In The Trenches is a weekly spotlight of tips, tricks, and news about the tools search engine marketing professionals use to give them a leg up on the competition. Today: News from the search engines, today’s in-depth look, “Q&A With Google’s Insights for Search Senior Product Manager” and this week’s free tips and tools.
News from the search engines
Google AdWords: Where are your clicks coming from?
Finally! A geographic data report from AdWords. In lieu of being able to serve text ads via your own server (I hope someone is working on this somewhere) and being able to gather this data yourself, AdWords has launched the Geographic Performance report which you can find in the standard Reports tab. This report provides you with an understanding of the geographic distribution of your impressions, clicks, and conversions down to the ad group level. For some of us that aren’t able to gather analytics data from our or one of our client’s sites, this report provides vital data for honing your SEM strategy.
Obviously, there are a ton of ways you can use this data, but primarily, you can use the geographic insights to properly setup your campaigns for location targeting. This is important as many times national campaign bidding could set you at 6th position in a big market like New York, but overbid you in small markets where you don’t necessarily need to be in first position. If you find good trends with this report, you can setup a new campaign and specifically target those areas.
As well, search has always been a great research tool for other media. To me, search volume is one of the best ways to equate interest on a topic…online or offline. Before, to see “penetration” in a market, we had to separate campaigns and location target separately. Now, we can pull this report for this data.
Good job, Google!
Yahoo Search Marketing: Tips for Monitoring Your Traffic
Yahoo’s Traffic Quality is not new, but you may forget about it if you haven’t recently had issues with your Yahoo clicks. This is a really great site and was mainly launched to tackle the fears users were having with click fraud a few years ago. Click Fraud is still an issue, but steps like these taken by the engines certainly helped provide some transparency and helped assured the industry that the engines were trying to do something about it and not just stand by and reap the rewards.
Here are four best practices Yahoo lists for monitoring your traffic:
Use tracking URLs to identify traffic sources. This is a must for any SEM account in my opinion, let alone for monitoring traffic issues. Use either the engine conversion tags or an analytics solution so you can monitor everything happening with your campaigns.
Analyze your traffic. You can’t go wrong here. Watch your traffic at the campaign, ad group, and keyword levels. If you have a keyword that has not been getting any clicks for months and then suddenly starts to click like mad, then there should be a specific reason for that. It might not be click fraud, but you should investigate the source of the traffic.
Take action through account management. You can use your daily budgets to keep a cap on “iffy” campaigns. As well, for Content, the Blocked Domains tool lets you specify sites on which you don’t want your ads to appear, whether they’re competitors of yours, or have products or content that you don’t want associated with your brand. You can block up to 250 domains. These can be an entire domain, a subdomain, or up to two subdirectories per domain.
Submit a click investigation request. If you do see something that may at all be a bit unusual, contact your rep or email Yahoo immediately. In my past experience with these issues, the engines tend to overcompensate on helping because they are so sensitive to their image (and for good reason). The sooner you alert them, the longer record you’ll have when it comes time to compensate. ;)
Microsoft: Getting Started With adCenter
Like a pickup truck owner who everyone calls when they need something moved, even SEM pros will sometimes be approached by friends and family for help. Although not many people ask me for search engine or web marketing help, I have stepped in on occasion to offer the friendly suggestion or launch a simple AdWords account. However, for more in depth engagements, I try to explain how SEM has been set up by the engines as a self-service model that most computer savvy folks can learn on their own.
On Microsoft’s Community site, MSN’s Kristee Bingham has started a series on getting started with adCenter that is a good resource to refer folks to that are just getting their feet wet with search engine marketing. So far, there are three parts: creating campaigns, creating ad groups, and the recently added creating ads. This might be a good series for you to bookmark when you want to reference a start guide to someone.
In depth: Q&A with Google’s Insights for Search senior product manager Elan Dekel
As announced in a previous column, Google Insights For Search launched recently and (along with the revised Google Keyword Suggester with data) I am completely obsessed with this tool. I remember only a year ago felt the need to go over the head of my Google rep to try to get a better understanding about why I couldn’t get search data—especially for my clients’ own branded terms. I felt that Google, a champion of transparency, should open the books and let us see.
