Category: Paid Media

What is click through rate and why is it important for Google Ads?

Click-Through Rate (CTR) represents the number of clicks received divided by the number of impressions received.

Your CTR helps indicate:

  1. How helpful and relevant your ads are.
  2. How successful your targeting/keywords are.

Improving your CTR can increase your ad rank – meaning:

  1. Increased impression share. This essentially means that your ads have more visibility – with a bigger portion of the impressions that they are eligible to receive.
  2. An increase in visibility can lead to increased site visits.
  3. Potentially lower cost per clicks (CPCs) for a better position.
  4. Potentially higher conversion rates (CR). CR depends on many factors but in theory:
    – An informative ad means a higher proportion of users will click your ad (increased CTR)
    – With more information at their fingertips, they are more qualified to make a decision about purchasing your product or service after they’ve clicked your ad.

Here are some simple steps to improving your CTR and your overall campaign performance:

1. Include the keyword in the ad copy

Keeping your ad relevant to the users’ search term increases the chance of being clicked.

2. Include a strong call to action to encourage users to take action

For example ‘buy now’, ‘contact us for a quote today’ or ‘sign up now for a free sample’.

3. Change match type

Even after the recent update to exact match, CTR’s are much higher on exact match keywords as the queries that can trigger adverts are very closely linked to the keyword.

Reviewing our client data from the past 12 months, CTR on exact match keywords was on average 105% higher than broad match terms, and conversion rate was 138% higher.

Remember that it’s still important to have a balance of match types (including broad and phrase) to maintain a healthy volume of impressions and clicks.

4. Add negative keywords

Negative keywords enable you to filter out search queries that are less relevant to your keywords.

The broad keyword + red +shoes could trigger an advert for the query “I want to buy red shoes” in addition to “red shoes film”.

Despite being a classic, a search for the 1948 film is very unlikely to result in a click on your ad (never mind a sale), bringing down your CTR.

Adding an extensive list of negative keywords not only improves your CTR by weeding out the irrelevant terms, it also saves you a tonne of budget! When we ran an initial audit for a client recently we found that adding one additional negative keyword saved them over £5000 per month.

5. Provide as much relevant information as possible

Google Ads have recently given us a third headline and a second description – that’s an extra 120 characters to communicate to your potential customers.

Adding ad extensions to your campaigns give users more reason to click on your advert. Taking them to specific, relevant pages via sitelinks or communicating your unique selling points through callout extensions.

Next steps:

If you’d like an in-depth review of your GoogleAds account, call 0161 956 8963 to speak to a paid media expert.

Here’s how to make your advertising sound like music to your customers’ ears

What would you say if I asked you what your favourite music is?

For most people it is impossible to narrow their music tastes down to one artist or genre. The same could be said for the question ‘how do you target your audience?’

Let’s take some of the artists I like: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ella Fitzgerald, Tchaikovsky and Paul Simon. What music audience category would you put me in? And would you know how to target me if you were promoting, for example, tickets to the next Arctic Monkeys gig?

Well, the simple answer is: you wouldn’t know.

As neuroscientist Antonio Damasio discovered, our emotions are essential to our decision making. When I choose to listen to music, it depends on my situation and how that affects my mood. I may choose a different genre depending on if I’m at work or home, alone or with friends, exercising, concentrating, or relaxing. This can also influence which device I listen on.

Understand the role of emotion in your customers’ decisions

From my experience as a PPC consultant; a slight change in environment, the weather, events in the news, time of year, month, or even day can have an impact on our customers’ decisions. As consumers have more control and flexibility over what, where, when and how they see content, their decision making process becomes complex.

Luckily, whether you’re selling Arctic Monkeys’ tickets to consumers or construction materials B2B, prospective customers will likely have the same mental questions:

  1. How well do you demonstrate your knowledge of the industry?
  2. Are you reputable?
  3. Do you sell quality products?
  4. Can you be beaten on price for the quality of your products?
  5. How easy is it to contact you and/or buy your products?

At least three of those questions are based around trust – appealing to the emotional stimulus in our brains. So how do you answer those questions, and find the right people to target, at the right time? Essentially you need to be available and be present. And that means not limiting your marketing budget to just one channel.

How well do you demonstrate your knowledge of the industry – and are you reputable?

Its an old cliche but content really is key here. Don’t wait for your audience to come to you, put together some informative, useful content and bring it to them. A music lover might want a guide to Manchester’s hidden gig venues or top tips for finding the cheapest concert tickets. You’re not aiming to sell your product, but sell yourself as a credible business.

From by Scott A Frangos, Margot Hall: The Marketer’s Concise Guide to CRO

LinkedIn and Facebook have advanced targeting methods which will help you find new audiences. For example, ‘lookalike targeting’ helps you find users with similar interests & behaviours to your current customer base. In the case of the Arctic Monkeys gig tickets, you might use the data you have (eg from people who’ve previously attended Arctic Monkeys shows) to find people with similar tastes and interests.

Start by reaching a wide audience and as users begin to engage with your content you can start to narrow in on the users that really want to engage with you – and create data lists of people that are likely to buy tickets.

Once you’ve found those engaged users, “remarket” to them – use your data lists to reconnect with visitors who left your site without making a purchase. This time, you would help them get to know your business, your products, or your services with branded content. This could then be distributed through Instagram, YouTube and the Google Display Network (GDN).

Do you sell quality products – and can you be beaten on price?

If you’re an e-commerce client, you can use both Google Shopping and Facebook’s product listing ads to display your products and pricing. You can also promote informational pages about your business, detail the materials you use, the processes you take to produce a quality product, explain how you are unique and how you can fulfill your customers’ needs. Take this information to people at the start of their research, so they already have you in mind when they start making a purchase decision.

How easy is it for your customers to contact you and/or buy your products?

We’ve spoken in previous blog articles about the importance of having a mobile site. This is extremely true for social media and Google advertising, as shopping on mobile devices is expected to be worth £43bn by 2020. So it’s important to help mobile customers to contact you, which you could do by adding phone call extensions to your Google ads – meaning customers interested in your Arctic Monkeys tickets can “click to call” from your advert and book their tickets right there and then.

If you want to connect with customers quickly, you could run a lead generation campaign through LinkedIn or Facebook. This would allow your Arctic Monkeys fans to buy tickets by filling out a quick form directly on your ad, without even having to click through to your website.

