Testing takes strategy no matter the account size, but low and high volume accounts have different needs. Amalia Fowler and Aaron Levy discussed testing from both perspectives at SMX East.
In a session at SMX East on testing in paid search accounts, speakers Amalia Fowler, account director at Snaptech Marketing, and Aaron Levy, director of paid search at Elite SEM, approached the topic from two polar perspectives: low volume accounts and enterprise-scale accounts. The juxtaposition made for engaging discussion.
Amalia Fowler on testing in low volume accounts
In discussing testing risks and challenges for low conversion volume accounts, Fowler stressed the need to be extra selective and strategic about what you test. She provided a template for a “What if” testing ideas spreadsheet in which teams can collaborate to capture what has been tested in the past, those results and ideas for future tests.
“We need to consider, what would happen if [the test] failed? Is the business going to be okay? Will stakeholders be okay with failure?” said Fowler. Importantly, she added, “We need a hypothesis for every test. That’s the guiding force for the entire testing process.”
Particularly for low volume accounts, it may be necessary to test across multiple campaigns or ad groups. Fowler also said she sometimes lowers the statistical confidence level for a test from 95 percent to 90 percent. Google Ads’ draft and experiments confidence level is 95 percent, she noted. “Define your minimum necessary data. And prepare other people to wait for tests to complete when you have low volume accounts,” she advised.
No matter the account volume, however, Fowler said, “Don’t wait until something is broken to start testing. Be proactive rather than reactive.” For more tips, see the full presentation below. – Read more
Running Google AdWords campaigns? 5 tips to reduce CPC while not damaging your AdRank, reach, conversions, and performance.
Google AdWords (part of newly re-christened Google Ad Manager) remains, to this day, the simplest and most powerful tools in the PPC advertising industry. The powerful algorithms automate most of the tasks you’d otherwise be scrambling to do and the rest is easy enough to get around thanks to the intuitive interface. But that’s not to say that the system is foolproof.
The thing is, while the impressions that can be bought are virtually infinite, your media budget is definitely not. Furthermore, the prices you end up paying for each click/ conversion depends on the competing bids for those same impressions. Inevitably, without intervention, those costs could pile sky-high if you are not watchful.
The objective remains this: maximize reach/ conversions/ clicks while minimizing cost for each. AdWords, thankfully, can be manually tweaked to optimize your ROI from a campaign, regardless of your industry/ niche/ products/ location/ etc. In this post, we’re going over some tips you can apply to reduce CPC in AdWords.
1. Use long tail keywords
Remember the elusive Keyword Planner tool? If you have ever tried to find relevant keywords for your business, you have probably heard of this. It’s now practically exclusively available through Adwords.
Less competition = lower cost
Use the tool to find as many relevant keyword variations, especially of the long tail kind, as possible. This is for two reasons. First, the more specific a search query, the higher is the user’s search, and consequently, purchase intent. So a click is significantly more likely to lead to a sale/ conversion. Secondly, long tail keywordswhittle out unnecessary spending on impressions that are more competitive (which also cost more). If you are in an industry that’s highly competitive, the costs could add up to be astronomical.
Long tail keywords will show up with markedly lower search volumes, but don’t let that derail you. Look to the bright side – they will have lower avg. CPC (because of less competition) and high relevance to your website or business (therefore, better chance of conversion). They also have higher Quality Score, which help improve your ad rank (because rank = max. CPC bid x Quality Score).
Remember to find and use those long tail keywords that strike the balance between low competition, decent quality score, and moderate to high monthly avg. search volume to maximize campaign efficacy as well as lowering overall CPC costs. – Read More
Here’s how you can join the Google’s experiment to show offers at the top of the search results for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
To help retail advertisers increase their exposure for their Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals this year, Google has launched a new experiment with promotion extensions in Google Ads.
