What one piece of advice would I give to help improve a paid search campaign?
That was a question asked of our panel as SES in San Jose last week.
My answer: Make sure your brand keywords are fully segregated from all others.
Brand keywords – any keyword with your company name or variations in them – have completely different cost and performance characteristics than category or other other generic or product specific keywords.
These differences completely confuse the reporting for any campaigns and Ad-Groups if they’re co-mingled.
Separating Keywords and Queries
The first step is easy – every keyword you buy, regardless of its Match Type, should be in an Ad-Group if not a Campaign with only other keywords that contain the Brand name too.
Preferably, the brand terms are bucketed, with the ‘Pure’ Brand keywords in one group (those that represent just the name and variations itself), the navigational versions in another (www.brand.com, brand homepage, etc.) and the Brand-Plus keywords (Brand Sweatpants, Brand Coupons, etc.) in yet another, and so on.
In these brand focused Ad-Groups, you have to use Broad and Advanced match very sparingly and carefully, and eventually almost entirely eliminate them. If you leave them, you’ll get too many non-brand queries matching and diluting the intent of these highly focused Ad-Groups.
The other side of this Broad/Advanced Match coin is that you’ll also want to add your brand as a negative in all the remaining non-branded Campaigns and Ad-Groups. Otherwise the engines will match brand-inclusive queries against your non-brand targeted keywords.
This can be and feel dangerous, if you’re not completely sure that your Brand campaigns are complete, bid properly, running the full range of Match-Types (with of course the Match Type Keyword Traps fully configured and loaded.)
It’s probably a good idea to skip this step of adding the brand as negatives in the non-branded campaigns for a few days to ensure that there aren’t certain query formulations that your new Brand targeted Campaigns are missing.
Watch the query reports carefully, and add variations to the brand campaigns, and ultimately more negatives to both the brand the non-brand campaigns.
Immediately upon starting this process, especially if your campaigns had brand terms and lots of broad match scattered throughout, you’ll see radical shifts in your search reports.
- You may be amazed how much revenue is coming from and and how little cost is going into your pure brand campaigns. That’s the good news.
- You may be shocked at how much money and how little revenue is coming from your now-strictly-non-brand ad-groups. That’s the bad news. Or the opportunity, depending on how you look at it.
In any case, you’ll have a new level of clarity about the performance and activity in your PPC campaigns.
I’ll share more thoughts on the execution of full brand segregation, and the implications of the changes it makes to your reported results, in future posts. This is another one that may take 3-4 posts to just scratch the surface of.
In the meantime, questions and comments are encouraged. Are your brand terms separated into ad-groups? Does that help you better understand the way your PPC budgets are spent? What problems have you seen trying to control brand via Match Types? Any other ideas?
How many keywords should you place in one ad-group?
It’s an age-old question for paid search marketers.Traditionally ad-groups have been considered organizing baskets for keywords. All the variations on a particular keyword, and/or all the keywords driving to a particular product or product category, are often placed into a single ad-group.
It’s common to see campaign and ad-group structures which mirror product categories and sub-categories, for example.
When the question of ‘how many’ comes up, the answer is often given as a number. I’ve never understood this. Why does the number of keywords matter?
Even the Yahoo Smart Start Guide (PDF) suggests “While there isn’t a magic number of keywords to include, you may want to start with no more than 20 – paired with two or more ads – and adjust from there.”
Consider The Text-Ads
Here’s another way to think about it. What you’re really organizing with ad-groups is text-ads, not keywords.
Each text-ad in an ad-group should be a different attempt to answer the same questions, or attract people with the same interests. It doesn’t matter how many keywords you place in an ad-group as long as the queries each of them is likely to be matched with are all appropriately served by those ads.
You’re playing Carnac, writing answers to questions that are going to come along later. The keywords you put in that ad-group are your only chance to ensure that your answers are going to be relevant to their questions.
If there are 20 keywords then there are 20. If there are 100 then there are 100.
When To Split Ad-Groups
Leaving the numbers aside, there are two smart reasons to subdivide the keywords in an ad-group. Both are based on the idea of matching your text-ads more closely to the search queries and keywords.
One is to separate keywords by subject terminology – a focus primarily on nouns – so that the specific keywords are repeated in your text-ads and on your landing pages. This is done primarily in service to the gods (or slave drivers) of quality-score.
The other is to separate keywords by qualifiers – verbs, adjectives, or other modifiers. This is done primarily to better align your text-ads with the expressed or implied intent of the users. In most cases it also brings along the quality score benefit too.
Would you want to present the same text-ad to someone looking to ‘buy a house’ as someone trying to ‘sell a house’? How about someone wanting ‘bell bottom jeans’ vs one looking for ‘stone washed jeans’. ‘discount headphones’ vs ’3-driver stereo headphones’?
The more narrowly you can segment your user queries, which you control via keywords and match types, the better your click through and conversion rates will be.
Divide and Conquer
The topic of organizing campaigns is one I hope to cover extensively in the coming weeks. This post was inspired by one over at PPC Hero talking about the benefits of breaking down ad-groups.