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The Holy Trinity of Paid Search

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Andy Black

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The Holy Trinity of Paid Search

The smallest unit you should consider with Paid Search is the
“Search Term -> Ad -> Landing Page” (ST-AD-LP).

This unit is so important that I call it the “Holy Trinity” of paid search.

Get it right, and your CTR will increase, your conversion rate will increase, and you will get the Google AdWords algorithm working for you.

Get it wrong, and you crash and burn.

It’s knife edge stuff, and if you don’t do it right, then you’ll lose to your competitors that do.



Never judge a landing page in isolation!

You might have a landing page for Dublin Plumbers that you say converts at 30%.

I say it converts someone looking for a Dublin Plumber who clicked your ad for Dublin Plumbers at 30%.

If I sent someone looking for Car Insurance to that landing page then it has no chance of converting at 30%.

Make sure that what people search for is in the ad, and in the landing page.

This is the default ST-AD-LP combination that you want to start with.

Search Engine Marketing is that simple: give people what they are looking for.

(And remember, there is a reason it’s the “Search Term -> Ad -> Landing Page” unit, and not the
“Keyword -> Ad -> Landing Page” unit. The search term is what someone searched for. The keyword is what you’re bidding on. They aren’t always the same thing.)

Using Google is a painful experience.

You have to guess what to type to find what you want.

And then you have to find the most relevant listing in a page full of competing listings.

Most people don’t read the page, they scan.

They want to leave the Google search results page as soon as possible and find what they are looking for.

So your creative emotional-hot-button-pushing ad copy is worthless if no-one has read it.

Have an initial ST-AD-LP unit where you echo back the search term in both your ad and your landing page.

At least get the baseline CTR and conversion rate for this simplest combination before you get all “creative” with your ad copy.

Then you know what you have to beat if you want to go down the split-testing route.

ST-AD-LP Example 1 (a “short head” search term)





ST-AD-LP Example 2 (a “long tail” search term)





And here’s the last 30 days stats for the resulting AdWords campaign:

 

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Kaloyan Yankulov

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Props for the great result and sharing this info with us.

I'm curious what keywords were you bidding for? Was it an exact match that you bidded for? Also, what was the competition.
 
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Mostly:
+service +location

Competition is reasonably high, but they don't all echo back the search term in the ad (which is usual for local lead gen and what makes it the soft underbelly of paid search).
 

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(You might want to read this post first.)


The Holy Trinity of Paid Search

The smallest unit you should consider with Paid Search is the
“Search Term -> Ad -> Landing Page” (ST-AD-LP).

This unit is so important that I call it the “Holy Trinity” of paid search.

Get it right, and your CTR will increase, your conversion rate will increase, and you will get the Google AdWords algorithm working for you.

Get it wrong, and you crash and burn.

It’s knife edge stuff, and if you don’t do it right, then you’ll lose to your competitors that do.



Never judge a landing page in isolation!

You might have a landing page for Dublin Plumbers that you say converts at 30%.

I say it converts someone looking for a Dublin Plumber who clicked your ad for Dublin Plumbers at 30%.

If I sent someone looking for Car Insurance to that landing page then it has no chance of converting at 30%.

Make sure that what people search for is in the ad, and in the landing page.

This is the default ST-AD-LP combination that you want to start with.

Search Engine Marketing is that simple: give people what they are looking for.

(And remember, there is a reason it’s the “Search Term -> Ad -> Landing Page” unit, and not the
“Keyword -> Ad -> Landing Page” unit. The search term is what someone searched for. The keyword is what you’re bidding on. They aren’t always the same thing.)

Using Google is a painful experience.

You have to guess what to type to find what you want.

And then you have to find the most relevant listing in a page full of competing listings.

Most people don’t read the page, they scan.

They want to leave the Google search results page as soon as possible and find what they are looking for.

So your creative emotional-hot-button-pushing ad copy is worthless if no-one has read it.

Have an initial ST-AD-LP unit where you echo back the search term in both your ad and your landing page.

At least get the baseline CTR and conversion rate for this simplest combination before you get all “creative” with your ad copy.

Then you know what you have to beat if you want to go down the split-testing route.

ST-AD-LP Example 1 (a “short head” search term)





ST-AD-LP Example 2 (a “long tail” search term)





And here’s the last 30 days stats for the resulting AdWords campaign:




----------

In case you're still tempted to judge your landing page in isolation...

Read this post.

