Every search marketer shares one important goal: get more of the traffic you want and less of the traffic you don’t. One of the best ways to get manage your traffic quality is by focusing on keyword selection. By selecting the right keywords you can reduce the number of untargeted clicks you get, reducing your costs. But it doesn’t stop there. Eliminating unwanted clicks increases the click-through rates for your ad groups, leading to higher quality scores, lower CPCs, and increased conversions.

Better keyword management isn’t just a nice to have; it’s increasingly becoming critical to your bottom line. According to Jupiter Research’s US Paid Search Forecast, 2008 to 2013, average keyword prices are set to rise more than 25% over the next five years. With keyword costs rising quickly, it’s critical that every keyword in your portfolio deliver maximum value. You can save thousands of dollars per month, and re-allocate that budget to better uses by following a few best practices around keyword targeting. These inside tips, detailed below, include pruning underperforming keywords, using match type refinement and negative keywords and evaluating raw search queries. The goal is to ensure your ads show on every possible search that provides a good ROI, but don’t appear at all for keywords that don’t.

Prune your under-performing keywords. The first step in keyword management is to search for high-traffic keywords that get no conversions. See if you can eliminate some or all of these terms. By removing keywords that drive untargeted traffic you can free up dollars to spend on existing terms that perform well or buy traffic on completely new terms.

Add new terms using keyword research. Adding new terms that are not included in your campaigns today can be a great source of new, profitable traffic. One of the best sources for new keyword ideas is raw query logs and reports. These logs/reports show which terms users are actually searching and converting on, and in many cases will provide you with insight into terms you should be buying but are not today.

Refine broad match terms with phrase and exact match. Once you’ve done your basic pruning and expansion, the next step is to view your raw search query logs again. Focus on the high-traffic keywords on broad match that actually convert, and try to determine the user queries that are driving the conversions. Replace these broad match terms with the raw search terms using the phrase or exact match options provided by the publisher. This will help refine the traffic associated with your keywords, increasing conversion rates and quality scores.

Use negative keywords to eliminate irrelevant and non-converting terms. Once again, check your raw search queries, but this time look for queries that are irrelevant to your brand or not converting. Add these terms to your negative keyword list to remove your ads from irrelevant searches.

Let’s look at an example of how keyword management can deliver impressive results. PowPow Guitar Store bought the keyphrase “steel guitar” on broad match below. They bid $2.00 on the term, which provided a good return on average across the conversions that resulted from search clicks on their ad.

Looking at their raw search query logs, however, PowPow Guitar Store found that people were clicking on this ad and purchasing more than just steel guitars. In some cases they were buying low margin items such as steel guitar Strings, which didn’t justify a $2.00 bid. Even more concerning, they were paying for traffic on queries related to products and services they don’t even sell such as “guitar repair” and “guitar lessons.”

serachquery_before

Based on this analysis PowPow Guitar Store decides to change how it manages keywords. By shifting “steel guitar” from the broad to the exact match type they are able to reduce the number of unwanted clicks coming through on this term. Based on the raw search query data, they also add new keywords related to steel guitars such as “used steel guitar” and “steel guitar strings” and bid these terms appropriately to reflect the margin of the products associated with each keyword. Finally, by using negative keywords they are able to eliminate clicks on keywords associated with products they don’t sell, such as “songs”, “repair” and “lessons.”

searchquery_after

The net effect is more traffic on relevant terms, and less traffic from visitors looking for products PowPow doesn’t sell. More importantly, because PowPow’s keywords now match user queries more closely, the company will see a boost in quality score, which further reduces CPC and boosts traffic. Through simple changes like this, marketers can make a big impact on sales and ROI without having to increase spend.

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

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Industrial Strength

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About The Author: is a product manager at Marin Software in San Francisco, CA.

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  • http://TomDemers TomDemers

    Hi Niraj,

    Great article: I find one of the most powerful “wins” in struggling accounts is strategic use of negatives. Showing clients a search query report often unearths thousands of dollars in wasted spend.

    I know you guys (at Marin) have some great solutions for this, and readers may find our stuff at WordStream: http://www.wordstream.com/keyword-management or just the good ole’ search query report: http://adwords.google.com/support/aw/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=68034 to be useful resources in carrying out this process.

    Thanks!

    Tom

 

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