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Lesson #27: Beware Of Keywords With Multiple Meanings

July 16, 2012
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Some brand names are fairly common. Others are named after common objects. But unless you’re “the Cheesecake Factory,” many of these brand names may not work well for search.

For example, a search for “Sound-Bar,” the popular Chicago nightclub, yields many ads for sound bars, a now popular piece of electronic equipment. “Next,” the amazing Chicago restaurant, yields ads for, and Next.Co.UK.

If an advertiser’s brand name has multiple common meanings or businesses, such as the ones above, advertisers may need to handle their brand terms differently.

While normally, one would be encouraged to advertise on brand terms, in the cases above, it is better not to do so. Rather, focus on the specific term that makes it clear that it’s your business. For example, advertise on “soundbar nightclub chicago” or “next restaurant” or even “”

Brand campaigns can normally help improve an account’s quality score and provide high quality traffic at a low cost. They can still do this if a brand term has multiple meanings. Just beware, be smart, and be creative.

A Word With Many Meanings

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Lesson #24: Bidding on Generic Keywords

June 25, 2012
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When bidding on generic keywords, the most important thing is not to get too carried away. What do I mean by this? Advertisers who make mistakes bidding on generic keywords tend to fall prey to one of three possibilities:

1) Bidding Too Much on a Generic Keyword: Just don’t do it. Make sure you are keeping an eye on the ROI of the term to your company, and do not let the bids become over-inflated accordingly. For example, with bid rules, especially position based bid rules, it is very easy for an advertiser to inadvertantly wind up increasing their bid significantly, even when there is no competition. For more information, please see Bid Rules Are Not Set It And Forget It.

2) Bidding Too Little on a Generic Keyword: Generic keywords are often competitive terms. Depending on the industry, they can be extremely competitive terms. As a result, it’s important to make sure that, while not overinflated, the bid on the keyword is in fact realistic so that ads do show up for the keyword. For example, the keyword “mesothelioma” regularly wins as the most expensive keyword within adwords. The average CPC for “mesothelioma” is generally around $100. As a result, an advertiser bidding $20 will not show up. “Mesothelioma” is an outlier in terms of how much it costs, but the same is true of nearly all generic keywords; if there is a lot of keyword volume for a word, and the advertiser’s bid is under $1, be sure to check impression share and position. It is likely that the advertiser needs to increase their bid to receive the maximum benefit from showing on the keyword.

3. Bidding on Irrelevant Keywords: When picking generic keywords to bid on, there are a lot of possibilities. However, it is important not to disregard the search query report when evaluating keyword performance. If the keyword is not leading to relevant traffic or not performing well, don’t get carried away bidding on it. Focus on keywords that perform the best and yield the most relevant traffic – doing so will improve both account and site performance, while reducing cost per acquisition.

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Lesson #22: Remove All Duplicate Keywords From Search Campaigns!

June 21, 2012
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When it comes to search, a keyword should only ever show up once in an account. Having keywords in different places eligible to show ads for the same search query can lead to two key things. First off, the advertiser is bidding against themselves in the bid auction, increasing the amount they are paying per click. Secondly, a keyword or ad may perform better with the copy in one ad group than with another.  Duplicate keywords lead the advertiser to lose their ability to control messages as clearly.

With the exception of the cases outlined below, do not use duplicate keywords.


– If a campaign is duplicated with different targeting (i.e. geographic or device oriented campaigns), it is ok to use the same keyword and match type in both campaigns.

– When using more than one match type, it is ok to use the same keyword with different match types as long as the keywords are in separate ad groups and query control is being utilized. (As in, all queries for the exact match are leading to the exact match ad groups while all broad match queries are leading to the broad match ad groups)


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Lesson #21: Bid Rules Are Not Set It And Forget It

June 19, 2012
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Yesterday, we discussed bid rules. But while bid rules can carry out a logic indefinitely, they do not regulate themselves. As a result, it is important to keep an eye on bid rules, and actively manage them. They are not “set it and forget it.”

For example, many an advertiser has accidentally competed against themselves in an auction, inadvertently pushing the bid on their keywords up to an obscenely high level. Others have let a bid rule prevent a keyword from showing up. Let’s discuss each case separately.