Thanks for putting so much effort into a clear write-up + pictures and PROOF with that *insane* 31.5% CTR. Holy cow.

Based on what you're saying, I'm trying to improve how I think about "SEARCH TERMS" vs "KEYWORDS" in my Adwords account.

If I expand this thought, it seems Google's "Search Intent" cannot be tricked, fooled, or beguiled.
And, it's about *quality* over *quantity* when it comes to the Keywords in your Adwords account.
Am I getting this right?

You want to be as accurate and targeted as possible with the ST - AD - LP:
  • Nailing the Searcher's Intent with your Keywords, and NOT accidentally attracting Search Terms with low intent or low relevance,
  • Hitting the Searcher with the perfect Targeted Ad in a top position,
  • Sending them to a super-targeted but simple Landing Page with a clear, consistent message and a prominent Call-To-Action.
  • Following up ASAP ("answer the phones!!")
Let me know if I'm getting it, or missing the point? :) @Andy Black
 
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Thanks for putting so much effort into a clear write-up + pictures and PROOF with that *insane* 31.5% CTR. Holy cow.

Based on what you're saying, I'm trying to improve how I think about "SEARCH TERMS" vs "KEYWORDS" in my Adwords account.

If I expand this thought, it seems Google's "Search Intent" cannot be tricked, fooled, or beguiled.
And, it's about *quality* over *quantity* when it comes to the Keywords in your Adwords account.
Am I getting this right?

You want to be as accurate and targeted as possible with the ST - AD - LP:
  • Nailing the Searcher's Intent with your Keywords, and NOT accidentally attracting Search Terms with low intent or low relevance,
  • Hitting the Searcher with the perfect Targeted Ad in a top position,
  • Sending them to a super-targeted but simple Landing Page with a clear, consistent message and a prominent Call-To-Action.
  • Following up ASAP ("answer the phones!!")
Let me know if I'm getting it, or missing the point? :) @Andy Black
Yep, everything except you don't *have* to be in top ad position to get started. Bid what you can afford to pay for your CPCs, then increase your EPCs so you can keep pushing bids.
 

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(You might want to read this post first.)


The Holy Trinity of Paid Search

The smallest unit you should consider with Paid Search is the
“Search Term -> Ad -> Landing Page” (ST-AD-LP).

This unit is so important that I call it the “Holy Trinity” of paid search.

Get it right, and your CTR will increase, your conversion rate will increase, and you will get the Google AdWords algorithm working for you.

Get it wrong, and you crash and burn.

It’s knife edge stuff, and if you don’t do it right, then you’ll lose to your competitors that do.



Never judge a landing page in isolation!

You might have a landing page for Dublin Plumbers that you say converts at 30%.

I say it converts someone looking for a Dublin Plumber who clicked your ad for Dublin Plumbers at 30%.

If I sent someone looking for Car Insurance to that landing page then it has no chance of converting at 30%.

Make sure that what people search for is in the ad, and in the landing page.

This is the default ST-AD-LP combination that you want to start with.

Search Engine Marketing is that simple: give people what they are looking for.

(And remember, there is a reason it’s the “Search Term -> Ad -> Landing Page” unit, and not the
“Keyword -> Ad -> Landing Page” unit. The search term is what someone searched for. The keyword is what you’re bidding on. They aren’t always the same thing.)

Using Google is a painful experience.

You have to guess what to type to find what you want.

And then you have to find the most relevant listing in a page full of competing listings.

Most people don’t read the page, they scan.

They want to leave the Google search results page as soon as possible and find what they are looking for.

So your creative emotional-hot-button-pushing ad copy is worthless if no-one has read it.

Have an initial ST-AD-LP unit where you echo back the search term in both your ad and your landing page.

At least get the baseline CTR and conversion rate for this simplest combination before you get all “creative” with your ad copy.

Then you know what you have to beat if you want to go down the split-testing route.

ST-AD-LP Example 1 (a “short head” search term)





ST-AD-LP Example 2 (a “long tail” search term)





And here’s the last 30 days stats for the resulting AdWords campaign:




----------

In case you're still tempted to judge your landing page in isolation...

Read this post.

Fantastic insight - absolutely going to keep this in mind as I build on. Rep+
 
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LittleJohn

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The Holy Trinity of Paid Search

The smallest unit you should consider with Paid Search is the
“Search Term -> Ad -> Landing Page” (ST-AD-LP).

This unit is so important that I call it the “Holy Trinity” of paid search.

