• http://www.rimmkaufman.com/ George Michie

    Terrific piece, Mike.  I’ve made similar arguments over the years, but I’ve never made the case this well.  Kudos on a very clear piece.

    A minor quibble on bidding.  I’d argue that bidding is critically important for both head and tail accounts, and that having a sophisticated approach to bidding is of paramount importance to tail accounts because of the sparse data problem.  It isn’t less important because it’s harder, it’s just harder.

  • Pat Grady

    Best PPC article I’ve read this year!  I most like to take a Head account, improve it a ton, then chase loads of Tail.

  • http://twitter.com/jccornwell Chris Cornwell

    I enjoyed this piece. I manage what would be considered a “Head” account and this became a nice, quick checklist for me on what I need to focus on.  Luckily, I seem to be focused on the right things, but it’s nice to have that confirmed.  Even though the program is working well, I still want to chase long-tail keywords.  I prefer not to depend on a short list of keywords for most of my conversions.   

  • http://twitter.com/mikenelsonppca Mike Nelson

    Hi George. Thanks for your comment! After some consideration, I actually feel the question of “Is the the relative importance of bidding higher in head accounts, or in tail accounts?” is dependent upon whether or not a bid algo is available. 

    If a bid algo is available, then it’s unlikely the account manager will need to spend much of any time on bidding in a tail account, as it will all be done with the algo. In the head account however, an account manager may decide to manually bid the head terms, due to the account manager’s ability to react to competitive changes quicker than an algo typically does. Hence, if a bid algo is available, I would still maintain that a head account should require more hours of bid attention than a tail account, as typically I’d advise at least some manual bidding for head queries. 

    If a bid algo is not available however, then the head account will be dwarfed by the amount of manual bidding required in the tail account (by the account manager) to keep things headed in the right direction. In this scenario, I would say that perhaps the tail account requires even more time and effort to bid than the head account. 

    Even in a ‘head’ account, there are still ‘tail’ keywords and queries however. As such, a bid algo has a place in each account in my opinion. So, it’s important to wok with a good algo. Do you know of one :)

    Regardless, bidding is certainly important in all accounts. 


  • http://twitter.com/mikenelsonppca Mike Nelson

    Thanks Pat! Even in true ‘head’ accounts, there are still some long-tail queries available. So, if you’ve really nailed the high volume queries, certainly there will come a point where the lowest hanging fruit is finding more long-tail clicks. 


  • http://twitter.com/mikenelsonppca Mike Nelson

    Thanks Chris – glad to hear you and I share thoughts regarding the relative importance. In a true ‘head’ account, the long-tail conversions simply won’t exist in high enough quantities to make much of a difference. However, if you’ve really optimized your head queries to the nines, it’s time to grab a few more long-tail queries! It’s a great victory if you’ve got a head skewed account, but your low-hanging fruit is doing more keyword purchases. 

    You’ve certainly alluded to a downfall of ‘head’ accounts too, which is they place so much importance on just a few, extremely obvious queries. As such, I’d be hesitant to start any business that requires me to ‘put all my eggs in one basket’. 

  • http://www.rimmkaufman.com/ George Michie

    Good point re: time spent.  Tools reduce the time commitment involved in calculating and setting the bids.  There is still an important component wrt inputs to the algorithm.  The best algorithms don’t rely simply on campaign hierarchy for data inputs but can accept other flags as well for consideration, so time spent analyzing data to identify those is often well spent.  There should also be anticipatory overlays for events that the algorithm doesn’t know about (promotions, floating holidays, etc) that require management.

    Another dimension to consider here is the size of the account.  A gave a talk at SMX a couple years ago using the metaphor of rabbits (insubstantial tail that the rabbit could live without easily), monkeys (important tail that the monkey could live without but would be significantly impaired), and snakes (the tail is everything, snake dies without it).  You then have all different size rabbits, monkeys and snakes.  A gigantic rabbit’s tail might be extremely valuable dollar wise even if it’s small percentage wise; a small snake may have a super valuable tail percentage wise that requires different methods to pursue because the $ value can’t support a ton of management time.  Fun metaphor but adds a layer of complexity that may just muddy the water.

    The challenge for the writer is always striking the balance between
    clarity and comprehensiveness.  You’ve laid out very clear, very useful
    guidelines.  Mucking up the piece with all the exceptions and nuances
    might make it more comprehensive but would damage the piece.