It’s important to get as granular as possible when looking at the data. You can take a look at keyword performance and adjust the bids up or down depending on what is working for you, but a main point to keep in mind with paid search is that it is all about the actual search queries, not the keywords (which are really just sets of queries).
If you take a look in the Dimensions tab, you’ll have the option to see performance data for searches users entered under View: Search terms, as seen below:
Here you’ll find a list of all actual search queries that you’ve been serving ads for. There are two major action items:
1. Scour the list for searches that are irrelevant to your business and coming in through less restrictive match types like broad or phrase match. Prune these! By doing this regularly you will be cutting down on unnecessary spend and ensuring that you’re serving ads only for the searches that you really care about.
2. Identify queries that convert regularly and drive a lot of traffic to your site. These are the real winners and what you should be focusing your efforts on!
Create a Smart Account Structure
To take it to the next level and have your account structure reflect performance in a way that is scalable, work-flow efficient, and ideal from an optimization standpoint, you’ll want to separate our your top queries into their own campaign. You can read more about how to set up this kind of optimization structure here.
Here are the simplified steps to set up this structure for your account, and what each accomplishes.
1. Create a campaign containing single-keyword ad groups for your most important search queries, which you identified by looking at search term reports in AdWords (use exact match!) Single-keyword ad groups will allow you to serve ads that are tailored to these keywords. Since these are what are driving the majority of your conversions, it is absolutely worth it to spend the time to craft ads that are as specific as possible in order to maximize CTR.
2. Set up a negative list for these terms and exclude them from other campaigns in your account:
This may seem a little counter-intuitive – why would you want to add negatives for your most important terms? Well, obviously we don’t want to miss out on any potential traffic – and we won’t! What we are doing here is making sure that these searches are funneled into the right place.
If we serve ads from different keywords/adgroups/campaigns, we won’t always be serving the best ads. Furthermore, 1:1 mapping between search query and keyword gives us the cleanest performance data possible, so when we adjust bids to hit a CPA/ROI target, we won’t have to worry about queries moving around between different match types or ad groups.
This can be a bit of work initially, but it is well worth it. As your account grows, you can keep up with this process easily and update your core keywords based on what is performing.
Use Ad Extensions
Maximizing ad extensions to take up additional real estate, add credibility, and give users more options is key. Almost all ad extensions are extremely easy to set up and have no real downsides, so it’s important to take advantage of them. Sitelinks in particular should pretty much be mandatory nowadays. If you have a Google+ page, social extensions should always be used as well.
Others are business-dependent. If you have manned phones used call extensions. Want to expand your email marketing lists? Give users the option to submit their emails through ads with communication extensions. It may seem elementary, but ad extensions are often overlooked!
Review Search Funnels
When evaluating the success of your campaigns and making bid adjustments, it is useful to know what kind of conversion behaviors you are seeing. Take a look into the Search Funnels to get some more insights. There are a few key things to look out for:
- Brand to non-brand crossover – In the assisted conversions section, you can see what searches users entered through before their conversion event. If you’re in an industry with high comparison shopping rates, you may see that people often search for generic terms before finally searching and converting on brand terms. While these non-brand, generic terms did not generate the conversions directly, they assisted the final conversion event and played a key role in driving that converting traffic to your site. Attribution is a hot topic right now and more than I can cover in this post, but keep this in mind when you are looking at non-brand performance.
2. Time lag – In Search Funnels (at the bottom of the left-hand sidebar under Tools & Analysis Conversions), you also have the option to see time lag. Most businesses in search generate their conversions relatively quickly, but take a look for yourself at when you are getting your conversions. If you are seeing 20%+ of your conversions coming in several days after entry, make sure you aren’t bidding based off of yesterday’s performance!
That’s all for this segment. Good luck and happy bidding!
About the Author
Eric Smith joined PPC Associates in September 2012. He has been running enterprise scale SEM accounts since 2011, specializing primarily in e-commerce. Eric graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a B.S. in Microbial Biology. Prior to his entry into digital marketing, he worked in a research laboratory. In his free time he likes to swim, read, study language, and travel.