5 Paid Search Marketing Myths Explained In Simple Terms

The industry is laden with silly and many times nonsensical paid search marketing myths. Some myths are insidious and can cost advertisers a fortune without them realizing it. In this article, I will highlight a handful of the more prevalent PPC myths (by no means all of them!), expose flawed logic and explain how things really work in paid search advertising.

1.  Negative Keywords Are Only Important If You Use Broad Match

Not quite. Other match types (in particular phrase match) can trigger variations of the keywords you’ve chosen. Not only that, but sometimes Google match types calibrate more broadly than you may think. Take a look at the following example from Google’s help files.

Let’s say you’re advertising for phrase matched term “tennis shoes”.

Your ads will appear for:

  • Red tennis shoes
  • Buy tennis shoes
  • Tennis shoes photo

Your ads will not appear for:

  • Shoes for tennis
  • Tennis shoe
  • Tennis sneakers

But what if you don’t sell red tennis shoes? (A real life example would be more along the lines of what if you did not sell Nike tennis shoes?). It would make sense to negative match the term “red” (or the real life example “Nike”). Here’s a look at how AdWords and adCenter deal with negatives:

Adwords adCenter Negative Match Case

To get a better handle on the terms that are triggering ads, pull a search query report and add irrelevant queries to negative keyword lists.

2.  Google Prevents Advertising On Trademark Terms

Not quite. Google recently changed its policy to allow advertisers to include trademarked terms in ad copy (before advertisers could only bid on these terms). On March 3, 2011, Yahoo and Bing announced that advertisers would be able to advertise on trademarked terms.

Ultimately, it’s up to companies to monitor their trademarks and to rectify issues with the search engines and/or directly with the advertiser who you believe are inappropriately using your trademark.

In his recent article Is It Time to Rethink Bidding on Trademarks?, Matt Van Wagner does a good job in explaining differences in Google and Bing trademark policy and how each ofthe engines goes about addressing complaints. As Matt noted, there is some variation in the direction of recent legal decisions, so that it may be a bit riskier to advertise on these terms than it once seemed. Stay tuned.

3.  Pause Keywords With Bad CPAs

Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water! In optimizing PPC accounts, we try to get underperforming or poorly performing terms to convert at an acceptable ROI. Advertisers could be losing out on keyword opportunities they automatically turned off all underperforming terms. A better strategy is to modify bids to bring cost per acquisition figures in line.

Overall conversion volume will decrease, but fewer conversions are better than no conversions at all. More importantly, casting a wide net and keeping marginal keywords “alive” provides growth potential and rewards you with more data on more user response. Going too narrow chokes off opportunities and provides marketingless insight.

4.  Don’t Bid On Your Branded Terms

In most circumstances, your companies branded keywords will generate very high CTRs. The CTR associated with your branded keywords can help to build a positive account level quality score in your account. Note: quality score is calculated at an account level, ad level and a keyword level. More on this and Quality Score myths in my paid search column next month.

In addition, it’s never a given that a searcher will convert to a buyer, even if you show up in organic listings. By taking up more screen real estate on your brand terms – appearing in both paid and organic listings, and deploying Sitelinks for both – you crowd out competing offers and other noise. Your branded clicks are typically cheap so it’s a no-brainer to pay for them to lock in more available mindshare.

5. The Display Network Has Terrible ROI

This may have been true years ago, but is no longer true today. Over the past few years, Google and the engines have made tremendous improvements in content (display) advertising. Here’s an example from a client who sells training products:

Search data

  • Conversions – 8053
  • Cost per conversion – $25.95

Content data

  • Conversions – 2989
  • Cost per conversion – $13.50

From the content network, the advertiser increased conversions by 37%. Cost per conversions decreased by a whopping 48%.

Note: search advertising and content advertising work very differently. It’s important to understand the differences before you embark on content advertising. Once you do, you need to optimize relentlessly for the display (network) to improve performance. It is possible to effectively target on the content network, however.

