At the beginning of each new year, our eyes shift from looking backwards at what we should be doing to exploring new prospects that will arise. It is easy in January to put the previous year behind you and gaze to the future. However, if you have not taken advantage of past opportunities, your future ones could be hampered by building on an incomplete project.
Those same opportunities that arise in life also exist in the world of paid search. Did you take advantage of all the paid search features launched in 2010?
I’ve had the pleasure of writing the first Paid Search Column of the year for the three consecutive years. In the past years, I’ve written about New Year’s Resolutions For Your PPC Campaigns (2008), Beat the Competition by Anticipating Traffic Changes (2009), and My PPC New Year Resolutions (2010). All of those columns are still highly relevant, and I suggest you read them after this one.
Those columns were focused on looking to the future. In this one, we’ll examine the past year for possible missed opportunities. In 2010, Google launched a dizzying amount of new features, and many marketers have not had the time to implement all of the new features in their account.
Today, we’ll look at the most important features launched in 2010 – features you should be using.
10. DoubleClick Ad Planner Upgrades
In 2010, the content network was renamed to Google Display Network. Over the past few years, the content network has steadily increased in value if it is organized correctly. One underused feature of the content network is placement targeting, where you can choose the actual sites where your ads will be placed. However, finding all of these potential sites can be a daunting process.
But now, DoubleClick Ad Planner allows you to see data about websites. Best of all, it is yet another free Google service. Insight data is expensive. Access to good data is a luxury to those without high budgets rarely have. With DoubleClick Ad Planner, you can easily research websites where you would like to place ads. And best of all, it’ is free.
Last year, Google renamed Google Ad Planner to DoubleClick Ad Planner. Then they launched a top 1000 website list. Finally, this program made its best improvement by allowing you to export sites directly to AdWords. If you are looking to increase your content network exposure, DoubleClick Ad Planner should be your starting place.
9. AdWords Editor Upgrades
Most of your work inside of AdWords should be accomplished within the AdWords editor. In 2010, Google upgraded the AdWords editor a few times to keep pace with the new features that were launched. Time is valuable, and the AdWords interface can be slow. The AdWords Editor can restore hours to your day.
8. Enhanced CPC Bidding
Max CPC bidding gives you the most control over your bids, but requires manual work to see the nuances between search queries. Conversion optimizer is fantastic if your account receives many conversions a month. However, for small to mid-sized accounts that cannot afford an expensive bidding system, or do not have enough conversions to utilize conversion optimizer, bidding was relegated to spreadsheets and formulas (and sometimes even less sophisticated guessing).
Enhanced CPC bidding is a nice alternative when you have few data points as Google will adjust your max CPCs based upon the likelihood of a conversion.
7. AdWords Campaign Experiments
Testing ad copy or match types in high traffic ad groups can bring a lot of risk to your account. If you have an ad group that is brining in $10,000 in revenue per day, and you just toss in an extra ad, you are putting $5,000 in revenue at risk everyday while you try to gather the data. However, testing is essential, and you should be regularly running test regardless of your spend.
AdWords Campaign Experiments, or ACE for short, allows you to set up controlled tests where you can only test a percentage of your traffic. In the above example, you could only put 10% or 20% of your revenue at risk, and then run a test. This new feature will revolutionize testing for many AdWords advertisers.
6. Extensions, Extensions, and More Extensions
In 2010, Google launched sitelinks, product extensions, click to call extensions, and enhanced their location extensions.
Every advertiser should be using sitelinks. Any advertiser with a physical address should be using location extensions. Any advertiser selling a product should be using product extensions. Any advertiser who relies on phone calls, or is involved in mobile calls, should be using click to call extensions.
None of the extensions are difficult to setup. You can set most of them up within ten minutes, or less. These extensions will have a dramatic effect on many of your ads. You can learn more about extensions here.
Did someone come to your website, look at your offer, enter your shopping cart, and then abandon your site? Do you want to serve an ad back to that same customer? Remarketing is the answer.
Remarketing or retargeting is not a new Google invention, it has been around for a while. However, it has been expensive to use or only available inside of ad networks. What Google did was bring remarketing to the masses by enabling it inside of AdWords.
Setting up a remarketing campaign only takes a few minutes; however, the profits can be fantastic as you are only serving ads to those who have actually visited your website and understand your offer before they click on your ad again.
4. New Google Analytics Reports
The easiest way to make better PPC decisions is to have better data. In June 2010, Google made enhancements to Google Analytics that gave AdWords users access to much more data about their AdWords accounts.
If you have not looked through these new reports, you should spend an hour segmenting your AdWords data, making custom reports, examining bounce rates by placements, looking at conversions by hour, etc to really understand the patterns in your PPC spend, and more importantly, gain insights into conversion activity.
3. Reporting Interface Changes
Google sunsetted the old reporting interface and forced users to download reports directly from the interface.
The good news is that you can segment the data and gain more granular insight that you could with the previous interface. The bad news is that some data is no longer accessible.
I can’t say this is a feature that I completely enjoy, but its one you have to use. If you are still trying to find your old reports, watch this video to find your data.
2. Broad Match Modifier
Modified broad match is a feature that in almost any year would have been the number one new feature in any paid search campaign. Phrase match can be too restrictive. Broad match can match your keywords to search queries that have nothing to do with your business. The broad match modifier is a nice compromise between lots of traffic, and still making that traffic relevant.
Unfortunately, its still way underused by advertisers. I’ve done about a dozen PPC audits in the past month for accounts spending between $60k to $250k per month. None of them were using the broad match modifier. If you are using mostly exact and phrase match and want more traffic, use this feature.
If you are using broad match and you care about conversions at all, use this feature.
However, the only reason broad match modifier was not the number one new feature is because the paid search world was changed dramatically by the Bing and Yahoo Partnership.
1. The Search Alliance: Bing and Yahoo Together
Pay per click marketing was invented in 1997 when Idea Labs launched GoTo.com, the first PPC engine. In 2001, GoTo.com changed its name to Overture. In 2003, Overture was acquired by Yahoo. In 2005, Overture was renamed to Yahoo Search Marketing. In 2010, Yahoo Search Marketing closed its doors and sent its advertisers to Microsoft adCenter.
This Yahoo and Bing partnership is called the Search Alliance.
If you had stopped advertising on Yahoo due to traffic quality or just not enough time, its time to try adCenter.
If you had stopped advertising with adCenter due to lack of traffic, they recently received a big boost of traffic by serving ads on Yahoo, and its time to try adCenter again.
While there are concerns that a two party system might stymie innovation; there is also hope that a true competitor to AdWords might increase paid search innovation. When one looks at the sheer number of new features that Google launched in 2010, hopefully, this is the start of a new competition in which advertisers turn out to be the real winners.
Only the year of 2011 will tell us how the Search Alliance versus AdWords battle will effect paid search advertising.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.