Imagine a world where firefighters wander the streets, putting out 2-alarm blazes as they happen to come across them. Thankfully, Francis Upton introduced the world to the first electronic fire alarm in 1890, and since then, firefighters have been much more efficient at identifying, responding to, and extinguishing deadly blazes.
In paid search, online marketers are also responsible for fighting fires. Though these fires are far from life-threatening, they result in wasted ad spend and plenty of headaches. Whether it’s addressing non-converting keywords, pausing under-performing creative, fixing broken landing page URLs, or submitting exemption requests for disapproved creative, critical paid search issues can quickly lead to wasted budget and missed performance goals.
Only You Can Prevent Paid Search Fires
Alerts are a quick and easy way for search marketers to identify and address issues when their account experiences a significant shift in performance. Setting up alerts is simple. Using filters to manage your performance data by exception, set pre-defined conditions that constitute a critical issue. Schedule an automated email so that if and when these conditions are met, you are automatically alerted via an email identifying the affected campaigns, groups, keywords, or creative that require your attention. There are two types of alerts search marketers can set up across their account; and each has a unique purpose in helping maintain a healthy paid search program.
Performance-based alerts are great for helping you identify objects within your account that can be further optimized. A simple example would be identifying high volume keywords with low click-through rate (CTR) by creating an alert that looks for keywords with a high number of impressions and a low CTR. After receiving this email alert, you might consider breaking out these keywords into new groups, or possibly changing the ad creative to increase relevance.
Another alert might identify significant shifts in campaign, group, or keyword spend; using an absolute value percentage to identify both increases and decreases in spend. Large swings in cost would warrant investigation into seasonality, negative keywords, quality scores, or other factors that influence spend. Other performance-based alerts include:
Account alerts help ensure that your paid search accounts are structured properly, tracking has been implemented correctly, and that all objects are aligned with business needs. All of these alerts are actionable because they identify an administrative issue in your account. For example, new keywords and creative are always subject to editorial review. Creating an alert that returns any object with a “Disapproved” status enables you to quickly review the affected keywords or creative, and submit the appropriate exemption requests. Without alerts, these types of issues can remain undetected for weeks, significantly impacting campaign performance. Other account alerts include:
Keys to an Effective Alert
For the same reason you wouldn’t want your smoke alarm to go off for burnt toast, pre-defined alert conditions should be rare enough that they are immediately actionable. In other words, be restrictive. If almost everything in your account is considered a fire, your alerts won’t be of much use. Also, when defining an alert, be specific and set your filters to pull enough data. Whether it’s “show me all keywords with 0 conversions and over 100 clicks” or “show me all creative that has dropped 50% in CTR over the last 7 days”, significant data is crucial to making informed decisions.
Finally, when setting your alert threshold, it’s a good idea to leverage the absolute change of your key performance indicator (KPI). For instance, set an email alert when “a keyword’s spend has changed by more than 100% over the past 7 days”. Keywords with significant spend increases and decreases over the last 7 days would be included in this alert; both sets deserving of attention.
Keep in mind that alerts don’t always point to a critical issue. In some cases, using the absolute change value of a KPI can help you identify areas within your account where optimization efforts are paying big dividends. Play around with alerts and see how they can scale your optimization efforts and help you maintain a healthy paid search program.
For more information on how Marin Software can help you manage by exception, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For many search marketers, identifying opportunities for optimization within paid search campaigns is challenging. Monitoring and maintaining top performing ad groups, keywords, and ads is a standard best practice; but as campaigns grow, keyword lists expand, and creative tests multiply, this approach fails to scale and provide incremental improvements in paid search performance. With so many optimization opportunities hidden in an ocean of data, how can search marketers give the required attention each campaign deserves? Where do you even start?