Time your message to perfection

While you need to think about being present across multiple channels (eg Facebook, Google, Bing), you also need to think about timing. If you’re in the stage of putting feelers out with informational content, target mobile users who may be scrolling through social media on their lunch breaks or in the evenings and not looking for a sales pitch. Perhaps you could push the latest Arctic Monkeys live video.

If you’re targeting B2B audiences, set your Google Ad schedule for working hours or if you’re B2C, think about when your customers might be searching for help and answers on Google – maybe you want to appear to regular concert-goers late in the evening when their ears are still ringing and are on their phones because they’re struggling to sleep.

Deciding when to target your ads comes partly with common sense and knowing your audience. However, as with targeting, if you’re unsure on timings, you can start wide with an open schedule. After a few months use the ‘hour of day’ reports available in AdWords and Facebook to optimise the campaign to the best performing hours.


That’s the approach CandidSky takes with every advertising campaign. We get to know our clients’ customer base, and we put their needs first. We find it helps our clients hit their sales targets, rather than just running adverts for the sake of it. So if you’re looking for advice on how best to plan your advertising strategy, get in touch!

Why should you use remarketing?

The short answer is to increase your conversions!

Remarketing is a way of reaching out to users that have previously visited your site. Users visit various sites before making a decision to purchase and if you sell high value products, customers may need time to consider or discuss the purchase with friends or partners – this is where remarketing comes in to ensure your company stays at the forefront of their minds.

A remarketing campaign is usually good value since you’re targeting users that have shown interest in your brand in the past – they are unlikely to click your ad for a second time if they aren’t keen to convert. This results in higher quality traffic, a higher CTR and a better conversion rate.

Here are some steps to getting set up with remarketing:


  • Use Facebook’s tracking pixel to build lists of users who added items to their basket but did not complete the purchase – you can remarket those specific items through Facebook dynamic ads (for ecommerce brands) and encourage them back to your site.
  • If you’re not an ecommerce brand, you can build lists of users who visited specific pages of your site and manually create an ad that provides further information, includes a special offer, or encourages the user to get in touch.
  • What’s more you can also target existing customers with special offers or upsales by uploading your customer email data


  • Use display banners to entice users back to your website – this will dynamically place the ads on other sites that your users visit
  • Create an audience in Google Analytics either for visitors of all pages or specific areas of your site.
  • Use remarketing lists for search ads (RLSAs) – add an Analytics audience list to your existing campaigns and set bid adjustments to favour search users that have visited your site before (bear in mind you will need a list of at least 1,000 cookies to do this)

Let the numbers speak for themselves, here’s some examples of success our clients have seen through remarketing in January 2018:

John Ryan By Design: 4253% ROAS Facebook

Richard Haworth: 647% ROAS Facebook / 294% ROAS AdWords

Next steps:

If you are interested in speaking to CandidSky about running a remarketing campaign, contact us today to arrange a call.

If you would like to work at CandidSky and develop your career prospects, take a look at our Careers website for available roles and find out what is like to work here.

And finally, take a look at our other blog posts to see what else we have been up to.


Not converting? Five other ways to engage with your visitors

If you are not seeing the conversion rates that you are expecting, take a look through our five ways to engage with your visitors.

  1. Buyer Personas. Creating buyer personas is fun! Marketing Mike, HR Hannah, Retail Rachel. Once you have your ideal target audience / customer demographic, you can test content based on the profiles created that’s relevant to the buyer, they will be more engaged if the product or service is related to their requirements.
  2. Re-marketing on Facebook is a great way to re-engage interest in your brand. Be clever with it, don’t just show them the product they’ve looked at. For example, build useful content to share that’s interesting for the user to read, or even better, a short video that’s quickly consumed.
  3. Understand your user’s social behaviour, pin pointing where they spend time -Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube etc can help you decide what content to serve and on which channel.
  4. Knowledge base, having informative content on your website that can be shared through social and blogs really help to reengage a user, it builds confidence and shows them you’re an expert in your market. John Ryan By Design as an example, has an excellent resource centre full of educational content about beds and mattresses, helping to build a relationship with potential customers at the research stage of their buying journey.
  5. Brand awareness through display advertising, re-marketing and Gmail Customer Match will expose or remind people of your brand. Serve ads with discount codes or offer a white paper download for example, that way you’re giving them something and will increases the chance of converting. Creating similar audience lists will also reach out to people with the same online behaviour as your customers.

Next steps:

If you are interested in working with CandidSky and seeing how we can help to grow your business online, contact us today to arrange a call.

If you would like to work at CandidSky and grow your career prospects, take a look at our Careers website for available roles and find out what is like to work here.

And finally, take a look at our other blog posts to see what else we have been up to.

How long will it take to see results on AdWords? Your AdWords questions answered

How long will it take to see results on AdWords?

Depending on the level of demand for your keywords, we would usually expect to start seeing impressions and click data in the first day of running ads.

Generating leads or conversions can be more difficult to predict but we would expect them to increase over time with continual optimisation.

We can provide an estimated number of conversions based on industry metrics and the expected click through rate from your keywords. However, there are multiple factors that can affect conversion rate – these can include the product being sold, the ease and feel of your website, the offering of your competitors, your ad visibility and more.

Why is my daily spend not consistent on AdWords?

If your spend is going over the daily budget it is likely that there was an increase in demand for that day, meaning that more people were searching for and clicking on your ad. AdWords automatically shows your ads more when search volume increases.

You will not be charged more in a month than your daily budget multiplied by 30.4 (the average number of days in a month).

If search traffic is low, you may not spend your full daily budget, to counteract this, budgets can be opened wider to account for days that do have a high demand and will spend more – it is important to monitor the spend manually to ensure costs do not exceed the monthly budget.


Google Adwords

How can I reduce costs?  

The more clicks the campaign gets, the more money it is going to spend. While more traffic is likely to result in a higher number of conversions, there are always ways to make the Cost Per Click (CPC) cheaper.

  1. Lower your bids – this is the easiest option but the campaign may receive less impressions as a result. AdWords will only charge you 1p above competitors up to your max CPC so if your bids are much lower than competitors, the ads will receive less visibility.
  2. Improve quality score (explained below): this can be done by improving the landing page experience and ensuring the keywords and ads are relevant to user search terms.
  3. Reduce wastage – focus on the low cost/high converting keywords and pause high cost/low converting keywords
  4. Change match types – When keywords are set to ‘broad match’ they will gain increased visibility but may pick up less relevant search queries. Changing the keyword to exact match will ensure that ads only pick up users searching for that exact query, resulting in a lower volume of impressions but a higher CTR from a more targeted audience.


