No Secret Sauce to PPC

, ,

Sometimes businesses or marketers dream of a “secret sauce” to doing SEO or PPC. Most of the time there is no “secret sauce.” There are tools and software, and they give an advantage, but usually it’s knowledge and work that really count. It’s not a cakewalk and it’s best learned when you’re passionate about what you do – (hat’s where we at OrangeSoda comes in).

Shoemoney posted a great article about optimizing your PPC campaigns by 16 year old super affilite Harrison Gevitrtz. He’s an affiliate marketer – so he makes money selling other people’s things for a commission. It also means no results, no paycheck. So I generally trust affiliates.

I call Harrison an affiliate baby – one of those kids who makes more than their parents (Harrison nets 6 figures). I’ve heard stories how parents call up Commission Junction asking why they’re sending their kid a check for thousands of dollars every month. It happens. It’s fun to see the play that Harrison brings to his work.

First, a great quote: “You’ll perhaps be amazed that there are no “secrets”. It’s not because I’m not telling you— rather, it’s a ton of hard work and a little bit of luck. It’s amazing how “lucky” you get when you work hard. Don’t believe the “get rich quick” scams that would have you believe a single piece of magic software or a single technique to find the right keywords is all you really need.”

I’m going to summarize the best points.

KEYWORDS – Quality over Quantity

  • Don’t load up your account with a large list of keywords. You’ll get penalized for having low quality keywords in your ad groups.
  • DO pick a few high quality terms per ad group. Group them by subject. Make sure they are relevant to the ads that will show for that group.

PPC ACCOUNT MONITORING AND OPTIMIZATION – Use your anayltics program and check bounce rate

  • Test your keywords. Run your campaign for a day or two (less if there’s lots of volume) and then look at which terms are driving the most volume. Do this by sorting keywords by click volume – in  descending order, using AdWords Editor.
  • Find out what keywords are driving the most clicks and the best quality conversions. Look at your ad groups and see what is performing best. Use that to create variations of the successful campaigns. Try other match types. Increase bids, etc.
  • Remove keywords that aren’t getting impressions or clicks. Also, cut ads that aren’t working.
  • When testing campaigns, choose the campaign setting to have ads rotate equally– don’t let Google choose. “Your profit is how many clicks you get times how much you net per click– it’s an inverse relationship, unless you are bidding on tail terms or perhaps certain branded traffic.”
  • Use your analytics data to get the bounce rate for your landing pages. If it’s over 60% cut it or optimize it.
  • Look at your own web site to see what organic terms people are coming in on. Add them to your PPC campaign. Conversely, create pages for your best quality PPC terms on your web site.

He doesn’t use the Google AdWords API or Google Analytics. Here’s what he has to say about that:

“I rarely even use the Google Adwords API– but do in cases where there is enough volume to make it worth putting automated bid management in place. You do get dinged on using the API, for those who don’t know, so AdWords Editor is a more effective prototyping tool. Once you have something stable, then you can consider scaling it to the moon and using the API.”

I’ve heard conflicting feedback from another super affiliate who does use Google Analytics. Also, he is pushing offers for other companies as an affiliate. Thin margins. I’m not savvy to if there is a drawback to using Google AdWords API. This is something to explore – there are probably tradeoffs to each way. If you’re an individual running your own accounts, this may be a luxury.

He recommends Tim Armstrong’s book on landing page optimization (does he mean Tim Ash??) and promoting related products on your landing pages. And, after a lengthy post, he jokes that he should write a book. I think that’s a great idea – but hire a good editor!

Since this is already long, I’ll summarize what Harrison says NOT to do on your PPC campaign in the next post. Thanks Harrison for sharing your knowledge!


Dennis Yu

Wow, this is a great post! Way to go in dispelling the “black box” PPC myths put forth by those get-rich charlatans that prey on people’s ignorance and greed. If professional affiliate marketers don’t always get it right, how can small business owners have a chance?

I am an analyst at Blitzlocal and I work with Harrison on doing PPC and SEO for local service businesses. There are a lot of firms out here trying to help local businesses– Orange Soda included– and we should work together to educate clients. Even though agencies like ourselves are doing the technical implementation, the client still has to have a business grasp on why we need good content, a unique selling proposition, offline conversion tracking, and so forth.

Educating clients– like what you’re doing here in this blog post– help the real agencies stand out and prevents the charlatans from selling snake oil, which is easy enough to do in the early days.

Barbara Bix


When I saw your article, I thought you were going to talk about the fact that companies can place high in organic search without a conscious keyword strategy.

One “secret” to success is developing winning content. If your company specializes in a particular area, and you provide valuable information about that area, you may rise to the top just because a lot of other companies link to you.

In my own case, that’s how a Wall Street Journal reporter came to contact me as a source for an article she was writing on a pharmaceutical company’s Internet marketing campaign. Although I didn’t have a PPC campaign–or even a keyword rich site, I had published several articles on email marketing in health care that others had referenced on their websites. To my surprise, she said my site popped up in the top 10 when she set out to research her article!

Janet Meiners

@Dennis – I agree – small business owners usually have so much to worry about that they can’t keep up on the technology. I’m sure that you, like us, get clients who have had a bad experience so they don’t trust your work.
Our work is much better if we have a good relationship with have with the business owner. Many want to hand it over completely (and I understand that!) but as you said, there are things they need to grasp some concepts to make the relationship profitable.

@Barbara, I agree that when it comes to search engine optimization (coming up in natural search results) a great strategy is to create valuable content that people will link to.

However, this often takes an engaged client – and many are not. We can create content for businesses but it’s always better if they are involved. They, of course, know their businesses better than we do.

Thanks for the comments!


Janet Meiners

Dennis, since you know Harrison, could you ask him for a link to the Landing Page Book? I couldn’t find one by Tim Tim Armstrong. Is it an ebook?