To help search marketers answer these questions, Marin Software is thrilled to announce our partnership with BoostCTR to offer a free paid search diagnostics tool that not only provides insight into account performance, but also opportunities for optimization. The Account Performance Grader is designed to analyze historical performance across keywords, ads, quality scores, and ad groups for AdWords and Bing Ads campaigns. Simply sign up and enter the required information to receive your customized report.
Among other best practice recommendations, this report will provide actionable insights for pausing poor performing keywords and ads, as well as reveal quality score trends that identify areas where keyword relevance can be improved. With the Account Performance Grader, search marketers can remove the guesswork out of campaign optimization and focus their time on more strategic, high impact tasks.
Sign up here and start optimizing your campaigns today!
In a post late last year, we briefly explored the importance of match type parity—expanding broad match keywords to phrase and exact match—to not only improve keyword efficiency, but lower CPCs. Today, we’ll broaden our discussion to review additional strategies for maintaining keyword parity across match types and publishers. This post will help identify where potential keyword gaps reside and provide the necessary tools for filling them.
As campaigns mature, keywords evolve from experiments to proven revenue drivers. These proven revenue drivers often perform similarly across publishers. If a newly added Google keyword achieved 100 clicks with a 5% conversion rate at a 200% ROI over the last two weeks, it makes sense to test the same keyword on Bing. Unfortunately, many advertisers fail to maintain keyword parity across publishers, even when the failure to do so can result in missed revenue opportunities.
Identifying where these keyword gaps reside can prove to be a daunting task. To promote engine parity, implement tracking when engaging in keyword expansion. (Third-party solutions, like Marin Software, can help track and report on these changes at scale.) Take detailed notes on where, when and why these keywords were added to the account. These notes are not only essential to analyzing performance, but are critical when copying top performing keywords across publishers. To retroactively assess parity, download a sorted keyword performance report and apply an Excel vlookup to compare publisher keyword sets. Take note of where the gaps are for top performing keywords.
Copying exact and phrase match keywords to broad match type is a simple strategy for reaching a larger audience and discovering additional keyword opportunities. However, an increase in traffic doesn’t always correspond to an increase in performance. When introducing broad match keywords, be relentless in your efforts to find appropriate negative keywords.
Driving improvements in keyword efficiency often requires the use of phrase and exact match keywords. Expanding broad match keywords to phrase and exact allows for effective segmentation of keyword traffic and performance metrics. A keyword on broad match only captures the traffic for its phrase and exact match counterparts. Consequently, the clicks and conversions are aggregated to a single keyword. With the same keyword on broad, phrase and exact match, clicks and conversions can be segmented based on match type and precise optimization strategies can be implemented for each keyword.
Consider the following dilemma. A keyword running on Google across all three match types has a broad match bid that exceeds the phrase and exact match bids. As a result, the broad match keyword cannibalizes traffic that should otherwise be captured by the phrase or exact match keywords. To effectively expand keywords from broad to phrase to exact match types, and segment performance based on match type, you must implement match type silos.
Match type silos not only promote match type parity but, with appropriate negative keywords, guarantee proper query-to-keyword matching. (For more on match type silos, read our whitepaper on managing negative keywords.)
Be mindful of publisher and match type gaps. Once these keyword gaps have been filled, remember to optimize. Researching negative keywords, setting appropriate keyword bids and generating relevant ad creative are just a few tasks to keep in mind. Implement these strategies and share your results with us.
Keyword expansion is a generalized term for increasing the keyword count for a search ad campaign. There are many tools for generating keyword expansion recommendations including Adwords, Adcenter, and Marin’s own proprietary keyword expansion tool which has the additional functionality of being able to track conversions associated with raw queries to provide better insight into whether keywords make sense to be added based on their post click success.
Keyword expansion is one of few optimizations that has the opportunity to increase volume while decreasing CPC’s. Keyword expansion can be used to increase reach, improve campaign efficiency or both. The impact of keyword expansion, whether to increase efficiency or volume, is generally determined by whether expansion is being done on existing keywords or new keywords. Existing keywords can be optimized by expansion of more efficient match types; this strategy is effective in increasing campaign efficiency. New keywords can be created through keyword expansion to capitalize on increased reach; this strategy is effective in increasing campaign volume and can also increase efficiency.