What is quality score and how is it calculated?

A score between 1(bad) and 10 (good) that determines the quality of your keywords in relation to your ads and website. This is determined through multiple factors including:

  1. The landing page experience – is the content relevant to the user’s search query and the ad? Does the site have a fast page load speed? Can the user navigate through the page easily?
  2. Ad relevance – does the ad answer the query that the user is searching for? Is it linking to the correct landing page?
  3. Expected CTR – does the ad offer a call to action and relevant information to encourage the user to click?

How can I increase my impression share?

The google definition of impressions share is:

The impressions that you’ve received on the Search Network, divided by the estimated number of impressions that you were eligible to receive.

The impression share shows how competitive your ads are. You can increase the number of impressions in a number of ways:

  1. Increase your cost per click – AdWords will only charge you 1p more than your competitors are bidding so you need your budgets to be high enough to stay 1 step (or penny) ahead of the game.
  2. Increase your budget – your keywords may be popular but your ads will not show as often as they could if the budget is limited. You can use the column ‘Search Lost Due To Budget’ to see which campaigns are most affected.
  3. Improve your ad rank – your ad rank is calculated by the max cpc x quality score.
  4. Change your keyword match types – by making your keywords more specific you may decrease the number of impressions you are eligible to receive. If your ads are relevant enough and your CPC is competitive, you are likely to generate a higher impression share

Next steps:

If you are interested in working with CandidSky and seeing how we can help to grow your business online, contact us today to arrange a call.

If you would like to work at CandidSky and grow your career prospects, take a look at our Careers website for available roles and find out what is like to work here.

And finally, take a look at our other blog posts to see what else we have been up to.


Google’s RLSA Update: making one digital advertiser a very happy man

Google recently updated RLSA!

Remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) provide great opportunity to optimise your search campaigns. They let you tailor your keyword bids, and ad text, for your highest value prospects (people who have visited your website in the past) when they’re searching for your product or service. In this blog I talk about two of the latest updates by Google.

1. RLSA membership duration extended to 540 days

Since the feature went beta in 2012, RLSA has only included users who visited an advertiser’s website in the previous 180 days. This restriction meant there wasn’t much in the way of opportunity for reaching users who only visit your site a couple of times a year. Google has now tripled the duration to 540 days. This means tonnes more opportunity to tailor campaigns when seasonality is a factor, or a long buying cycle requires a lot of customer research before a purchase or enquiry is made.


2. Cross-device remarketing with RLSA

Historically, advertisers could only remarket to visitors on the device they visited from. This wasn’t ideal. We, advertisers, would like to be able to target users through remarketing lists regardless of the device they’re using. With cross-device remarketing this dream has finally become a reality – now anyone who is signed into Google can be reached through RLSA.

This is very important. We constantly change devices – swapping our work mobiles for our home tablets, our personal phone for our friend’s laptop. Google has recognised the importance of keeping users engaged on their multi-device journey and is taking steps to help advertisers report effectively. 

Final thought

Remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) are becoming increasingly powerful. Using RLSA effectively in your PPC campaign presents more opportunity for highly targeted ads, no matter what time of year or what device your customers are using. Get to know RLSA to ensure your brand enjoys maximum exposure.

Benefits of a cohesive SEO & PPC strategy

Many people approach SEO and PPC as completely separate strategies.

Investing in SEO can produce excellent results for your brand and bottom line; when we couple our partners SEO strategy with their PPC campaigns we always see an upturn in results.

Search marketing is about relationships

While SEO and PPC are different in many ways, it can be helpful to think of them as a joint approach to search, like Ying and Yang. In this blog we discuss a two-pronged approach where PPC and SEO work together, which, if deployed, will result in better performing search campaigns.

Online visibility

The most obvious benefit of combining the two strategies is the added exposure you get on search result pages. A common mistake people make is to turn the paid advertising tap off when organic search is performing well. It’s important to remember that the top four results of most search engine results pages (SERPs) are reserved for PPC ads. Being prominent in both organic and paid listings greatly increases the likelihood of winning clicks, and ultimately more traffic and conversions. More real estate means more clicks. 


One of our partners BrighHR dominating Google with paid and organic results

Sharing keyword data

Simultaneously running SEO and PPC campaigns gives you double the data to collect and analyse.  By running PPC ad campaigns we are able to trial different keyword combinations and advert copy to reveal which are the best performing. By assessing the overall conversion rate of the adverts we are able to steer our partners SEO campaigns down the most profitable route. This optimises the whole organic approach, in terms of time and budget spend. When we launch SEO and PPC campaigns together we always see quicker positive organic ranking gains because of shared keyword data.

Social media data

The emergence of highly targeted social adverts has changed the way we view social media. Advertising platforms on popular sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube are able to serve up highly targeted ads to increasingly specific groups of people. Using granular campaign focus, it is now possible to target very specific individuals within certain age groups, genders, geo-locations and interests. Data collected from such campaigns can prove a very valuable source of information to help steer and refine overall SEO strategy, maintaining consistency across all digital channels.

Final thought

SEO and PPC compliment each other in a way that allows digital marketers to vastly improve the impact of search campaigns. A strong online presence is both useful and vital to a successful business. Let your SERP brand dominance begin!

PPC brand bidding and how to defend against competitors

“Why should I pay to bid on my brand with PPC?”

A question we get asked all the time. If you appear on the first page / first position in the SERPs why should you pay? Well, there’s a significant number of benefits for using brand bidding with PPC:

  1. It’s cheap! It does not cost the earth to maintain first position for brand keywords
  2. It looks good when your brand dominates page real estate. Plus, 2 results are better than 1, right?
  3. Increase in overall account CTR, which impacts your quality scores and overall lowers the cost per click
  4. Testing: If you want to split test landing pages or persuasive messaging, you can set up and run them quickly and accurately using a branded PPC approach
  5. Insights into search queries – you will find out what keywords users are associating with your brand
  6. Increase clicks by controlling more page equity
  7. Defend against losing out on clicks to your competitors
  8. Promote offers and promotions

A Bing Travel Industry study of brand PPC keywords

A study by Bing analyzed 400,000 impressions for a large travel company, measuring when a brand ad was not present and when it was present and how it impacted organic results:

Naturally you would lose some organic clicks but the gains outweigh the loses. The study resulted in 27% incremental clicks with the brand ad running. Not to mention reducing your competitors clicks, who received 40% of clicks when the ad was not present and only 12% when it was.

