Tuesday 15 January 2013

Don't be a Target for Spammers

Are you plagued with spam through your Ads?  Are you seeing a lot of clicks generating only invitations to "improve your SEO" or "increase your page ranking" rather than making bookings or sales?  Could you be a target?

I am James Bond...
It may not be immediately obvious, but I'm a professional Advertiser (I don't know why that word deserves a capital A, but it looks more impressive).  As such I clearly drive an Aston Martin and spend most evenings at social events chatting to the rich and powerful, while dressed as James Bond.  Look here...

However, sometimes I do need to pay some bills so I'll search for companies that might not be doing as well with their Adwords as they could, so how do I do that?  The answer is depressingly simple and it's something that may be affecting your own campaigns if your Ad Groups are not tightly focused, your Keywords well chosen and your Ads properly written.

All I do is look for terrible Adwords Ads.  Take the following example; if I search for "cottages to buy in Northumberland" I'm clearly looking to buy a cottage in that county, no?  I'm not looking to rent one or let one for a holiday.  However, if I tap that search into Google (hang on...) seven of the nine Ads that show up are for holiday lets.  One of them (the only top-left Ad) is from a huge UK holiday home company (cough.. welcomecottages.com) who really should know better.  OK, you can argue that showing holiday homes to people who want to buy makes sense if they need to travel far to search for homes but it's a weak argument - I bet that applies to only a handful of potential buyers and, even if that is true, you should then be expressing that through the Ad creative copy.  One even says "Big Savings Xmas & New Year", I mean come on, get a grip.  Yes, that's you doxfordfarmcottages.com, stand up....

Then there are Ads that are just poorly written.  Let's try a search for "masham hotel".  One of the Ads has the text copy "Luxury Yorkshire Dales castle hotel and cookery school". There's a whole bunch going on there but I'll focus on just one thing.  The focus here is terrible.  If I'm looking for a hotel, I don't want to go to one that's a cookery school as well; I'm thinking "My food is going to be cooked by students and they run the hotel for guinea pigs".  It's a classic case of poor focus.  This is a big hotel, massively rich and well known in the area and this Ad has been running for at least a year.  C'mon swintonpark.com, stand up.  Oh for heaven's sake sit down Doxford.

Ads like this say only one thing to me.  "This company could improve their Adwords performance."  I know this to be true because I have holiday cottage clients who weren't using "buy" or "sale" as a negative and whose CTR almost doubled overnight when they were added.  I've had hotel clients that weren't targeting the right sort of customers.  If you charge £400 a night, make sure you're only targeting people looking to spend that much.  If you're more inexpensive, don't show your Ad to people who'll expect to have their bags carried from the Rolls to their room.

So why would this make you a target?  OK, your Adwords could be improved, but why does that mean I'm harassed by people selling SEO services?  Because, I would guess, they're making a logical leap.  If your Adwords is not set up well, there's a good chance your website isn't either.  To test this they're probably clicking on your Ad (costing you money) and having a look around before dropping you a line with that old "we can help you" spiel.

Of course, keeping your Ads focused is always a good idea, for many many reasons, but have a think about this one... It's not as obvious as most problems.

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