Get it right, and your CTR will increase, your conversion rate will increase, and you will get the Google AdWords algorithm working for you.

Get it wrong, and you crash and burn.

It’s knife edge stuff, and if you don’t do it right, then you’ll lose to your competitors that do.



Never judge a landing page in isolation!

You might have a landing page for Dublin Plumbers that you say converts at 30%.

I say it converts someone looking for a Dublin Plumber who clicked your ad for Dublin Plumbers at 30%.

If I sent someone looking for Car Insurance to that landing page then it has no chance of converting at 30%.

Make sure that what people search for is in the ad, and in the landing page.

This is the default ST-AD-LP combination that you want to start with.

Search Engine Marketing is that simple: give people what they are looking for.

(And remember, there is a reason it’s the “Search Term -> Ad -> Landing Page” unit, and not the
“Keyword -> Ad -> Landing Page” unit. The search term is what someone searched for. The keyword is what you’re bidding on. They aren’t always the same thing.)

Using Google is a painful experience.

You have to guess what to type to find what you want.

And then you have to find the most relevant listing in a page full of competing listings.

Most people don’t read the page, they scan.

They want to leave the Google search results page as soon as possible and find what they are looking for.

So your creative emotional-hot-button-pushing ad copy is worthless if no-one has read it.

Have an initial ST-AD-LP unit where you echo back the search term in both your ad and your landing page.

At least get the baseline CTR and conversion rate for this simplest combination before you get all “creative” with your ad copy.

Then you know what you have to beat if you want to go down the split-testing route.

ST-AD-LP Example 1 (a “short head” search term)





ST-AD-LP Example 2 (a “long tail” search term)





And here’s the last 30 days stats for the resulting AdWords campaign:


Is the Trinity still the Trinity today (2019) or has this evolved to something different?

Also, in the example "short head" and "long tail" search terms are distinguished but the only difference is the city after the search term. I must be missing something.

Anyway, Andy obviously you contribute a lot on this area and I am also learning a lot. So thank you.
 
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Is the Trinity still the Trinity today (2019) or has this evolved to something different?

Also, in the example "short head" and "long tail" search terms are distinguished but the only difference is the city after the search term. I must be missing something.

Anyway, Andy obviously you contribute a lot on this area and I am also learning a lot. So thank you.
# Should we still focus on Search Term > Ad > Landing Page?

People still want to find what they’re searching for, so yeah, I still try to put the search term into the ad and the landing page.


# Long tail vs short-head

Visitors searching with a location in their search term are more likely to be searching for a local service business than people who don’t.

Someone typing in “washing machine repairs” could be trying to figure out how to do it themselves.

When they type in “washing machine repairs dublin” they’re trying to find someone.


Calling it long-tail isn’t strictly correct... maybe more people search for “washing machine repairs dublin” than just plain old “washing machine repairs”.


A longer-tail version of “washing machine repairs” might be “candy washing machine repairs” ... because it’s likely searched less often.

A longer-tail version of “washing machine repairs dublin” might be “washing machine repairs rathmines”, because Rathmines is a location within Dublin and likely searched for less often.


Long-tail to me just means to more specific searches with lower volume, but often a more specific intent.

Like the search “hydraulic components” vs the search for the part-numbers of all hydraulic components. One search term is much lower volume but more precise than the other. I look for the long-tail and would load up every single part-number for the hydraulic components you stock.
 

LittleJohn

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# Should we still focus on Search Term > Ad > Landing Page?

People still want to find what they’re searching for, so yeah, I still try to put the search term into the ad and the landing page.


# Long tail vs short-head

Visitors searching with a location in their search term are more likely to be searching for a local service business than people who don’t.

Someone typing in “washing machine repairs” could be trying to figure out how to do it themselves.

When they type in “washing machine repairs dublin” they’re trying to find someone.


Calling it long-tail isn’t strictly correct... maybe more people search for “washing machine repairs dublin” than just plain old “washing machine repairs”.


A longer-tail version of “washing machine repairs” might be “candy washing machine repairs” ... because it’s likely searched less often.

A longer-tail version of “washing machine repairs dublin” might be “washing machine repairs rathmines”, because Rathmines is a location within Dublin and likely searched for less often.


Long-tail to me just means to more specific searches with lower volume, but often a more specific intent.

Like the search “hydraulic components” vs the search for the part-numbers of all hydraulic components. One search term is much lower volume but more precise than the other. I look for the long-tail and would load up every single part-number for the hydraulic components you stock.

