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Don’t Let Your AdWords Be Eclipsed By The Eclipse

Posted by Ryan in adwords, adwords expert

Friday, August 18th, 2017

The nation’s attention is focused on the Solar Eclipse. This disruption, not only to the familiar patterns of the Sun, Earth and the Moon, also disprupts #AdWords performance.

For those that have keywords that match ‘eclipse’ but are unrelated to the event, we would expect a spike in Eclipse based searches. This creates a spike in impressions (but not an increase in Conversions). Examples include Mitsubishi Eclipse, Eclipse software, etc.

While the Solar Eclipse happens occasionally, events outside your AdWords data is something that needs to be accounted for constantly. We are experts at maintaining AdWords performance despite events and news headlines that you cannot control.

Check out the trends for eclipse searches on google:

Eclipse and Search Volume

Improve Your Click through Rate & Quality Score Part 2

Posted by Ryan in adwords, adwords expert

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

Last week, we explored improving the Click through Rate (CTR) to drive the Quality Score with a focus on reducing impressions. The other way to approach this is to increase the amount of clicks coming in through AdWords. There are many theories on how to increase the clicks, but only one that almost everyone agrees on.

The concept is simple and straight forward but complicated to implement. Make the headline about the search query and think of this as a conversation. The search query is what the person asked, your ad headline, and to a lesser extent the body of the ads is what you say in response. The search query is simply the words formulated by the person and submitted to the search engine. It is “in their words” what “they are interested in”. If you want a person to respond to your ad or page content the golden rule is to talk about what they are interested in. This may seem easy but trust me it’s not!

Applying this concept starts with separating keywords into smaller Ad Groups. By doing this, the number of variables connecting to your ads is smaller. The goal of this process is a one word to one ad relationship, but the maintenance cost of that can get out of hand quickly. Once you throw in the complications arising from broad match keywords and quality score, variations place a complicated problem on your hands. This is made even more complicated when you consider the matching changes that Google made for close variants.

The common-sense answer to this is to break the keywords into very tight groups of keywords where the variation in keywords will not impact the response to the search. In other words, we want keyword groups that you would write the exact same ad for. This creates more ad groups resulting in different challenges. For example, split tests will lack the volume needed to get meaningful results, so a different testing strategy must be formulated but that is for another tip.

In this process, start with your highest value keywords that have the lowest quality scores, and you will get the maximum return on your time investment.

Improve Your Click through Rate & Quality Score

Posted by Ryan in adwords, adwords expert

Monday, November 21st, 2016

Quality Score and money are the same thing so it is worth paying attention to this number. The bid in AdWords is money times quality score so quality score really is your money. The single biggest attribute in the quality score is the CTR (Click Through Rate) so it’s worth paying attention – assuming you like your money in your bank account rather than Google’s.

CTR is clicks divided by impressions so to move this number you need to increase clicks or reduce impressions. More your CTR and your quality score will follow. Impressions are the number of times your ad showed in the search results. The CTR is how Google converts the billions of impressions they make each day into cash that they enjoy. They make impressions but they sell clicks and the CTR is their efficiency rating; it’s easy to understand why they think this is important. Pay attention to what Google thinks is important and they will reward your account with lower cost and more traffic.

Regularly Conduct an STR

Start by looking at the searches that your keywords attracted and look for ones that probably do not create value for your business. You do this by running an STR (Search Terms Report), formerly known as Search Query Report (SQR), this is a detailed list of the searches that matched your keywords. This would probably be the end of this article if life was really that simple. The reality is that Google often gives you less than 10% of the searches and most of what they report are the ones that got clicks. At the bottom of these reports you will see a line that reads “Other Search Terms” and this loosely translates to the searches Google does not tell you about. The STR is a great source for negative keywords but hardly the end of this process.

str-page-example-11-21

Keyword Planner

The next valuable tool in this process is the keyword planner. This is a tool from Google to help you build out your keyword list but you can download the data and use it to expand your negatives. There are more than a few problems with this tool but it still good for negative keyword research. Just like the STR you download the list and look for patterns to improve your negatives. One of many problems with this is that the data is not really very accurate because it is rolled up to these keywords and the STR compared to this will show you how this really is two very different sources of data.

keyword-insights-11-21

Conduct Searches

Conducting Searches is old school but it still works and is probably the most accurate of the tools commonly available to everyone. In this you conduct a search for your major keywords and look for results that are not related to your business. Then look for patterns you can use to get rid of these pages. This helps push your thinking on the negative keyword list and that is the key to reducing the impressions.

