Full articles written by Shimmer staff.

Google AdWords -- No more ads on right sidebar.

With No Google Sidebar Ads, Will Cost-Per-Click Increase?

No More Google Ads On Right Sidebar (Desktop Search)

If you are not aware, Google has rolled out a new layout for the display of ads on the right sidebar for desktop searches. Ads have completely disappeared from the right sidebar — and this is a global rollout.

What Does It Mean?

The general consensus is that Google is catering to the ever increasing use of mobile devices for online searches and web browsing. There simply is not enough real-estate [on the smaller mobile screens] to display eleven ads, and Google is implementing an ad display format that is cohesive across all devices.

The new layout will feature 3 ads on the top of the search results page, but sometimes a fourth ad will be displayed.

According to Google, an additional fourth ad may be displayed above the organic search results, but only for highly commercial queries.

Additionally, 3 ads will also show below the organic results — at the bottom of the page. This means that the number of Google AdWords ads that will display on a single search results page will drop from 11 to 6 (or 7, for “highly commercial” search queries).

Will My Cost-Per-Click (CPC) Increase?

We haven’t accumulated enough click data to be sure, but the answer is: probably.

It stands to reason: If the number of viewable ads drops from 11 to 6 or 7, those fewer positions become more valuable — and more competitive. Advertisers will, undoubtedly, increase their bids to ensure first page ad positioning.


Higher cost-per-click does not necessarily mean you’ll need to increase your overall ad budget. Why? Because fewer ads on the SERP pages can lead to an increase in your conversion rates — reducing your conversion costs.

Quality score aside, your odds of getting the ad click just went from one-in-eleven to one-in-six/seven. All things even, and assuming you bid up to the first page, the new ad layout should provide opportunity for increased conversion rates. That said, attaining high quality scores for your keywords has now become more important than ever.


Read Shimmer tips for quickly improving Google AdWords performance.



5 major AdWords management mistakes. Shimmer PPC.

5 Major AdWords Mistakes Ruining PPC Performance

The Google AdWords pay-per-click (PPC) platform has become an essential marketing element for most businesses, big and small. Done properly, AdWords can quickly deliver a mind boggling amount of high quality leads and/or online sales. Unfortunately, most businesses now know this, and AdWords has become quite competitive — and this drives up click costs. For this reason, it is more important than ever to ensure that your AdWords PPC campaigns are optimized to their fullest potential.

There are a number of costly AdWords mistakes that are very common amongst beginners and AdWords veterans. For this article, we focus on the 5 mistakes we most frequently come across at Shimmer when taking on new clients with existing AdWords campaigns:

1. Not Utilizing Negative Keywords

Negative keywords are, by far, one of the most valuable tools for improving AdWords conversion rates and increasing return-on-investment.

Google gets 100 billion searches PER MONTH — and 15% of the keywords in those searches are new words that Google has not yet registered. Just take a moment to wrap your head around those numbers… scary, right? So it stands to reason that there can be tons of keywords that may be similar, or even related to your industry keywords, but not exactly the right keywords for your particular business. This is where negative keywords come into play. Negative keywords allow you to exclude certain words and phrases from triggering your ads, even though they may be technically relevant to the keywords you are bidding on.


EXAMPLE: Shimmer provides “AdWords Management Services”. For Shimmer’s online marketing campaign, we may bid on the keyword: “AdWords Management Services” — but we are not interested in paying for clicks related to training (in this particular ad group). In this case, “training” can be related to the words “management” and “services”, and if we are using phrase match, we could certainly receive ad clicks for Adwords Training related searches. Here, we simply create a negative keyword, “+training” and apply it to our ad group. This tells Google that we do not want our ad to display for any search phrase containing the word training. That’s it — Easy Peasy! We just eliminated a lot of potential clicks that would have cost us good money, and been a drag on our ROI for this particular ad group.

By utilizing a good list of negative keywords, you can exclude keywords that aren’t a good match for your products and/or services, and doing so can lower costs, improve conversions and increase return-on-investment.

