Today, we’re going to go under the hood and take a quick look at a search engine platform where advertisers can upload keywords and ads to start buying paid search. For the sake of practicality, we’ll be specifically looking at just the Google interface, AdWords, as it is the most widely adopted paid search platform in the industry. It wasn’t the first, but it has become the standard for paid search buying and offers the most robust options for reporting, optimizing and managing accounts. And, because upwards of 70% of all paid search is bought through Google, it is almost imperative to learn for anyone involved with paid search. Not every feature in AdWords will be available in other platforms, but many of the basics are customary functions you will find in all paid search interfaces.
Once your account is activated, you will login and be brought to a top level dashboard. From here, you will be able to access all of the important parts of your account. In the screenshot below, you will notice that campaigns are listed on the left side with easy access to tabs that take you to Opportunities (optimization tools), Reporting, Billing, and other account settings. As well, there are charts, graphs, and top level metrics that can immediately deliver key insights into your account.
Remember, keywords are segmented into ad groups which are then grouped into campaigns. Look at the next screenshot and you see the list of campaigns. Campaigns are the top level of the hierarchy where you set your daily budget, targeting options and other key settings.
If you choose a campaign and click the ad group tab, you will see your ad groups listed for that campaign. Ad groups are sets of keywords which all tie into the same group of ads. You will want to make sure your keywords are tightly grouped so that you can target users with more effective, relevant creative than just general messaging.
Keep drilling down by clicking an ad group and then choose the keyword tab. You will see the ad group’s keyword list and its settings, metrics and bids. You can also go into the ads tab and see what creative you currently have set for the group. By default, the search engine serves each ad randomly to provide equal delivery to all of your ads. However, you can choose to allow the search engine to test all of your ads for a while and then ultimately serve the one which is getting clicked the most.
Remember, you can always change the date range of any of these reports using the calendar option. Each engine platform has a different look and feel but it’s usually very intuitive to and easy find. Here’s what Google AdWords’ date range took looks like. There are some handy, default date ranges such as yesterday and last 7 days, but you can input your date range manually if you need to.
Finally, here’s a quick look at the AdWords reporting interface:
You can choose various reports and have custom control over what fields you would like to see in each. The options are very robust and you can even set up a report to automatically be emailed to you at specific intervals. Reporting is vital to the success of a paid search account because you will need to slice and dice the data to analyze it properly. Once the reports are analyzed, you will know what’s working well and what isn’t working well and then optimize your account based on those insights.
This has been just a quick look into a paid search platform. With literally billions of ads running each month (and a lot of dough on the line), these interfaces have evolved into technological solutions which advertisers around the globe count on to drive efficient, relevant traffic to their sites. Inside these platforms are many features, settings, tools, gadgets, gizmos, thingamajigs (and thingamabobs) that, if mastered, can mean the difference between success and failure. Paid search is one of the most technology-driven marketing channels; thus gaining expertise in the tools is a required competency.
Next week’s topic is “how to win at paid search” and then I’ll start going through the actual steps of creating and managing a paid search account.
This week’s question: Does the fact that paid search requires mastery of sophisticated technology intimidate you? Excite you? Frustrate you? Please answer in the comments section below.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.