Negative Keywords

You must be careful with negative keywords because they can be silent killers of your traffic. So, they can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Negative keywords are expressed as broad, phrase, and exact just like positive keywords but the match logic is not the same. Broad negative keywords will not jump to plurals, stems, and synonyms like a positive keyword. The only thing a broad keyword will jump to is a different word order. You see giving the negative the same attributes as a positive would negatively impact Google’s earnings and as they say in Vegas “The house always wins”. The phase and exact operate just like the positive keywords before Google got more liberal in the matching rules in 2015.

Our goal in tips is to be short, direct to the point, and immediately actionable; so, we are going to limit this to the discussion of reducing the impressions. If you get rid of impressions, you really do not want your CTR will make your money worth more. In another tip we will cover ideas for improving the click part of the calculation.

Add an Ad Extension Today

Posted by Ryan in adwords, adwords expert

Monday, November 14th, 2016

There are several available additions to your ads beyond the 140 characters and spaces known as Ad Extensions. Ad Extensions can be used to supplement your ad copy and give you an extra opportunity to show extra information about your business to potential customers. The usage (or non-usage) of ad extensions is one of the factors Google takes into consideration as they determine your ad rank.

An ad extension gives your ad more prominence on the search results page, improves your visibility, and gives visitors more opportunities to reach your website. AdWords shows one or more of your extensions with your ad when it calculates that the extension will improve your performance, (however a specific extension is not guaranteed to show 100% of the time). You are charged as usual for clicks if the ad itself or one of the extensions is clicked on.

There are a few different objectives that having ad extensions can help you meet.

Drive Phone Calls

• Call Extensions: This is used primarily for mobile searches and gives people a button which will help drive phone calls. On a desktop device, the call extension will add your phone number to your AdWords ad.

buscot-v2

Find Your Business Location

• Location Extensions: This is used to help your customers find your nearest location. For Location Extensions to work, your Google My Business page needs to be linked to your AdWords account.

ice-cream-parlour-11-14-16

Spotlight Various Parts of Your Website

• Sitelink Extensions: These extensions add links to other pages on your site. The below ad shows an example of what these sitelink extensions look like.

sitelinks-11-14-16

Below is the documentation from Google themselves on the required steps for adding ad extensions to your AdWords account.

google-documentation-11-14-16

The implementation of ad extensions tend to lead towards higher click through rates, which presents you more favorably in Google’s eyes when Quality Score is calculated. In addition, the extensions will help give additional information in for your prospective customers.

No matter which of these extensions is applicable to your business, this is one quick step to make your ads stick out better today than they did yesterday.

Update Your Keyword Matching Settings

Posted by Ryan in adwords, adwords expert

Monday, November 7th, 2016

Today, our focus is going to be on keyword matching settings. To get the most efficient performance out of your ads, you can choose various keyword matching options to get the ideal balance between the Quality and Quantity of Traffic. Adjustments to the keyword matching settings can help improve Conversion & Click through Rates which in turn can help improve the Return on Investment you are getting out of your AdWords account.

The order of keyword match types by highest to lowest volume is as follows:

Broad, Modified Broad, Phrase, Exact

However, there is also an inverse relationship between the highest volume of traffic by match type and the highest quality of traffic. The order from highest to lowest quality is as follows:

Exact, Phrase, Modified Broad, Broad

For example, let’s say you sell acoustic guitars and that you are running a Google AdWords account to help drive business. The default setting for any keyword options is Broad Match. While this has the highest volume, it also has looser matching which means that this is vulnerable to matching you up to lower quality searches. A broad match can jump from singular to plural, stems of the words, order of words, and synonyms. We have even seen it jump languages! For example, the broad keyword of Acoustic Guitar would match up with all of the below searches.

