Managing paid search accounts is in many ways an exercise in prioritization. There are endless opportunities to expand and refine your account, run reports and analyze data, or make changes and conduct tests.
The only limits are hours in the day, and days in the week.
But not everything you might spend time on is equally valuable, or even has equal potential. So we thought ClickEquations should make it easy to find and focus on critical aspects of your PPC accounts.
That’s why we’ve added four new ‘One-Click Segmentation’ features to ClickEquations V2 which went live last week:
- One-Click Brand Keyword Segmentation
- One-Click Head Keyword Segmentation
- One-Click Content Network Segmentation
- One-Click Custom-User-Defined Segmentation
Each of these enables you to quickly isolate the performance history and then take action on important subsets of your account.
Brand Keywords Are Special
As discussed in our ‘Success Through Negative Brand Keywords‘ post last week, keywords that contain your brand terms and phrases are distinct from your non-brand keywords, and in many ways they should be managed differently.
But many accounts still have brand keywords scattered across many ad groups and campaigns. Wouldn’t it be great to see them all (and nothing else) with just a click?
Now you can. Just choose ‘Brand Keywords Only’ from the Filters and Views menu.
You’ll near-instantly be presented with a list of all the brand keywords in your account. You can review their performance and make any necessary changes. You can even create and apply additional custom filters to run on your brand-only keywords.
Head Keywords Are Special Too
The concept of ‘head’ and ‘tail’ has got a lot of press in the last year. And we all know that a relatively small percentage of our keywords earn the lion’s share of our revenue and consume the lions share of our cost.
This has lots of implications for paid search, but most important is the fact that most of us don’t allocate our relatively precious resource, time, in proportion to the results various keywords produce. In other words, we don’t spend enough time fishing where the fish are.
Wouldn’t it be great to click that mouse of yours and see only that small segment of keywords that are driving the vast majority of your revenue? Or clicks? Or costs?
Now you can. Just choose ‘Head Keywords Only’ from the Filters and Views menu.
You even get to control the definition of ‘Head Keyword’ that you wish to use. You set the target percentage, the key metric, and the lookback period.
The results are amazing. For the account we use for demonstrations – which is a real working paid search account with about 170K keywords in AdWords, just 281 drive 80% of the revenue. Those are an important 281 keywords to focus on, which is the point of this feature.
Content is not Search
We’ve also recently discussed on this blog the distinctions between search advertising and content network advertising. Given those thoughts, it makes sense that we’d support easy segmentation of search and content within ClickEquations.
So now we do. Just choose Search Network or Content Network from the Filters and Views menu.
Any campaigns that aren’t in the group you’ve chosen, will disappear. You can review results, navigate freely, and make any additions or changes.
Most importantly, you can focus. You can think about the campaigns in terms of the distribution network. And not get confused or distracted by the entirely different numbers that come from other network type.
Custom Saved Filters
The one-click access to brand keywords, head keywords, and search or content campaigns is a great start towards making it easier to focus on what’s important within your paid search accounts.
But in the complication of paid search, there are many other segments you may also want to access quickly.
So we’ve also added very powerful named and saved filters. You can define nearly any combination of account structural elements (like ad group or keyword attributes) plus performance results (such as click-through rates or quality scores) and status flags (including paused or disapproved) and even timeframes within which elements were modified. Then just enter a name and save it for easy future application.
These filters can be used anywhere in the account – they’re smart enough to ignore irrelivant settings – so if you define CPC as one of the factors and you’re viewing ad groups, the ‘CPC’ will be ignored but the other aspects will still apply.
We all have many ways we like to slice and dice our campaigns or keywords – and now you can do so quickly and easily.
Intelligent Paid Search Management
We think there are many ways that paid search management software can transform the process of managing ppc accounts. The tools have to evolve beyond simply offering option-after-option and begin shaping the way the work is done.
We think both our best practices and the one-click segmentation features of ClickEquations V2 are great steps in that direction. Both start the shift towards ‘what you should do’ and ‘how you could do it’. For practitioners who take advantage of them, we believe they’re both time savers and clear ways to improve results.
Avinash has said that “Segmenting your data is the fastest way to finding actionable insights from your web analytics data.” You can read some of his thoughts on it here and here. We think segmenting your data is one of the best ways to prioritize too.
Spend some time in ClickEquations V2, and we think you’ll agree.
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’.
Should you have to pay Google to get traffic on your own brand keywords?
Before we answer, let’s define our terminology.
By ‘Brand Keywords’ I’m referring to keywords which center around your company name, which in most cases is your domain name (or a major part of your domain name).
I’m not referring to major brand names that you sell as a retailer. And if you’re a manufacturer of many brand-name items, I wouldn’t even include those product brands.
Just your core company-name brand.
So should you have to buy these keywords in your PPC accounts and pay-per-click for that traffic?
Probably not. But we don’t live in that world.
Why Bidding Your Own Brand Makes (economic) Sense
There are two arguments against bidding your own brand terms:
- My pages rank well organically, I’ll get the traffic anyway.
- There is no f&*king way I’m paying for traffic on my own brand.
Yet the arguments for bidding on your own brand terms are pretty simple.
- You probably don’t rank well, or at all, for every variation and mis-spelling or phrase use of your brand. There are hundreds or thousands of them.
- Some people just look at and click the paid ads – they prefer them over the free listings.
- If you don’t buy it, someone else will – and it’s not likely they’re trying to improve your business.
I recommend thinking about it as a part of a much larger expense.
Consider all the money you spend building and promoting your brand. You’ve invested a ton of money into getting people to know it, perhaps even trust it, often advertising in other media which is what generated the search in the first place – all that time and money get them to initiate a search to try and find you.
Almost certainly the money you spend for this ‘last mile’ of the relationship is a tiny fraction of what you spent to get them to that point. Pay the last few % and get those folks to your website.
What sense does it make to spend thousands on branding, trade shows, tv commercials, mailings, social media efforts, or whatever it is you do – all of which ultimately motivates someone to try and Google you – only to have them see and then click on ads for competitors because you weren’t bidding.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your best to rank #1, or get multiple organic listings, on your brand terms. As Avinash says, those rankings are your God-Given-Right. (Google makes you earn them anyway – but that’s another blog post
Prove Me Wrong
Most tests I’ve heard about, when paid and organic ads were run together and testing was done to turn off the paid ads, showed that while there is some cannibalization of organic by paid, the net effect was positive.
But if you’re really concerned test it yourself.
- Use a reasonably long time frame (with a solid number of clicks, I’d suggest at least one or two weeks to ensure at least a few hundred clicks of data) and run with your PPC ads for one period and then without for another.
- Another important factor is that historically paid clicks convert at a higher rate than organic ads – so even if you just miss a few of your visitors they may have been very lucerative ones.
- Make sure to isolate as much as possible for other factors, like major SEO/organic rank changes, seasonal volume levels, etc.
Check the impact on your organic traffic and overall traffic and conversions.
And when you get your results back, please post a comment with your experiences. I’d love to hear about cases where PPC brand term bidding is purely cannibalistic and a waste of money.
Until Then, Bid On Your Brand Terms
I believe that not bidding on brand terms is cutting off your nose to spite your face. And your face looks funny without a nose.