be published.
What marketing articles would make your top list of 2014? I’d love to hear about your favorite PPC marketing articles of the year so far in the comments.
The post Looking Back At The Top 13 PPC Marketing Articles Of 2014 (So Far) appeared first on Search Engine Land.