broad-match-11-7

By changing the keyword matching type to modified broad (+acoustic +guitar) it starts to refine which searches you are matched to. The + sign next to the words is a required to convert this to modified broad. For words with the + qualifier in front of it, that word must be in the search. However, the order in which they show up for is not yet relevant.

modified-broad-match-11-7

The next step for tightening your keyword matching settings would be to convert your keywords to a phrase match “acoustic guitar” as noted by the quotation marks. This requires that the word Acoustic Guitar is shown in this order however you can still have words before or after this within the search for your ads to show up.

phrase-match-11-7

The most qualified keyword matching version is exact match which is denoted with square brackets. However, this match type is also going to get you the lowest volume of traffic. In this case, the only time the Search Query will show is for a search for your keyword only.

exact-match-11-7

While this is a change that can be made very quickly, this has the poten
tial to have a very positive impact on the quality of traffic and overall performance of your AdWords account.

Are Your Ads Getting The Right Rotation?

Posted by Ryan in adwords, adwords expert

Friday, October 28th, 2016

Today, let’s check in on your campaign’s ad rotation setting. Proper ad rotation is crucial to getting a valid split test from multiple ads in Google AdWords and the default value may not be in your best interest. If one of your ads is not getting a fair rotation in the test, it will not be clear how much it can contribute to your success. This is where the picking the right rotation setting becomes important.

From the Campaigns tab in your AdWords Account with a campaign selected:

Make sure that your campaign is set to All features (shown below):

AdWords Campaign Settings

Scroll down and find Advanced settings for Ad Delivery, Ad Rotation, and Frequency Capping:

Adwords Ad Rotation Settings

In most cases, our recommendation on this setting is the “Rotate indefinitely” setting but the other settings have their value as well, so we will discuss them all.

Optimize for clicks is the default that Google recommends and that makes perfect sense for Google or for the advertiser who does not want to spend the time to do the testing properly. For Google, this improves the click through rate and that optimizes Google’s revenue. For the advertiser that wants to save time, it does the test and moves on quickly. However, Google is very quick to move on this optimization and many, including us, believe that they move too quickly.

Optimize for conversions is a setting we are often fans of but only under certain conditions. You need to have enough conversions that the system can do this optimization and typically this is about 30 in a month. At the Ad Group level, few businesses have the volume required for this setting.

Rotate evenly is a lazy person setting that runs the test for 90 days and then optimizes the ads. This allows you to set up a test and it will automatically conclude and set the winner. While we are not huge fans of this, it is useful if AdWords is not something you work on all the time. By using this setting, if you fail to get back to the test after data is collected it will go to the optimized ad at 90 days.

Rotate indefinitely is our go to recommendation and clearly Google disagrees with us. Google’s recommendation on this setting is clear “Not recommended for most advertisers”. They never qualify why they do not recommend this setting but at one point they removed the option from the system. This action resulted in a huge protest from smart advertisers that resulted in Google bringing the feature back. We recommend this because it forces the test to run until we call a winner, not Google. In many small businesses, the data never reaches a valid level and this setting indefinitely gives us multiple ad delivery. We think that Google’s is thinking with their wallet not yours and clearly this is best for their revenue.

In closing, this is not an area that you need to visit frequently but it is a setting that all advertisers should understand.

Getting Started with AdWords Scripts

Posted by Nikki Duffy in adwords, AdWords Scripts, google, Uncategorized

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

AdWords Scripts allow you to programmatically control and customize what is done to and how you receive AdWords data. Scripting, in general, is a type of programming in which you control the behavior of existing complex objects. Though you can set up your own internal scripting structure you ultimately rely on another program for the low-level structure. That being said, AdWords scripts do a great job at simplifying complex objects and turning them into objects that AdWords users are already familiar with. This gives almost any motivated AdWords user the power of scripting as long as you understand AdWords objects (CPA, CPC, etc) and entry-level JavaScript.  If you are serious about your AdWords , this is an area that you need to explore.

I am the lead in this area working with Diego León as my backup. So far, our agency has built an automation process that allows us to monitor budgets on a daily basis, an automated mobile bid modifier that  turns mobile campaigns on and off based on client specific schedules and I am currently working on automating our Executive Dashboards and in the near future bid automation’s.

