Is it just me or is everything getting MUCH more complicated?
Match types have been a pretty basic element in paid search of late. Other than the seemingly relentless creeping range of broad match over the last few years, and the occasional confusion over session-based broad match, there wasn’t much there to think about. Well as someone once said, things have changed.
The change agent is Modified Broad Match, which made it’s debut a few months ago. It’s a rather simple sounding change, but it has huge implications for paid search advertisers. But to get the full benefit requires both an effort to understand and grok it, and even more effort to implement it.
To learn the basics and a bit more, check out the AdWords help files – these are very complete and worth reading if you’re not entirely familiar with it, before reading the rest of this post.
What I think happened is that Google read our ‘Include Match Type’ post from April 2009, and went to work on implementing it. Their solution takes that idea and improves & expands it – good job guys. And thanks for listening!
What I find interesting about the implementation is the power and flexibility it provides. There are three choices you have for every word in the keywords/phrases you bid on:
- Close Match (+). Adding the plus sign makes that word required, but not as an exact match as you might suspect, but as something new – a nearly exact. Google calls this a ‘close match’ and describes it thusly:
Each word preceded by a + must appear in the user’s search exactly or as a close variant. Depending on the language, close variants will include misspellings, singular/plural forms, abbreviations and acronyms, and stemmings (like “floor” and “flooring”). Synonyms (like “quick” and “fast”) and related searches (like “flowers” and “tulips”) are not considered close variants.
- Expanded Broad. Leaving a word without a plus leaves it matching as it has in recent years, a type that is known as Expanded Broad. This was a change from the way Broad Match performed before 2007 or so. Before 2007 Broad Match was a lot closer to what is now called Close Match and only matched a small range of similar terms. But in 2007 Broad Match became (without a name change) Expanded Broad Match and as we all know, the breadth and width of ‘related’ got wider and wider over time, sometimes seamingly varying at different times in the month or quarter.
- Both Close and Expanded. Running two versions of a keyword/phrase, with the (+) in front of some words sometimes and not in front others, delivers different results and contrasts the two matching patterns.
The power of Modified Broad Match (MBM) comes not only from the way you modify one of your keywords/phrases, but in the combination of new keywords/phrases that you create.
For example, we buy the keyword ‘paid search marketing software’. Historically we bought it in broad, phrase, and exact using the ideas explained in our Match Type Keyword Trap post. With MBM a set of new options become available that increase our control – allowing us to save money, increase quality score, improve impression share, and drive up ROI.
To do this let’s look at how we want to think about each word in that phrase.
- Paid is a required word, we only want to buy it Close Match, so it always gets a (+)
- Search is an optional but preferred word, we buy it normal Broad Match and Close Match
- Marketing is an optional word, we buy it only normal Broad Match
- Software is an optional but preferred word, we buy it normal Broad Match and Close Match
So what was formerly one broad match phrase is now four keywords:
+paid +search marketing software
+paid search marketing software
+paid +search marketing +software
+paid search marketing +software
All keywords are magnets that attract some range of search queries. The addition of MBM gives us more control over the magnetism, and therefore more control over which queries we match. We have four goals in the process:
- Match those queries we want
- Avoid those queries we don’t
- Control which keyword matches to which search query
- Capture the data about the process in a way we can use to improve over time
By mixing the required, preferred, and optional words in the phrases we go along way to accomplishing these goals.
Another benefit, pointed out in the RimmKaufman post, is that it greatly helps you control which of your keywords matches to a specific query. Often one query could concievably match to many of your broad keywords. By narrowing and targeting the magnetism of your keywords you limit the number of words competing for some queries, and so that hopefully the one with the more targeted ad copy and landing gets the query instead of the one that gives AdWords the highest CPC.
Hopefully it’s clear that Modified Broad Match isn’t a small change. It’s a very powerful new tool. But not necessarily one that is easy to fully implement.
The ideal work list is something like this:
- Go through every broad match keyword in your account and determine the role of each word in each phrase as either required, preferred, or optional.
- Create all the resulting combinations of new MBM keywords
- Add these to your account
- Review existing negative lists, inspect recent queries to add more negatives
- Watch search queries, quality scores, positions, CPCs, and bids to track impact of these new MBM keywords.
- Based on queries and other metrics, split keywords into more descrete ad groups when sufficient data suggests this would enable better query to ad copy alignment.