Thankfully, Google made the proper course corrections and we have more insight than ever with regards to the largest searched source in the world. I feel like an old man telling some of my younger colleagues about “the old days” (i.e. two years ago) when we relied on poor third party tools (to remain nameless) to project search volume. I still take the complete accuracy of the results with a grain of salt, but that’s what makes the Insights for Search product so great—it shows data and trends, not just data. That way if the data is a bit off (I’m not saying it is, but it could be for many reasons such as browser blockers, IP redirecting, match type issues, etc), I feel very comfortable with using the trend data for directional insights.
Google put on a webinar last week to dive deeper into Insights for Search and I found it very helpful but I wanted to dive deeper for all of you SEM pros that rely on Search Engine Land to be a premiere info resources. So, I was able to track down Elan Dekel in Tel-Aviv, the Senior Product Manager for the tool, and get the real nitty gritty on this great product.
Tell me a little about yourself? How did you come to work for Google, what’s been your experience, and what is your role with regards to the tool?
Elan: I’ve been at Google for about 4 1/2 years. I worked as a product manager on AdWords for the first 3 years. One of the products I launched, that you may have heard of, is the AdWords Editor. I am currently the product manager for Insights for Search as well as a bunch of new products that I can’t reveal yet.
What’s the story behind the project? How did it make it from idea to a working tool?
We had been tossing around the idea of creating an advertiser/pro version of Google Trends for quite a while, as we always realized it contained data that would be extremely valuable for marketers, but for various reasons we couldn’t get the resources to do it. About 18 months ago I moved to Tel-Aviv to be the first product manager in our new engineering center there, and as I was looking around for projects we could take on, I immediately thought of this one. The engineering team we hired in Tel-Aviv were really excited about it. It has quite a wide range of engineering challenges, for example building a very large and scalable back-end that can handle the quantity of searches that people do on Google, and then allow users to do very complex queries over this data, and return these results, in milliseconds.
For a while we considered merging it with Google Trends, but as we wanted to maintain Google Trends as a consumer focused product and to maintain its simplicity and ease of use, we decided to release Insights for Search as a separate advertiser focused product. This gives us the freedom to keep adding powerful advertiser focused features that would simply not be appropriate in a consumer product.
What do you feel is the single best aspect of the tool?
There are a lot of powerful features, the usefulness of the tool is the ability to use them all at once. For example, you can compare the fastest rising searches in the automotive category in New York versus San Francisco. By using category filtering you can do things like isolate searches for “apple” the fruit, from searches for “apple” the computer company. You can pick a query, say digital cameras, and by drilling down you can find the top brands and features that digital camera buyers in France are looking for. You can find new geographies that you can target your products or services to, and find out exactly what search queries you should be targeting in that region, as well as understand how you should position, market, and modify your product offering. This is all incredibly powerful stuff.
Were there any features left out in the first release or ideas that you folks had which you didn’t use?
Sure—there are many. Currently we only show search queries on Google web search results. We hope to be able to allow users to query over our other Google properties as well. In addition, we would like to provide actionable feedback that advertisers can use to improve their campaigns.
What’s been the reaction within Google and with external users about the tool?
We’re very excited to see this tool being adopted by both power users and advertisers alike. Of course, Googlers are some of the power users we had in mind. Its been great to see the many different ways this tool is being used—from advertisers gathering new and upcoming trends to researchers wanting to better understand the growth of social networks around the world. Our chief economist, Hal Varian, has even used it as a way to measure the recession. We hope to continue seeing various Insights being discovered.
What are some tips/tricks that you’d like to pass along to a new user of the tool?
There are few things I’d like people to try out. First of all, definitely use the category filter. Secondly, try doing queries without entering any terms in the search box – this gives you the top and top rising results in the geography, time-range, and category that you selected. Also use the “+” operator. For example, if you want to research the trend for searches on “beer” worldwide, remember that people around the world will be entering the word “beer” in their own language, so you’d want to construct a query that looks something like this: “beer + biere + cerveza + …” You can use Google Translate for this. This is also useful for queries in your own language, for example if there are various ways people refer to your product, you can add them all up in the same way. We have some very helpful examples in our help center and I’d recommend taking a look at them.
Josh Dreller is the Director of Media Technology for Fuor Digital, an agency concentrated in the research, planning, buying and stewardship of digital media marketing campaigns. Josh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The In The Trenches column appears Fridays at Search Engine Land.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.