Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Google Shopping Campaigns

Great news (depending on your perspective) for local retailers is that Google have released Shopping Campaigns, which are a new form of Google PLA (Product List ads). For any new advertisers (agencies or merchants) to Google shopping, lets start with a little history.

A quick history so far:
  • Formerly called Froogle, Google Product Search and Google Products, the service allowed users to search for products on online retail websites as well as being able to compare prices.
  • Renamed as Google Shopping in 2012, the service changed to a paid listing model. Merchants would have to pay to list their products within Google Shopping. This service was only rolled out in Spain early 2013.
And so here we are in 2013. The new paid model prompted lots of angry shouting and foot stamping from retailers and online marketers, however the paid model has been a success for Google and continues to grow and evolve.

Google Shopping in Spain
Paid listings for Google Shopping in Spain only went live in February this year. On a local level, a quick search for "camisetas" (t-shirts) on Google.es and then shopping (location Malaga) gives me a lot of products but the majority seem to be from the large online retailers rather than local merchants.

Results were from merchants such as SurfStitch.com, Nike.com, Spartoo.es, Zalando.es and keller-sports.es. Interestingly, the Adwords listings through Search came from many different retailers. Reading through some available results, the numbers look interesting and are expected to increase, especially in relation to Google Shopping through mobile devices on a local level.

Latest Update:
This month (Oct 2013), Google announced Shopping Campaigns, designed to make it easier for advertisers to manage PLAs (Product Listing Ads).

Several important features of the new update:
  • Feed data will now be visible from within AdWords
  • Advertisers will be able to see attributes (product category, product type, brand, condition, Adwords item id) within their Google Merchant feed
  • Updated reporting features will allow advertisers to view performance by product or product attribute
Future Changes?
According to Google, Impression share columns and a bid simulator will be added soon. All the new features are being rolled out in the US this year and internationally next year. Interesting times ahead. 

Here's Google's latest video to explain the service:

Monday, 28 October 2013

Fundamentals done and dusted

I've just completed my Google Adwords Fundamentals exam today............and passed!!!!

Having done a lot of test exams and spent lots hours toying with my Adwords account to get more familiarised, i decided to take the plunge and do the exam.

To anyone out there who is thinking of doing the exam, here are my initial thoughts:
-Several questions on Ad Groups, MCC and Extensions came up repeatedly. I understand the exam questions are randomly chosen each time or there are several formats used so what appeared on my exam today may be completely different for your exam.
-Google really wants you to pass the exam, i came across several questions that were repeated but worded differently, giving you a great chance to pass the exam.
-Having a live Google Adwords account is invaluable to prepare for the exam. So many times when reading the documentation, i referred to my account and it made it make sense
-Test papers. I've covered this before and made extensive use of ipassexam.com resources during my preparation. However, if you don't have the funds to pay to use their website, there are several test papers floating around the web to help you. Either way, this is invaluable.

Not resting my modest laurels, its time to move onto to preparation for the next exam. I have set myself a time limit to complete all my exams before the arrival of our first child so onwards and forwards.

Finally, good luck to anyone who is getting ready for the exam, i am willing to answer any questions you may have or if i can help in any way.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Google discontinues ad-level location extensions

So far, so good. From reviewing my notes and tackling test papers, i'm getting closer to feeling comfortable enough to take the actual exam.

One thing i've done recently is take more notice of my Google+ account. I'm finding it a great way of keeping tabs on whats new in relation to Adsense and to read more about views from the Adsense and SEO community, especially with changes that may appear on the Adwords exam.

One of the people i have in my Google+ circles is Kim Clinkunbroomer, who alerted me to the article from Google informing Adwords users that Ad-level they will discontinuing ad-level location extensions from October 30th.

From the official notice, there are several specific points:

  • All ad-level location extension settings will be moved to the campaign level.
  • Any current campaign-level location extensions are now eligible to show for all ads in your campaign.
  • If you have an ad that doesn’t have existing campaign-level location extensions, your ad may still appear as a standard text ad, but without an address.
Once the removal takes place, ads will continue to run using campaign-level location settings (if set), or without an extension in the ad.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Test Questions

Following on from my last post, i ran out of test questions from http://gyaniakash.com, purely because the questions are always repeated and i found myself not learning from my mistakes. I did also find some other links for test papers around the web but most of the questions were out of date, and so were of little help.

