Part One: PPC Training Modules

I have a little experience and training with PPC, but not a ton. I tended to get frustrated a lot doing PPC, because Google seems to do things in a very peculiar fashion. They sure do seem to enjoy it when you broad match!

But I started thinking recently it might be my own hang-ups. Maybe PPC wasn’t so bad, and maybe I am leaving money on the table. (Sorry for the sales guy cliché…please set fire to my low-hanging shame.)

And then I realized it has been a couple years since I did any meaningful PPC training.

I needed a refresher course on paid advertising.

Maybe I didn’t really distrust PPC – maybe I just didn’t get it anymore. And maybe things were getting better than I remembered. Maybe Google didn’t try so hard to push you into the broad match body slam anymore.

I have a couple live PPC accounts that are very tightly clamped down these days, and I could optimize them. I also have some new ideas brewing that might need some help. So I signed-up for membership on the PPC Blog.

Here’s my review of what you get when you opt for the paid membership of PPCBlog.

The facts:

  • The site was founded by Aaron and Giovanna Wall, and is run by them and PPC expert Geordie Carswell
  • There are three main sections of the site offering value to those learning or improving PPC skills: PPC Blog, PPC Community, and PPC Training
  • The monthly fees for membership are $179 a month, and membership would be required to see what I will be talking about in this review
  • I was not paid to write this – I am simply offering my opinions on the value of this site. There is no affiliate connection. (oh, that there was!)

I am not going to review the blog, because you should go read it for yourself.

Giovanna and Geordie (and the occasional post by Aaron, Peter or other guests) tend to be spot-on, detailed and chock-full of great insights. The blog topics cover more than simple PPC techniques-you really owe it to yourself to soak it in. Wonderful blogging is happening out there, year after year, quietly building into a great resource.

So this part is not going to cover the blog. In part one, I am going to review the training modules. I got a little wordy (ha!), so I cut it up, and made part two about the tools and the forum.

Digging In: The PPC Training Modules

A big part of a site like this is you want to get some expert training. I personally prefer to do it on my own time, and so I like a site where I can easily sift through the information, getting what I need as I see fit. My own pace can be pretty erratic.

In reviewing the training modules in PPCBlog for this post, I approached them in two ways: as an initial means to retrain myself on best practices; and, as a resource I could mentally bookmark to leverage in the future, locating specific ideas to improve upon live tactics as I progress.

Categories are Your Friend in PPCBlogPPC Blog review starting page

Simple categorization is a huge plus when you’re trying to plow through a lot of detailed materials. Thankfully, the modules in the PPC Training are well categorized and clearly marked for easy identification.

When you first get in, there are some modules created to help you follow a simple, clear path through the training. It’s helpful, because if you don’t know where to start, they ease you in. Nothing overwhelming – they just offer a nice, soft starting place, with a clear pathway to grow.

I liked immediately that there was beginner information, but it was not limited in scope, nor was it in any way condescending. It allowed me to quickly review the basics again, and make sure I am still thinking about things as they are in the real world.

PPC Blog review navigation screen capOf course, there is no need to follow a training path if you come in later with a specific need. So, let’s say I came in and wanted to learn more specifically about Facebook advertising, or had a Google ad I wanted to refine.

In both cases, the simple navigation in PPCBlog allows me to go directly to the module I need from the “Training” link dropdown.

Or, I can just go to the site map.

PPC blog review sitemap screen cap

PPCBlog has enabled two solid ways for you to approach the information.

You can follow the path laid out for you, and each module will lead you into the next. This is a smart way to learn because the information in some of the modules builds on information offered by previous ones.

The other way, is to simply zero-in on the specific area of information you want to explore, and jumping right into it. This is better for people with more experience, or what you’d do once you’ve been a member in here for a while.

And look to the right – there is a handy sub-nav ready to bring you to wherever you want to pick up.

I think PPCBlog handled this well. As a result, they seamlessly accommodate professionals with varying levels of experience. It’s all there, never more than a click away.

The Modules: Tone, Flow and Information

The training modules were created by Geordie Carswell – a well respected PPC expert. He has a solid enough reputation, so I felt giving him a chance  to teach me was not a big risk.

Geordie Carswell of PPCBlog

image swiped mercilessly:

Geordie’s writing style and approach to organizing his ideas is straightforward, open and well informed. It makes these modules engrossing and easy to understand, no matter what level of experience you’re bringing to the table.

His tone is assured, but not condescending. He starts basic, yet within every module I kept finding little gems tucked in there.

These tasty morsels are unique, because they allow insight into Geordie’s range of experiences. Having information offered by an expert is exceptional in this respect – he is able to understand what most users need, and still offer something taking you beyond the rudiments.

More than once, there might be a paragraph or two of fairly detailed information.  Geordie summarizes them for you as “The main takeaway here…” or “This means you should focus on…” or something similar and gets to the heart of it.

I would share some specific details, but I don’t think that would be fair to the work Geordie has put in.

For a general example, in the Google AdWords module, Geordie has offered a variety of screen caps to walk you through setting up your ad groups more efficiently.

He then goes into detail on how to refine keywords, which variants to include, which characters to use, and how to address negative keywords to your greatest advantage. In short, he is giving you all the information you need to set up a safe, a moderate, or an aggressive campaign.

Which way you use the information Geordie offers in these modules is based only on your own personal thresholds and direction. The information is all there, complete with warnings when things might get a little risky.

This is a big plus to me, because again, it shows the value of being able to rely on this resource more than once.

Geordie’s modules have a lot of information and insight presented in a very clear manner. They are typically short and to the point, and all of them had links to deeper resources. Nice use of bullets and short, tight paragraphs.

Perhaps best of all to me, are the little asides and suggestions that Geordie offers. This is true value-add stuff, this is thinking, experience and something you won’t find elsewhere – unless you find Geordie, I guess.

I am of course, hyper-critical to the way people communicate. Geordie is worth listening to on a number of levels, and you’ll see it instantly when you read the training modules.

The Verdict?

Ultimately, you have to evaluate a training program on its ability to provide a recurring value. At least I do – I was raised in a big family, and mom didn’t like things that did not return recurring value.

But no worries here – I locked in-step with Geordie’s style pretty quickly, and can see no reason why anyone else would have a different experience.

I liked his approach for presenting a wide-based bed of information, simply. Couple this with the little nuggets of insight he offers (that I feel are pretty unique to each professional), and the value and ROI are clear. Geordie’s professional experience is definitely beneficial to refining my own efforts so far, so my own return on investment has been realized.

My mom would approve.

But wait until I tell you about the extra benefits found in the community, and the tools.

Part two is now posted, you can see it here. And go to the blog and have a look for yourself…I am telling you, these kids have a nice little spark catching fire here.