What’s the experiment? Now through Nov. 27, Google may serve a specific Black Friday promotion ad format when people search for the following Black Friday and Cyber Monday related keywords and their variations: “black friday deals”, “black friday <product name> deals”, “black friday <company name> deals” and their variants.
The ads are powered by promotion extensions, which debuted around this time last year.
The ad unit, like the example below, will display at the top of the search results for English speaking users. Users will see a list of offers that link to each retailer’s website.
How to participate. It’s pretty easy to get in on this experiment. What’s less easy is guaranteeing your promotion will display in the list. There are really just two steps to getting started. – Read more
What’s the impact so far? Are advertisers rethinking campaign structure and management?
Google’s latest (though probably not final) dismantling of exact match should be fully rolled out now — Google had said it would be completed by the end of October. The change was a regular topic of discussion throughout our SMX East conference in New York, last month. Now that everyone is starting to see the effects, we followed up with several speakers to hear what they’ve seen and if they are rethinking their new campaign builds or existing management workflows.
Bottom line: not everyone sees eye-to-eye on the fallout or next steps, but all agree it’s a sign of dramatic change and cause for giving campaign structure, set up and management fresh looks.
Here’s what we’re hearing about Google’s move to include words or terms deemed by machine learning-powered systems to have the same meaning, or intent as close variants of exact match keywords.
Impact so far?
The perspectives run the gamut.
From the optimistic end of the spectrum: “The change is doing what it’s supposed to do,” said Aaron Levy, director of paid search at digital performance agency Elite SEM. “We’re seeing a wider array of close variants for otherwise pure exact match terms, and 99 percent of them are, indeed, relevant.”
Further, the changes “reflect a bigger theme of where search is going,” said Levy, becoming more like programmatic where numerous signals are processed in real-time. “Performance-wise, yes the change is moving things around, yes it’s annoying, but yes, it is performing better.”
To the “meh” middle: Justin Fried, executive vice president and managing director at pharmaceutical and healthcare agencies CMI/Compas, says they aren’t seeing major performance fluctuations at a macro level, but are seeing changes at the keyword level. “Keywords with more history, higher volume of clicks and ultimately quality score, have begun to receive more impressions,” said Fried. For example, in one ad group, they are now seeing the exact match of “flu treatment” triggering ads more often than the exact match of “treatment for the flu.” Overall performance from cases like these hasn’t changed much, but CPCs have gone up in some, said Fried. – Read More
Businesses must have 100 reviews per country to be eligible for Seller Rating.
Google began notifying advertisers in September that it would start counting and displaying Seller Ratings at the country level as of October 1. After some delay, Chee Lo, head of SEO at reviews platform Trustpilot alerted us that the change went into effect early Friday.
Seller Ratings are the stars that appear in ads on the Google Search Network via an automated extension. Google sources the ratings and reviews from Google Customer Reviews, StellaService, Google Consumer Surveys, third-party review sites and other sources.
What’s changed? Google is taking a more local approach to Seller Ratings to show searchers ratings submitted only by users in their own country, rather than globally. It also means ratings are broken out by country and cannot be viewed globally. A new dropdown allows users to change the country setting, as seen in the screenshot above.
New requirements. Prior to this change, businesses had to have a total of 150 reviews worldwide and an average score of 3.5 for ratings to display. Now, businesses must have 100 reviews per country for their reviews to be eligible to display in those regions.
The implications. For U.S.-based businesses that sell primarily within the U.S., the change actually makes it easier to qualify for Seller Ratings. However, businesses that sell internationally may find themselves ineligible for Seller Ratings in some markets. This is likely to be a bigger challenge for smaller businesses or businesses that ship internationally, but don’t have a physical presence other regions.
How do I see my ratings? Lo noted that Google is still updating its documentation on Seller Ratings, but that the new URL to see your ratings (replace “example” with your own domain name) is: https://www.google.com/shopping/ratings/account/metrics?q=EXAMPLE.com&v=2&c=US
The Ad Preview and Diagnosis tool helps you see which ads are appearing for your keyword.