2. Improper Ad Scheduling

This one is a no-brainer for some, completely off the radar for others. Unless you’re selling products online 24/7, your ad campaigns are probably underperforming if they are running at all hours and on weekends. Remember, a lead is always the hottest at initial contact. So, if you are a plumber that works 8am – 6pm, those ad clicks at 10:30pm are probably money you just tossed down the drain (eek, that was ugly ;). Furthermore, if your campaigns are limited by budget, and Google is spreading your budget across 24 hours, you are missing out on a lot of leads during your prime working hours.

Concentrate your ad spend budget on the days and hours most likely to convert.

3. Engaging In Bidding Wars

Don’t do it! Guys and gals, we see this a lot — some “king of the hill” mentality that compels you to bid obnoxious amounts of money to ensure your ad gets the top slot, then your competitor does the same, and so on, and so on. First, that’s not how AdWords works — there are quality scores to consider. Second, the top slot does not guarantee that your ad gets the click.

Perform ad position tests to determine best bids and slots for maximum ROI.

4. Not Utilizing Broad Match Modifier

Broad match is the default match type that new keywords are assigned in Google Adwords campaigns and ad groups. Ads may be displayed for searches that include misspellings, synonyms, related searches and other relevant variations.

Broad match modifiers allow you to exclude synonyms of your search term. Unfortunately, and too often, keywords are left set to ‘broad only’ match type, resulting in low relevance and poor conversion rates. 

Use the plus sign (+) in front of a broad match term to make it modified, exclude synonyms and increase relevance. Example: +keyword

5. Ad Stagnation And Lack Of Split Testing

At Shimmer, we’ve learned that ads can definitely get stale. That is, your ad may currently be producing wonderful results with great CTRs and excellent conversion rates. But at some point in the near future the ad will simply lose its luster or fall out of favor with modern Googlers.

Before an ad gets too stale and starts dragging down your ROI, start writing new ads, and start split testing to find the best performers.

Also, for ‘search only’ campaigns, we strongly recommend having a minimum of 3 ads (per ad group) in rotation at any give time — at least 2 regular text ads and 1 mobile specific ad.

Navigating Google AdWords Acronyms

AdWords Acronym Guide 2016 | 39 Need-To-Know Google AdWords Terms

Anyone new to Google AdWords, and even account manager veterans, can quickly find themselves overwhelmed by the sheer volume of acronyms, abbreviated words, terms and phrases utilized throughout the AdWords platform and PPC industry. Heck, quite often, browsing through AdWords reports is like trying to decipher teenage text talk… srsly!

Here at Shimmer, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of Google AdWords related acronyms, initialisms and abbreviations, along with their meanings — to get you up to speed and in the loop for 2016.

AVGPOS or AVG. POS. — Average Position: Average position is the statistic of how your ad typically ranks against other ads (competitor ads). In general, ad positions between 1 and 3 mean your ad is appearing in the top 3 positions.

An average position of 1.8 means your ad typically shows in the 1 or 2 slot, but with more appearances in the number 2 position rather than the 1 position.

Average positions greater than 3 will typically land your ad on the sidebar, at the bottom of the search results page, or on the 2nd, 3rd, etc. pages — the larger the ad position number, the further down the list your ad is showing.


BMM — Broad Match Modifier: Modified broad match lets you specify that certain broad match keywords must appear to trigger your ad. Use the broad match modifier for more precise control and to exclude keyword synonyms from triggering your ads.

Use the plus sign symbol (+) in front of a broad match keyword to make it modified. E.g., +keyword


BR — Bounce Rate: The percentage of website visitors who navigate away from the site after viewing only one webpage.

Bounce rate is more commonly associated with Analytics, but analytics and paid search campaigns are increasingly more integrated, and BR has become more prevalent within AdWords.


CAC — Customer Acquisition Cost: The cost of a customer acquisition (CAC) simply means the price you pay to acquire a new customer.

Dividing the total costs associated with an AdWords acquisition by total number of new customers via AdWords, within a specific time period.


CLVCustomer Lifetime Value: CLV is a prediction of all value (net profit) a business will derive from their entire relationship with a customer.


CONV — Conversion(s): An AdWords conversion happens when a Google search user clicks your ad, then takes a specific action that you’ve defined as valuable, such as an online purchase, a web-form submission, or a mobile call to your business.


