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In my last post, I mentioned the need to review keyword match types regularly to ensure your paid search campaigns remain profitable. The recent AdWords changes make regular reviewing even more important; especially for small and medium enterprises.
Here, ClickThrough Marketing’s Paid Search Manager, Saiqa Bi, looks at the implications of the changes, and the potential pros and cons for internet marketing.
Before we delve any deeper into what the recent to AdWords functionality mean for you, it’s probably worth a quick recap of what does what in AdWords:
After setting up an account, advertisers used to have to generate and populate long lists associated with their keywords (either positively or negatively), such as plurals, abbreviations, acronyms, stems and misspellings. Accounts which didn’t do this background work generally didn’t work; either because they failed to capture the right traffic, or resulted in extraneous and expensive click costs on irrelevant search terms.
Good paid search managers are well aware of the implications of irrelevant or negative results in a PPC campaign.
No travel agent, for instance, would want their paid ads to top the search results for a query like ‘worst travel agent’. But, with a phrase match campaign for the term ‘travel agent’, this is a real risk.
Phrase match allows paid search advertisers to ensure their websites return in searches for specific keyword phrases, like the term ‘travel agent’. This means if someone searches for anything with the phrase ‘travel agent’ in it, your paid ad will return in their search results. Which is great if your ad returns at the top of the results for a “best travel agent” search – but not so great if your ad appears at the top of a ‘worst travel agent’ search.
As such, a lot of ‘behind the scenes’ work is necessary to optimise a paid search account so this kind of negative association doesn’t occur; involving populating lengthy ‘negative’ keyword lists, as well as inserting any potential keyword plurals, acronyms, abbreviations, stems and misspellings.
All this changed on May 17, 2012.
Google has made changes to AdWords which, on the face of it, invite advertisers to trust Google with their paid ad budget. Google has altered its AdWords tool to try to make the arduous behind-the-scenes tasks slightly simpler for paid search managers.
The changes allow advertisers to set up accounts more quickly – as AdWords will automatically match plurals, abbreviations, acronyms and stems. For the hyper-cynical, this situation could be compared to handing your car keys and a blank cheque to a mechanic, and telling them to do “whatever they think is necessary” on your car.
Most motorists who’ve visited a reputable garage will have been offered extraneous and expensive work at some point. And they’d probably guess the likely outcome of this hypothetical AdWords scenario is potentially a lot of expensive and ultimately unnecessary work; work that is bound to plump up the pockets of the mechanic, but will leave your pockets empty.
That’s for the cynic, though.
Google AdWords continues to be a powerful and reliable traffic source for advertisers. For now, let’s look at the pros and cons of recent AdWords changes for small, and big business.
In the short term, the changes may add to the workload, as advertisers will need to monitor SQRs more frequently whilst carrying on with everyday PPC tasks, such as adding unwanted queries as negative keywords.
In future, the variations shown by these changes could help paid search managers capture traffic they may not have originally considered, leading to longer term rewards, more visibility and more targeted and tailored ads.
Either way, ploughing through a pile of client search query reports is going to become a lot more interesting! Some will argue that the onus is on Google to ensure it doesn’t return irrelevant results. After all, the search engine makes changes on an almost daily basis to try to deliver the most relevant results possible – so a sudden upsurge in irrelevant paid ad results isn’t going to help its business.
It’s up to Google to grow its revenue, and paid search is arguably its market to take. Whether the AdWords changes result in increased income for paid search advertisers, as well as Google, remains to be seen.
By John Newton
John Newton (LinkedIn) is the Smart Insights commentator who writes on using Google Adwords for improving paid search marketing and other search-related advice. John is Chief Operating Officer at ClickThrough Marketing. He has been been working in marketing, both online and offline, for 15 years in companies which include Yahoo!, ITV and TNS Global. He is interested in the creative application of common sense and a research-based approach to improve marketing results. John is also a CIM Chartered Marketer and the editor of ClickThrough’s two books on search marketing.
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