You can enter a search term and get a preview of how the Google search result page looks to users. It’s better to use this tool than to do an actual search on Google.com, because it won’t affect your ad metrics. If your ads aren’t showing, the tool also diagnoses the reason.
Now, two new features allow you to get a clearer view of who is seeing your ads, and to take immediate action to get your ads to show.
See which ads are showing for a particular audience
Until now, you could use the Ad Preview and Diagnosis tool to preview ads by search term and filter by location, language, and device. However, you couldn’t filter by audience.
Now, the Ad Preview and Diagnosis tool supports Search audiences. You can click on the Audience widget to select your desired audience list. If you are using the “Targeting” setting (previously called “Target and bid”) in your campaigns, you will be able to see which ads are showing for your specified audience. If you are using the “Observation” setting (previously called “Bid only”), you can see how your ad may appear higher or lower on the page, based on your bids for your specified audience.
Take immediate action to get your ads to show
If your ads aren’t showing, the Ad Preview and Diagnosis tool also indicates the reason. Previously, after you diagnosed the issue, you would then have to navigate through your account to make the necessary changes to get your ads to show.
Now, you will be able to fix issues directly within the tool itself, starting with adjustments to campaign budgets. If the reason that your ad is not showing is budget-related, you can simply click “Edit budget” and make the budget change directly from the tool.
These two updates to the Ad Preview and Diagnosis tool should provide you with more insight on who’s seeing your ads and save you time with related workflows. – Read more
Advertisers who measure store visits can now better understand how many store visits come from new or repeat customers.
Use these insights to tailor your messaging (e.g. promote offers specific to new customers) or adjust your marketing strategy to help reach your most valuable customer segment. For example, if your business goal is to maximize sales from existing customers, identify which campaigns and ad groups reach the most returning customers and focus your budgets, bid increases and keyword expansions there. – Read more
Businesses aren’t happy with competitors using their trademarks in Google search ads, even though these cases aren’t deemed by Google as an infringement of the rules, with some exceptions.
We reached out to Google to understand their stance on such occurrences and what businesses on the receiving end can do to protect themselves.
From the outset, advertising on Google’s search platform is a pretty straightforward process. You set an amount as a bid for a keyword, and whenever someone searches said keyword or a combination of keywords, your listing appears somewhere near the top of the pile—dependent on how relevant and how good your formatting is, and then you get charged whenever someone clicks through on it.
As of 2017, Google owns at least a whopping 86% share of the world’s search market. For businesses, to ignore putting their brand on Google ads is huge missed opportunity.
But as expected with such a far-reaching platform, there have been incidents where businesses have seen fit to leverage upon competitors with better brand visibility and use their identifiable names/trademarks in their ad listings on Google.
Obviously and unsurprisingly, there have already been lawsuits filed over such incidences, and judging by how often they occur, it’s apparent that such cases are a common enough occurrence to warrant a look for a solution.
So wanting to understand how business owners can help themselves in such situations, we reached out to Google for a quick clarification on their policies on third-party trademarks in search advertising, and here’s what they had to tell us.
1. You can’t stop competitors from using your trademarks in anything except the ad texts.
To start, Google pointed us in the direction of their Trademarks information page and we quickly learned that it was pretty much fair game when it came to advertising with competitor-owned trademarks on the world’s largest search engine.
In short, Google detailed that it was fine for businesses to use third-party trademarks in things like their URLs and as keywords, so long as they didn’t appear in the texts and copies themselves.
This means that using a competitor’s name in the URL is okay, and so is bidding on their name as a keyword—there’s only a problem if it appears on any other part of the ad, such as the description or the title.
Relating to the example above, this means that 99.co has grounds to call out SRX.com.sg on a trademark infringement as they’re using ’99co’ in the title of the ad, which isn’t permitted (this is providing that 99.co themselves have already trademarked the word ’99co’ prior to this incident).
