Cracking the Code of Yahoo Todays Top Searches – In the Name of ROI

February 25, 2009 | 10 min read
By Tad Miller

We are obsessed about costs per conversion and return on investment (ROI) for our Pay per Click Ad Campaigns. Traffic for the sake of traffic is usually not our goal. We really target getting traffic that converts and even minimize exposure to traffic that doesn’t.

Yahoo Sponsored Search almost always has the worst conversion rates and highest conversion costs for our clients. Some clients have even opted to just stop advertising on Yahoo despite its market share as the second most popular search engine. The reasons for this are partially demographic, but a lot of it has to do with actual traffic sources of sponsored search traffic and the lack of tools that allow searchers some transparency into what their Yahoo search queries really are and the lack of ability to use multiple keyword match types at the same time.

But the most powerful ROI killing Yahoo factor is one that most advertisers may never have to worry about. The killer is something most people would think would be a good thing to happen – Appearing on the Yahoo home page section called “Today’s Top Searches“.

The keywords in this section of Yahoo.com are almost always celebrity related and rarely business related. Appearing on the home page of Yahoo can increase your paid search traffic about 8 to 10 times normal amounts. The same is true of your natural search traffic.

The problem for PPC lies in that when people click on the keyword on the top ten section they are taken to the Yahoo search results page for that keyword, with your ad in its normal ad position. The traffic is for the most part casual with quick abandonment rates. Which drives up conversion costs. The natural search traffic is also low quality with regard to conversions.

The thing is the Yahoo Today’s Top Searches isn’t really a true “Top 10” list. It filters out the “adult” searches, which would dominate the rankings. Yahoo tries to “balance” out the list from different categories. You also rarely see the same keywords on the list day after day. A true top ten list would be pretty “adult” in content and would rarely ever change – which doesn’t keep people looking at it on a regular basis.

There is often no rhyme or reason for the token product that makes the list among all the celebrity terms. Products often mysteriously make the list with no press or news pushing up traffic at all. This has always been my experience when it happens to our clients.

Here’s my conspiracy theory about Yahoo Top Searches that I’m going to choose to believe, until someone proves to me different. I believe that Yahoo has a ‘bot’ that searches all of the Yahoo Sponsored Search advertiser accounts for high priced keywords, with high click through rates and without daily campaign budgets that would limit sponsored search traffic spend. Essentially, it’s looking for keywords that can ring up a nice one day bill and make them a little extra ad revenue. After all, there’s not much advertising revenue to be made from searches on “Nicole Ritchey” or “Andy Richter”.

I have always loved the fact that you don’t have to set daily campaign budgets on your best performing campaigns on Yahoo – you can opt to just set a daily account budget instead. But, I have never had a keyword appear on the top search list that was in a Campaign with a daily campaign budget set that day.

Yahoo also allows you the ability to see how much you need to bid on a keyword to be in the number one position and get the maximum available traffic on that keyword each day. It’s nice to be able to see this kind of data for high performing keywords. However, this makes up the second part of the formula. Maximum keyword bids, combined with no daily campaign budget where that keyword resides is an open invitation to get on the Yahoo top search list.

If ROI is your objective, over pure traffic and Branding, instead of leaving the daily campaign budget open ended try to just pad what you think you will need for a daily budget with a few extra hundred dollars. This should ensure the coverage you need and keep you off the top ten list.

If you are after “just traffic” up your daily account budget, open the flood gates, up your bid and wait your turn. If your product or service is popular enough to have big spending potential your day will come.


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Cracking the Code of Yahoo Todays Top Searches – In the Name of ROI

February 25, 2009 | 10 min read
By Tad Miller

We are obsessed about costs per conversion and return on investment (ROI) for our Pay per Click Ad Campaigns. Traffic for the sake of traffic is usually not our goal. We really target getting traffic that converts and even minimize exposure to traffic that doesn’t.

Yahoo Sponsored Search almost always has the worst conversion rates and highest conversion costs for our clients. Some clients have even opted to just stop advertising on Yahoo despite its market share as the second most popular search engine. The reasons for this are partially demographic, but a lot of it has to do with actual traffic sources of sponsored search traffic and the lack of tools that allow searchers some transparency into what their Yahoo search queries really are and the lack of ability to use multiple keyword match types at the same time.

But the most powerful ROI killing Yahoo factor is one that most advertisers may never have to worry about. The killer is something most people would think would be a good thing to happen – Appearing on the Yahoo home page section called “Today’s Top Searches“.

The keywords in this section of Yahoo.com are almost always celebrity related and rarely business related. Appearing on the home page of Yahoo can increase your paid search traffic about 8 to 10 times normal amounts. The same is true of your natural search traffic.

The problem for PPC lies in that when people click on the keyword on the top ten section they are taken to the Yahoo search results page for that keyword, with your ad in its normal ad position. The traffic is for the most part casual with quick abandonment rates. Which drives up conversion costs. The natural search traffic is also low quality with regard to conversions.

The thing is the Yahoo Today’s Top Searches isn’t really a true “Top 10” list. It filters out the “adult” searches, which would dominate the rankings. Yahoo tries to “balance” out the list from different categories. You also rarely see the same keywords on the list day after day. A true top ten list would be pretty “adult” in content and would rarely ever change – which doesn’t keep people looking at it on a regular basis.

There is often no rhyme or reason for the token product that makes the list among all the celebrity terms. Products often mysteriously make the list with no press or news pushing up traffic at all. This has always been my experience when it happens to our clients.

Here’s my conspiracy theory about Yahoo Top Searches that I’m going to choose to believe, until someone proves to me different. I believe that Yahoo has a ‘bot’ that searches all of the Yahoo Sponsored Search advertiser accounts for high priced keywords, with high click through rates and without daily campaign budgets that would limit sponsored search traffic spend. Essentially, it’s looking for keywords that can ring up a nice one day bill and make them a little extra ad revenue. After all, there’s not much advertising revenue to be made from searches on “Nicole Ritchey” or “Andy Richter”.

I have always loved the fact that you don’t have to set daily campaign budgets on your best performing campaigns on Yahoo – you can opt to just set a daily account budget instead. But, I have never had a keyword appear on the top search list that was in a Campaign with a daily campaign budget set that day.

Yahoo also allows you the ability to see how much you need to bid on a keyword to be in the number one position and get the maximum available traffic on that keyword each day. It’s nice to be able to see this kind of data for high performing keywords. However, this makes up the second part of the formula. Maximum keyword bids, combined with no daily campaign budget where that keyword resides is an open invitation to get on the Yahoo top search list.

If ROI is your objective, over pure traffic and Branding, instead of leaving the daily campaign budget open ended try to just pad what you think you will need for a daily budget with a few extra hundred dollars. This should ensure the coverage you need and keep you off the top ten list.

If you are after “just traffic” up your daily account budget, open the flood gates, up your bid and wait your turn. If your product or service is popular enough to have big spending potential your day will come.

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