For anyone who wants some additional methods of testing their knowledge prior to taking the exam, i found two providers of test exams, both offer paid memberships:

Ucertify seems to be a lot more expensive, charging €108.07 for access to practice the Google Adwords advertising fundamentals exam only. They offer a 20% discount, making the final price €92.63 to access one test exam. They also have test exams for the Advanced Search and Advanced Display exams.

ipassexam offers a much cheaper option for the fundamentals test exam, pricing starts at €29.46 for 1 months access, €37.71 for 2 months access and €41.25 for 3 months access. They also offer a package for all 3 Google Adwords exams (Fundamentals, Advanced Search, Advanced Display) for 3 months (€70.72) or 6 months (€77.79).

I tested both of the above test providers, they both offer trial memberships so thats a good way to see which one suits you. I think both are very good and have really helped me but i did decide to buy the overall 6 month package from ipassexam, purely due to the price and i liked the interface.

*After using ipassexam for a week, i found they had a affiliate offer so i signed up, if you want to use my affiliate link thanks, if not, just go directly to the www.ipassexam.com site.

Remember these are not necessary to pass the Adwords exam, i just like doing practice exams as they allow me to feel more comfortable with the test format. Hopefully after a week or more with the practice exams i will be ready for the real exam.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Getting my teeth into Fundamentals

Like everyone who starts on the road to Google adsense qualification, i've started with the Advertising Fundamentals. The pdf for this section is over 400 pages long, covering 11 lessons and everything you will need to pass the exam. However, in saying that, a lot of the information is difficult to process if you don't have an adsense account.

Luckily, my previously dormant Adsense account has now become very useful during my studies. Reading through the Fundamentals pdf and being able to jump across to my Adsense account gives me practical experience to relate to the text, something i think is invaluable for anyone looking to take the exam.

My method of study involves taking notes and condensing the text down, i've managed to keep it to 48 pages so far and its taken me a week of reading through it. In fairness, a lot of the original documentation from Google does tend to repeat itself as you read through it. Although this does make it more time consuming, it also helps to retain the information.

Next step is to find some test exams out there to help me prepare for the exam. Here is one i've found so far: http://gyaniakash.com/google-advertising-fundamentals-exam-practice-test/, this contains 75 questions and you can repeat it as many times as you want for free.

A quick summary of the 'real' fundamentals exam:
  • 120 minutes
  • 90 questions
  • 85% passing score
I've seen some posts on certain forums saying that the exam is 'open book', and in a way it is if you have printed out the information. To take the official exam, you will to download Google test browser, which locks your computer and prevents opening any other documents or websites. 

For me, the only problem is that this test browser is currently available for Windows and Mac, i'm a Linux user, something i kept with me from my Unix/Linux administration days. Not a huge problem as i know several people with Macs and Windows machines but something to be aware of if you are a Linux user.

Personally i would like to take the exam without any notes to really test my knowledge but not everyone is the same, so whatever suits you is the way to go.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Start of my Adsense Qualification Journey

Its been a long time coming, i've had the idea to obtain my Adsense qualification for some months but only managed to get around to starting to study and take it serious recently.

This blog will hopefully help me be able to put some thoughts out there and maybe help others who are on the same path or decide to get qualified in the future.

Let me start by explaining some of my experience and why i am choosing to study and become qualified (hopefully!!).

I've worked in IT for many years, initially as a DB programmer and Unix/Linux systems administrator. This type of work is not something i was suited for, i just don't have the mentality to be a programmer so i left that life behind and walked away to become an English teacher. This was probably not the best decision of my life, i'm not cut out to be a teacher either but i try to learn from my mistakes. Life would be boring without them.

Anyway, i literally fell back in the IT world by starting a business and not knowing anything about SEO. Our company website didn't rank for any keywords and our website designer didn't know anything either. With this, i decided to teach myself how to make websites and how to improve the ranking. To my complete surprise, i am actually quite good at this and have been working on my own for the last 3 years, building websites, trying to rank them and have varying levels of success and failure.

I've used Adsense on and off over the last few years but to no great success and usually a loss of my own money. Ok, so that means i'm not a complete newbie to this type of work but i've decided to step it up and take my knowledge to the next level. I see this next level as becoming qualified in Google Adwords and using that knowledge to help my own business and hopefully others in the near future.

So my goals:

  • Complete the Google Adwords foundation, Advanced Search, Advanced Display qualifications within the next 4 months. The timeframe is due to being an expectant father, our first child arrives in February so now is the time to take action before its all changing nappies and crying toddlers (yikes!!)
  • Complete our new company website which will offer SEO/SEM, Social media, Adsense services initially in Spain.
  • Complete a second website on a topic i am passionate about, that is the city i now call home, Malaga.

I'll try to post some details on what i learn along the way along with the inevitable mistakes, hopefully these can help others from making the same mistakes.