Learn With Google Recap

Yesterday I attended a “Learn with Google” event in Miami and boy howdy did I come away with a lot of ideas to implement and test. I also learned how the other half lives. You know, the half with dedicated reps who love them and pay attention to them.

ASIDE: I’m beginning to feel a bit like a Google stalker here. PAY ATTENTION TO ME. Love Me. LOVE MEEEE!

So, as it happens, one of my clients was (mysteriously) assigned a Google team on his account which is actually what prompted my rant about all clients needing better customer service. When you have a dedicated Google team (this goes beyond just a rep – it’s an actual TEAM of Googlers who shower attention and love onto your account), you get invited to events like Learn with Google in Miami – which was essentially a four hour training seminar followed by dedicated 20 minute sessions with Google optimizers. It was extremely informative and I can honestly say that I came away with a TON of really good advice from a lot of really smart Google employees. Oh, and did I mention that I won a brand new Android Tablet? Well, I did and awesome doesn’t begin to describe how awesome it is. NEW TOY, NEW TOY, I GOT A NEW TOY!!

But I digress, now onto the good stuff…

Payton Dobbs, the Manager of Online Sales at Google opened the sessions with a reminder to focus on five key components of marketing, all starting with the letter C. Competitors, Consumers, Company, Collaborators, Context. I got the order all mixed up here because I was taking notes using very outdated technology – namely, a pen and a notebook. What that means, in a nutshell, is that it’s important to look at the entire ecosystem of your online presence when building and/or optimizing your PPC campaign and not just the campaign itself. I think this is a really important point. We often get really focused on managing quality score and keywords and bids or we obsess about certain metrics like CTR or impression share or ad position. Yes, all of these things are important, but if you’re trying to move the needle on conversions (and, really, that should be your key focus) then you HAVE to know what’s going on around you, and figure out how you fit into the picture yourself.

Luckily Google provides a whole host of (free) tools to help with that. Some of them I knew about and already use, but some were new to me and I can’t wait to start playing with them:

Insights for Search Is a great tool for identifying keyword trends and tracking search behavior. It enables you to track volume trends on keywords you input over various regions and time periods. You can also compare keywords against each other. It’s very handy for predicting how to allocate your budget if your business is event-driven or has volume shifts based on the season (e.g., holiday shopping, vacation planning). You may be surprised at what you learn.

Google’s Ad Planner is in the category of tools that I haven’t really spent any time with, but really, really want to. The tool used to be owned by Doubleclick and helps to identify web sites where your target audience is most likely to visit. It’s a great way to uncover sites that you can then test ads on within Google’s display network, but I imagine it could also give you lots of good keyword ideas when building out your keyword targeting strategy since it shows what kind of content your target audience is interested in reading.

The Keyword Tool is my favorite toy to play with during the keyword discovery phase of planning. If you’ve never tried it, then you really should. It gives you estimated keyword volumes for the terms you input, as the level of competition (this is pretty nonspecific, e.g., low, medium or high). The best thing about this tool is that it lists all the long-tail or “stemmed” terms that people actually search on which are related to your term. There really is no substitute for this tool when it comes to keyword discovery and expansion. You can also enter a URL to find out keywords related to the content on your site – but I’ve found this can be inaccurate and generally unhelpful.

YouTube Insights – If you run video campaigns or have videos that get some decent traffic on YouTube, you can take a deep dive into the behavior of your viewers with data that includes where they came from, what parts of the video are most interesting to them and even demographic info. These stats are available for all videos – just log into your YouTube account and select the “Insight” drop down beside your video. Since I don’t have any clients who are doing video promotion right now, I’m not ready for this tool – although experimenting more with video is on my list of “we’ve really got to test this tactic now” recommendations thanks to yesterday’s seminar.

The YouTube Trends Dashboard is completely new to me. It shows video trends based on demographics you input into the tool. So, for example, if I’m interested in seeing what women aged 25-34 in Dallas are watching on YouTube, well, I can do that. This could be kind of interesting, but I wonder if the promoted videos end up being the most popular not because they ARE the most popular, but because they are promoted.

Wow, so this is way longer than I intended it to be and I haven’t even gotten to the sessions yet – this was just the intro portion of the day. I’ll try to summarize the key learnings from yesterday’s seminar in a more concise post on Monday. Until then, I’m off to play with my new Android tablet. Ta!