For more specific information how to advertise on the content network, take a look at my article called Five Quick Tips for Success on Google’s Content Network.

Stayed tuned for my next article, where I will return with more PPC myths, primarily focused around AdWords Quality Score.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Paid Search Column


About The Author: was recently voted the 2013 Most influential SEM. She is the Vice President of Online Marketing Strategy at Page Zero Media where she focuses on search engine marketing strategy, landing page optimization (LPO) and conversion rate optimization (CRO).

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  • http://www.marcusinteractive.com Marcus Interactive

    Very good points, though I’m not sure I agree about bidding on your own brand name. Seems to me that you are then potentially paying for results you would be getting 99% of the time.

  • Jarek

    Hi, regarding point 4 I want to share our case study for hotels about brand (hotel) names: http://www.miraiespana.com/en/la-empresa/caso-de-exito-google-adwords/ including cost benefit and raise in reservation number. Also we made a study about canibalisation (SEO traffic): http://blog.miraiespana.com/en/vale-la-pena-invertir-en-adwords-si-ya-aparezco-el-primero-en-las-busquedas/ It shows that in a certain environment (low brand-awareness volume, specific demand) Adwords for a product/company name is very successful. Especially when You deal with lot of intermediaries who do PPC as well. Try to beat them with lower cost due to high quality!

  • FernandoGarces

    I am adamant about bidding on your own trademarks. You have to do it for one simple reason: if you don’t do it, somebody else will. Considering the low CPC of these keywords, I cannot afford to have a competitor appear above my organic result when someone searches for my company by name. Yes, there is a high likelihood that this person would have clicked on my organic result at no cost to me but, even if I just lose 2-3 orders every week to the minority who decide to give my competitor’s paid click a chance, that’s too much. Those few orders more than offset the cost of my branded terms campaign. May not work the same for everybody, though.

  • rezary@twitter

    Hi Mona, thanks for the article. Regarding #1, does it mean you cannot exclude an exact keyword in adCenter? Haven’t worked with it yet, since it not yet available in Germany.

  • Mona Elesseily

    Thanks for the comments.

    Advertisers tend to have varied opinions when it comes to advertising on trademark terms. Great to hear some of your feedback!

    rezary@twitter. Good question. As you know, in Google, you can implement negative match types at the both the ad group and campaign level. In adCenter, you can implement them at both of the above levels as well as the keyword level.

  • http://blog.efrontier.com sidshah

    For the brand non-brand debate we have done some systematic tests that reveal that it makes sense to bid on your own brand keywords. There is also solid academic research on this subject that shows that having both organic listings and paid ads improves progits by at least 6.15%


  • http://www.epiphanysolutions.co.uk SteveBaker

    Hi Mona,

    Totally agree with all of these, though in the case of brand bidding, there are many factors to take into account (strength of your brand name, are other advertisers bidding on your name, strength of your listing in the organic results to name just 3). In the main part, I would always recommend that our clients ‘defend’ their brand name if competitors are bidding on it. if they aren’t, then I’d trial it, and attempt to assess the impact on total brand-name clicks (organic plus paid) and determine whether the uplift is cost-effective.

    Regarding 1), there is another reason to use negative keywords in order to make your Adwords campaign as effective as possible. If you want to put “tennis shoes” and “cheap tennis shoes” in separate Ad Groups (perhaps the AOV is different?), then you need to put “cheap” in as a negative in the more generic Ad Group. Otherwise, you are liable to use the generic advert and the generic bid, despite having a specifically targeted Ad Group…

  • talz2210

    I disagree with section 3
    KWs that are underperforming in terms of low CTR MUST BE PAUSED.
    otherwise they heart the health of the campaign and thus decreases impression share.
    try pausing some broad low ctr KWs (assuming you keep adding exact search queries that perform well) and see how your traffic INCREASES.


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