If you dominate the results page the chances of getting clicks are far greater due to your campaign having additional page equity. It became even more important to dominate a page when Google introduced their results section ‘people also searched for’ which gave users more options to navigate away from your brand.

CandidSky Travel Industry example

As you can see below, we maintain an excellent presence for one of our partners NST by coupling great organic positioning with paid brand keywords – removing all other distractions so the users highly targetted brand search results in a click through for NST and not a competitor.

Nst page equity

How people search for brands

People tend to search in one of two ways; either with an exact match of your brand name or a modified variation. Continuing our NST example, people search for “NST” (brand) or “NST school trips” (modified variation). Users will often associate the product or service with the brand. In this common scenario, competitors will also be bidding on the keyword “school trips”, the image below shows that there are 3 other competitors appearing for the keyword search “nst school trips”.

Nst brand variation

How the percentages stack up

  • You have 50% chance of winning the click (paid + organic), leaving a 50% chance you won’t…
  • If we remove the brand variant from PPC, someone else will fill the sponsored result spot leaving you with a 33% chance of winning the click through the organic & map listings

The CPC difference in the above example is also quite staggering; with the modified brand variation the CPC is 86% cheaper than the keyword “school trips”! So to increase your chances of winning clicks it’s worth paying for those low-cost brand keywords.

Final thought

Brand campaigns won’t break the bank, with CPCs as low as £0.5p you can greatly increase traffic and conversions whilst gaining insights into how users search for your brand. Also, having the option to quickly test new landing pages or messaging adds additional benefits to customer learning. Finally, your AdWords account will benefit from booming click through rates – lowering your overall costs.

Save money with Google’s Quality Score

The key to a successful Google Adwords campaign is optimising to increase and maximise Quality Score.

In this post, we will show you the key elements that make up Google’s Quality Score.

So firstly, why does Google have a Quality Score?

It’s a way for Google to balance the interests of all parties in the on-line advertising ecosystem.

What is it?

Essentially, quality scores influence how much advertisers pay per click. Google awards each keyword with a quality rating of 1 – 10 (1 being poor – not relevant – and 10 being good – relevant). It’s used to calculate your actual CPC and multiplied by your maximum bid to determine your ad rank in Google’s auction.

What contributes to the scoring?


The main element is click through rate (CTR), followed by the relevance of a text ad and landing page. Part of my job is to analyse and improve keyword CTR, with a relevant ad that includes the keyword in the headline or description, directing the user to the most relevant page of the site. Below shows the importance of CTR and how it impacts on CPC.




In this example you can see where CTR begins to drop, the CPC increases. Then towards the end, CTR lifts again and CPC reduces. There’s a reason why this happened. We started to see irrelevant search queries coming in from our keyword, so we added negative keywords to increase relevancy which lifted the keyword CTR.

To continue optimising and improving QS the following is essential in everyday PPC campaign management:

  • Keyword organization
  • Refine and test ad copy
  • Optimise landing page content
  • Apply negative keywords

Final thought

To conclude, Quality Score is a measure of relevance, and improving keyword Quality Score is a matter of structuring your PPC campaigns in a way that allows the keyword and ad to be relevant. Highly targeted keywords and organization will naturally improve the quality and relationship of your ads and website content, allowing you to target your specific audience likely to convert.


Landing Page Optimisation & PPC: A match made in heaven

Are you pumping a lot of traffic through paid search but failing to realise the expected returns?

There’s a high chance there is something wrong with your landing page.

The landing page has a massive impact on a PPC campaign’s conversion rate, average cost per click and overall revenue generated. It’s essential to optimise your landing page for the following reasons:

  • The landing page is most vulnerable to customer abandonment
  • The more you test, the more chances you discover to improve conversions
  • It will lower your cost per click by increasing your quality score
  • You will maximise return on investment

What tends to happen

We understand there are many variables that can impact a campaign, however, we often see the below scenario play out time and time again.

Let’s say you spend £5,000 on paid search, your conversion rate is approx 33.5%, therefore, the return is £1,700. You decide this is not a good enough return and take action, which is a sensible decision.

You decide to increase the budget, let’s see what happens when we double the spend to £10,000. You achieve double the number of clicks and double the number of transactions. Your return increases a little too, to £3,000. This increase is directly linked to the increased budget, not campaign performance improvement.

Table 1: Double your advertising spend

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 12.46.45

Change your tactics

Work with our digital partners has shown us that by allocating 20% of your PPC budget to landing page optimisation can have a huge positive impact on your ROI.

Through our structured process, we manage to double the conversion rate from 33.5% to around 67% and achieve a £6,000 return on investment. As well as improving ROI for paid advertising campaigns, landing page optimisation will benefit organic and direct traffic conversion rates too.

Table 2: Invest 20% conversion optimisation budget

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 12.58.24

By going through this systematic data-driven process you significantly improve your chances of increasing your ROI.

Three rules to remember

We follow three simple rules from search term query to the landing page to give the campaign every chance to succeed.

Rule #1: Relevance

There is nothing more frustrating to customers than not getting what they have been promised. When formulating an advert and landing page, it is essential to pay close attention to the messaging. The keywords and phrases should all be consistent and on brand.

Here’s an example of a company getting it right. Topman provide exactly what they promise.

The user journey looks like this:

  • The customer searches for a ‘specific phrase’ on Google (in this case, the search is for blue T-shirts)
  • Topman entice the user to click through to their store by predicting and matching the search
  • Once clicked, Topman ensure the customer is directed to the right page, fulfilling their promise of presenting a variety of blue T-shirts

If the landing page is relevant, you significantly increase the chance of converting the customer, which leads to a higher quality score. This reduces the amount of money you pay for keyword clicks.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 14.54.46

Rule #2: Value

If your landing page is relevant to the customer’s search query, you can guarantee that you now have their attention. When a customer clicks on an ad, they believe you have the solution to their problem.