CPA — Cost Per Acquisition/Conversion Action: In AdWords, CPA is the amount you are willing to pay for a conversion (a specific action taken after the initial ad click).


CPC — Cost Per Click: The amount you pay when someone clicks your ad.


CPE — Cost Per Engagement: The average amount that you’ve been charged when someone expands your Lightbox ad.


CPLCost Per Lead: Same as CPA above.


CPM — Cost Per Thousand: CPM in AdWords means cost per thousand impressions. With CPM, you pay each and every time your ad appears (calculated per 1000 impressions), regardless of whether it actually gets clicked by the internet user.


CPP — Cost Per Phone Call: The amount you pay when someone performs a click-to-call action on your ad, or when a  phone call is derived from a forwarding number displayed on your ad.


CPV — Cost Per View: The amount you pay when a viewer watches 30 seconds of your video (or the duration if it’s shorter than 30 seconds) or interacts with your video, whichever comes first. Video interactions can include: clicks on the call-to-action overlays (CTAs), cards, and companion banners.

The CPV bidding option is only available when you choose to run TrueView video ads.


CR — Conversion Rate: The average number of conversions per ad click, shown as a percentage.

Industrywide, the average conversion rate is considered to be around 2.5%. But conversion value varies greatly by client — e.g., a 5.0% conversion rate for a campaign profiting $1.00 per sale can be far less valuable than a 1.5% conversion rate for a campaign profiting $1,000.00 per sale.


CROConversion Rate Optimization: A method (or system) for increasing the percentage of ad direct web visitors that convert into customers, or more generally, take a specified action (conversion) after the initial ad click.


CTACall To Action: In general, an online marketing call-to-action is an image, line of text, web-form, video, etc. that prompts your web visitor to perform some immediate action. The call-to-action is intended to improve conversion rate, as its absence may cause a visitor to feel less compelled to complete your online marketing objective.

For AdWords in specific, a CTA may be more compelling ad text that increases your chance of receiving the initial ad click.


CTRClick Through Rate: The rate at which users “click through” to your site from an AdWords ad. The CTR percentage represents the number of clicks that your ad receives divided by the number of times your ad is shown (clicks ÷ impressions = CTR).


DSTURL or Dest. URL — Destination URL (replaced by Final URL): The URL address of the page in your website that people reach when they click your ad.


DKIDynamic Keyword Insertion: An advanced feature that allows you to dynamically insert an AdWords keyword into your ad copy, based on the searcher’s query.

This feature allows you to have one ad that appears differently to customers depending on their search terms, making your ads appear more relevant and useful.


ECPCEnhanced Cost Per Click: ECPC is a bidding feature that automatically raises your bid for clicks that seem more likely to lead to a conversion on your website.


ECPMEffective Cost Per Thousand: ECPM is an estimate of the revenue you receive for every thousand ad impressions — (Total Earnings / Impressions) x 1000.


EPCEarnings Per Click: EPC refers to how much money you make per person who clicks on your ad.


GDNGoogle Display Network: A collection of websites, including specific Google websites like: Google Finance, Gmail, Blogger, and YouTube, that display AdWords ads. The network also includes mobile sites and apps.


ISImpression Share: The actual number of impressions your ads receive divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive.


KPIKey Performance Indicator: A business metric used to evaluate factors that are crucial to the success of an organization.

Some common Key Performance Indicators in AdWords are: Quality Score, Click-Through-Rate, Conversion Rate, Return on Ad Spend, and Customer Lifetime Value


KWKeywords: Words or phrases describing your product or service that you choose to help determine when and where your ad can appear.


LPOLanding Page Optimization: LPO is the process of improving elements on a landing page (the web page that an AdWords ad redirects to when clicked) to increase conversions.


LTVLifetime Value: Same as CLV above.


NKWNegative Keywords: A type of keyword that prevents your ad from being triggered by a certain word or phrase. It tells Google not to show your ad to anyone who is searching for that phrase.


PLAProduct Listing Ads: Product Listing Ads are cost-per-click ads which feature a product image, and are tailored towards products and product categories vs. keywords.


PPCPay Per Click: Internet marketing model in which advertisers pay a fee each time one of their ads is clicked.


PPLPay Per Lead: Online advertising payment model in which payment is based solely on qualifying leads.


