No doubt many clients would love to imaging a world in which they didn’t have to deal with agencies or external resources. Niall Donohue won the Medallion Speaker Award at the International Search Summit alongside SMX Munich with a presentation which, at its heart, considered the best way to run Google pay per click campaigns in multiple languages without any of the normal external resources.
In this situation, many would resort to translation and translation agencies (readers of this column know already what a poor view I have of that) — but that’s not how Niall and the team at Be2 approached the international roll out of their sites internationally.
First a quick bit of background. Be2 is a dating site which operates in 39 countries and 18 languages — pretty global you’d have to say. It relies on international PPC for the recruitment of subscribers who are interested in dating.
The challenge for Niall was how to achieve that with a relatively small team operating in so many countries — the approach kept his audience spellbound for 30 minutes.
It was decided to “Hire based on SEM skills and experience, not on language skills. To focus on getting the best SEM account managers we could find and not to limit the profile to certain language sets.”
This is interesting because my concept in business for many years has been the opposite, to recruit people with the right attitude and native language and then to train them the practical skills they need on the job.
Keep Translators As Far Away From Campaigns As Possible
I have always taken the view that it takes years to learn a language correctly — plus a cooperative mother. To train in something as technical as international SEO or SEM is, by comparison, a little easier to do.
Niall did also say they aimed to, “Keep translators as far away from the campaigns as possible.” The Be2 team was actually split into portfolios taking responsibility for a group of countries with specialists advising on areas such as YouTube or Retargeting.
The process was to work with a native speaker to get the core words, the most important keywords, for the language. These keywords would then be used to set up a small campaign in Google using the broad match settings. This would then go live for a week or until there was sufficient data. “Let the millions of users decide your keyword list,” said Niall.
The generated keywords would be grouped into campaigns and ad groups using intuition. Google Translate would be deployed to help with understanding what the keywords roughly meant.
Further keywords, plus negative keywords, would be “fished” from broad match occasionally seeking the support of native speakers. Stir and repeat.
Niall confessed that the most challenging aspect was creating the adtexts to accompany the campaigns, but even here, they found a workable cheat.
Working on the assumption that very high volume keywords are unlikely to contain grammar errors, they created ads from the keywords they saw searched for in high volumes and then tested different versions against each other.
The benefits of the approach were faster development of the the accounts, longer and more accurate long tail, keywords close to what people actually search for and it was easy to optimise going forwards.
Dating Is A High Volume Sport
The approach is fascinating and one I’m sure is used by many more than most would expect. However, before you rush off and fire your agencies, bear in mind the following thoughts.
Firstly, dating is a high volume sport which interests a lot of people.
This type of approach would hold much more risk for business-to-business companies or for businesses operating in very specific niches where the likelihood of the keyword set falling out of Google’s broad match would less — especially if you didn’t get exactly the right terms in the account at the very beginning.
Dating is also a powerful human need which means that people are highly motivated to find a solution even if your adtexts don’t hit the nail on the head when they show up.
If you were trying to sell something like insurance, which people don’t really want to buy, then you’re going to find this approach less successful.
Do The Millions Really Decide?
When you let the “millions of users decide your keyword set,” do bear in mind that that is technically not the case.
It’s Google broad matching algorithm in the first place. The way this works is it is constantly testing new matches to see if people click. If they click, it will continue to be matched up in that way. I imagine, but can’t prove, that Google measure up the conversions it’s seeing in Google Analytics too — but it’s still not exactly that users are “deciding”.
Finally, built into the approach is an acceptance of a certain rate of failure compensated for by the lower cost of implementation. My concern with this, however, is that for many businesses this could lead to the conclusion that, “There’s no opportunity in international search for me!”
I’m not saying that this is not a good approach for some and it may be something you wish to try at first. And when you’ve don’t that — you know where I am!
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.