On this, the team at Google explained their reasons, saying that it was all in the effort of creating a more competitive market for the benefit of the consumer.
“In terms of keywords, for many years we’ve operated a policy that doesn’t restrict advertisers from bidding against trademark keywords,” a representative from Google said. “Our trademark policy is designed to provide greater choice to users via Google ads.”
“This is similar to the way a shopper benefits when they see a variety of brands’ products on a store shelf.”
2. The best way to protect yourself is to be the better ad.
Google also went on to explain that despite there being ways for a competitor to leverage on trademarks and bidding for their keywords or putting them in the URLs, a business could still come out on top by making sure their own ad result is more relevant than others.
Because of how Google ranks ads, bidding higher for a competitor’s trademarked keyword or using a competitor’s name in the URL, for example, doesn’t guarantee that an ad result appears higher.
Instead, Google takes into account a number of other factors—clickthrough rate, ad quality, and consumer impact—to see whether an ad appears higher on a search than another one will.
This video below explains how Google ranks ads, and shows that paying more doesn’t always mean you appear higher on the list.
So what does this mean for the trademark owner? Google thinks that you should advertise better—make your ads more relevant, provide better formatting, and make sure your landing page outdoes your competitor.
3. But you can still make a complaint.
But despite their all-is-fair attitude to search marketing, Google says that they still take things seriously when it comes to outright trademark infringements.
And if so happens you find a competitor utilising your trademark in a way that directly affects your business by misleading users or putting your business in a bad light, for example, Google wants you to know that it’s still interested in protecting you against such incidences (and also protect themselves from bad press).
Obviously, Google encourages all disputes of this nature to be settled amicably among businesses and their competitors, but should it come time for a formal complaint, here’s what Google recommends you do:
Read up on their advertising terms and conditions and their trademark policy to understand how you are being affected.
File a complaint to Google using this form.
After filing a complaint, you can also authorise specific keywords and trademarked words to be used on affiliate or partner accounts to make it easier in the future.
It’s important to understand where your ads appear on the search results page.
For example, knowing if your ad shows more (or less) often at the very top of the results can help you diagnose significant changes in clickthrough rate. And knowing what percentage of eligible top impressions you are already capturing helps you determine if you should do more to increase your bids and quality.
Contrary to common perception, average position is not meant to describe where the ad appears on the page. Average position reflects the order that your ad appears versus the other ads in the ad auction. As a result, an ad position of “1” means that your ad shows ahead of all other ads, but it doesn’t mean the ad was at the very top of the page. Sometimes no ads are displayed above the organic search results so the ad with a position of “1” appears at the bottom of the page.
Therefore, we’re rolling out four new metrics over the next several weeks that – unlike average position – provide clear insights on where your ads are appearing on the search results page:
Impr. (Absolute Top) % – the percent of your ad impressions that are shown as the very first ad above the organic search results.
Impr. (Top) % – the percent of your ad impressions that are shown anywhere above the organic search results.
Search (Absolute Top) IS – the impressions you’ve received in the absolute top location (the very first ad above the organic search results) divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive in the top location.
Search (Top) IS – the impressions you’ve received in the top location (anywhere above the organic search results) compared to the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive in the top location.
The first two metrics, “Impression (Absolute Top) %” and “Impression (Top) %” are specific indicators of page location. Use these metrics to determine when and where your impressions are showing above the organic search results.
The other two metrics, “Search absolute top impression share” and “Search (Top) IS” convey your share of eligible top impressions. They are the best indicators of the available opportunity to show your ads in more prominent positions. If your goal is to bid on page location, you should use these metrics. We are working on incorporating these metrics into automated bidding options in Google Ads.
To summarize, if you are using average position to understand the location of your ads on the page, it’s better to use Impression (Absolute Top) % and Impression (Top) %. If you are using average position to bid to a page location, it’s better to use Search (Abs Top) IS and Search (Top) IS. – Read More