PRPage Rank or PageRank: PageRank is an algorithm used by Google Search to rank websites in their search engine results. PageRank is a way of measuring the importance of website pages.

Deprecation: The visible page rank is updated very infrequently. In October 2014, Google’s Matt Cutts announced that another visible pagerank update would not be coming.


PTRPhone Through Rate: PTR is the number of phone calls received divided by the number of times your phone number is shown (Phone impressions).


QSQuality Score: An estimate of the quality of ads and landing pages triggered by a keyword. Having a high Quality Score means Google thinks your ad and landing page are relevant and useful to someone looking at your ad.


ROASReturn On Ad Spend: The amount of revenue received for every dollar spent on an advertising source. This is a gauge of the effectiveness of AdWords campaigns.


SERPSearch Engine Results Page: The listing of results returned by a search engine in response to a keyword query.


STRSearch Terms Report: A list of search terms that people used before seeing your ad and clicking it. The search terms report is used to refine keywords so that only relevant searches cause your ad to show.


VTCView-Through Conversions: A measurement of online conversions within 30 days of a user seeing an ad on Google Display Network, didn’t click on that ad, but converted via another means.

PPC Conversions

ADWORDS REPORTING: Hard & Soft Conversions

Recently, I’ve had a lot of discussions regarding AdWords conversion rates and conversion costs. These discussions have taken place with existing Shimmer clients, potential clients, colleagues and even my wonderful wife — a multi-channel marketing whiz.

What I am discovering is that many folks don’t have a full understanding of how Google AdWords conversion tracking works, or how valuable conversion data is to determining the return-on-investment of a PPC (pay-per-click) advertising campaign.


What do you call a conversion? What user action is important to you and your business? This is where many AdWords managers do themselves and their clients a disservice. You see, conversions aren’t easy to come by, and clouding reports with unclear conversion definitions often leads to inaccurate measures of campaign profitability.

Hard Conversions Vs. Soft Conversions
When crafting a search advertising campaign (and many other types of digital marketing campaigns), it is of the utmost importance that everyone involved understands how conversions are defined, and what their value is to the advertising project. The very first set of definitions should be those of hard and soft conversions…

Read The Full Article:  Understanding The Difference Between Hard & Soft Conversions

Mobile Search: Google mobile-friendly update

It’s Here… Google’s Mobile Compliant Smack Down of 2015

Tuesday, April 21, 2015 is the big day, and I sincerely hope your business (big or small) was not one to ignore Google’s warning about the impending drop in search rankings for web pages that are not mobile friendly. If your website is not mobile friendly, the Google Smack Down is about to cause you/your business considerable pain.

What Is The Google Mobile-Friendly Update?

For this answer, we highlight a couple sentences from Google’s Webmaster Central Blog:

Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.

Basically, Google is updating their search algorithms to include the mobile-friendliness of a web page as a significant rankings factor (on mobile searches). So, if your web-pages aren’t responsive or mobile compliant via Google’s guidelines, then expect your search rankings to drop on mobile searches.

What Does Mobile-Friendly Mean?

A mobile-friendly website is one that displays correctly on modern hand-held devices such as smartphones (Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, etc.) and tablets (iPad, Surface, etc.). The content loads quickly and is easily readable on a mobile device (i.e. no zooming is required).

[ Test your website for mobile-friendliness here. ]

Why You Should Care

Recent smartphone data released by comScore shows 76.7% mobile market penetration in the United States:

186.3 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones (76.6 percent mobile market penetration) during the three months ending in February, up 5 percent since November.

In addition to the above stats, consider the following:

  • In 2014, US adults spent an average of 2 hours, 51 minutes on their mobile devices each day.
  • In the final quarter of 2014, just under 30 percent of all online searches were made on mobile devices. That’s about 18.5 billion searches.
  • Mobile search advertising is expected to reach $28.72 billion in 2015
  • Mobile search will be 50% of the search market in 2015
  • By 2019, mobile ad spending is projected to rise to $65.87 billion, or 72.2% of total digital ad spend.

By now, the value of a mobile-friendly website should be very obvious. If your business has any reliance on web traffic generated from Google search, your business simply will not thrive without a mobile-friendly or responsive website.

