Help people. Get paid. Help more people.
- May 20, 2014
(Originally posted in 2011!!)
- Fail Fast – One out of every ten business ideas succeeds. The trick to having more success then is to try more ideas. Which means you need to fail the ones that aren’t working quickly so that you can find something that works.
- Always Be Testing – Believe no-one, even your own previous theories. What worked for someone else may or may not work for you. It could be that you implemented it differently from how they did, or that the market is different, or that the vertical is different. It could even be that Google’s algorithm has changed so what worked previously may not work for you again.
- Build The Perfect Search Campaign – This consists of exact match keywords. Exact match keywords are what people typed into the line in the search engine (unless it is a search partner, which may use a different search query than the user typed in). Phrase and broad keywords are sets of search terms that people type into the line. The stats for phrase and broad keywords are therefore averages of lots of different search terms. To get maximum visibility, use exact match. To get more exact match keywords to add to your account, perform keyword research, or use the search query report and look at what search terms people used when your phrase and broad keywords were triggered.
- Improve Your Impression Share – If everything else stays the same and you double your impression share, then you have doubled your traffic and hopefully your revenues and profit too. The best bit is that your impression share typically increases if you increase your CTR (without increasing your bid prices), and/or if you create a more targeted campaign. This means it is a virtuous circle whereby you get higher clicks per 100 impressions (the definition of a higher CTR), which Google rewards with a lower CPC (and higher Profit Margin), and then Google rewards us with a higher impression share and therefore even more traffic.
- Consider Using Modified Broad instead of Phrase and Broad – Modified Broad is more targeted than broad since it does not pull in synonyms, but is less restrictive than phrase since you do not have to guess the order of the words in the keyword. To make life simpler, consider using only exact match and modified broad. Exact match keywords are your goal, with modified broad as your net to catch more exact match keywords. A good way of using modified broad and exact match is to split them into two separate campaigns. Then put negatives of the exact match keywords into the modified broad campaign. This will force the exact match traffic into the exact match campaign. If you had a phrase campaign too then this methodology gets confusing and messy.
- Divide and Conquer – Using exact match keywords allows you to divide your broad and phrase match sets of keywords into individual segments. Each exact match keyword (search term) has a different cost. Having them all grouped under a phrase or broad match hides the individual data so you cannot see or optimise each search term. In the same way, consider dividing an exact match keyword by IP address (e.g. [payday loans] showing throughout the US, could be divided into 50 different state campaigns each showing [payday loans] but with a state targeted ad creative. This will show you the price and traffic volumes of [payday loans] in different locations).
- Consider Splitting Google Search and Search Partners Traffic – Yes there will be an overlap, but you might find most of your Google Search traffic heads towards your Google Search campaign and you have effectively divided your Google Search and Search Partners traffic. Another benefit to this technique is that you can use the Search Query Report for the Google Search campaign and be 100% sure that each of the search terms identified are actual queries that users typed into the Google search engine.
- Consider Splitting Computers and Laptops and Mobile Devices Traffic -These could have different traffic behaviours, both in terms of price and volumes, but also in terms of conversion rates. Greater visibility and greater control may assist if you split the campaigns. They can be optimised separately.
- Definitely Split Search and Display Traffic – This is such as basic optimisation step we should not even need to talk about it! Search and Display are like chalk and cheese… they look the same, but are completely different.
- Give It Time! – Don’t keep tinkering with things. You need enough data to make a decision. Also, the Google algorithm takes a while to reach a decision on what quality score to give you, what CPC to charge you, and how you measure up against your competition. Try not to tinker too often, and beware “creeping elegance”, which is the 80/20 rule used in reverse (you did the 80% of the work on Monday, and now are going to creep the performance up slowly from Tuesday to Friday… you would be better starting another four similar projects and getting them 80% done in one day apiece).
- Treat Campaigns Like Fine Wine – They should mature with age! Not only do they “bed in” to find their eventual level, but you should be growing and nurturing your campaign over time. This means that you are spending a significant proportion of your time growing your account and not just in bid adjustments. Accounts can grow outwards by getting more coverage for keywords and verticals that you do not currently have, and they can grow downwards by you drilling into a niche and extracting more traffic, more revenues, and more profits.
- Drill Down – Sometimes when you are busy expanding your campaigns outwards by adding in new keywords and verticals (increasing your coverage), you may pass over an oil well. It could be worth trying to drill down by going long tail or using other tricks to extract more traffic, revenues, and profit. Basically, if it looks promising you should consider pausing your expansion outwards and drill deeper.
- Consider One Keyword Per Campaign – You can have 100 campaigns in each account. If a keyword is more than 1% of your impressions, clicks, or cost, why not put it into a campaign all on its own? That way you can monitor the impression share of that keyword. (Update: you can have 500 campaigns per account if you ask Google to expand it. You can also get Impression Share at the keyword level. Never-the-less, I still advise putting top keywords into their own campaigns so that you can focus on them.)
- Consider One Keyword Per Adgroup – This is as great for optimising for Adwords. It might make it harder to report on, and to optimise if your account grows in size because you have more Adgroups. It is a tradeoff that you will have to decide on, but consider that an adgroup optimised for Adwords should have a lower CPC and a higher Profit Margin and should require less management than a less well optimised adgroup.
- Split Test Ad Copy – If there is enough traffic to justify spending the time on the test, then you should consider creating a new ad to beat the CTR of your current ad. Make sure you Rotate Ads Evenly if you want this to be a valid test. Do not delete old ads, but keep them there so you can see how you gradually increased your CTR using different Ad Copy. If you are worried about losing traffic by creating an new ad, then maybe send a fraction of your traffic to the new ad. You can do this by creating, say, nine copies of your current ad, and one new ad. That way 10% of your traffic should go through the new ad.
- Rotate Ads Evenly – If you want to split-test your Ads, then make sure you do not have the campaign setting to be such that Google shows the Ad it believes is more “optimised”. Don’t believe their algorithm, plus don’t give up control of your split testing. You want to always know what copy works better, and have an idea why. If you let Google choose, then you will not know by how much better your new ad works. Note: don’t just change your campaign settings if things have been running a while… optimised ads may indeed be the better performing ones, and you don’t want to suddenly have the other poorly performing ads showing.
- Know That Google Keeps Information From Us – They tell us that there is a quality score at the adgroup, campaign, account, and domain level, but they do not tell us what it is. We can calculate them using weighted averages, but it is interesting that they do not do this for us. Google also do not display the historical quality score of a keyword. You can look at all the other metrics for a keyword over a historical period, but the quality score that you see is the quality score that Google currently has in the system for that keyword. This is not an accident, but a decision Google made and had to program into their interface and reports. This should makes you wonder what advantages you can gain over your competitors if you recorded your keyword quality score over time. Another metric that they have at one level of detail but not at another is the impression share. It would be nice to know what share of voice we have for a particular keyword in a campaign, but Google only shows us the Impression Share at campaign level. For very important keywords, Consider One Keyword Per Campaign, otherwise consider using the campaign impression share as an indicator of the impression share for each keyword in the campaign. It is a rough guide, but can help you estimate the number of searches that were made that your keyword could have triggered ads for. (Update: we can now see Impression Share at the Campaign, ad group, and keyword level.)
- View Every Threat as an Opportunity – If Google changes its algorithm and we experience a “Google Slap”, (or even if Google introduces new functionality), there is a window of opportunity where we can benefit by exploiting the fact that our competitors have not reacted yet. We should be agile and react quickly to exploit these opportunities when they occur.
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