As with most other PPC tactics, the best and most realistic method to the scale of the task is to start with your most active keywords (by impressions, clicks, cost or revenue) and at least get those revised. At some point down the tail it probably isn’t worth the effort, and time just won’t be available. But for those huge spend or hugh impression keywords this effort should be mandatory.
Great Resources and Information
While preparing this post I came across a killer Excel spreadsheet that can automate the creating of the required combinations of MBM keywords. It was created by Chad Summerhill and with it you enter the words in your keyword/phrase, specify if each is required, preferred, or optional, and then in presents the formatted MBM keywords that you can paste into your account.
So does all of this work? Is it worth the effort? Luckily for us, Alan Mitchell has done some really great testing and documented his results.
As you can see here he found exactly what we’d hope – better click through rates, leading to better quality scores leading to lower CPCs.
Modified Broad Match works. But it’s work.
PS: Since this blog so often gives Google a hard time for areas where we don’t get as much control as we’d like, I do want to very specifically thank them for this powerful new control over our keywords.
Last week I talked about killing unprofitable keywords, and promised a follow up with guidelines on making the all-important pause/delete decision.
Before getting to that, however, I want to offer a solution to the problem. One that avoids much of the downside of turning keywords off and avoid the hassle of working to actually improve results.
It’s a pretty simple idea. And it’s guaranteed to cut your losses in half.
One limitation is that this method isn’t available at the keyword level. It only applies to campaigns or ad groups that loose money – although obviously those are made up largely of money loosing keywords but a few winners may get caught in the net.
By ‘lose money’ I mean generate less revenue than their direct advertising expenses. This solution only applies when there is a negative ROAS.
Here’s How It Works
Suppose you have an AdWords campaign and last month the expense was $540 but revenue was only $350. ROAS for this campaign was only 64%. For every $1 you spent in AdWords you got back $0.64 and lost $0.36.
This is a classic money losing campaign. It’s probably full of the kinds of money losing keywords discussed in the last post. Most accounts have some of them, many accounts are full of them.
Want to cut that loss in half?
Pause the campaign. Send me the $540, and instead of that paltry $350 that you got back from running the campaign in Google, I’ll send you back $445. That cuts your loss in half, and represents a 27% revenue increase – your boss will be impressed!
Note that if the accountants at your office don’t like it, I’ll be glad to make the $445 in purchases on your web site. And the invoice will be clearly labeled as an advertising fee. Think of it as advertising to me.
If you’re willing to lose $190 advertising to lots of people via Google, for the same investment you can lose only $95 advertising directly to me. A guaranteed 50% reduction in your advertising losses.
Note that the numbers above are only for example purposes. I know many of you out there have campaigns and ad groups loosing a lot more than $190 every month, and there is no limit on this offer.
Go ahead and sign up those $5,000 losers or even the $50,000 losers. Whatever your loss, it will be cut in half.
Sign Up Now
With an offer like that, how can you keep those money losing campaigns and ad groups running?
If you’re not going to sign up, why are you keeping those campaigns and ad groups running? Please explain.
You can sign-up using the form below.
In nearly every paid search account there are keywords that are costing far more than they are returning – week after week and month after month – and yet are never paused or deleted.
This is not a small problem. I frequently see 20%, 50%, and even 70% of spend in PPC accounts delivering negative ROI and even ROAS on a per-keyword basis – and yet the responsible keywords aren’t killed.
Why are advertisers wasting money in such a blatant fashion? How far would Google search revenues drop if all negative return keywords were paused?
Paid search, and online advertising in general, is supposedly better than traditional media due to direct measurability and the relative ease with which costs and revenues can be aligned. In theory this leads to better decision making and increased efficiency. In reality this is sometimes true but often it isn’t.
There are many reasons why money losing keywords are kept running:
- Branding – When doing business in a certain market segment many believe it’s important to ‘show up’ and be seen when customers search for related products and services. The hope is that this ‘branding’ has a positive impact later in the customer lifecycle or relationship.
- Ego – Following the same basic logic as ‘Branding’ except without the genuine or even delusional expectation of eventual results. Ego-driven keywords are there to make yourself or the boss feel better, or to create an impression within the market but not with customers.
- Lack of Faith In Revenue Tracking – Often it’s known or suspected that revenue numbers just aren’t right. It could be latent or offline revenue that isn’t included in the system, tagging problems on landing pages or the site, or other problems that undercut the credibility of the reporting system to the point of paralysis.
