Five Paid Search Resolutions for 2010

It’s that time of year where we start things off fresh. The previous year is over, and we’re onto a new year of initiatives, goals, and intentions to improve on what happened in the prior year.

Many of us are hoping to see year-over-year growth purely due to a rebound in the economy. While I share some of that same hope, it isn’t in my control. So, I’m also thinking about several things that are in my control.

Here are five items you should consider as you look to start the new year with your paid search campaigns, and why they’re important.

Update Your Keyword List

When is the last time you reviewed the performance of your keyword list? Most people would answer this question by saying, “I check it every day when I review my results,” or “My bid management software handles that when it runs my algorithm.”

We get so caught up in our day-to-day optimizations (which isn’t a bad thing) that we forget to step back and look at how things performed in aggregate. Run a report for all of 2009. How do the keywords look now?

Typically, you will find a few significant keywords that have taken a lot of budget over the course of the year as you chase performance, and vice versa. What if you never bid on these keywords at all? What would your ROI be? What would you have been able to spend on those keywords that are proven to work?

Account Structure

If you’re like most people, you get your campaign structure set up and don’t touch it again. However, now that you’ve taken a step back and reviewed your keyword list, think about how it can/should impact your account structure. What if you knew the impression share of your top performing keyword that is sharing an ad group with a hundred other keywords? Would it be worth putting that keyword in its own campaign? What would controlling the budget of the bottom 10 percent of keywords allow you to do?

I’m not suggesting moving away from tightly knit ad groups, or a campaign structure that allows for easy reporting and quick navigation (in fact, this could be a great time to improve that as well). Just think about the various controls available at different levels, and consider how you can better take advantage of those things.

Beta Testing

You’ve probably noticed a lot of things happening to the Google search results page over the last six months. They have been testing the Google Affiliate Network, Sitelinks, Product PlusBox, Local Extensions, and more. Have you been involved in any of these?

At a bare minimum, these are worth a test to determine the business impact on your results. We should see more betas, and these elements moving out of beta and expanding. The sooner you can understand the impact, the better positioned you’ll be against your competition.

Change Ad Copy

I debated even putting this in here, but after reviewing some competitive tools, it seems that many advertisers stick with the same ad copy month after month. This strategy is OK if the ad copy is proven to work, but not testing ad copy doesn’t make sense.

Make sure that you know your current version of ad copy works versus other variations. This testing can by simple; instead of “Buy Now,” try “Buy Today,” or move the word structure around.

Paid search moves too fast to be stagnant. Watch your quality score as you test these elements. What happens?

Non-order Events

This might be something you haven’t considered in the past, but you should start thinking about for many reasons. This can impact your campaign management activities.

I’m sure you already value e-commerce transactions that occur as a result of your paid search efforts (e.g., orders, leads, etc.). However, have you ever considered how many e-mail addresses you acquire as a result of paid search? How about the number of store locators or contact forms that have been submitted?

Each of these elements drive business value to your organization. Otherwise, they wouldn’t take up real estate on your Web site.

Think about how you can put a value to these transactions. How would an extra $1 of revenue per e-mail address impact your results? What would happen to your allowable bids? Would the same keywords be the most profitable?

These are just a few thoughts to get you going as you set your goals for 2010. As search engine user experiences and the expectations of search continue to change (mobile/voice), these recommendations will change, but it’s certainly a start. Good luck to you and us all in the New Year!

Related reading

traffic forecasting customer journey
Making the case for more non-brand funding in paid search
Five things to do on a small digital marketing budget
The fall of ad copy, long live ad copy