If you want to get started with AdWords Scripts your first step in that process should be to find some basic training in JavaScript. Once you have a handle on the language syntax adding the AdWords objects should be easy to deal with. There are some finer points to learn in this process such as data types and values which we have discovered can be represented differently on the Adwords interface and the scripting database. Take for example the device override for mobile which is expressed as 0% in the interface but as 1 in the object. Don’t let this intimidate you, this ‘random’ knowledge only comes from trial and error.

An image from the Google Developers page that explains how to “get going with AdWords scripts in under a minute!”

AdWords Scripts are great for so many reasons, a big one being that they integrate the Google Drive which allows users to post and/or retrieve data from cloud services like Google Spreadsheets. When combined with the ability to send email you can quickly see how this can be a powerful tool for the AdWords Experts that are willing to devote the time needed to learn it.  Scripts can be written within an account or across accounts in a Client Center. The limitations of this are simply the imagination of the AdWords Expert doing the programming.

Be on the lookout for future articles as our team learns and shares more about this!

Things we find in SQR’s

Posted by Diego in adwords, adwords expert, Sqr

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

In the AdWords world there is an expression that helps explain the SQR (Search Query Report).

“Never under estimate the creativity of a user with a blank search box”

The SQR is where all that creativity goes and it is probably the most important data that you can extract from the AdWords System.

Many people go through their AdWords experience thinking that the traffic they are buying is simply the keywords they put into the system. This is just wrong. You are buying the search queries that match to your keywords and the accuracy of that is based on the match type. Unfortunately, Google changed the matching rules for phrases and exact keywords some time ago.

Match Type – The House Always Wins

Before we jump into the SQR we need to discuss the types of matching in the system. They are:

  1. [Exact]
  2. “Phrase”
  3. +Modified+Broad
  4. Broad

In the olden days (before May 2012) [exact] meant exact but that is no longer true because in a classic money grab by Google they changed the rules to include close variants. While this often helps most accounts there are times where you really do want exact match and the bottom line is, you no longer have it. Up until August of 2014, a user was able to opt out of close variants. Close variants include plurals, acronyms, stems, abbreviations, and accents.

The modified broad is an interesting match type in that it is about 35% of the volume of most broad matches. From our experience the big “filter” here is that modified broad keywords will not drop a word like broad will. If it is included in the keyword (keywords can be more than one word) it must be included in the search. For that reason, we find that this is a much better fishing keyword match type than broad.

Let’s be honest about a broad match, it is basically a license to steal in that Google can jump from your intended keyword to things that are barely related. We have seen these jump languages and go from things like auto to keywords like BMW. In full disclosure, a broad match is sometimes very liberal in the matching rules and they are the source of some of the more “interesting” searches we have seen in the SQR.

The SQR itself is misleading; in most cases it will account for only a small percentage of the actual searches made. The size of this problem is very easy to see. Go to the bottom of the report and look at the “Other Search Terms” line and compare the impressions to the total impressions. This missing data ranges but can reach up to 95% of the total traffic!

graph_sample

We still use the term SQR because in the past it was a report that you ran but today it is one of two buttons.

SQR graph

After clicking on the keyword tab, the SQR is accessed by clicking the “search terms” tab indicated by the blue arrow above. The other “search term” tab, pointed to by the black arrow, appears only if you have selected specific keywords by checking the box in the first column next to them.

At this stage you should be able to get your SQR out of the system and the question becomes what do you do with it? From a high level we are hoping that this data does two things for an account: It should refine keyword matching by improving either the positive or negative keywords; Positive if we like the search reported and Negative if we did not.

Reviewing the SQR

There are a couple of methods in reviewing an SQR. Some people prefer downloading the data into a spreadsheet while others prefer doing it directly in the AdWords interface. The choice is yours.

Excel Spreadsheet: Start by downloading the data into Excel and then remove the words with an “added” status since these are already in the keyword list. Next remove the data that is too small to make decisions from. For example, if there are 30 days of data and the search query has one impression then this is not meaningful data. The impression minimum is dependent on the volume of the account but in many cases 10 impressions is the minimum in a 30-day report. Create a column to flag the word if I want to add the keyword or create a negative for it. This will narrow down the new keywords and negatives you want to add or block.

