How To Leverage Google AdWords Placement Reports For Better Performance

If search engine marketers are only using AdWords Placement Performance reports to exclude sites, they’re seriously under-utilizing the information Google is giving them. Read on for additional ways to leverage the goldmine of data in placement reports.

The basics: add site exclusions & managed placements

The AdWords Placement Performance report is available in the Reporting tab in AdWords. The primary purpose of the report is to provide data on the performance of display network (aka content targeting) sites in Google’s AdSense network. AdWords advertisers can see impressions, clicks, CPCs, etc for individual URLs and overall domains where their display ads have appeared.

Advertisers can review the Placement Performance data to monitor display network quality and add Site Exclusions for any sites that are poorly converting. Likewise, for any sites that convert well, Managed Placements can be added to the AdGroup. Adding the sites as Managed Placements allows a search engine marketer to specify higher bidding for these higher quality sites, as well as some extra insurance to continue displaying the ad on the Managed Placement site.

Business development & competition

Placement Performance reports are also a great source of new potential partners for business development efforts. If an organization operates an affiliate or partner program, many high quality sites that appear in the Placement Performance report would be great potential partners. Additionally, performance metrics from the Placement report can help model possible traffic volumes and conversion rates for a partnership, aiding in determining the appropriate business terms for the partnership.

Placement Performance reports also can highlight competitors. Not all sites that run AdSense are great at monitoring and excluding competitor’s ads from appearing on their sites. Within the Placement report a search engine marketer may be able to identify competitors to monitor, and opportunities to specify more aggressive Managed Placements to have their organization’s ads appear on competitor sites. Who wouldn’t like to run an ad on their competitor’s site? In some cases, it might be worth creating a different ad specifically for competitor Managed Placements.

Search engine optimization tactics

Perhaps the most valuable leveraging of the Placement Performance reports is in assisting search engine optimization efforts.

As noted, many high quality sites that appear in the Placement Performance report could be great potential partners. Similarly, these sites are also great opportunities for link building. There is already an existing advertising relationship to help break the ice and start a conversation with the site about link building.

Historical Placement Performance report data from more than a year ago can also be valuable from an SEO perspective. In outdated reports, search engine marketers can discover sites which are now defunct, for sale, or not maintained. In any report over a year old, there are likely to be a few of these gems, which might be worth picking up as an SEO asset.

Reviewing the websites listed in the Placement Performance report can be a fruitful source of new content ideas. Many display network sites are content sites; e.g., guides, blogs, review and photo sites. Marketers may find inspiration for creating their own unique search engine optimized content from these sites.

Slogging through the sometimes massive Placement Performance report data can be a monotonous chore, but if search engine marketers do so bearing all the possible uses in mind, the data will yield great opportunities beyond their AdWords display network campaigns.

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

Related Topics: Channel: Search Marketing | How To: SEM | In House Search Marketing


About The Author: is the Vice President, Marketing at Viator,the leading provider of destination activities worldwide, and also blogs on in-house search engine marketing issues at

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  • ChadSummerhill

    Very interesting Kelly! I’ll be sending some old placement reports to my SEO team this morning, but for now I’m headed over to your blog and see what other great ideas you’re having.

  • itsjustshelley

    I love your ideas for using placement performance for finding link opportunities or even domains for sale.

    I like using placement performance reports for finding new ways to target my audience. Google may not always get the relevancy right but a lot of times Google picks up on new audiences and taps into conversations that I hadn’t thought of before. That leads to new ideas for keyword theming or even for new sets of managed placements.


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