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 do you think about the search engines? For most of us there is no easy answer, since we all have a number of different relationships with them.
- As internet users we’re all slighly in awe of their technology and thankful for the free service they provide.
- As business people we’re either stunned at their growth, power, and execution (for Google) or lack thereof (for Yahoo and MSN).
- And as marketers we appreciate the new channel they’ve developed and the new tools and information they provide as we all learn to take advantage of it.
But as search marketers, we need to keep a much more objective view. These are vendors who are trying to sell us things. They want our money. They want to increase their profits.
They Want Your Money, That’s Their Job.
This doesn’t make them bad. That’s their job. But ours is to be skeptical, responsible, keep as much of our money as possible while getting the highest possible return from that we do spend.
When they develop and release new technology, they very well be genuinely trying to improve their service to end users, or to us advertisers. But they may also be working to cut their costs or increase their profits.
The same is true when they change the algorithms that control when your ads run, how they’re ranked, or how much you’re charged. They might be fixing or improving, or they might be just taking a larger slice of the pie for themselves. Often it’s a little bit of both.
Over the past few years there have been dozens of changes to the PPC game that have made it more complex, more opaque (as Kevin Lee reiterates in a very interesting ClickZ article this week), and more profitable for them.
This means they’ve made it harder and more expensive for you.
That Nice Man Gave Me A T-Shirt
But search marketers, like everyone else, seem to love to love Google, and to a lessor extent Yahoo. They’re great companies, impressive success stories, filled with nice people, they give away nice chotchkes and throw great parties at conferences. It’s hard to not think of them as friends, corporately or personally.
But from a business perspective, they’re vendors who want your money. Powerful vendors who work with levels of secrecy you’d accept from none of your other vendors. (Have any other vendors who don’t explain to you how much they charge you for each item you buy or tell you what you’ll pay the next time you buy it?)
In many ways I think they’ve got us all snowed. Congratulations to their PR and communications depts.
I point this out because their communications seem to paint every move as benevolent. Most discussion of the engines positions them as independant brokers simply working to intermediate between advertisers and end users.
Their motives aren’t questions nearly enough. There is not nearly enough push back to the increasingly aggressive and advertiser unfriendly changes they’re making month after month.
With Friends Like These
The most troubling of all their actions is when they mix education with positioning. That is to say, when they try to tell advertisers how to live with the latest bad-for-advertisers change to the rules or algorithms, and put a happy face on it when they do it.
Next Post I’ll dissect a recent Yahoo blog post that does just that.