The First Step To Better Paid Search Campaigns

What one piece of advice would I give to help improve a paid search campaign? That was a question asked of our panel as SES in San Jose last week. My answer: Make sure your brand keywords are fully segregated from all others.

Brand keywords – any keyword with your company name or variations in them – have completely different cost and performance characteristics than category or other other generic or product specific keywords. These differences completely confuse the reporting for any campaigns and Ad-Groups if they’re co-mingled.

Separating Keywords and Queries

The first step is easy – every keyword you buy, regardless of its Match Type, should be in an Ad-Group if not a Campaign with only other keywords that contain the Brand name too. Preferably, the brand terms are bucketed, with the ‘Pure’ Brand keywords in one group (those that represent just the name and variations itself), the navigational versions in another and the Brand-Plus keywords (Brand Sweatpants, Brand Coupons, etc.) in yet another, and so on.

In these brand focused Ad-Groups, you have to use Broad and Advanced match very sparingly and carefully, and eventually almost entirely eliminate them. If you leave them, you’ll get too many non-brand queries matching and diluting the intent of these highly focused Ad-Groups.

The other side of this Broad/Advanced Match coin is that you’ll also want to add your brand as a negative in all the remaining non-branded Campaigns and Ad-Groups. Otherwise the engines will match brand-inclusive queries against your non-brand targeted keywords. This can be and feel dangerous, if you’re not completely sure that your Brand campaigns are complete, bid properly, running the full range of Match-Types (with of course the Match Type Keyword Traps fully configured and loaded). It’s probably a good idea to skip this step of adding the brand as negatives in the non-branded campaigns for a few days to ensure that there aren’t certain query formulations that your new Brand targeted Campaigns are missing.

Watch the query reports carefully, and add variations to the brand campaigns, and ultimately more negatives to both the brand the non-brand campaigns.

The Payoff

Immediately upon starting this process, especially if your campaigns had brand terms and lots of broad match scattered throughout, you’ll see radical shifts in your search reports.

  • You may be amazed how much revenue is coming from and and how little cost is going into your pure brand campaigns. That’s the good news.
  • You may be shocked at how much money and how little revenue is coming from your now-strictly-non-brand ad-groups. That’s the bad news. Or the opportunity, depending on how you look at it.

In any case, you’ll have a new level of clarity about the performance and activity in your PPC campaigns.

Coming Up

I’ll share more thoughts on the execution of full brand segregation, and the implications of the changes it makes to your reported results, in future posts. This is another one that may take 3-4 posts to just scratch the surface of.

In the meantime, questions and comments are encouraged. Are your brand terms separated into ad-groups? Does that help you better understand the way your PPC budgets are spent? What problems have you seen trying to control brand via Match Types? Any other ideas?



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