Don’t Automatically Dismiss The Content Network!

If you are like me, when you implement PPC campaigns one of the mental notes you have in your checklist is to go into the Campaign Settings for each campaign and prevent your ads from running on the content network. It turns out that this might be a mistake.

At the recent SMX Advanced event in Seattle, I sat in on the Amazing New PPC Tactics panel. It was a good panel overall, but the one thing I wanted to highlight was the presentation by David Szetela of Clix Marketing, as David explained how to do content match marketing effectively.

Understanding the problem

The problem stems from the way that the search engines decide on which sites to run your content match ad. Basically, the only clues that the search engines have is the list of keywords you provided. What would be wrong with that, you might ask? Let’s illustrate with an example.

Let’s say you are selling a variety of widgets, and that these widgets can be used in your kitchen, on boats, in your workshop at home, and also has applications in industrial machine shops. You might create a list of keywords that looks something like this:

kitchen widget boat widget workshop widget machine shop widget

These are the keywords that the search engine will then use to try and match your content match campaign up with web sites for placing your ads. With the above list you might end up on sites about kitchens, boats, workshops, and machine shops. The reason this happens is that the search engine takes the keyword set and looks for sites that have similar words on their pages.

This is significantly different than the way the keywords operate in search. In search, the search engine is trying to match you up with a user’s search query—with an average of only about 2.3 words per query. Not a lot of data to match up with, and usually pretty focused on nature. As a result, with search campaigns, there is a tendency to create as large a keyword list as possible, to cover a lot of potential ground.

This may work in search, but in the content match world you can rapidly get into trouble. In our example above, you may not want to be on sites about kitchen design, or boat vacations, etc. Worse still, you may not want to be on a site about travel that happens to have a few pages about cruises you can take (e.g., if your widget helps people repair boat engines, this would not be a match).

The solution

It turns out that I have always had that first step right. Turn off content match in your traditional campaign. It’s just going to be very tough to do well with it.

Then, create a new campaign, and turn off “Google Search” and “Search Network” in your campaign settings, and create a campaign which is only for content match. This is the second step.

For the third step, create a custom set of keywords just for your content match campaign. These keywords will be significantly different from your search keyword set. Here’s some of what David recommended we do to pick out the keyword set:

  1. Pick out a few sites that are strong examples of where you would like your ad to run

  2. Do an analysis of the types of phrases that appear on these sites (which is what the search engine will do)
  3. Consider going further and entering some of those phrases in the search engines to discover a few other sites you would be interested in being on, and expand the analysis
  4. Limit the list of keywords to something between 15 and 30 keywords

With this approach you will be significantly closer to targeting your content match campaign. Better still, since many people simply turn this feature off, and most others use their search keywords, you will have a better optimized campaign and a significant competitive advantage. David offers many other Content Match Optimization tips on his site.

Eric Enge is the president of Stone Temple Consulting, an SEO consultancy outside of Boston. Eric is also co-founder of Moving Traffic Inc., the publisher of Custom Search Guide.

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

Related Topics: Channel: Display | Search Ads: Contextual


About The Author: is the president of Stone Temple Consulting, an SEO consultancy outside of Boston. Eric publishes a highly respected interview series and can be followed on Twitter at @stonetemple.

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