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Four Tricks to Gain an Unfair Advantage on AdWords

Published: January 11, 2008

Author: David Rodnitzky

Editor’s Note: This article was originally posted on Search Marketing Standard. If you’d like to Sphinn it, please use this link.

Not all AdWords are created equal. You can gain an unfair advantage over the competition with these four simple steps.

1. Use Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI). DKI takes the user’s search query and puts it right into your advertisement (assuming there is enough space). For example, you could create a headline with DKI that looks like this: {KeyWord:Nike Shoe} Sale. If the user types in “Nike Air Jordan” into Google, he would see an ad that says:

Nike Air Jordan Sale (the search query would be bolded).

A user who types in a query that is too long, would just see:

Nike Shoe Sale.

Google has a tutorial on DKI if you want to learn more.

2. Use Geo-targeting. Google allows you to serve your ad to a specific set of countries, states, cities, or even distance from a specific point. The obvious advantage to geo-targeting is that you can limit your ads to just users in an area where you sell your product, and you can also created geo-specific ad text (ex: “Attention Montana Farmers!”).

But the other secret to geo-targeting is that the fact that you have geo-targeted your ad shows up below the ad text. Do a search for “bankruptcy lawyer”, for example, and you’ll see several ads that say something like “San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA” below them, indicating the ad was geo-targeted. This is a great way to get some free ad space for your ad and to convince user that you are the most relevant ad for them.

Here’s the link to Google’s tutorial on targeting.

3. Add Google Checkout. As I’ve noted in the past, signing up for Google Checkout is a no-brainer for retailers, simply because you get a giant Google Checkout logo displayed next to your AdWords text. This is basically the only colorful graphic on any Google SERP and reports suggest that CTR can increase by as much as 20%-30% by having this logo displayed next to your ad.

The goods on Google Checkout here.

4. Use Custom 404 Redirects to Add Fake Subdomains. I figured I’d save the most complicated tip for last. A “custom 404 redirect” basically means that your Webmaster sets up your Web site such that anyone who types in an incorrect page URL for your site is redirected to a custom page, instead of the blank “404 Error: Page Not Found” that the user would normally see. For example, let’s say that you type in www.blogation.net/ihateblogation and that page doesn’t exist. With a custom 404 error, I can set up a rule that automatically redirects you to http://www.blogation.net/. To see a real-life example, type in www.apple.com/davidrodnitzky.

The advantage of custom 404 redirects with respect to AdWords is that you can create any display URL you want in your ad text. For example, let’s say you have the URL “mortgage-finder.com” and you buy the keyword “San Mateo mortgages.” With a custom 404, you can buy ad text with a display URL that looks like this: San-Mateo.Mortgage-Finder.com. As long as this page doesn’t redirect to a blank 404 page, Google will allow you to buy this ad, even if the sub-domain “San-Mateo” doesn’t technically exist on your site. [Editor’s note: some folks on Sphinn have also suggested using *.mydomain.com as an alternative approach, but I can’t confirm that this works].

When you put these four techniques together, you can create an irresistibly-targeted ad for Google searchers. Can you imagine seeing an ad that includes your search query, your location, a giant Google Checkout logo, and a highly-specific display URL and not wanting to click on it?

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