Bid Rules Can Prevent Keywords From Showing

A bid rule that has terms for reducing the bid on a keyword can be a great tool, but it can also be a hindrance. Without a position cap, it is possible that a keyword that does not perform as well by some metric can have its bid pushed down to such a degree that it no longer shows ads for the term. An example of this would be a keyword that was in position 3 at a $1.00 bid having its bid reduced to $0.10 and suddenly being in position 12.

There are times when such a strategy makes sense, but there are other times when the keyword not showing up is a crucial part of the campaign. So it is important to make sure that even if there is a bid rule running, the advertiser is aware which keywords are taking which actions. If a keyword is being bid down, and yet it is crucial to the advertisers campaign, the bid rule needs to be altered.

Bid Rules Can Cause Advertisers To Overpay

Bid rules can also bid advertisers up against themselves. Many an errant bid rule has led advertisers to pay 10x or more what they would otherwise pay for a particular keyword, by constantly bidding them up against themselves or continually raising the bid on a keyword that is already performing well. Again, check accounts regularly for any absurdly priced keyword.

Remember, bid rules are not set it and forget it. Check bid rules constantly, and be on the look out for any anomalies.

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Lesson #20: Don’t Forget Long Tail Keywords

June 15, 2012
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As we continue this week’s foray into keywords, it is important not to forget about long tail keywords.  Long tail keywords are keywords, generally 3-5 words long, that a user would encounter when looking for a more specific query. While “shoes,” or even “red shoes,” are not long tail keywords, “red steve madden pumps” is a long tail term. Why? It contains more words and, due to its specificity, it has less search volume than the broader, high-level keywords.

At the same time though, a user searching for “red steve madden pumps” who is taken to a relevant landing page is far more likely to convert (i.e. buy the pumps) than a user who is searching for “shoes” or “red shoes.” As a result, it is important to always be sure to include long tail terms in an account. Whether those long tail terms are every product number being sold, specific products, or even a specific thing about a topic, including them in an account can lead to higher quality score and a better conversion rate. At the same time, since long tail terms are usually less competitive than their short term counterparts, these terms are cheaper and will likely show the ad in a higher position accordingly.


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Lesson #19: Never Put More Than One Keyword Type In the Same Ad Group or Campaign

June 13, 2012
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Earlier this week, we discussed the four different types of keywords: brand, non-brand/generic, competitive and long-tail. Since long-tail keywords can fall under any of the other three categories though, for today’s discussion, we will only refer to the three main keyword types: brand, non-brand/generic and competitive.

When it comes to these types of keywords, never put more than one keyword type in the same ad group as each other, or even the same campaign. Each keyword type demands a different keyword strategy, bidding strategy, and, most likely, a budget. In addition, each keyword type will perform differently from one another – by separating them into their own campaigns, the best performing keywords will benefit while the worst performing keywords will have the least effect.

To explain in greater detail: Brand keywords generally have the best performance and the highest quality score, as they are most directly relevant to the content on the site and the place a user searching for a brand term is most likely to click. As a result, they have low CPCs, high CTRs, and lead to great account history. All the benefits of their strong performance serve to lower the CPCs of all the keywords and ads in their campaign.

Competitive or conquesting keywords tend to perform the least well. The opposite of brand terms, they are the least relevant to a site’s content, and searchers are least likely to click on them. Consequently, their low quality score and poor performance history can (and will) hurt whichever campaign and account contains them.

So mitigate the damage by putting competitive keywords and brand keywords in separate campaigns from one another. The strong performance of the brand keywords will continue to help them, driving the CPC down further, while not being tainted by the poor performance of the competitive keywords.

Generic or Non-Brand keywords are generally more expensive than brand terms. They are more plentiful and competition on the terms is greater. In addition, the budget for non-brand keywords may be different from the budget for brand keywords. Given all of the above, it is again best to separate the generic keywords into their own campaigns.


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Background: The Four Different Types of Keywords

June 11, 2012
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Not only are there a variety of keyword match types, but there are also different types or categories of keywords that are commonly used to help classify the different keywords within an account. Understanding the four different types of keywords will make it much easier to understand and plan the strategy for an account.