AdWords Interface: : To limit the data you are looking at there is a filtering option much like you have at the keyword level. Using the interface you simply scroll down and start checking off the keywords you like to add to the account. Something to be aware of, make sure that the search term doesn’t already exist somewhere in the account as a keyword. This is actually good practice regardless of the method you decide to use. Once you have checked off all of the keywords you want to add, hit the Add as keyword button. When adding keywords the default is broad match so adjust the match type accordingly. The process to adding negatives is the same but the objective is to get rid of searches that aren’t relevant to the business. Once you have checked off all the search terms that you want to eliminate, you click on the Add as negative keyword button. The default match type is exact and sometimes you want to reduce the search into a more basic term and add it as either a phrase or broad match to get rid of similar searches.

Specifics about Adding Positive/Negative Keywords

For positive keywords, the more precise the better (ex: phrase or exact match as opposed to broad). We prefer to go with phrase match because there is more traffic volume than exact. Generally speaking, the more specific the keyword the higher the quality score will be and the more accurate the data will become. This has to be balanced with the cost of maintaining the account so we normally only add keywords that show some reasonable level of traffic. If you drive traffic too far down with exact matches, you run into the problem of not having enough information to be able to see patterns in the data.

The really complicated work begins when looking at adding negatives. We have to decide how to engineer the negative to exclude the searches we do not want without getting rid of searches we do want. Here is a simple example of a local plumber in Los Angeles. We want to keep Plumbing searches but not ones related to employment. So a search comes along like LA Plumbing Job and our knee jerk reaction is to put job in as a negative because this is probably someone looking for employment. What if the search is estimate for a Plumbing Job? The term job as a negative would block this. The challenge with negatives it that once they are in place you never see the searches that got excluded so be weary.

The bottom line here is the SQR should be reviewed every marketing cycle and you should use this data to continue to refine your keyword model on a regular basis.

Remarketing Drip Campaigns

Posted by Dana in adwords, adwords expert, Remarketing

Monday, July 27th, 2015

Remarketing Drip CampaignRemarketing has a strong ROI simply because it’s the highest quality reach. The remarketing audience has been to your website and visited specific pages demonstrating their interest in what you have to say. Drip campaigns have some of the best results in the industry because of the strength in frequency. Since reach and frequency are the gold standards of marketing delivery, a strategy that excels in both of these can make magic happen. Let’s explore how this can be done.

Remarketing campaigns are targeted based on an audience established by the execution of a JavaScript snippet on your pages. This means that audiences are people who have already been exposed to your business. In simple terms you are continuing the conversation and the goal is to bring them back again and again until you get your full marketing message across to them.

Drip campaigns deliver a series of messages over the course of time and are most common in email but conceptually can be applied to display advertising. What you do is plan a series of message (ads) based on either wants/needs or objections/answers. The wants are messages that might bring the audience to action and are typically strong product advantages. The objections and answers are common barriers that your offer runs through on the way to a sales transaction. Almost every sales rep knows the common barriers and they are trained carefully on the answers to the objection. In both cases the goal is to design an advertising campaign that communicates a series of these ads.

The challenge here is that the ads need to be delivered in sequence and the default audience configurations are not designed for this. In a typical remarketing campaign, the audiences are based on a zero to x number of days selection. What we need is a range of days. A common drip campaign would be one ad set for 0-30 days, followed by a different ad for 31-60 days, followed by another at 61-90 days. To get the control you need, start with standard audiences based on 30, 60, 90 and all days then put them in the ad groups like this:

0-30 30 day audience
31-60 60 day audience minus the 30 day audience
61-90 90 day audience minus the 60 day audience
91+ The All-time All Visitor audience minus the 90 day audience

The effect of this configuration is a range of days within the audience although there are some odd things that will happen to a few people in the audience. Because the audience is based on a cookie setting, a person revisiting the site will add themselves back to the 30 day audience restarting the drip campaign. The true definition here for the 60 day group is 60 days since last visit.

As an example from our business, we do PPC Management, Social Media, Website Design, and Image Ads so we want to have visitors to our site learn that we do these things. Within the limits of an image ad, the best we could expect would be to get one of these points across in each ad. So in the first 30 days we develop the messaging for PPC, then from 31-60 days we focus on social media, followed at 61-90 days with website design, and lastly we do a branding ad. The same sort of process could apply to a product that had several sales benefits much like shifting from less filling – tastes great (think Miller Beer).

