Practical Ecommerce

PPC Report Card: Homeexchange.com

Homeexchange.com helps people exchange homes while on vacation. The site has two conversion events: A $99.95 registration for one year and a $50 house-listing fee. The site’s owner recently asked Practical eCommerce to review its pay-per-click campaigns in Google and Yahoo!.

In its current campaign, Homeexchange.com spends around $2,000 per month in Google and $400 in Yahoo!. The site’s internal pay-per-click conversion tracking is in use, and the average cost per conversion is $45.

PPC report card for Homeexchange.com

Account Structure

There is only one active Google and Yahoo! campaign with a single ad group in each. This structure is ineffective and does not conform to pay-per-click best practices — splitting the account into a number of separate campaigns. That single ad group has 50 keywords in Yahoo! and 61 keywords in Google.

By grouping non-related keywords, Homeexchange.com adversely impacts its Quality Score, which ultimately affects cost per conversion. Remember, the higher a keyword’s quality score, the better your ad position and the lower your minimum bid — a key factor in cost per conversion. An optimal structure would be breaking up keywords into thematically related ad groups with corresponding ads. Thematically related ad groups means breaking up the keywords by themes and then pointing those groups to separate, related ads. In the case of a content network (Google AdSense), exchanging homes could be one theme; renting an apartment could be another theme. Hence, a list of keywords, such as “home exchange” and “home swap,” that are closely related should be complied into a single theme.

Keyword Choices

Keyword research is OK. It appears there are many unused keywords, such as “house exchange,” “apartment swap” and “vacation swap.”

Not all “match types” are tested in Google. The site should consider running all three match types (broad match, phrase match, exact match) to see which one generates the most conversions at the cheapest cost, and remove non-converting keyword match types after generating sufficient traffic to make a decision.

Yahoo!’s “standard” match type should be tested to improve cost per conversion.

Relevancy

Relevancy can be improved due to the poor account structure. Some keywords in Google have been disabled by the search engine due to “irrelevant ads” and most of those running have only an average score. Yahoo!’s account has just one ad, which means that nobody is testing to see if new ads could improve its Quality Index.

Landing Page

There are no custom-designed landing pages. All traffic lands on the home page. That does not present a problem per se; however, custom landing pages could generally improve conversion rates because landing pages could eliminate all of the unnecessary information on the home page. Landing pages are supposed to be strategically designed to increase the chances of somebody completing a desired action. One strategy, for example, could be removing the main navigation or creating a color contrast that leads the users to the desired path on the page. Remember that by concentrating the users’ attention on a specific action, conversion rates will likely improve. For example, if people are looking for “apartment swaps in France” have them land on a page that talks about France so that people see the information they are looking for right away.

Account Settings

Pay-per-click performance could be improved if some settings would be modified in Homeexchange’s accounts. I would recommend shutting off content network in existing campaigns and setting up a separate campaign just for content network distribution. Additionally, Homeexchange.com is targeting multiple countries, and, therefore, all those campaigns should be separate. How else would you know if a France-targeted campaign generated fewer conversions than a Germany-targeted campaign?

Similarly, I would recommend checking off all “blocked continents” in Yahoo! as you’re likely to generate higher quality traffic from Yahoo!’s U.S. sources. Since Yahoo! doesn’t provide flexible geo-targeting options, consider U.S. sources first and then test the rest.

Negative keywords should also be added to the account to filter untargeted traffic. Currently, there are no negative keywords in either of the campaigns. Some potential negative keywords to consider would be free, no charge and how-to.

PPC Report Card
Homeexchange.com

Account Structure D
Keyword Choices C+
Relevancy B
Landing Pages B
Account Settings D

OVERALL GPA C

Want your site graded? Email ppc@practicalecommerce.com.

Greg Laptevsky

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