3 Reasons to Stop Bidding on 90 Percent of Your Keywords

In Larry Kim’s article, “Attention Keyword Hoarders: You Need to Delete 98 percent of Your AdWords Keywords – Here’s Why,” he begins by talking about an AdWords account that’s bidding on 273,000 keywords, but only gets impressions on 3,372 of them, which is about 1.2 percent.

Here’s a graph he used to show what this looks like:

js1-keyword-pie-chartLarry does a great job explaining why this is happening and how keyword match types have changed drastically. Keyword match types don’t work quite the way they used to. For instance, you previously needed to add “close variants” to catch misspellings, in order to show ads for keywords that were typed incorrectly. Now, Google automatically adds close variants for keywords.

This is just one of the many ways that keyword matching has changed over the past several years. After reading Larry’s article, it got me thinking about the keywords we bid on at iSpionage, spurring me to do an audit of our account. I wanted to find out how many keywords we had bid on and what percentage of those keywords converted within the last year.

Here’s what I found:

Top Converting Keywords

After reviewing our account, I discovered that 8 percent of our keywords resulted in conversions, from January 1, 2014 to the present. That means 8 percent of our keywords led to 100 percent of our conversions. I also found that 64 percent of those keywords came from brand related terms like “iSpionage” and “iSpionage.com,” and that all of our conversions came from one of four keyword categories.

Here’s a breakdown of the percentage of total conversions from each of those categories:

js2-ispionage-pie-chart

Based on these results, I came up with three important takeaways and some action items.

1. Separate Campaign for Brand Keywords

As competitors start to buy your name, you need to keep your ads unique and compelling. It’s really important to bid on and dominate brand keywords. 

Sixty-four percent of the conversions came from branded terms. This means that it’s possible to miss out on some very valuable clicks by allowing one of our competitors to place an above our organic result. Yes, it’s annoying to need to pay Google for clicks when we’re already ranked as No. 1 for a term organically. However, it’s totally worth it when you see the profitability and ROI on these keywords. Additionally, this means getting a conversion that may have otherwise gone to another of our competitors.

2. Reduce the Number of Keywords You Are Bidding On

If only 8 percent of keywords resulted in conversions over the last year, why would my company continue committing a portion of the budget to keywords that aren’t converting? The only reason would be if some of the keywords that haven’t converted have a high search volume we can monetize them down the road.

It felt weird to pause this many keywords. But it allowed us to bid more for these terms and improve our ad rank for converting keywords, instead of diluting our budget across hundreds of keywords that aren’t converting.

3. Use Monitoring Tool for Top Converting and Brand Keywords

I added all of our converting keywords to a keyword-monitoring tool so I would get alerts if any changes happened. By doing so, I was able to keep a super close eye on impression share for our converting keyword categories, as seen below with our branded terms.

js3-impression-shareThis chart shows that we have a 100 percent impressions share and a No. 1 ad position of for profitably and branded terms. It also makes it easy to keep up with these valuable terms in case our impression share or average ad rank begins to drop at any point.

Using the monitoring tool of your choice, you can check the saved SERP results to give you a better idea of what the ads look like. You can also look at the results historically to see when Google changed the layout or added a new ad format that could cause my position to change to best determine what adjustments might need to be made.

Here’s an example this:

js4-serp-resultsYou’ll see exactly how your sitelinks and extensions may appear, and see which ones are showing up for which keywords and locations.

Monitoring important keywords, ads, and landing pages are must-haves in order to evaluate the UVP or messaging and decide if I’m doing a good job differentiating myself from the competition.

js5-competitionIn conclusion, take another look at your entire keyword portfolio and see if there is room to remove or improve. Apply these tips to your campaigns and let me know the results.

If you have any questions, comments, or thoughts, please share in the comments below.

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