The different types of keywords, their definitions, and examples are as follows:

Brand Keywords – Brand keywords are keywords that contain the advertisers brand name (or brand terms, such as a slogan or trademark).

ex. Digital4startups

Non-Brand or Generic Keywords – Non-Brand keywords, also known as Generic keywords, do not contain the company’s brand term in them, nor do they contain the brand name of any other companies. These are generally the higher volume keywords.

ex. Digital marketing, search marketing, learn digital marketing

Conquesting Keywords – Conquesting keywords are keywords that contain a competitors name, product number/model, slogan, or anything else that would be immediately identified as being a competitor’s. More information on conquesting keywords.

ex. Search Engine Land, Google Adwords

Long-Tail Keywords – Long-Tail keywords are keywords containing 3 or more words that are lower volume terms. However, if a user were to search for one of these queries, the content being provided would likely be relevant to them. Long-tail keywords can include keywords for a specific article, media mention, or product. Long-tail keywords can overlap with any of the other keyword types.

ex. different types of keywords, adwords keyword match types, how to learn digital marketing best practices

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Lesson #16: TEST, TEST, TEST!

June 7, 2012
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The good digital marketers all know one big secret – they test, test, and test some more.

Testing is digital marketing’s largest advantage when it comes to the advertising space. Because the field is quantitatively driven and user controlled, it is possible, especially in transparent systems like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, to measure the results of every action an advertiser takes in practically real-time. An ad not working? Switch it out. A keyword driving a significant number of irrelevant search queries? Pause it. A campaign performing extremely well? Give it more budget.

While throughout the course of Digital4Startups, advertisers will constantly be presented with new opportunities to conduct tests, it is incredibly important for the newcomer to the space to be aware of all the opportunities available to them, and their advantages. Good digital marketing is NOT set it and forget it. Good digital marketing requires an appropriate amount of testing and optimization to see optimal results. 

Is there such thing as over optimizing and testing too much? Always. There is such thing as too much of a good thing. But as long as the advertiser doesn’t act on any test until there is statistical significance and appropriately controls the factors in the test (so that they are sure what they are testing), the general advice is to test everything and act on the learnings.


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Background: A Note on Conquesting Keywords

June 5, 2012
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Conquesting Keywords refer to keywords that are competitor’s brand names or terms. Advertising on competitor’s keywords is a very contentious topic in the industry, but here are some words of wisdom:

1. Do NOT expect strong performance from a conquesting campaign. You won’t get it. Quality scores will be low, CTRs will be low, and CPCs will be high.

2. Put conquesting keywords in a different campaign from the rest of your account. Otherwise their poor performance will hurt your campaign history (and account history) throughout the rest of your account. If you can put them in a separate account, do so.

3. Be sure to check the laws of the country that you are advertising in before advertising on any competitor’s keywords. In the EU especially, the laws are stricter than they are in the US, for example.

4. Regardless, be sure you are not misleading the users in your ads. It’s against the rules to  do so. Don’t pretend to be another company or product – it will backfire. Even if you’re somehow able to run the ads, they still won’t convert.

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Lesson #14: When Possible, Use The Ad Group’s Keywords in Its Ad Copy

May 30, 2012
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One of the key factors that determines whether an ad shows up for a particular search query is how relevant the algorithm determines the ad to be to the query. At the same time, by providing users with ads that contain the keywords in their search queries, it’s more likely the user will find the ad relevant and click on it, increasing the click through rate of the ad, which in turn increases the ad’s quality score.

Again, the importance of quality score varies depending on who you ask, but regardless, including keywords contained in the user’s search query in the ad will improve the ad’s performance and therefore the advertiser’s results.

For example, if Zappos had an ad group containing “buy red shoes” and wanted to encourage users to visit to buy red shoes, the ad might look like the ad below:

The above ad would be extremely relevant to someone looking to buy red shoes. However, if a user were looking for blue shoes or Prada shoes, they might find this ad to be less relevant. As a result, ads in ad groups containing blue shoes or Prada shoes should be specifically written to include those keywords to maximize performance, for example substituting “Red” for “Blue” or “Prada” depending on the ad group.


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