Most people think software tools for paid search campaigns are big, complex suites of software that include everything but the kitchen sink. But there are other more focused tools that can help advertisers maximize the effectiveness of their paid search campaign. Here are seven really valuable free tools that are commonly overlooked.
Tools to help increase Quality Score
Working with Google’s quality score can be painful at times. Blocking-and-tackling steps include reorganizing your account and choosing the correct landing page. After that, your quality score comes down to clickthrough rate (CTR) and Google’s deliberately ambiguous “relevancy factors.” While it is not necessary (and sometimes harmful) to have keywords in ad copy, it can be difficult to find other related words to substitute to see which subtle variation leads to an increase in quality score while maintaining a healthy CTR and conversion rate. Here are a few tools that can help.
Google Sets. Google Sets allows you to create lists of related words. Just input a one or more words and Google will suggest related keywords. While these suggestions are not great keywords, they are often good modifiers for keywords or for making subtle changes to your ad copy.
Run a set of words, and then choose a word or two that are closely related to your products and run test ad copy with the substituted words to see if those ad copy variations help increase your CTR and Quality Score.
Tilde search operator. Using advanced search operators on Google can allow you to discover related words. Often, using a related word in ad copy can help improve its relevance. This is especially useful when adding your keyword to the ad copy actually reduces your Quality Score, which is not uncommon for keywords that have ambiguous or multiple meanings. There are three important points to understand how this search works.
- Google’s tilde (~) command shows you words related to your query term(s).
- The negative (-) search operator allows you to remove results from search results.
- When you conduct a search on Google, your query terms are bolded in search results.
To use this effectively, build a search query that uses the tilde command to find related words, the negative search operator to remove the actual keyword searched, and then look for bolded words in results. You can then add these as additional negative keywords to find other bolded, related keywords. These related words can be useful to test in ad copy if you are receiving “non-relevant ad” messages in your Quality Score information.
Where in the world should you advertise?
Many companies that offer services nationally, or internationally, insist on choosing every possible location to serve their ad regardless of their budget. This is not necessarily the right choice. Instead of being everything to everybody, be the company in a smaller region. One of the easiest ways to determine where people are searching for your products is by analyzing Google Trends.
Google Trends. The regional information displayed by Google Trends does not show absolute search volume. Instead, it shows a ratio of total searches in a region compared to searches for your keyword. This is an indication of the likelihood of someone in that area to conduct a search for your keyword. When interest for your products is higher in a particular region, they are good areas to target when trying to narrow down your geographic focus or test specific markets.
Ad preview tool. Do not use the Google search engine to look for your own ads, instead, use the Google ad preview tool. Why? If you continuously search for your own ads and never click on them, Google may determine your own ads are irrelevant to you and stop showing them to you.
This tool will allow you to see ads in any geographic area without your account accruing impressions. If you ever want to see your own ad, or look at ads outside of your geographic region – you should be using the ad preview tool.
Reaching your audience
Demographic Prediction. Did you know that for the past several years the most common searchers for the word bleach are people who are not doing laundry? A college age male is the most common demographic searching for the word bleach. Bleach is a Japanese Magna (which is a cartoon style) that is popular with the college crowd and has completely changed the search results for this word.
Microsoft adLabs has a suite of excellent tools, one of which is known as demographic prediction where you can enter a keyword or URL and see the demographic makeup of those searching for your products. It is useful to know who is searching for your products, and this is the place to start learning that information.
Detecting Commercial Intent. Understanding where your customer is within the buying cycle can help you target both ads and landing pages around the customer’s knowledge and intent so that you can keep moving them through the buying cycle towards eventually doing business with your company. Determining how commercial any keyword is can be a daunting task, until you start experimenting with another adLabs tool, detecting online commercial intent.
If a word is mostly non-commercial, you should treat the query as an information query and ensure the searcher can find out more information about your product or service. If a keyword is highly commercial, then you will want to use a transactional landing page. You cannot jump a searcher past any stage in the buying cycle—it must be a natural progression. This tool will help you determine where your keywords fall in the buying cycle.
And a great, overlooked keyword research tool…
Thesaurus.com. While the AdWords keyword tool is one of the most recognized tools on the market, often its full power is not unleashed for PPC accounts. The tool has an option to spider websites. While many marketers will spider their own site in search of new keywords, almost any site can be spidered. This includes Thesaurus.com.
Do a search for your keyword on Thesaurus.com, copy the URL, and then paste it into the AdWords keyword tool. You will quickly be presented with a list of related keywords and associated stats. Anytime you are browsing the web and come across a page related to your products, take thirty seconds and spider the page for new keyword ideas.
There are many free tools available online. Many of these tools have a primary purpose, but also can be used in other situations to effectively discover specific pieces of information to help fix a problem. By experimenting with these tools, you can find new and interesting ways to optimize your PPC accounts.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.