The next step is to maximise the value the page is providing to the visitor. You need to answer their query effectively to ensure they continue through the conversion funnel.

The advert above provides value quickly by telling the user about free delivery, student discount, and a 70% off sale.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 14.55.20

Rule 3#: Call to action

This is the digital equivalent of the professional handshake.

Providing your customer a next step is essential to getting the conversion. There are many studies into the best call to actions. Ultimately, it needs to stand out, be in the right position and tell the customer exactly what is going to happen when they take action.
As you can see from the image above, my attention is quickly drawn towards the products, which take up the primary real estate of the page. It is obvious what Topman want the customer to do on this page, select a shirt.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 14.56.19

Notice just below the navigation that we are reminded of the sales, and free delivery, this continues right through the conversion process. Consistency, between advert and landing page, is paramount.

Final thought

We are seeing more companies allocate their budget to optimising landing pages to increase ROI on PPC campaigns.

It’s the perfect place to start, they are the ideal place to begin testing and improving conversion rates. Landing page optimisation compliments a pay per click campaign because of the amount of traffic the PPC campaign delivers to the page. As traffic constantly regenerates, and you have a clear objective for the page, you can test and optimise continually to improve conversion rates.

The best thing is, you do not necessarily need to increase your advertising spend; simply reallocate a portion of your budget to conversion optimisation.

Everything you need to know about Google’s new paid advert placement

Google have announced they will be removing the paid product listings on the right-hand side of search engine results pages.

Instead, those paid product advertisements will be replaced by four adverts above the organic search results. This is significant news for many, especially for SEOs who realise that their sites have less presence on the page, as well as for PPC management executives who now need to tailor their approach to the change in AdWord’s bidding landscape.

Highly commercial searches

Google has said that the changes will mainly affect highly commercial search terms. These are the searches that users make when they demonstrate a deep intent on making a purchase or carrying out a transaction.

These searches are usually at the end of a user’s purchasing journey, so not necessarily in the research phase. Using the below example, ‘pocket sprung mattress’ shows the four adverts above the organic search results.


Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 10.22.32

These also tend to be the keywords with the highest possible commercial value, meaning that securing a position in the top four ads would be highly beneficial and lucrative for businesses. Achieving a higher quality score would also ensure a lower cost per click.

According to a Google spokesperson, “We’ve been testing this layout for a long time, so some people might see it on a very small number of commercial queries. We’ll continue to make tweaks, but this is designed for highly commercial queries where the layout is able to provide more relevant results for people searching and better performance for advertisers.”

Despite the spotlight being on the four main ads at the top of the search results, this does actually mean fewer ads overall. With the removal of the sidebar ads, this would bring the total number of possible ads on a page down from 11, to seven.

For example, searching for ‘pocket sprung mattress’ shows seven ads with the new Google AdWords layout; but with the old sidebar layout, there are 11 ads. This also means that competition for the fewer ad positions will become much tighter.

What is replacing side ad placements?

After the recent change moving forward, the space previously allocated to the sidebar ads will be home to more prominent product listing ads, as well as knowledge graphs with additional information becoming more prominent.

google ad placements

A theory behind Google’s removal of the paid sidebar ads is to have a consistent appearance for both desktop and mobile devices moving forward, since mobile does not have any sidebar ads running. Another reason could be to do with the historical performance of sidebar ads involving CTR (click-through rate). Due to the more prominent nature of sidebar information such as knowledge graphs, sidebar ad placements have become more or less redundant and, from Google’s perspective, it feels like a natural progression to remove them.

With the latest news from Google concerning the way paid ads are displayed, this has a direct impact on where organic listings sit on the page. Due to there being four ads at the top instead of three, that means that the top organic listings occupy less real estate above the fold and are pushed down the page. Ensuring strong rankings for commercial search terms has always been a measurable KPI for SEOs, and this would cement the need for a stronger organic search presence with less prominent listings.

Final thought

Due to there being fewer paid ads on the page, this can be considered as an opportunity for strong organic listings to receive a higher CTR, especially with additional benefits such as review rating stars, catchy meta description etc.

Highly relevant commercial search terms tend to display the most relevant pages that would enable users to carry out a purchase or transaction and, with well-optimised organic listings becoming more prominent in the wake of fewer paid sidebar listings, this could mean additional clicks and ultimately increased traffic and conversions.

You can connect with Firas on LinkedIn.

Vlog: The basics of paid Facebook advertising

Rich Halling

The first episode of our video blog series explains how paid Facebook advertising can transform social media into a key marketing channel.



Welcome to the first instalment of the CandidSky video blog series!

Over the coming months we’ll introduce you to the team, our office and the work we love to do. We’ve got plenty to talk about and we’re very excited to share our ideas with you… we hope you like what you see.

In episode one, Rich introduces the basics of paid advertising on Facebook and explains how the platform can be used to target key demographics for any business. This is a great starting point for any business looking to understand how to reach maximum levels of engagement with their social media audience, and how Facebook can be transformed into a formidable marketing channel.

We’ll be delving further into the power of Facebook’s advanced targeting options in a forthcoming video very soon. Stay tuned.

If you’re looking for more information on Facebook advertising, or have any suggestions for future vlogs, get in touch with us at – we’re always keen to hear your thoughts.

Assisted Conversions: The battle for bragging rights

Assisted conversions, also known as attribution, is something we need to consider more and more to justify the value of paid advertising. In this post, I show you a way of reporting on assisted conversions in a PPC campaign to do just that.

Assisted conversions in an online world

With the growth of online channels and the boom in technology driving e-commerce, we are spoilt for choice and it is easier than ever to shop online. Traditionally, when we shop on the high street, we do not buy from the first shop we go in. We look around, we try to find the best deal for ourselves, or we feel a particular affinity with one shop or shop assistant over the other. Most of us do some digging around, if we don’t find anything better then often we end up back at the original shop. Unsurprisingly, we see trends that reflect this behaviour in customers online behaviour too.

Working with a number of e-commerce brands, it’s important for me to understand the online buying cycle and measure how paid advertising plays a significant part in the process of assisting a sale or conversion such as email sign up.


So, what is an assisted conversion?

In simple terms, assisted conversions occur when a user interacts with a paid advertising campaign but does not complete a purchase or sign up in that initial instant. The user later returns to the website to purchase a product via another source and/or entry point. Typically direct to the brands URL or from an organic brand search. The length of user research mostly depends on the product or service they’re looking to purchase.