- Attribution – Last-click revenue attribution just doesn’t make any sense and yet it’s still the industry default and the only option many have. A linear or more sophisticated method of sharing revenue across multiple touch-points witin PPC or across channels isn’t yet perfect and there are many willing to endlessly debate the complex reasons why. Lacking any ability to give partial credit to keywords that don’t directly drive the sale, many assume those clicks probably deserve some credit and use that as an excuse to keep the spend going.
- Top Line Focus – For psychological reasons I can’t fully understand, many people seem to still believe in losing money on every sale and making it up in volume. Of course, the reality is their investors care about the top-line, they dream of lifetime value, and there are other unnatural influences at work too.
- Fear or Shame – It seems many paid search managers have been conditioned to feel like turning off keywords is wrong. Keyword expansion is great – more keywords! Killing them seems like defeat, an admission of incompetence, or the death of some potential (albiet unrealized) revenue opportunity. If business failure is supposed to be celebrated, the message hasn’t got to keyword managers yet.
- Nobody Noticed – I’d love to know what % of all ad groups in AdWords have not been viewed in any meaningful way by a human in weeks, months, or years. From entire accounts that are almost never worked on, to huge ones that get attention every day but still have ‘tail’ adgroups and keywords that just don’t merit much attention, there is a huge gap between needed management resources and available management resources.
I’m sure there are others reasons too.
It’s time for paid search managers to begin addressing these issues. It’s time to stop wasting money on under-performing keywords.
Obviously there is a unique reaction/solution for each of the rationals that are used to not kill a keyword. In the next few posts we’ll take a deeper dive in each and talk about some guidelines you can use to make faster kill decisions.
What about you? How do you approach killing keywords? Let us know in the comments.
The more I work with our new Keyword Zoom feature the stronger my belief in query mining becomes. I’ve always known keywords were a trick, a distraction, and the wrong way to think about success or failure in PPC. Now that trick has been exposed and specific action can be taken on a keyword-by-keyword basis.
Ignoring this opportunity is negligent.
Suppose you were buying a basket of fruit from a local marketplace every morning. But all the vendors only sold baskets, you weren’t allowed to sort through and pick those that were ripe, avoid those that were rotten. You bought the basket, and got what you got. Even worse, you had to take them home and eat ‘em blindfolded.
So everyday that’s what you did. You enjoyed the luscious, winced at the sour, and spit out the rancid as quickly as possible. At the end of the meal sometimes your summary judgement was good and so your returned to that vendor the next day. Other times while there were some high points, there were too many lows and so that vendor was crossed off your list. It never mattered how much excellence there was, it was always the ratio of excellence to junk that rendered the final determination.
That’s exactly how you buy and judge keywords today. At least those with broad and phrase match applied.
There is a much better way.
Zooming In On Waste
As previously described, Keyword Zoom lets you look inside your keywords to see the search queries that the engine is matching and make immediate changes by adding negatives, creating new related keywords, and modifying the existing keyword options.
Unintended and inappropriate search queries matched to your keywords are wasting money every day all across your account. The most obvious place to start when utilizing Keyword Zoom is with those broad match keywords that are getting the highest click volume. They have the most search queries, and in nearly every case there are important improvements to make.
But to focus on serious waste, create a filter that finds all broad match keywords, with at least 10 clicks, and a quality score less than 7. This produces a list of keywords that desperately need help – and that are often easy to help in ways where a few minutes of effort can produce a lifetime of improvement.
Broader Than You Wanna Be
Note that bad queries are not causing the quality score problem. Quality score is only calculated when the query is equal to the keyword, so this is not an exercise to improve quality score. But the low quality score indicates that the keyword is getting low CTR even when the query is identical to the keyword, so it’s often even worse for other queries that are being matched to that keyword.
A huge percentage of the time your low quality score keywords will be generic terms attempting to cover a category or some other rather non-specific topic. Here are the kinds of keywords we often find with low quality scores in PPC accounts:
- military jackets
- water pipe repair
- best down pillow
- lost car keys
- debt settlement plan
- acne treatment
It’s easy to see why the PPC manager wants to reach these people, but it’s also clear that on broad match the search engine will find hundreds or thousands of queries that ‘match’ that keyword, and many of these will be completely and obviously inappropriate for whatever we’re selling or offering.
