December 2015 -
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Archive for December, 2015

Don’t Blame Adwords for Sales Volume Losses

Posted by Ryan in adwords expert

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

pointing-cartoonWhen things decline many want to find a cause and blame it. Often they point to AdWords because it has a simple to understand cost. Sorry to burst your bubble but marketing is complex and it’s never that simple. All forms of PPC (Pay Per Click) face this issue and we have to examine the role PPC plays in overall marketing before we take a hatchet to the budget.

The purpose of PPC/AdWords is to get qualified traffic from the search engine to the website. It is the website’s job to convert qualified traffic into sales. The tricky word in these statements is the word qualified because keywords hold influence over this attribute. Within every keyword is intent. The depth of intent is an important factor though difficult to quantify. For the purpose of this article let’s assume we are working with a well-developed keyword model that fits a particular business model.

If the volume loss is traced to AdWords and is not simply a change in response or conversion rate, then we must dig deeper. The next step is to investigate whether the volume decrease is due to a loss in impressions or a loss in clicks. If we find that the CTR (Click Through Rate) is steady then we can conclude that the problem is in the impressions and is outside the scope of what AdWords can help you with. Simply stated AdWords does not create demand, it only serves demand that is already there. While some marketing channels have the ability to create demand, AdWords is not on that list. A great example of this is a client in the snow removal business who was concerned with the lack of demand. We had to explain to him that demand was created by snow storms not keyword models. Just as expected, when the next big storm hit he was buried in work.

None of this means that AdWords should be exempt from critical review, it too can be the source of problems. If your account has been running for a while and the results start to shift in a noticeable way then, by all means, dig into AdWords as part of the review. Keep in mind that events outside of AdWords can impact performance and this is especially true of breaking news stories. For example, in recent times one of our clients who sell flags experienced a huge spike in Confederate Flag traffic right around the time of the shooting at a Church in Charleston. This radically changed the “confederate flag” keyword traffic. Anytime something related to your business or product goes viral it can impact your keyword set.

In addition, it is important to always consider the associated connections within our marketing system. A great example of this is the connection between SEO and AdWords. While Google tells us that there is no connection between the two, our experience indicates otherwise. We have seen time and time again that when an AdWords  account is shut down the volume of SEO traffic falls with it. Now I believe Google when they say that there is not a mechanical connection but SEO is sensitive to overall traffic and AdWords counts for that. People may visit a site through an ad but return with a search for your brand. If the ad goes missing so does the potential return search. Over the years we have observed that stopping AdWords can have a 10-20% negative impact on organic traffic.

There is no doubt that AdWords must be critically evaluated just like every other part of any marketing system but keep in mind that it does not exist in isolation. Changes to Adwords should be made in moderation with observation. You do not want to pull on one end of a string just to be surprised by whats on the other end.

The bottom line is that the majority of responsibility of converting traffic into sales belongs to the website. The 95 letters and spaces in an AdWords ad only displays after a person has activated the search query and is solely responsible for getting a user to the website. Once the user clicks the ad it is up to the website to keep the users interest and meet their need(S). All in all, the influence of AdWords is between the search query and click and that is only one step in a very long journey to a sale or client relationship.

Dear Saint Google,

Posted by Bob Dumouchel in AdWords Express

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

Santa_ListSince 2008 I have written an open blog posting (aka letter) to Saint Google and all his 20% Googlers. In this we ask for the features we would like to see stuffed into our MCC and believe it or not we get more than a few of these. So while you might not believe in Saint Google; we certainly do. We do not know if this is from the magic of 20% time or just a special Google Angel that reads our blog but it sure is nice to watch the magic of Google as it tests and pivots and iterates the AdWords System.

Negative Search Query Report

This has been on our list since 2010 and we are amazed since the big winner of this would be Google itself. We often see changes that are to Google’s benefit and most of the time we view those with a skeptical perspective. In this case we contend that this idea would create more than a billion dollars in new Google revenue and you know if you put enough billion dollar ideas together it can add up to real money, even for Google. What is a Negative SQR? Glad you asked. It is simply a search query report that shows the advertiser the search queries they lost because of their negative keywords. Today’s SQR is one of the most powerful reports in AdWords and it creates lots of negative keywords. Unfortunately with great power comes great risk and the risk is that you might underestimate the creativity of a person with a blank search box and not realize how they might use that negative word.

Keyword Position Control

Several years ago the Google Grinch took away position control and Saint Google we would like it back.  We realize that this would be re-gifting but we are okay with that. For those not familiar Grinchwith this location controls allowed us to set what locations we wanted to buy. It gave us control over the top versus side position and it did this at the keyword level! Many times we want to buy certain keywords but only if we qualify for the top positions and we did not want to waste our scarce resources on side positions.

Follow the Keyword Rules

Some time back the Google Grinch changed the keyword matching process making phases and exact keywords into broad keywords. We know that this was a classic money grab to enhance Google Revenue but we really do need these controls. In some cases there is a big difference between a plural and singular use of a word and it is important that the system do what it is told.

Complete Data makes me Happy

There are several places in AdWords where the data is incomplete and it makes me crazy from time to time. The one that really raises my blood pressure is the Search Query Report. The value of this report cannot be overstated and yet it is horribly inaccurate because someone somewhere decided that we could get by with just a tiny sample of the real data. Check the impression count on the “Other Search Terms” line and you will see what I mean. It is common for the Google Grinch to keep a majority of the information from us but maybe Saint Google can tone down his evil cousin and get us closer to 100% of the data we paid for. Now I can understand not getting all the searches but certainly we can agree that we are entitled to the searches we paid for.

Scripts, Scripts, and more Scripts

By far our favorite recent addition to AdWords are scripts and we would love to see more of this. Things like allowing plug-ins and creating a market place for these would be very cool. One important thing to consider here would be making sure that the quality is maintained so we can trust the marketplace. Google will need to provide the testing, certification, and claims management. The claims management could be really critical when it comes to performance in the bidding area and other such tools.

Regex Keywords

Keywords expressed as Regex statements would very cool. Keyword models could be much simpler expressed with fewer entries making the results much better in the long term. This would need a testing tool to go with the keywords so it could show words that would match the code. This could start as just the +*? Coding and grow to more in future versions.

Mixed Match Keywords

This concept is simply a mix of the current keyword types allowing more control over the keyword match. This would allow keywords with exact, phase, modified broad, and broad attributes. This gives much better control when you want certain words only in a certain order but others can be before or after the phase. For example if you want to match plumber with the city name either before or after that might look like this: “San Luis Obispo” [Plumber]. The city “San Luis Obispo” could be before or after the word plumber but it has to be in the correct word order. Plumber as an exact does not jump to plurals or stems so you do not get plumbers or plumbing from this match. If you wanted plumbers and plumbing you could use a modified broad while a broad word would have the option of dropping the word from the keyword match.

First Page Map Placements

Map placements were always competitive but the recent reduction to the 3-pack has made this even worse. It would be great if we could purchase these placements in AdWords and bypass the organic scoring that is at best marginal. We realize that maps are intended to be organic results but honestly that has never worked well. To insure the quality of the listings the listing should have to be eligible to be on the map and then it should be based on the bid.

We want to wish everyone a wonderful holiday season and a prosperous New Year… and to all a good night.


Bob - Cropped