For example: If a customer is looking to buy a bed or a car, the buying cycle could be months from the initial research phase; compared to days or even hours for a pair of shoes.

Here is an example situation:

  1. Google search > click PPC text advert > visit website > leave without purchase
  2. Look at the brands Facebook page > read comments & reviews > leave to mull things over
  3. One week later > User returns to the original website found through the PPC advert, but via an organic brand search > User competes purchase

In the situation above, PPC should get credit for kicking off the buying cycle of the 3 interactions, but often it doesn’t.  In Google Analytics e-commerce tracking, organic would be attributed the conversion and win the sale.

Now that we know what assisted conversions are, how do we report on them to represent the true value of paid advertising?

Reporting on assisted conversions gives us a clearer picture of the value of particular paid marketing campaigns. My approach may differ from others, but the result should be the same, here’s an example of the process I take to find how valuable a particular PPC keyword has been in assisting a sale.

Say I have a phrase match keyword that spent £213. It received 2 conversions worth £289 revenue, giving me a 135% ROAS. This is below my 300% KPI target. Before I do anything drastic like pausing the keyword, or reducing / increasing bids, I look at attribution reporting in Google Analytics to see if the keyword has assisted any sales.

Under the Conversions section, in multi-channel funnels, there’s a tab called ‘Top Conversion Paths’.

Top Conversion Paths

By choosing conversion segments, you can select ‘First interaction is Paid Advertising’. You can now see the true value of the assisted conversions.


MCF Path

This information clearly shows us that paid search has attributed to the conversions and revenue we assumed direct and organic search were responsible for.

Now, I want to segment this data further down to keyword level. You can do this by changing the type from all to Adwords.

MCF Path adwords

Under the primary dimension, we can choose campaign, ad group or keyword path.  This breaks down the data further, giving us insights into conversion and revenue at keyword level.

So, regarding my earlier example, I found the keyword which originally had a ROAS of 135% actually has a ROAS of 400% and is profitable and valuable to my Adwords campaign.

If you would like to find out more on PPC advertising and search email or call us on 0161 956 8963

Google’s new ‘Customer Match’ enables targeted ads using email addresses

Launched at the back end of September, Google introduced a real game-changing feature called ‘Customer Match’


What Is Customer Match?

Customer Match allows advertisers to target ads for people who have disclosed their email addresses. Using this feature, you can now show advertisements based on what the user is watching or searching for on any device, when using any of Google’s services including: Gmail, Search and YouTube.

Custom audience match targeting is something that Facebook, Twitter and other social networks have been doing for a while so, this seems like a natural progression for Google. The way you can target audiences via paid social has created more of an ‘identity based’ marketing strategy and it’s exciting to see Google Adwords going down this route too.

Google already offers a host of targeting options, but nothing near as powerful as Customer Match. If you already have customer email addresses, it’s likely they’ve already expressed interest in your brand and are more receptive to your advertisements. This will likely have more of an impact than similar targeting offered by social networks, because search audiences have a higher level of intent. They are actively searching for your brand, product, or service.

How Does It Work?

To begin, you will need a minimum of 1,000 targetable customers to create your list. Similar to remarketing, advertisers can upload email addresses into the shared library – audiences section of AdWords. Google will match the email addresses with any Google log-ins that share the same email address. Once a match happens, Google has made it very clear that it will discard all data – “The list of email addresses you upload will only be used to match to Google IDs and for policy compliance. It won’t be shared with anyone and will be deleted 7 days after matching and the compliance check are complete”.

Now that’s done, you have an audience list to target against. There’s also another nifty function called ‘similar audience match’ which allows you to find new customers based on parameters identified in the uploaded lists, even if they haven’t visited your site.

This enables marketers to develop a highly segmented and personalised strategy. As an example, instead of paying for an email marketing campaign, you can serve personalised ads to your customers and only pay if they decided to click (PPC), which might be more cost effective. It can offer a great way to engage with customers that haven’t purchased or visited your website for some time. Maybe you don’t want to advertise to your current customers at all. By uploading a list of all of your current customers, you can exclude them from being served certain ads. The opportunities with Customer Match are numerous and can only limited by the amount of data associated with your email lists that enables you to segment your audiences.

Google knows that users expect relevant results from their searches. Now, for the first time, marketers will be able to tailor customer audience segments with first-party data.

To find out more, please do not hesitate to contact myself or the team.

Google’s New Maps Box Improves Impact but Decreases Choice

More than any other search engine, Google regularly update the appearance of their results page. We’ve seen hundreds of different SERPs showing, including brand search boxes, maps boxes, knowledge graph entries and rich snippets. This is for two main reasons:

  • To improve the quality of results for users
  • To ultimately improve performance of paid channels

Local search, especially on mobiles, is a key component of Google’s success and in the last month a new results page has been rolled out in the UK. This latest version is much closer to the current appearance of local mobile results.

New local SERPs

1. A centered map

With the previous iteration the map was located on the right hand column, below any paid search ads that weren’t appearing at the top of the page. You could interpret this as the least valuable area of the search engine results page. Now, though, the map has been pulled into the centre of the page, directly above the local listings. Not only does this look more aesthetically pleasing, it captures more of the users attention as they scroll the page.

2. More negative space

Negative, or white space isn’t wasted space! It emphasises important elements, focusing on calls-to-action rather than cluttering the interface.

3. Clearer calls to action

Calls to action have become clearer, more defined, and more clickable. No doubt this will improve the impact of your local listings. It’s reminiscent of the mobile interface which is more optimised for user experience than the previous desktop version was.

plumbers mobile

4. Less options

The previous iteration of the maps listing showed anywhere between 4 – 6 listings per map snippet. Now, however, this is reduced to just 3. Great news for brands featuring in the top spot, less so for those lingering in positions 4+.

Why increase impact and reduce choice?

You’ll need to be in Google’s ‘circle of trust’ to be sure, but I suspect this is a precursor to paid local listings. Reducing the options for users increases the value of positioning in the top 3 results, whilst improving the impact of these listings makes paying for them more commercially viable.