Expansion of existing keywords through the use of match type parity is typically executed to channel click traffic from less efficient, broad and/or phrase match types, to more efficient, phrase and/or exact match types. As broad match keywords can bring in more irrelevant and unknown queries than phrase or exact match counterparts they also tend to have lower conversion rates. The more targeted match types are also likely to display ad copy that has increased relevance to the captured query which should result in increased CTR’s, better quality score and lower CPC’s.
As new campaigns are created this practice of match type parity can be used proactively to achieve efficiencies immediately.
If a keyword is running in a Google campaign on all three match types Adwords will still drive queries to broad match keywords if the broad match bid exceeds that of the phrase and exact match types of the same term. For this reason, when expanding keyword match types in Google it is recommended that separate groups be created for each match type so that negative keywords can be used guarantee queries be driven to more efficient match types.
Expansion of new keywords can be used to generate additional volume by increasing a campaigns reach or can identify phrase and/or exact match keywords that can be added to improve efficiency.
Keyword expansion of broad match terms can be coined as “exploratory spend,” this term signifies that increased spend can be applied through the expansion to identify opportunities that are not currently being taken advantage of. Exploratory spend can be applied to head terms (low token count) or tail terms (high token count) depending on the desired results.
Either keyword expansion option should be further refined by mining raw query reports to determine what queries are effective which can be added as more efficient match types. Queries identified as inefficient represent opportunities for negative keywords that can be used for further refinement and efficiency.
As the addition of broad match keywords could significantly increase traffic and spend it is often advisable to create and exploratory spend campaign so budgets can be managed separately from normal traffic. It is recommended advertisers account for match type parity when implementing keyword expansion for exploratory spend to realize any potential efficiencies immediately. This exploratory spend can be an effective way to increase spend and clicks as budgets increase, or explore potentially more efficient keywords while maintaining budget levels.
Keyword expansion of phrase and/or exact match terms provides similar opportunity to the match type parity explained above. Similar to the recommendation of having a broad match keyword paritied to phrase and exact match types, all search queries (or converting search queries) that are generated by a broad match keyword represent an expansion opportunity. Broad match queries can be added to a campaign as a phrase and/or exact match keyword(s) to ensure future traffic generated by the query will be channeled through the more efficient and relevantly targeted match type(s).
As existing campaigns progress through their lifecycle of optimization and refinement, advertisers should expect to see an increased percentage of ads spend transitioned from broad match keywords to their more efficient counterparts. Below is a list of common keyword expansion strategies:
Keyword Expansion Opportunities
• Geographical targeting
• Category keywords
• Business name keywords
• Brand keywords
• Seasonality keywords
• Jargon keywords, nicknames, and acronyms
• Question keywords
Analytics is the process of using historic data as the basis of any new decisions. Online advertisers now have an increasing amount of tools bringing ever-improving reporting functionality. The number of metrics being recorded and the volume of data being captured leads to the question – where should analytics and optimization efforts be focused?
Apart from the volume of data, online campaigns are especially difficult to analyze since there are so many factors constantly changing. The performance is directly affected by the actions of competitors. Also, there are often multiple people working on the same campaigns each optimizing to their own agenda, but in doing so, making any analysis of overall performance far less clear.
Search-marketers extending their marketing expertise to Facebook will first learn that Search and Social are entirely different marketing channels. At first glance, the differences are blatantly obvious: keyword targeting versus demographic/ interest targeting, text creatives versus image creatives, landing pages versus fan pages, to name a few. Despite these differences, there are also similarities – the core values of online marketing carry over from Search to Social. In this post, I will focus on the optimization aspect of the two marketing channels.