Search Myths Uncovered

By Judy Chan, Head of Search, IgnitionOne UK

Have you ever been given advice that you’re not sure whether to take?  There are many myths and unhelpful assumptions in how to manage your PPC activity.  PPC has a complex structure, with a huge volume of data in constant evolution.  Hopefully with some truths, we can help unravel some myths for you, and support you in managing a successful PPC campaign.

Be visible 24/7 – Not necessarily.  There are two options here for you.  Work out your peak periods: when are your best converting times?  You can then either A) be visible 100% of the time and up-weight budget during these peak times, (i.e. increase budget 5% during 8-9pm) or B) pause the account during periods that are not converting to increase campaign efficiency.

Include an extensive list of broad match terms – Broad match terms are useful in driving traffic to your website.  You can pull the search query report which gives you the actual typed keywords to expand your keyword list for more defined match types to increase quality score.  Make sure you create a supporting negative keywords list across the account to exclude irrelevant traffic.

Create a structure with one keyword per ad group – It is important to have a granular structure so that you can allocate budget accordingly to a group of keywords, however this does not mean that you need to create one keyword per ad group.  Remember, budget is set at campaign level, so if you have top performing keywords within an ad group, you will need to structure the account so that these have maximum budget to convert.  If necessary, move these top performing terms into their own campaigns.  Make sure the structure remains the same so that you have the relevant ad copy and landing page for each keyword.  This is an on-going process as performance of each keyword will fluctuate due to multiple factors including offers, seasonality and price change.

Get ideas from your competitors – Why not?  It’s good to know what you’re competing against.  Understand their USPs and how you can improve on what they are saying.  If you can’t compete with a price or offer in ad copy, then use something more generic.  Test and learn!

Managing your own PPC account in-house is easy – This is really dependent on the size of your account and internal expertise. Agency side will give you knowledge, expertise, cross channel media planning and daily support.  There is obviously a cost to using an agency, but the efficiencies could outweigh what you have in-house.  If you do go in-house, there are technologies out there which can support you in managing your campaigns, such as the Digital Marketing Suite

Focus on long tail keywords – It is important to expand on long tail keywords, but the volume in general will be much lower.  This will be an ongoing process to review your account structure.

Once you have your optimum account, you can review it less frequently–PPC is a continuous cycle.  You can always expand, learn and improve.  Seasonality, offers, price change, new products, competitors will constantly impact your campaign.  Always be aware by checking your campaign daily.

Position 1 is a must – not necessarily as you may be more efficient and profitable in lower positions.  It’s all about a combination of ad rank / quality score / CPC to hit your target.  Using a bid management tool can take the ease out of your day to day tweaking.  The tool will take into account the best CPC formula across your keyword set to meet your targets.  For certain terms you may want to take the strategic approach and maintain the number 1 position.

Make sure you run Google Display Network (GDN) – Treat GDN separately to your PPC campaigns, this will give different results to your PPC activity.  Create separate accounts to run these campaigns with individual budgets and targets.

A new account equals starting afresh with your quality score – True, but if you continue with the same structure you will end up with the same quality score.  Your quality score will only improve with constant optimisation of the account.

Monitor click fraud frequently – Don’t focus too much on this. Google and Y!Bing will have their own internal systems and teams monitoring this for you.  They will update the clicks to reflect this automatically.

Don’t bother with PPC, use SEO instead, it’s free! – PPC can give you instant ads appearing against your chosen keywords and positioning.  SEO is a long-term strategy and takes time and constant monitoring to retain the top position.  Although you may be in position 1 for SEO on certain terms, it doesn’t mean users will see your ad first as there may be multiple PPC advertisers appearing on the same term above your SEO ad.  Again, this is all about testing, and understanding whether running PPC and SEO alongside each other will give you incremental volume. Remember that each keyword will be different.

Remove keywords that don’t convert – Which attribution model is this based on? Most of us are still utilising the last-click model.  If this is the case, then this doesn’t mean these terms have not converted; you need to review your click path analysis.  When looking at a user journey, for example a holiday, which keywords do they type in before booking?  How many different display ads do they click on?  Each of these ads is a part of your click path. As they are different media, focus needs to broaden outside of solely PPC to include other channels such as display, email and Facebook. Take into account all channels, brand and generic terms that contribute to a conversion.  It’s not just Brand that converts.  Allocate part of your conversion to each click path and spend your budget wisely.

Use the best performing ad across all your ad groups – Test and learn!  Ad copy should be tailored specifically and relevantly to each ad group. Regularly rotate ad copy to identify your best performers and use the right tracking sources to support your goals e.g. if focusing on CPA, review your ads on CPA results to optimise and not just on CTR.

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