Moz’s Dr Pete recently tweeted about new paid local listings appearing in Google’s SERPs:


Keen to stay ahead of the game, we contacted Adwords to ask about a possible rollout of new paid local results. Here’s what they said:

SF bay testing

With advertising revenue representing the majority of Google’s revenue it’s constantly looking for ways to increase performance of paid channels, and the introduction of paid local listings may provide an invaluable opportunity for local service providers. What we may see are sponsored listing appearing in the top 3 results, whilst free listings are concealed behind the “show more” button at the bottom of the snippet. Of course, we’ll have to wait and see.

Questions? Thoughts? Tweet us @CandidSky.

5 Adwords Features You Should Be Using

Dimensions tab – time

One of my favourite places to slice and dice data in Google Adwords is in the Dimensions Tab where you can view data across a specific ad group, campaign or, the entire account! The Dimensions Tab has many features you can delve into but I’d like to show you the ‘Time’ feature, specifically ‘Hour of Day’.

time screen 1

The benefit of using this feature is that you can see at which times your customers are most likely to convert. If you sort the data by clicking on ‘converted clicks’ you can arrange the data to show the time periods with the highest number of conversions.

time screen 2

As you can see in the above example, customers are much more likely to convert between 9am – 4pm. This allows you to develop a strategy, optimizing bids at peak times where conversion is most likely.

Budget sharing

Running multiple campaigns? Shared budgets are a great way to consolidate all your campaigns into one daily budget. This option is available through the ‘Shared Library’ in Google Adwords.

shared library

If you apply caps to individual campaigns, you may find you’re limiting your spending, whilst other campaigns might not hit the daily cap you have attributed. This way, the budget can be spread over campaigns that provide more volume, eliminating any spend limitations.

shared library budget

Bear in mind, there are pros and cons of using shared budgets. If one campaign dominates with spending (maybe a broad matched campaign) this could take away spend from other campaigns such as longer tail campaigns with lower volume. It is possible to have multiple shared budgets, so this choice might be suitable if running a large PPC campaigns.

Segment – devices

The Segment function offers a few different options, although I find  mainly use it for splitting device performance. There are alternative ways to view device data but I personally find this way the quickest.

segment device

The Segment tab is available at campaign, ad group and keyword level, giving you easy insight into device performance. This helps me check performance and decide if my campaigns, ad groups or keywords are worth bidding for on mobile. If the data on mobile is having a negative effect on my overall CPA, it might be that I decide to reduce my mobile bids by 100% so that I’m not visible at all.

segment device keyword

Be cautious when making a decision to completely remove mobile from your campaign strategy based on 0 conversion data. With multi devices playing a bigger part in the conversion process, always check if the device is attributing to a conversion on desktop or tablet.

Callout extensions

These have been around for a while now and people still don’t know they exist. Introduced back in 2014, they provide additional text to your ad, allowing you to show valuable information to customers before they click. Great for showing off your USP’s, not to mention freeing up more space in the 70 character description we have to squeeze the life out of!


Your ad must appear in the top 3 positions for them to show, just like site-link extensions. Unlike site-links though, Callout extensions are not clickable, its only text. Use this space to sell yourself or, callout to your potential customers. The maximum number you can show is 3.

Callout create

You will find Callout extensions available in your Ad Extensions section of Google Adwords.

Callout create 2

Callout extensions can be added at account, campaign and ad group level, which is handy if you have different products in a campaign separated out in ad groups, giving you more control over the messaging. Another benefit is the device preference, meaning you can change the message to reflect that, or opt out if you wish. Text characters are limited to 25, but we’re use to that, right?! Also here’s a tip, don’t try and add a phone number or email address, they will be disapproved!

Ad rotation – rotate ads equally

When creating a new campaign, you will probably want to test a few different versions of your text ads and try out various messaging and call to action. I usually have 3 or 4 different ad copy versions that I run alongside each other. The default setting when you create the campaign is ‘Optimise for clicks: Show ads expected to provide more clicks’. That’s fine, we all want more clicks but this isn’t the best option if you want to rotate and test your ads equally.

ad rotation

If you go to your campaign settings, you can change the ad delivery method to the selection highlighted above. This option rotates ads for 90 days where they will be equally served and then the ads with a higher CTR will show more frequently after 90 days. If you only want to rotate ads for a shorter period, just make a note to change the settings back after you’ve reviewed performance.

Questions, thoughts? Tweet us @CandidSky

Marketing Analytics: How to measure your PPC

Online marketing should start and end with analytics. Unlike traditional forms of advertising, every visitor, every action, and every penny spent can be accounted for and analysed.

This is the second of a 4-part series on how to measure your online marketing efforts. We’ll post up links to the latest articles as we release them.

  1. How to measure your SEO
  2. How to measure your PPC
  3. How to measure your blogging
  4. How to measure your social media marketing

How to measure your PPC

Measuring your paid search performance demands a completely different set of metrics to organic SEO. The biggest difference is that every time someone clicks your link from a search engine results page (SERP), you’re paying for it. It’s important to understand how much you’re paying per visitor, and what kind of profit paid advertising is generating for you. For the most part it’s a numbers game.

You’re going to need to understand 5 key metrics for paid search:

  • Click-through rate (CTR)
  • Average cost per click (CPC)
  • Conversion rate
  • Cost per acquisition (CPA)
  • Return on ad spend (ROAS)

Click-through rate (CTR)

“The percentage of people who saw your advert and that clicked a link.”

Click-through rates vary massively depending on the keyword in question and the industry it relates to. Improving your CTR won’t make your campaign more profitable, as you’ll be paying for the extra clicks you get, but it will increase the number of visitors clicking your ads rather than your competitors. You can increase your CTR by testing different advert headlines, and using ad extensions such as reviews or ratings. The positioning of your ad in the SERP will also impact CTR, so you want to make sure that your ads are appearing at the top of the page for your most important keywords.

Average cost per click (CPC)

“How much you’re paying for a click on a given search advert”

How much you should be paying per click will vary depending on a number of factors, most importantly the eventual conversion rate for each keyword. The placement of your ad in the SERP will depend for a large part on how much you’re paying. Keywords which have a high conversion rate will be worth more, so you’ll generally need to pay a higher CPC to appear at the top of the page. However, having a good quality score will allow you to appear higher on the page without having to pay as much per click, so it’s worth taking note of factors which can affect a quality score.