Ad Remarketing (thumbnail image)

PPC & Remarketing – How To Make Warm Leads Turn Red Hot!

WHAT IS REMARKETING?  With Google AdWords, it is a functionality that allows you to position targeted ads in front of previous visitors to your website — while they are browsing other websites.

Remarketing isn’t new, but it has become easier to implement and is considerably more potent these days.

Given the above, it is easy to see how Remarketing, also known as ad retargeting, can be extremely valuable: Someone visited your website and browsed your products and/or service offerings, but did not convert (i.e. they did not place an order, request a quote, or contact you) — this is a warm lead.  Remarketing allows you turn up the heat on that warm lead by putting your brand, product or service back in view of someone whose already shown interest.

Google Remarketing is a powerful online marketing tactic because it allows you to remain connected with your target audience, even after they leave your website. It is especially beneficial where the sales process is long and/or competitive. Executed in the right way, Remarketing is widely recognized as one of the most effective forms of online marketing available as it ties so closely to the marketing mantra:  Right Person + Right Time + Right Message.

Google AdWords Remarketing by Shimmer PPC.

AdWords Remarketing Infographic (open image in a new tab for full size)

Google AdWords Campaign Management: SALES v. ROI

Google AdWords Campaign Management: SALES | ROI


I once heard a Google Adwords manager say, “I don’t focus on stats, I focus on sales.” After a quick review of several Adwords reports, I quickly understood why the comment was made. A 0.49% average click-through-rate (CTR), hundreds of keyword quality scores below “5” , no conversion tracking data (that’s right, they were not utilizing conversion tracking — at all!) and a whopping $40,000+ per month ad spend. Oh, but they had tons of ads placing in the top 3. Hmmm…

Well, any individual or company responsible for adwords campaign management of an account dropping $40K per month with the type of stats above HAS NO CHOICE BUT TO CLAIM THEY FOCUS ON SALES! What else are they going to say?


Heck, if you throw enough money at it, yes, the phone will ring. Clearly, the account manager above was buying hundreds (thousands?) of broad match keywords and bidding very high to get decent ad placement. If this sounds like a solid PPC strategy to you, then you are doing AdWords campaign management the wrong way!

Of course, sales are the ultimate gauge of your PPC campaign’s effectiveness. But where do margins, ROI and common sense come into play? Are people really so addicted to “the rush” of generating PPC leads and sales that they brush aside the fact they may be over-spending for conversions, effectively eliminating profit margin? Does volume really trump all for these folks? Is the quantity-over-quality mentality alive and kicking in the PPC management business?

More importantly, how long can your business survive with an unnecessarily low Return On Investment?


All of of the statistics found in your AdWords report have value and can help to define and improve your PPC campaign’s performance. Without a doubt, some stats provide more insight and value than others. But, ultimately, better stats lead to better ROI.

At Shimmer, we look at two stats to determine a managed PPC campaign’s success: Conversion Rate and Conversion Cost. Why? Because your AdWords campaign must be performing well for a bunch of other stats in order for your conversion rates and costs to be exceptional. Simply, CTRs, quality scores, ad position, bid amount, phone calls, etc. all affect overall conversion rates and conversion costs.

If your campaign has exceptional conversion stats, then sales should be up and return on investment should be on target. If not, your website, calls-to-action, phone support and lead-to-sales acquisition process may need to be evaluated and updated.


Quality Score. If your AdWords campaign has numerous keywords with quality scores below 5, then something within your ad group is not fine tuned.  It could be the keyword, the ad copy or the landing page. Your job is to determine which one is not in-sync with the other two. Remember, relevance is the key! 

Broad Match Keywords. More often than not, too many broad match keywords result in low conversion rates and high conversion costs. Refine keywords by category and utilize modifiers, phrase and exact match.

Negative Keywords. This is one of the most powerful tools in your box. Unfortunately, it is also one of the least utilized tools when it comes to Google AdWords campaign management. Use the the search terms report to spot negative keywords and start building a negative keyword list today!

Bid Amount: You don’t have to be number one, but bidding for top three gets your ad extensions displayed — higher click through rates. Likewise, bidding too low gets you booted from the first page. If you don’t know by now, you can hear crickets chirping on the second page of Google’s search results.

