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, “Google’s Tools Section, Part 1 – Intro,” and this week’s free tips and tools.
News from the search engines
Google AdWords: I get a great weekly update email about Google happenings from my great rep, Cindy Shih. If you’re in an agency and not getting this email, I would certainly request it from your rep. This week, there was an update of the Keyword Tool. “You may have noticed that we made a change to the traffic estimates data in the Keyword Tool. In the past, if you wanted to see estimated CPC and estimated ad position data for keywords, you had to first input a maximum CPC value. Now, the tool will use default Traffic Estimator data if no maximum CPC is entered. In doing so, it will assume ad positions 1-3 and display estimated average CPC and estimated ad position data accordingly.
More information on the Keyword Tool can be found in our Help Center.”
Yahoo Search Marketing: Must be a slow week now that the Microsoft deal is over, as there isn’t much news from YSM right now. There was an interesting article on their blog, So Happy Together, that I thought would be relevant for this column. It talks about getting your search and display campaigns working together, which is certainly an important thing to think about for SEM pros that don’t have much experience outside the search realm. They sum up this issue very well by stating: “When you tie search ads, display ads, and your landing pages together with a consistent message, the mixture can help your advertising resonate with users and drive site traffic and sales to a whole new level.”
Here are their 5 points to success with this integration:
- Know your target audience
- Determine the goals of Sponsored Search and banner ads
- Write the search ads first and then expand
- Target your ads for the same places
- Test, then test again
It’s a brief, succinct article on the subject. Take a few minutes and check it out.
Microsoft adCenter: I am absolutely loving the MSN adCenter Community site. If you’re an SEM pro and you haven’t checked out this valuable resource, I certainly urge you to spend fifteen minutes and see what it has to offer. It’s a nice “2.0″ mix between of MSN employees and adCenter users so you get a lot of great insights from both sides. One recent article I found impressive was Tips for preventing your budget from exceeding prematurely. Now that we have the new(ish) daily budgeting feature, this article provides an in-depth “how-to” on using that feature.
In depth: A close-up look at Google’s tools, part 1
It’s no secret that Google AdWords has the most robust and feature rich Search Engine Marketing platform in the known universe. One of the true differentiators against the competition is its TOOLS menu. I really miss having these features when I move to the other platforms. Some of the things you can do would be to optimize your campaign, find new keywords, exclude sites from your content or placement targeting accounts, diagnose ads, and get a log of changes to your account.
In fact, you can do so many things from this screen (found by clicking “Tools” at the top of the page), I felt that this column should at least dedicate one or two (maybe even three) articles on the subject.
Tool #1 – Campaign Optimizer. Looking for ways to boost the performance of your ads? The Campaign Optimizer automatically creates a customized proposal for your campaign. The Campaign Optimizer is a quick fix for campaigns not performing up to par. It’s very simple. After clicking the tool, you are brought to a screen with every campaign in your account. The system lets you know if the campaign has been optimized before and has a GO button for you to start the process. They recommend that you use the optimizer no more than every two weeks because the tool uses the previous two weeks of historical behavior to recommend optimizations. Once you click GO, you are taken to the main dashboard of the tool where it explains what changes it recommends. The important thing to remember is that no changes will take place without your prompting. So, the tool reviews your accounts, proposes changes, and then you can go through one by one and choose to either accept or decline the change.
The Campaign Optimizer may propose any combination of the following changes, depending on what is appropriate for your campaign:
Daily budget adjustment: Budget changes can affect your ad visibility and bring you more targeted traffic. New keywords: Proposals might include new targeted keywords that relate to your landing page. Deleted keywords: If the Campaign Optimizer identifies poorly performing keywords, it may propose removing them. Changed keyword matching options: The right matching option can help you reach customers more effectively. Keyword CPC bid adjustments: Your cost-per-click bid (in addition to your ad quality) affects your ad position. Ad text edits: The Campaign Optimizer may suggest changes to make your ad text more effective. Refined location targeting: We’ll suggest that you target only those regions that perform well for you.
Your proposal will only include those types of changes that would benefit the campaign. The Campaign Optimizer may propose all of these types of changes, or it may propose just one or two. In some cases, the tool may not provide a proposal for your campaign. This may occur for several reasons, such as your campaign is deleted, is too large, or is not a keyword targeted campaign.
All in all, I used to use this tool a lot. It provided some good ideas for additional keywords, great ideas for bid changes (sometimes even a small increase in bid improved things dramatically), and some other Google specific optimizations. However, I use a bid management system now and I’m forced to do most of my interactions through that tool; if I didn’t, I’d end up breaking the sync between the accounts and my bid manager would cease work. Just remember that in case you’re using Omniture SearchCenter, DART Search, MOJO SEM, etc.
My main tip for those of you who use the Campaign Optimizer is to check everything before accepting optimizations. Remember, even smart robots like this tool aren’t as smart as you. Sometimes it will recommend keywords that are relevant, but ultimately are wrong for your campaign. Here is a great resource page from Google’s AdWords Help Center that has a lot of the nitty-gritty questions and answers for the Campaign Optimizer tool. I expect the SEM pros out there will want to familiarize themselves with the most common FAQs.
Free tool of the week: improve your quality score by getting rid of wasteful words
The Google Search Engine Result Page (SERP) Tester is a small, nifty (yes, I said “nifty”) tool with no fluff. Basically, you can upload a list of keywords to see if any ads are displaying for Google AdWords. If not, the tool’s author recommends removing the word from your ad group.
The author explains, “If a lot of your keywords have high minimum bids and a lot of your keywords have a low quality score, there is a very simple method for improving your overall quality score for the AdGroup.
First, check to see if all of your keywords have ads on the search engine results page (serp). Second, if the keyword does not result in an ad being displayed on the page, remove that keyword from the AdGroup by deleting it or moving to a different AdGroup.
Sometimes, Google makes it extremely difficult to display ads for some keywords. By removing keywords without ads, your total quality score will go up for that adgroup and a lot of your minimum bids will decrease.”
Well, that’s all for this week. Next week we’ll have Part 2 of the Google Tools and I’ll highlight a free tool for seeing the visual relationships between links on a website.
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.