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Posts Tagged ‘adwords’

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 disrupts 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

Mobile Impressions

Posted by Diego in adwords expert

Monday, March 14th, 2016

Smart PhoneEver since the rollout of the Call-Only Campaign type, mobile traffic has been odd and we are seeing some strange results in a few of our accounts. One client who is a local service provider believes, as we do, that mobile traffic is extremely important. This client’s account  is large and well established. That being said, the data from the account is normally predictable but we were concerned about the volume of the mobile traffic. To address this concern, we ran a test that we would like to share.

We started our test with a Search Campaign with no override on mobile traffic as our Control. The mobile traffic volume for this Campaign came in at 20k impressions in the first month. Once this control was in place, we created a Call Only Campaign and put a -100% override on the Control Search Campaign to effectively turn off the mobile traffic and force it into the Call-Only Campaign. After 30 days the Call Only Campaign (mobile) traffic volume came in at 80k impressions, effectively pulling in 4 times more mobile traffic than the Search Campaign.  

To our surprise when we returned the mobile device override back to “no override” in our Control, we experienced even more impressions! Collectively this configuration (having the Search and Call Only Campaigns both running) got 100k impressions, not the 80k we expected. Because we were surprised by this we ran the test again in another region and that yielded the same results.

While the logic behind this is still unclear to us, what is clear is that running both campaign types gets us a higher impression share in a very competitive market. Mobile traffic continues to follow the approximate 80/20 share split between the Call Only and Search Campaigns with the Call Only bringing in 80% of the mobile traffic and Search bringing in 20%. This test was conducted with a CPA bid Search Campaign. We are currently looking at a CPC test; So far the results seem to be the same however the data is still incomplete.

If mobile traffic is important to you, we recommend that you test your account to see if you get the same results.



Search Underway for Side Ads

Posted by Ryan in adwords expert

Monday, March 14th, 2016

Missing-side-ads2As we all know, the first 24 hours are the most critical in a missing advertising investigation and so it is with the Google Side Ads case. One day they were there, hanging out doing their thing and then bang they were gone. On Monday February 22nd, 2016 SEO and PPC experts alike were quickly on the web looking for the suspects in this case and.all fingers pointed to Google. There was no leap to judgement here as Google was the only possible suspect.

Over two weeks have passed and our culprit, Google, has yet to post an article on the Inside AdWords blog explaining this critical change and their erratic behavior. Not to worry, we are sure that the explanation is coming. More importantly we must ask ourselves, with this drastic change in place what is a modest position advertiser to do?  

First let’s explore the issue at hand and why Google would do what they did. The issue is that Google robbed us of our side ad space and replaced these side positions with one more top position and three bottom positions. In other words, they got rid of seven ad positions and added a maximum of four (one on the top and three on the bottom of the search results page) leading to a reduction in total ad copy, right? True but I suspect that Google has accountants who are really good at math, so why would they want a reduction in ads? The answer is that a reduction in ads is not a reduction in revenue.  When an ad went from the top to the side the CTR commonly drops by a factor of 10x. A top position that gets a 5% click will only get 0.5% on the side. That being said it is likely that replacing seven side ads with one top ad  (assuming this new top ad will perform as well as the existing top three positions) will actually increase Google revenue. See, I told you they had accountants at Google and they are really good at math.  

Now let’s explore who really got hurt here? While the data is still building it would appear that advertisers with a modest budget and position strategy and those who depend on organic traffic are the most affected. The modest position advertisers now must decide if they want to compete for the fourth position to appear on the top of the search results page or if they want to compete for positions 5-7 to appear in the uncharted bottom ad space. We are unsure how these bottom ads will perform, only time and data will tell. Until enough information exists, the bottom ad space is certainly a gamble.

In addition, the organic strategist got slapped because the first organic result now appears deeper in the search results page than ever before. For clients with a top of page strategy this change has very little impact other than the fact that all the side position advertisers are now reviewing their bidding strategies to see if they want to make a run at the top of the page.

Here are a few samples of how the SERP changed:


Shopping ads in-line, followed by 2 top positions, and then organic. This was a rare format that only came up on this search for a book title.


This is a non-localized result with 4 top positions and no side and this was a common result on searches that are not local. First organic is still on the 1st page but down a few lines from where it was.


This is a localized search with shopping ads on the side. This was a common format and the organic is no longer on the first page.


This was a common result for a localized search. Top 4 positions, the map, followed by the 3 pack and the organic is well off the first page results.

So what is an advertiser to do? First and foremost take a deep breath and see what your data says. If you had a side position strategy tune your bids to position 4 based on impression levels to see if the bottom-of-the-top or the top-of-the-bottom of the page is a better fit for your business. If you are a local business, then pay close attention to your map listing. Maps are organic results that are driven largely, but not exclusively, by reviews. The eligibility is set by finding address verification listings but after it is eligible then rank becomes the issue. Rank is driven by reviews and all the other organic signals. The key here is to get as many real customer reviews as possible.

If you are a local provider with an SEO only strategy you need to hold your breath and watch your traffic levels very carefully. It is likely you have been sent further down the search results page or even, dare I say it, to the second page.

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!


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.

Why we do what we do

Posted by Bob Dumouchel in adwords, Quality Score, Uncategorized

Friday, June 17th, 2011

“In service to the searcher”

The first priority of AdWords is to create the best quality SERP (Search Engine Results Page) to serve the searcher. AdWords controls 50% of the most valuable Internet real estate on the planet and our job is to pursue SERP perfection. We are not fools so we are very aware of the fact that obtaining perfection is impossible, but it is the pursuit that is important.

You might think something like “I am paying for AdWords and I want it to serve my needs first.” This is a nice thought, but a failed concept. The value you get is from the interaction with the searcher. You can only get there if you serve their informational need first. The value of traffic is created by the engagement of the searcher with the value statement of your business.  We must serve the searcher before that value can be created.

We get calls from people all the time that are trying to control the market and the reality is that the market is a thousand times more powerful than the business. Control is an unlikely outcome in a mismatch like this. The strategy needs to be in service to the market, not in an attempt to control the market. You cannot win if you try it the other way around.

There are lots of system manipulations, some of them work once in a while, but none of them work long term. You can trick a person into clicking on an ad with deceptive copy, but it is unlikely you will hold the upper hand all the way to the finish line because they hold all the power. I will be the first to admit that there are businesses that work on a one-sale model, but our clients need the recurring business and the long term relationship to build a good business. For that reason they need to get the right traffic to their site and that means serving the searcher first.

To be in service to the searcher we need to make sure that the ads on the SERP are the highest quality match to the searcher’s query. The magic of AdWords is the keyword model of both positive and negative words to connect directly to the searcher’s need. Since 1994, when I started working in web marketing, I have yet to meet a person that did not know their keywords. It is a rare person however that knows their negatives. To serve the searcher the ad needs to appear when it serves their informational need but no other time. You might think that there is no cost to the extra impression of your ad, unfortunately that is not true. That impression goes into the quality score which is multiplied by your bid to calculate your rank so it really does cost you in the long run.

We like to think about the search process as the start of a conversation. The searcher enters a few words as a clue of their interests and we match that to the keywords related to the ad copy which is our response to their query. You say hello and I say Good Morning, it really is that simple. The really tough part here is when they click on your ad you need to continue that conversation on your landing page or the only thing that will happen is a charge to your credit card.