The engine will happily match ‘duvets’ to ‘pillow’, ‘annuity’ to ‘insurance’, or ‘dog therapy’ to ‘pet treatment’. They’re reasonable semantically, but wasteful financially. It takes pro-active action to avoid paying for these non-convertable queries again and again.
In one of these cases, a single negative would have saved $32 or over 6% of the spend in a 30 day period on a single keyword, boosting ROAS on that keyword by over 15%. That’s a single keyword in a single month – but add key negatives to the most clicked keywords in your account and consider the savings over a year and you have an option for very significant account improvement.
On The Positive Side
Finding and adding negatives is a quick win, and there are many of them. But in the process you’ll notice an overwhelmingly larger opportunity to expand keywords, improve match types, create new add groups, and generally improve your targeting, quality score, and revenues. I’ll cover that in more detail in a future post.
Ever since the release of Keyword Zoom, we’ve been talking a lot about search queries and keywords. Keywords are the gateway in PPC advertising that connect your business to prospects. But, how do you find keyword niches that are profitable?
In this webinar presented by Compete and ClickEquations, you’ll learn 2 unconventional keyword research techniques:
- Competitive intelligence to find keywords with strong intent before you launch your campaigns
- Search query mining to improve your targeting and cut unprofitable clicks after you launch
Watch the recording:
The Keyword Zoom feature is best applied to your most active and important keywords.
To quickly identify them, use the one-click segmentation features in ClickEquations.
Zooming on Head Keywords
The one-click head segment is a customizable feature that allows you to identify those keywords that are most important or influential on your business.
By default, we create a ‘head’ segment of the keywords that drove 80% of your revenue over the past 30 days. But you can configure your own definition of head keywords in the Settings tab.
Choose to find top keywords based on Clicks, Revenue, or Cost.
The right choice depends on your business:
- Retailers will want to use Revenue or Cost.
- Lead-Gen or B2B firms will likely choose Cost or Clicks.
- Media firms would likely use Clicks or Cost.
Next, Define the date range (use a long one to wash out individual events or short-term bursts) and the threshold percentage. Experiment with threshold percentages, between 70 and 90 – again the right answer depends on your business and account performance.
Remember that the ‘head’ keywords are reassigned based on your definition only once each week – on Sunday night. So if you change your settings, check back the following Monday morning to see the effect. And only keywords and performance on the Search Network(s) are included – no content or display network keywords are included in the counts.
To use the Head Keywords segment to prioritize for Keywords Zoom:
- Choose the ‘Head Keywords Only’ command from the Filters and Views menu
- Sort by the metric used to define your head keywords (Revenue, Clicks, or Cost)
- Select the top keyword, click the Keyword Zoom icon
- Tune, Tune, Tune.
Filter For Better Zooming
Another – simpler and more generic – way to find keywords that are good candidates for Keyword Zoom is to use a saved filter.
The characteristics of a keyword that can usually be helped by Keyword Zoom include a good number of clicks (usually 10 or more), a broad or phrase match type, and position on the search network (as opposed to content/display).
If you define (and save) the following filter you can view only these keywords with just one click.
Creating this filter applies it, and in the future you can choose it from the Apply Saved Filter menu. Then just sort by Clicks and start zooming.
These are just two ways to prioritize to find opportune places to use Keyword Zoom to improve your results (like we did).
You can also use it on your brand keywords (using the one-click brand segmentation feature) or just search/filter/sort on criteria that make sense to you. If there are queries there is actionable information.
As you spend time with this new feature, we’d love to hear your comments on how you’re using it and the results you’re able to achieve.
Even though we occasionally rail against them, keywords are functionally the center of the paid search universe.
Their selection is the single largest point of control you exercise over your account. They hold the bids the (at least indirectly) impact how much you spend, and probably most importantly (and unfortunately) they’re the level at which clicks and CTR and conversions are reported.
Readers of this blog know we think the action is a level below – where the specific search queries that have been matched to the keywords live, along with the text ad copy that people who execute those queries view and click through.
The belief is that there aren’t good or bad keywords, just queries that are worth more (when matched to the proper ad copy) and queries that are worth less (no matter what ad copy they’re matched with).
This is the reason we were the first paid search platform to offer detailed search query reporting. And even today our ClickEquations still offers by far the most complete and detailed query reporting in the industry.
But it we wanted to take it even further.