Time Management. This is where we come in. Simply, many businesses are running their own AdWords campaigns in-house and the responsible individuals just don’t have the time required to effectively manage and achieve optimal results. Shimmer has been specializing in Google AdWords campaign management for nearly seven years. It’s what we do, It’s what we have time for.

View our Google AdWords campaign management page for more details.


AdWords: How to use the Search Terms Report.


The AdWords search terms report is crucial to understanding how your PPC ads performed when triggered by actual search queries. Unfortunately, the report is also one of the least utilized features by AdWords managers [at all levels].

Why The Search Terms Report Is Important

A search term is the exact word or phrase that a Google user types when utilizing the search network. The Search Terms Report lets you see which terms triggered your ads, and against which of your keywords. This is extremely valuable information that can help to quickly discover new keyword opportunities and refine existing keywords for maximum performance.

How To Access The Search Terms Report

To generate your AdWords search terms report:

  1. Click the Campaigns tab.
  2. Click the Keywords tab.
  3. Click the Details button.
  4. Select All from the drop-down.
  5. Click the download button to export the data.

Use Search Terms Data To Improve CTRs, Quality Scores And Conversions

Utilize the search terms data to update your keywords and help improve overall performance. The report can reveal many new keyword opportunities, especially if your campaign utilizes lots of broad and phrase match keywords. Browse the report for terms that performed well and are not yet in your campaign as exact match keywords.

  • High performing search terms can be added as keywords to relevant ad groups.
  • Utilize high performer data to update similar keywords. Also, make bid and ad copy adjustments accordingly.
  • Utilize the search terms data to help decide on the best match type for your active keywords.
  • Add low-relevance search terms to your Negative Keywords list. This stops your ads from showing to users with little chance of converting (i.e. people unlikely to purchase your products and/or services).

At the very minimum, we suggest running the search terms report once a month and updating your keywords based on the search data. Regular updating will quickly pay off in higher CTRs and quality scores as well as refined targeting that leads to better conversion rates.

Logo: Shimmer Digital Media


2013 Was An Amazing Year For Shimmer, 2014 Is Off To An Even Better Start!

It’s a very exciting time at Shimmer Digital Media! For starters, 2013 was the biggest year ever in our six year history as a formal business. Biggest in eleven years — going back to when I began freelancing as a digital marketing professional.

First and foremost — THANK YOU! The support and loyalty from clients, colleagues, family and friends has been nothing short of incredible, and our appreciation is unmeasurable.

From clients that have been with us for many years like RCF Plastics, SOS Speedy and Lincoln Electric, to new and exciting business relationships like Kay-Twelve, The Arbalest Group and AAA Motor Transport — we can’t thank you enough for the trust and confidence you have placed in Shimmer.

National Rankings Success

By the end of 2013, Shimmer had received notice of a Top 10 ranking by TopPPCs as well as a Top 10 ranking by Best Web Design Agencies. Rankings are for Bing PPC management and responsive web design, respectively.

In February of this year (2014), Shimmer received a Top 30 momentum ranking out of 335 monitored Digital Marketing agencies via Signl, and a feature request from Best SEOs just this month (March 2014).

Currently, we hold a national first page placement in search results for our core expertise, “AdWords Management Services” as well as first page placements for hundreds of branded and industry specific service keywords.

This has us grinning from ear to ear, to say the least!

New Offices In Cuyahoga Falls, OH

To keep up with the growing demand for Shimmer services we’ve opened up new offices in downtown Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. The next time you are in NE Ohio please stop by and say, “Hello!” If it’s a Friday during the summer months, we’re located right in the center of the “Rockin’ On The River” action! (NE Ohio’s longest running and highest attended outdoor concert series) — Great music, great food and more!

A New Website For 2014

We’re still working out some minor kinks, but the new Shimmer website is alive and kicking! A modern, responsive and clean flat design with more engaging content, easier mobile viewing, intuitive navigation and quick links to the resources you need now.

Again, Thank You.

It is such a great feeling knowing you do what you love for a living. So many wonderful people have helped to make this my reality. My little business is all grown up — I’m proud, and I am so very grateful to all those that have contributed to Shimmer’s success.

Thank you,