Conversion Rate

“The percentage of people who arrived on your site via a paid search ad who then completed the desired action (such are requesting contact or making a purchase)”

As with organic SEO, conversion rates are one of the most important metrics to track. They will determine the profitablity of your entire campaign. Low conversion rates mean your paying for visitors who aren’t buying anything!

Conversion rates are also a good indicator as to how well your PPC landing pages are performing, If the landing page content is highly relevant to the original PPC advert you should expect a higher conversion rate as you’re providing exactly what the searcher is looking for. There are also other factors to take in to account, such as the competitiveness and attractiveness of your offer.

Cost per acquisition (CPA)

“How much you are spending on PPC advertising to generate each conversion”

CPA is the result of all the factors I’ve already mentioned. It’s the top-level reporting that, as a business owner or PPC manager, you need to be keeping an eye on; the cost of generating a lead through paid search. If your average sale value is particularly low you need to monitor this regularly to ensure that your campaigns are profitable.

Improving your conversion rates whilst maintaining the same budget will make each conversion cheaper, as will lowering your CPC.

Return on ad spend (ROAS)

“ROAS measures the overall return on your PPC advertising investment, calculated by dividing your total PPC spend by the revenue generated from PPC conversions”

ROAS is how you determine whether or not your PPC strategy is working for you. Conversions generated through paid search are only valuable if the revenue you generate offsets the amount you’re spending to generate sales or leads. Any Questions?

SEO and PPC: Which Is Better?

In this post I’d like to take a look at the two main forms of search marketing; organic search engine optimisation and paid search listings (pay-per-click). First of all, let’s make sure we’re on the same page. Below is an image of the search results page for the query “Digital Marketing Manchester”.

What’s most striking is the amount of space ‘above the fold’ provided for each type of Ad. It’s quite clear that the paid adverts take pride of position. This is because that’s where Google makes it’s money, but Google’s war on free clicks is another discussion for another time.

Quite often we’re asked ‘which is better, SEO or PPC?’ and ‘which is more cost-effective?’. In truth the answer to this depends on a number of factors, but is primarily driven by two things; budget and level of competition. I’d like to look over the strengths and weaknesses of each channel, and hopefully offer some guidance on which might be best for you.

But first, let’s ease it in gently with an infographic on search marketing in 2011 :

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

SEO is the art of making search engines love your website, by optimising your content and making the site relevant to the right searches, then developing the popularity of your page or site by gathering links from other websites.


  • It benefits your entire site – ‘Linkjuice’ flows to a website from external links. However, internal links also pass this equity through your site, so if you build links to one section of your site it benefits every other page that is being linked to internally, and will strengthen the organic ranking potential of your site as a whole
  • It’s long lasting – Provided you have built strong, sustainable links in a white-hat way, the time or money you invest in SEO will pay dividends time and time again, making it easy for you to launch new pages and products down the line.
  • It provides one of the highest returns-on-investment of any marketing channel.


  • You’ll need to be patient! – Some aspects of SEO can provide quick returns; namely any changes you make to your website. These will be taken into account as soon as a search bots crawls your site and refresh the index, but the real benefits come from linkbuilding. When it comes to external links you may not even see the benefit of the links you have created in 3 months, let alone a few weeks. You’ll either need to learn and understand how SEO works, or use an agency you trust so that you don’t come back a month later feeling as if you have been ‘burned’.
  • Brand Domination – Some results pages are dominated by big brands for a number of reasons: they have bigger marketing budgets, they acquire a vast amount of links naturally, and Google now favours them over brands it’s not familiar with. If you’re operating in a market where you’re directly competing with websites like Amazon then you have a long, hard, expensive road ahead if your aim is to beat them.
  • Algorithm Updates – Google releases algorithm updates thick and fast. Many of them have very little impact on search result rankings and SEO, but there are also a number of key updates (or filters) which have dramatically changed the landscape of SEO; Penguin and Panda being the most obvious ones. Algo updates are a fact of SEO – Google control their algorithm, and if they want to change it they will. An SEO just has to roll with the punches. That said, if you’re acting in an honest, white-hat way, there’s nothing to fear from these updates.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

Google Pay-Per-Click is where the money is for Google, and it’s a feature that’s in constant development with Remarketing, Product listings, Text adds, and Adsense comprising the core services.


  • It’s instant – You can use it to quickly respond to demands and opportunities without having to invest time beforehand.
  • It’s 100% data driven – If you can understand the data, and have a sufficient grasp of mathematics, you can run a cracking PPC campaign.
  • It’s simple at low investment levels – with a few hours a month, agencies or business owners can run effective pay-per-click campaigns.
  • Competition is manageable – Unlike organic SEO, if you want to get your listing above your competitors’ all you need to do is bid higher for that particular keyword.
  • Testing – You can measure, test, and improve everything in a PPC campaign: ad copy, landing pages, keywords etc. It’s just a matter of running tests, reviewing the results and implementing improvements based on your findings.


  • If you stop paying, you stop earning – Unlike organic search optimisation, the moment you stop running a PPC campaign you lose all of those visitors. If you plan on relying on paid search advertising then you need to factor it in as a permanent running cost.
  • It can break your bank – If you don’t manage your campaign carefully, you could end up paying for thousands of visitors who haven’t bought anything from you
  • They don’t carry as much trust – Although data points to an increasing number of clicks going to paid ads, organic results often get a better click-through rate because of the levels of trust involved with each channel; sites rank highly in organic listings because, for the most part, they deserve to be there. Anyone can roll out a PPC campaign and get it to the #1 listing by paying more.

So which should you choose?

What would I suggest? Combine forces!

In my opinion, organic SEO and PPC fulfil two different roles. Whilst on the surface it would seem that they both achieve the same thing in a different way, you’re going to get the most out of your search marketing by carefully using them together to mitigate each other’s weaknesses.

Where organic competition is so high that achieving a top 5 placement isn’t realistic with your budget, PPC adverts will allow you to capture these searchers without breaking the bank on organic SEO.

Running thousands of PPC adverts for all your long tail search terms won’t scale well; the time and budget needed to manage your campaign will increase exponentially. It’s far better to create SEO content that targets these keywords and use your organic techniques to improve the ranking potential of that piece of content.

Whilst a well run organic campaign shouldn’t be subject to algorithm updates, we can never predict exactly what ‘the big G’ has planned for us. If, for any reason, you’re impacted by algorithm updates you can use paid adverts to fill the gaps whilst you get your house in order.