Making Search Queries Actionable
In the July release of ClickEquations queries become actionable. We’ve made it possible look inside the performance of any keyword and directly manipulate the queries that have consumed expense or driven revenue and tune the relationship between those queries and specific ad copy.
This is a huge breakthrough, and we call it Keyword Zoom.
To access Keyword Zoom you just double click on any keyword.
This which allows you to see:
- The search queries that the keyword attracted and how each performed.
- The ad copy that was shown to the people who entered these queries.
- Complete performance statistics and metrics for that keyword.
And enables you – easily and in one place – to:
- Turn a search query into a new negative keyword so you never pay for those kind of queries again.
- Turn a search query into a new keyword of any match type to capture more related queries and conversions.
- Edit existing ad copy or create new ads or variations to improve the alignment of queries to text ads.
The Power of Relationships
This is a killer feature because of the way it brings all of these capabilities together into one place and enables a fast and friction-free way to tune the performance of any keyword. You could have theoretically done these things before, but:
- By isolating the search queries from a single keyword, as opposed to presenting the list of all queries in an ad group or even campaign, it’s easier to focus on the implications of those queries to the keyword settings (bid and match type) and to think about how to act upon the query information.
- By making the transformation from search query into either positive or negative keyword a simple two-click operation (assuming you don’t want to customize any options, more of you do but there is power in having that choice) the process we call query-mining stops being a rare effort and becomes a core task in the search management workflow.
- By showing the full query list right next to all the text ads those searchers are seeing, it becomes far easier to reimaging and rewrite ad copy to be vastly more relevant and persuasive. Queries show a diversity and richness that it’s hard to imaging when just looking at or thinking about keywords.
- By showing the ad copy click and conversion performance for each different query you can for the first time see when ads are great for some searchers but poorly targeted at others. Just as keywords usually aren’t really bad or good (because some of the queries they catch are great and other queries matched to that same keyword are wastes) it frequently turns out that ad copy isn’t necessarily all bad or all good either. One text ad may work great for some queries and lousy for others – now you can know this and act accordingly..
What’s happening here is that we’re for the first time exposing a 360-degree view around the keyword, showing how it relates to queries and ad copy and how those each relate to each other. To get a better sense of it, check out this video:
This ability – the view and the fluidity with which it makes changes possible – proves a whole new way to improve your paid search results. We’re very excited to bring you this capability in ClickEquations.
The ability to prioritize and focus is a key skill for any paid search manager. With campaigns stuffed with hundreds-of-thousand or even millions of keywords, organized into hundreds or thousands of ad groups, and presenting metrics from zillions of clicks and conversions, there is always too much to do.
No paid search manager has ever finished their work and gone home early. Some may have gone home early, but they weren’t finished.
There are many wise and legitimate ways to prioritize. Perhaps the most important comes, ironically, from the ‘long tail’ that consumes so much of our media attention and has forced the culture of keyword expansion (a de-focusing force) upon us. The priority is at the head end.
The Big Head
In the last release of ClickEquations we introduced one-click segmentation features. One of them automatically tags some subset of your keywords as ‘head keywords’. The user-customizable definition starts as the smallest number of keywords that are responsible for 80% of your revenue over the last 30 days. In other words your 30 biggest earners.
In our 250,000 keyword demo account, between 200-900 keywords are normally tagged as ‘head keywords’ depending on purchase histories of the preceeding 30 days. That means using this one-click segment takes 99.8% of all the keywords in the account out of the way, and allows you to easily spend your time getting those .2% into tip-top shape.
Think about that for a second. Two-tenths-of-one-percent of our keywords drive 80% of our revenue. What a great opportunity to prioritize and focus.
- Most of us don’t spend enough time writing text ads – maybe for this small group we can find the time.
- Many accounts have too many keywords per ad group – maybe these winners can at least earn their way into super-narrow ad groups.
- Even query mining takes time – perhaps for these big-ticket words we can devote the attention required to add some negatives and promote some exact matches and push our profitability even higher.
With a management goal of getting everything right surrounding 500 keywords, there’s even a chance, admittedly slim, that we’ll finish and go home guilt-free for a change.
More importantly, it presents one clear signal we can use to prioritize. Again, it’s not the only one. It may not be perfect for everyone. But the idea of separating the urgent from the important from the interesting is critical in PPC and doesn’t get nearly enough attention.
A Bunch of Long Tails
If you’ve followed along this far in this series, you may have already guessed the rub with keyword prioritization.