Interesting and thank you for going further. I can see how your examples make sense.

Your reply and other bread crumbs I've pulled from your threads regarding Google ads is to put ads out for search terms (exact match) in this form (Your service [and] town) and do so for the 5-20 or so surrounding towns and then direct that ad to the landing page that indicates that service is done in that specific town. I imagine I still need to tell Google specifically where to run these ads because obviously you wouldn't want ads for a service run out of your service area.

Also, today I learned (laughing ensues) that you have to do the Free Google Business listing and I think this listing will actually display before organic results or even ads in some cases. So this is little necessary thing you have to do as well. I don't think I've seen this mentioned before so I imagine it could be a somewhat obvious step that anyone running a business would soon figure out.
 

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Andy Black

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Interesting and thank you for going further. I can see how your examples make sense.

Your reply and other bread crumbs I've pulled from your threads regarding Google ads is to put ads out for search terms (exact match) in this form (Your service [and] town) and do so for the 5-20 or so surrounding towns and then direct that ad to the landing page that indicates that service is done in that specific town. I imagine I still need to tell Google specifically where to run these ads because obviously you wouldn't want ads for a service run out of your service area.

Also, today I learned (laughing ensues) that you have to do the Free Google Business listing and I think this listing will actually display before organic results or even ads in some cases. So this is little necessary thing you have to do as well. I don't think I've seen this mentioned before so I imagine it could be a somewhat obvious step that anyone running a business would soon figure out.
You don’t need to do the Google Places listing.

I rarely use exact match. Mostly I use modified broad match with negatives.

If I was to run +washing +machine +repairs +dublin then it would be throughout Ireland. Even if they’re down in Cork typing that in, I want the ad to show.

The other style is to have a campaign IP targeting the city of Dublin, where the keyword is +washing +machine +repairs.
 

LittleJohn

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You don’t need to do the Google Places listing.

I rarely use exact match. Mostly I use modified broad match with negatives.

If I was to run +washing +machine +repairs +dublin then it would be throughout Ireland. Even if they’re down in Cork typing that in, I want the ad to show.

The other style is to have a campaign IP targeting the city of Dublin, where the keyword is +washing +machine +repairs.
If its true that Google Places listing sometimes displays before organic and paid ads and offers a way for customer searching for Your Service Business to tap to call you why wouldn't a business owner need to do this? Please clarify or tell me why my assumptions and understanding is wrong. Seems like a pretty easy thing to do for a business to increase their visibility.

Interesting on rarely using exact match - I must have gotten things mixed up. Ill look at broad match with negatives. Lots to learn and figure out with Google ads for sure.

Interestingly I found one business owner had poor results using the name of the service he provides as a search term and found using 'weather [town]' to be something that works well for him. It sounded like he was getting ads in front of a lot of people (everyone searches weather, right?) and then for those interested in the back of their mind for his service would click and then he would get business that way.

For me this means that Google ads might really be a lot of trial and error or seeing what works to find the keywords/search terms to go after to try and get customers. I tell myself you just gotta keep going after it and figure it out as you go.
 
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If its true that Google Places listing sometimes displays before organic and paid ads and offers a way for customer searching for Your Service Business to tap to call you why wouldn't a business owner need to do this? Please clarify or tell me why my assumptions and understanding is wrong. Seems like a pretty easy thing to do for a business to increase their visibility.

Interesting on rarely using exact match - I must have gotten things mixed up. Ill look at broad match with negatives. Lots to learn and figure out with Google ads for sure.

Interestingly I found one business owner had poor results using the name of the service he provides as a search term and found using 'weather [town]' to be something that works well for him. It sounded like he was getting ads in front of a lot of people (everyone searches weather, right?) and then for those interested in the back of their mind for his service would click and then he would get business that way.

For me this means that Google ads might really be a lot of trial and error or seeing what works to find the keywords/search terms to go after to try and get customers. I tell myself you just gotta keep going after it and figure it out as you go.
You said they “need” to create a Google Places listing. It’s not a requirement is all I’m saying.
 

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Andy,

Your content and enthusiasm continues to be awesome...there is so much, it can be overwhelmingly GOOD!!!).

Looking for clarity...once someone lands here, do "you" collect and forward the information to your trusted washer machine friend?

Is there a better thread to take me from the "Trinity" to what to do after the lead gen capture?



As always...Thank you.
 
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Andy,

Your content and enthusiasm continues to be awesome...there is so much, it can be overwhelmingly GOOD!!!).

