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Review your PPC Keywords

tabeling-jason
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You probably already know that search marketing is all about keywords. For paid search, it's the keywords you bid on and the match types you associate them with that determine when your ads are shown.

The basics of paid search marketing are keyword selection and match types. Once you've selected your keyword list you move on to match types.

Review Your Keywords
  • Don't just review your keywords from the viewpoint of what you think is supposed to happen during a live search, but what is actually happening.
  • Google provides the deepest level of data available in a standard report from the search query report, but the data is only useful if you're reviewing and understanding it.
  • Use your analytics package to view the keyword to search term relationship, and the conversion metrics that were driven from that combination.

Google and MSN offer three match types: broad, phrase, and exact. Yahoo has advanced and standardized their naming convention for broad and exact. You learn what each of these mean in academic sense, but when is the last time you looked at the definitions of these terms, and how they're manifesting in your campaigns today?

This article is a reminder to not just review your keywords from the viewpoint of what you think is supposed to happen during a live search, but what is actually happening. Too often we take for granted that the search engines in their infinite algorithms – operating in real time, across thousands of advertisers, and millions of keyword options – are making the same choice that we would expect it to make.

Search engines don't always chose to show the keyword ad you expect it to make, even if logically it should. This shouldn't come as a surprise, but after reviewing the definition the search engines provide and reviewing some data it's easy to see that you can never assume the search engines are 100 percent accurate (considering all the decisions that go into a search result in fractions of a second, expecting 100 percent seems unrealistic).

However, people have a hard time absorbing this information and take their keyword data at face value. I would compare this to a fan of The Beatles. When a Beatles fan discovers someone who isn't a Beatles fan, their reaction is often complete and utter disbelief. Even though a large percentage of the population are fans of The Beatles on some level, it's mind boggling to a hardcore Beatles fan that 100 percent of the population aren't fans. The same thought process applies here.

For example, if you sell running shoes, it makes sense to buy the keyword "running shoes." You probably would even buy the term on broad match because conceptually each variation would contain the terms "running" and "shoes" somewhere within the search query. However, this isn't the case.

The pure definition of broad match on Google tries to allude to this fact, but until you look at actual data this is difficult to understand. Google's definition states: "With broad match, the Google AdWords system automatically runs your ads on relevant variations of your keywords, even if these terms aren't in your keyword lists. Keyword variations can include synonyms, singular/plural forms, relevant variants of your keywords, and phrases containing your keywords."

I would highlight the part about relevant variants of your keywords. Based on data that we analyze can mean, "Anything that we think is close enough to your keyword."

To Google's credit, they provide the deepest level of data available in a standard report from the search query report. However, the data is only any good if you're looking at it.

Here are some examples we found:

Search Terms and Keywords Matched in AdWords

While you can draw some comparisons between the two keywords, it's difficult to think the users intent is the same, or that there isn't a better user experience available in terms of an ad copy and landing page. This is why the data is so important to review and understand.

Use your analytics package to view the keyword to search term relationship, and the conversion metrics that were driven from that combination. In some cases, you'll find crazy matches that will go directly to your negative keyword list. Other times, you'll find some nuggets of gold that you would have never seen coming. These keywords should be added as a new keyword variant so you can bid and report on it separately.

This isn't a one time task. Do this frequently to ensure the campaign structure you created is being followed, and the search engines are properly delivering your ads.

The algorithm is always changing, and so are the ways people search for your products and services. The question is: why wouldn't your keyword list change as frequently?


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