SEM News, Dynamic Keyword Insertion Pros & Cons, & LinkedIn Search Marketing Q&A

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, “Dynamic Keyword Insertion Pros and Cons,” and this week’s free tips and tools.

News from the search engines

Google AdWords: Halleluiah! This week is the greatest week in my SEM career! Google has finally “opened the books” and is now showing keyword volume to us all! As reported here at Search Engine Land by Barry Schwartz, Google’s external keyword tool now shows “approx” search volume for keywords. This is groundbreaking as far as I’m concerned. I know adCenter’s excel tool has been providing this data for some time, but with two thirds of all searches down via Google, these numbers are pure gold to SEM pros.

My head is absolutely filling over with ways to leverage this data. The level of research I’ll be able to do will be much more accurate than ever before. Also, I’ll finally be able to estimate costs a whole lot better before a campaign starts. As well, I will have a better understanding about which terms will drive traffic so I can silo those in separate ad groups away from my tail terms, meaning I’ll be able to better manage them once the account begins.

I’m so happy I could kiss Larry and Sergey on the cheeks today—well, maybe I shouldn’t go that far…

Yahoo Search Marketing: The BIG news over Yahoo right now is the deal they’ve signed with Google to start displaying paid listings on their search engine. An interesting post here at shows some screenshots from a Yahoo shareholders presentation with some mockups to how these listings may interact on the page. Although from an SEM pro standpoint, being able to work less (managing Yahoo ads via the Google AdWords platform) seems like a great idea, I’m still not 100% sold on how this will work. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Microsoft adCenter: A really handy AdCenter Optimization Quick Reference Guide was posted recently on the adCenter Community Site by Shefali Singla and has a really cool checklist of daily tips and tricks that can be used. I’d like to dive into and expand this list in a future column. However, for right now, feel free to take a look and see what things you can learn from it.

IN DEPTH: Keyword Insertion

One best practice in ad creation is to use keyword insertion. You’ll see this on most generic top 10 lists for “better SEM results,” and for good reason. This is a very simple technique but has shown in many situations to have a very positive effect on users.

What is it?

By adding the {keyword:default text} element in any ad, it creates a “placeholder” for the keyword that triggered the ad into the copy. You must include some default text (lol, don’t actually type in “default text”) which will be shown in case the keyword or phrase would max out the character limit on that line.

So, if you set up an ad like this:


Users would see the ad displayed like this:


Notice the keyword inserted shows up in bold. That’s dynamic insertion at work.

For reference, here are the definitions provided by the engines for keyword insertion:

Google AdWords: “Keyword insertion is an advanced feature used to dynamically update your ad text with your chosen keywords. You insert a special modification tag into your ad text to enable this feature for your ads. Depending on a user’s searched keyword, AdWords automatically places your triggered ad group keyword or a broad match variation into the ad text. This makes your ad more relevant and useful for users while making it easier for you to create multiple unique ads for a large amount of account keywords.”

Yahoo Search Marketing: “This feature automatically inserts each keyword into the title or description when it is displayed in response to a user query.”

Microsoft adCenter: “You can use the {keyword} variable to make your ad title, ad text, and display URL show keywords that match, or closely match, the text a customer types. Making your ads more relevant to customers can help increase the click-through rate (CTR) and the conversion rate of your ad campaign.”

Pros of Keyword Insertion

  • Stand Out in BOLD – the keyword that triggered the ad will appear in bold within the copy

  • More Relevant - if the user sees the keyword they just searched for in the ad, they should be more drawn to that ad
  • Better Quality Score - higher CTRs on your ads (because they are more relevant and stand out in bold) should increase your overall quality score on those terms…or at least have some positive effect

Cons of Keyword Insertion

  • Ads Don’t Make Sense – If you have a line “Buy {keyword: cars} at our site” and the user triggers the keyword “car deals,” then they would see “Buy car deals at our site” which doesn’t make sense, right? I’ve seen some really weird ad copy because the insertion wasn’t setup correctly.

  • Less Control – With Insertion, the ad changes just about every time it’s displayed. That’s hard to account for when trying to understand what’s working with your ads.
  • Editorial Issue – All kinds of issues can arise if you don’t use this technique correctly. For example, you can bid on trademark terms, but you can’t use them in your ad copy; keyword insertion would trigger an editorial issue on those terms.

What about content ads? Google has stated that they use the most relevant keyword from your ad group, so that word will get inserted in the placeholder for content ads.

Dynamic keyword insertion is just a technique — it can be used well or poorly. Just make sure you always test and check your ads once they’re uploaded. Here’s a funny link to keyword insertion gone wrong.

Free tip of the day: keyword insertion capitalization variations

By altering the uppercase or lowercase letters in the “keyword” part of the keyword insertion tag, you can change the way the keywords are displayed in the ads in Google AdWords. You have to be careful, as you can trigger editorial issues in the engines if you have too many capital letters in a word. Just make sure you check all of your ads after using these variations.

Google has a handy little chart that shows which options are available:


Free tool of the week: LinkedIn Search Marketing Q&A

I’m totally in love with LinkedIn — it’s the only social network that I utilize and I’ve found their Questions and Answers section unbelievably helpful. In fact, I’ve begun to follow many of their topical categories in my RSS reader. You can find the “Search Marketing” section here. Not only is there some really great information being shared there, but you can immediately check out the background of each question answerer by clicking their profile link. I find this helpful as this level of transparency really helps me put into perspective the answer vs. regular comments sections/forums you find all over the web.

Here are some current interesting questions I’m following:

Go ahead and either post or answer a question. Be part of the discussion!

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 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.

Related Topics: Channel: Search Marketing | Search Marketing Toolbox


About The Author: has been a search marketer since 2003 with a focus on SEM technology. As a media technologist fluent in the use of leading industry systems, Josh stays abreast of cutting edge digital marketing and measurement tools to maximize the effect of digital media on business goals. He has a deep passion to monitor the constantly evolving intersection between marketing and technology. You can follow him on Twitter at @mediatechguy.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn


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