We’re much bigger fans of search queries than we are of keywords, and our natural inclination would be to take any keyword that is garnering a lot of clicks, consuming a lot of expense, or generating almost any revenue at all and dive deep into the search queries that were matched to that keyword and add more negatives and new positive, more specifically matched, keywords.
In effect we want to create mini tails around our top performing keywords – extending the range and specificity of the keywords and flattening the curve that leads to the long tail.
Fragmenting our top performing keywords in this way can really skew the results of a head-defining approach like that described above. So over time we’ll have to move towards using top performing ad groups – each narrowly defined themselves – or tag-based clusters of keywords, to gain the focus we seek.
The goal and ultimately result will be the same, but the process will be much different.
Finding Your Priorities
For most people the benefits of a simple ‘head keyword’ definition far outweigh the limitations, at least unless they’ve already done a tone of query mining. The ‘head keywords’ approach is the right place to start and can be a great prioritization tool.
Longer term it should also be a goal to outgrow this technique. With aggressive query mining and organizational narrowing it should be considered a success when the process isn’t effective anymore and you need to move on to one that’s more sophisticated.
However you choose to do it, every paid search manager should be able to answer this question: Which 2% of my keywords do I have to execute on perfectly, and which 98% can I manage to much looser standards.
This blog post is part of a series extending and amplifying the ideas in our free ebook ’21 Secret Truths of High-Resolution PPC’.
What they’re saying: “Everything you know about AdWords is the basics Google wanted you to know. Just enough to get you hooked. But what if there was fundamental secrets that they neglected to share? Would you want to know them? Now you can! 21 Secrets Truths is what you must read, no, act on, before your competitors do.”
- Bryan Eisenberg Conversion Expert and New York Times Best-Selling Author ’.
The idea of creating highly targeted ad groups, so that all of the attracted search queries are well aligned with the included text ad copy, is one we’ve written about often.
One of the drivers is the fact that better alignment drives up click-through-rates and thereby quality score.
A number of recent conversations have suggested that this good idea, like many others, is being taken to absurd extremes.
I’m talking about the practice or ‘recommendation’ of limiting ad groups to a single keyword.
Single Keyword Ad Groups Have No Quality Score Advantage
The primary reason I’ve heard for this practice is improved quality score. But it won’t work.
The quality score of a keyword in AdWords is based primarily on the CTR, from a specific geography, of search queries that exactly matches a that keyword. There is an impact from the historical CTR of the entire account, of the relevance of the query-keyword-ad, and the potential of penalties from the landing page. There is no factor in that definition that would favor a single keyword alone in an ad group.
There is no ad group quality score. There is no benefit from keyword loneliness. There is no ‘lots of ad groups’ bonus.
Isolating keywords in-and-of-itself does not help quality score. There is really no way any keyword can impact, positively or negatively, another keyword in terms of quality score.
The Right Number of Keyword Per Ad Group Is…
So how many keywords should be in an ad group?
Assuming we want to maximize quality score and overall results, the answer is: as many as will attract search queries that are directly addressed by your text ads. You may recall that we want to work from the text ad (or text ads) backwards. So the number of keywords really isn’t important. What matters is the alignment of the search queries (and the intents they represent) with the text ads.
If there are a lot of different keywords needed to match and attract all the different search queries that people use to say essentially exactly the same thing, then your ad group should have a lot of keywords. If there is only one keyword that is needed to match and attract to every search query that is directly addressed by the text ads in your ad group, then your ad group should have one keyword.
But the one keyword situation is likely to be very rare.
You don’t want single keyword ad groups, you want single-minded ad groups. If they attract synonymous queries, the more keywords the better.
A few years ago when asked for the #1 tip to improve a campaign, I wrote that segregating brand keywords was the task that I thought nearly everyone should do, many haven’t done yet, and can offer huge benefits in any campaign.
There are probably no keywords in your account that have as distinct business goals or performance profiles as brand keywords – which is why they really need to be isolated.
Should You Bid On Your Brand?
The wisdom or necessity of buying paid search on your brand keywords – where you should rank #1 (or at least) very high in the organic results, is often discussed. In the end, most decide that buying the paid search coverage is a good idea, even if you have multiple prominent organic links.
We agree that bidding on your core brand names and terms is worthwhile.