Looking for clarity...once someone lands here, do "you" collect and forward the information to your trusted washer machine friend?

Is there a better thread to take me from the "Trinity" to what to do after the lead gen capture?



As always...Thank you.
Thanks for reading, and your kind words.

We have the client phone number on the website, and contact-form-fills get sent direct to their email inbox.

I actually spoke to a GDRP consultant about our model and she loved that we didn't collect any data. "You're already GDPR compliant!" she gushed.
 

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Thanks for reading, and your kind words.

We have the client phone number on the website, and contact-form-fills get sent direct to their email inbox.

I actually spoke to a GDRP consultant about our model and she loved that we didn't collect any data. "You're already GDPR compliant!" she gushed.

My pleasure...

Ok, so THAT particular website/domain (LP) you built has "A" particular washer repair client's phone number. Got it.

And so to speak, one washer guy in one area. Then one plumber in the same area (different LP) and one house cleaner in the same area too (different LP). Then duplicate the same businesses in other areas of the county for example?
Each with different LP's and each with "their" own company phone number.

And then, how do you prove you were the "source" of the LEAD-Gen and how do you invoice/bill? Is this some of the monthly revenue you mentioned and having set-up a fixed cost no matter how many leads they receive?

I was going to PM you, but figured putting this here in layman's terms would help others too. There is an end goal! ...while helping others.
 
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My pleasure...

Ok, so THAT particular website/domain (LP) you built has "A" particular washer repair client's phone number. Got it.

And so to speak, one washer guy in one area. Then one plumber in the same area (different LP) and one house cleaner in the same area too (different LP). Then duplicate the same businesses in other areas of the county for example?
Each with different LP's and each with "their" own company phone number.

And then, how do you prove you were the "source" of the LEAD-Gen and how do you invoice/bill? Is this some of the monthly revenue you mentioned and having set-up a fixed cost no matter how many leads they receive?

I was going to PM you, but figured putting this here in layman's terms would help others too. There is an end goal! ...while helping others.
Yep. One page per client. Often the page is on their domain. Often it's their website.

10 years in we're only just getting to grips with all that conversion tracking malarky. Why only now? Because the business owner often doesn't gaf about the number of calls Google Ads has reported - because they want sales, not calls. And they want high ticket sales, not any old sales. Sure, having the conversion tracking in place helps so we're adding it in, but I've been in businesses buying 1 million clicks a day with very little if any tracking in place. All we cared about was the Daily Trading - How much did you spend? How much did you make?

Yes. I like the "$XXX/mth or 10% of ad spend" pricing.
 

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I see you've set up a landing page for the search term 'washing machine repairs Dublin' and another one for the search term 'washing machine repairs Rathmines'.
I suppose you don't do that for each and every search term, but just for the best performing ones. Right?
 

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I see you've set up a landing page for the search term 'washing machine repairs Dublin' and another one for the search term 'washing machine repairs Rathmines'.
I suppose you don't do that for each and every search term, but just for the best performing ones. Right?
I have one page with a dynamic headline now.
 
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Oh, I understand. Thanks Andy!
That page was from about 10 years ago too. I’m sure it would still work as it’s about getting the headline right and looking legit enough. Nowadays it’s super important to look and work well on mobiles.
 

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You don’t need to do the Google Places listing.

I rarely use exact match. Mostly I use modified broad match with negatives.

If I was to run +washing +machine +repairs +dublin then it would be throughout Ireland. Even if they’re down in Cork typing that in, I want the ad to show.

The other style is to have a campaign IP targeting the city of Dublin, where the keyword is +washing +machine +repairs.
So just to clarify you prefer the modified broad match with negatives over the one-exact-match-keyword-per-adgroup structure?
 
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So just to clarify you prefer the modified broad match with negatives over the one-exact-match-keyword-per-adgroup structure?
Yes, I use modified broad much more often than exact match. Exact match has it's place when a search term has high enough volume.
 

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Hey Andy thank you for all this information! This is so powerful!

One question (total beginner here): I just started my first google ads campaign to generate some leads for small local businesses. So the best way to start is to basically use +service +city as the keyword and then go from there?
 
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May 20, 2014
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Hey Andy thank you for all this information! This is so powerful!

One question (total beginner here): I just started my first google ads campaign to generate some leads for small local businesses. So the best way to start is to basically use +service +city as the keyword and then go from there?
Yes, I’d start with their brand name, and those keywords.
 

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