This approach does result in some additional work especially on the design side because you need different ads for each of the day ranges. In the simple example here we would need 4 sets of creative for each of the ad groups.

How to NOT Waste Money in AdWords

Posted by Bob Dumouchel in adwords

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

AdWords is quite capable of setting your credit card on fire and wasting money at epic levels, but it can also create great value. The difference in these two outcomes is driven by how the account is managed and where the energies of the account are focused. Here are some pointers on how to avoid wasting money in AdWords.

Don’t Treat all Keywords the same

In almost every account keywords break down into winners, losers, and the silent majority. Each of these needs a separate strategy.

Winners are the keywords everyone loves to buy, but they never have enough volume. The strategy in this class is to buy all the traffic you can. Make sure these words are isolated and fully funded so you buy these first and fully.

Losers are equally easy to indentify because they have no regard for your money and spend it freely with zero return. The only tough part about the losers is deciding at what point they become a loser. Pull the trigger too early and you could kill a good word; too late and you waste lots of money. Our general rule of thumb for losers is when they reach a click level that has missed 4 conversions based on the account average. For example if your normal conversion rate is 1% and the keyword has had 400 clicks with zero conversions then it’s a loser. If it has 2 or more conversions and the cost is above your maximum target CPA then it’s a loser.

The Silent Majority is what makes or breaks most accounts and it has to be managed with averages. This includes lots of low volume words that never get enough traffic independently to be either a winner or a loser. The problem here is that if the word has had one or zero conversions then the probability of getting another conversion is pretty low. Each word in the list is just as likely to get a conversion as any other and none of them have the volume needed to become either a winner or loser.

Don’t Skip the Negative Keywords

An AdWords account without a good rich set of negative keywords is a crime of the financial type. Every month the Search Query Report needs to be reviewed for new negative words and that should go on forever.  Everyone knows their primary keywords but very few know all the negatives they need to make their account really run at its highest level.

Don’t Try to Sell with Your Ad Copy

Let’s face the facts, it’s tough enough to earn a click with 95 letters and spaces (the limit of an AdWords Ad) so trying to sell something is just not going to happen. You need to focus on what is important, and what is important is getting the person to your website so you can better present your offer. About the only exception to this is the priced advertisement. If your big guns are the prices you offer then that can go into the ad. It does work, but you better be the low cost provider because your ads are going to appear price and all right next to your competitors.

Don’t Create Split Tests with More Than 2 ads

Split tests are simple to set up and complicated to analyze. The more variables in Ad Copy the worse this gets. You need to make sure that you test one thing at a time to cut the variables down to some reasonable level. You need to have a significant number of clicks to prove a click through rate and a significant number of conversions to prove performance and there is no shortcut to this. Depending on how close the results are the number required to be significant can be large so it can take time to gather that level of data.

Don’t Think that AdWords in Search Creates Demand

AdWords serves the demand of the searcher but it does not create demand. The proof of this statement is that the search query was created in the mind of the searcher before they ever saw your advertisement. To create demand you need to look at PR or advertising outside of AdWords Search.

Don’t Think You Know Something You Don’t

Let’s face it as humans we like to think we know why things do what they do, it is just our natural curiosity.  Getting from correlation to causation is at best an art form, especially in AdWords. We have run dozens of split tests with no variables but with different results, which proves that split testing is a clue not a fact. The other things we like to do here is take a very tiny piece of data and try to draw a conclusion from it. I saw the results of a split test where the person drew a conclusion and talked at length about the facts of the test – with 11 clicks over 4 ads!!! Let’s just say this is stupid to monumental level.

Don’t Go it alone

AdWords combines psychology, marketing, math, and language – it’s complicated. One person operating in isolation cannot possibly think of all the different variables with all the perspectives. The more people you engage in your AdWords strategy the better your account is likely to run. This does not mean that we advocate multiple people maintain the account but you need diversity in thought for the strategy development.

In Closing

In business you can pay for things either Cash or Creativity; it’s your choice. In our marketing we spend the creativity first and the cash last and we recommend you do the same.