There are several reasons for this:
- If you don’t buy those links someone else will
- Many report a ‘brand halo’ effect in which the paid listings actually increase organic traffic
- There are people who click paid links over organic ones, for various reasons
- You’ve already spent a lot of money to build the reputation that generated the branded search. Paying a few cents for the ‘last mile’ of the click to actually get the visit is a prudent investment.
- It’s great to see huge CTR and conversion rates in your PPC account
- The huge CTR of your brand terms actually drives your account CTR history up, helping overall quality score
Types of Brand Keywords
The diversity of brand keywords can be surprising. But to really ‘answer the question’ (Secret Truth #1) it’s critical to figure out all the different ways your brand is being used by carefully examining your search queries (Secret Truth #2).
We typically see several types of brand keywords:
- Brand Pure Keywords
- Navigational Brand Keywords
- Brand Related Keywords
- Brand Plus Keywords
What we call ‘pure’ brand keywords are the most narrow and focused set. This includes the brand word or words themselves, mis-spelling and deviations, and not much else. These we isolate into their own ad group or even campaign.
The next set, and often largest by keyword count, are navigational keywords. The searcher is trying to find your company or even your website. Navigational keywords include ‘brand website’, ‘brand homepage’, ‘brand company’, ‘brand city-name’ and the all important ‘www.brand.com’ (yes, people google that) plus many others. All of these clearly navigational terms should be bundled into their own ad group.
Then come the brand related keywords. These include things like executive names, other terms and other phrases that may be connected with the brand. A lot of these will be developed as you query-mine the results you get from your initial broad match pure brand keywords.
Your business may have and need other clusters of brand keywords too. A business with a lot of retail locations would likely have a whole ad group full of ‘location and store locater’ words and phrases. There may need to be groups for your PR issues, your financial/investor issues, etc. Create as many as you need, and follow the ideas for campaign and ad group organization discussed in Secret Truths #3 and #4.
Brand Plus Keywords
The final set are those we call brand plus keywords. These include your brand plus category, product, or other keywords. These are the ones that are often mixed in with other non-brand keywords and that we’re most strongly recommending you separate out of your typical existing campaigns and ad groups.
Here’s the problem. Suppose you sell dog collars of your own making, and right now your dog collar ad group has the following keywords:
- dog collars
- puppy collars
- collars for dogs
- hemp dog collars
- MyBrand dog collars
Of course this is an over-simplified example and there would be many more keywords and perhaps spead over several ad groups. But the point is that if ‘MyBrand’ is the house brand item, that keyword should be put into it’s own ad group and we would strongly recommend moving it into the main brand keywords campaign, or more likely a separate brand-plus campaign.
The rational is the same as we’ve discussed for both campaign and ad group organization; the alignment between query and text ad is best served by a very specific kind of ad, and the numbers these brand-plus keywords produce will only confuse the performance and results when mixed with non brand keywords.
Obviously if you have tons of brands and categories, doing the separation can be a lot of work. As always, prioritize based on volume – get those brand-plus keywords that are attracting a lot of traffic moved into their own ad groups and if possible campaigns first. Finish the rest progressively over time.
Brands as Negative Keywords
When you’ve created nice brand focused campaigns and ad groups, your search query reports should show that the majority of queries the contain your brand keywords are matched to those ad groups. But there will be exceptions.
Every time a branded search query lands in one of your non-brand ad groups, take a look and see if you have a keywords that was targetted at that search query. If you don’t, add one.
Of course, if it’s a search query you don’t want, add it as a negative keyword to both the brand and non-brand campaign.
After query-mining for brand keywords in your non-brand account for a while (days to weeks, depending on your volume), when you’re confident that the keywords you’ve added to your brand focused campaigns are relatively complete and accurate, go ahead and add your brand keyword as a campaign negative to the non-branded campaigns.
This will assure that no branded queries are matched into those campaigns. They’ll be forced (more or less) to match into the brand focused campaigns you’ve created for that purpose. The users will see brand appropriate ads, they’ll be sent to brand appropriate landing pages, and your campaign and ad groups reports for both branded and non branded keywords will be more complete, consistent, actionable, and accurate.
What Do You Think?
This blog post is part of a series extending and amplifying the ideas in our free ebook ’21 Secret Truths of High-Resolution PPC’.
What they’re saying: “Craig’s dug deep into AdWords and unearthed some important nuggets. They’re surprising, simply but eloquently described, and vital to your PPC advertising success.” – David Szetela – Owner and CEO, Clix Marketing’.