Revealing Google’s Performance Max

Google recently introduced their new Performance Max bidding strategy to replace the Smart Shopping campaign. Smart Shopping campaigns were introduced a few years ago and have since been touted by Google representatives as the best and easiest way to grow your sales using Google Shopping.

There are few things in life that I find are the best while also being the easiest and, in my experience, I quickly determined that Google Smart Shopping was not one of them.

Now, Google has their new and improved Smart Shopping that goes even further with automated bids and ads named Performance Max.

In this article we examine the changes and try to decipher Google’s claims of how Performance Max is now the best and easiest way to grow your sales through the Google Ads platform.

What Were Google Smart Shopping Campaigns?

Google defined there smart shopping campaigns as a product feed to create and show a variety of ads across different networks, including the Google Search Network, Google Display Network, YouTube, and Gmail. Google would test different combinations of the image and text assets provided by the advertiser, then Google would select when to display the most relevant ads, automatically.

At first, this sounds great, less work for advertiser. No need to subdivide campaigns, no need to optimize bids, no need to add negative keywords, nothing but launch a campaign. However, the issue quickly became that advertisers would not know which of their products were serving for what keywords at what bid or even on which network their products were appearing.

And boy did Google promote the Smart Shopping campaigns. I had several discovery calls over the last few years, where new advertisers through either the Smart Shopping campaign was all that was available OR that it soon would be the only choice!

Advertisers were asked to trust Google to make the best decisions for their account.

If you have trust issues or simply have the belief that Google may not have your best-interest in mind over that of Google’s, then this was a difficult proposition.

Difficult or not, if it worked it worked and would have been the end of the story and believe me I tested because I really wanted smart shopping to work so I could focus client efforts differently.

I tested Google Smart Campaigns various times over the last two years and found that a well-optimized manual campaign would outperform Smart campaigns every time generally in sales, but always in profitability and usually it wasn’t even close.

I was mystified by individuals online in Google marketing Facebook groups touting how much success they have had with Smart Shopping and how it had outperformed manual Shopping campaigns.

My thought was, wow they must have not known what they were doing in setting up and optimizing their manual campaigns.

The benefit of Smart Shopping campaigns was that it was much, much easier to setup and could easily be incorporated directly from a Shopify store in a few mouse clicks.

If you believe that some advertising when easy (hopefully being profitable), is better than advertising where it may not be so easy, but much more profitable is the correct choice, then Smart Shopping could have been a viable option. For my clients that wish to pull every possible dollar of profit from their Shopping and Retargeting campaigns, manually created Google Ads campaigns have always been the correct choice.

However, now Google’s highly touted Smart Shopping has been replaced by the next generation … Performance Max.

What Do We Know About Performance Max?

Google is promoting Performance Max (PMax Campaigns) as a significant improvement to Smart Shopping Campaigns claiming Performance Max will yield an average increase of 12% in conversion value at the same or better return-on-ad spend.

It seems to me that a 12% improvement on not very good calculates to be still not very good, yet I digress, and we shall continue to explore.

Performance Max campaigns will be eligible to serve across even more Google platforms. This additional reach will bring increased traffic, but just like with Smart Shopping the lack of transparency makes it difficult for advertisers to know if that additional traffic is profitable or is just more.

Smart Shopping campaigns served product shopping ads and display ads across Google’s Search Network, Display Network, YouTube and Gmail.

Performance Max campaigns will now serve ads across Google’s entire network of Search, Display, YouTube, Discover and Gmail, Maps.

While the increased reach adds Maps and Discover, how Performance Max ads also has changed how their ads take priority.

While advertisers could run Smart Shopping and Manual Shopping campaigns side by side (although Google would give preference to Smart Shopping) the Performance Max ads will be even more dominant.

Ads from Performance Max campaigns will be served in lieu of all other Shopping, Display (including retargeting) and Search ads within an account.

The only exception is that Search ads will still be served from a Search campaign where the Exact Keywords match.

Is It Possible to Opt Out With Some Products In Performance Max?

Yes. You can use a subset of your products. This is where adding custom labels to your product feed becomes important.

As I have written, spoke about and taught in the past, custom labels are a vital way to subdivide your account. Custom labels are the only customizable fields that can be used to subdivide.

Perhaps, you want to test the new Performance Max (PMax Campaigns) with just a subset of your products? Then, creating and using custom labels will be essential in creating these campaigns.

When Is It Happening?

All Smart Shopping campaigns will be automatically converted into Performance Max campaigns by the end of Q3 2022. Advertisers can also automatically convert their campaigns with a simple ‘one click’.

 As of now, Smart Shopping campaigns can no longer be created. Currently, Performance Max is the option along with manual campaigns.

FINAL WORD

For advertisers without the knowledge or time to dedicate to Google Ads, Performance Max may be the option. In fact, for those it will be the only option.

It will be now extremely easy to let Google create all of your campaigns with a couple of clicks and hand over your advertising directly to Google.

Unfortunately, with Performance Max the lack of transparency in the form of not being able to see how or what or who or anything about the campaign other then seeing results has only gotten worse.

Advertisers will not be able to give much input other than what products to advertise.

Will it work? Is Performance Max the best and easiest way to advertise?

Performance Max will yield some results and will increase where ads appear (although historically not within premium placements).

Will Performance Max produce better results than creating manual campaigns?

Probably not, but it sure will be easier.

Will Performance Max produce better results than Smart Shopping?

The verdict is still out, but it will increase spend so watch your budgets.

Should you create all campaigns using Performance Max?

Test and determine what is more important to you. Control or ease of setup and ease of advertising.

For me, I will test in some as subsets within some of my private client’s accounts, but I will be very deliberate in making any complete change to Performance Max.   

For you, I would recommend testing using the same cautious approach and as always let the data drive your marketing decisions.

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Splichal is the founder and managing partner of True Online Presence, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of Make Each Click Count University and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues.

He was named to Best of Los Angeles Awards’ Most Fascinating 100 List in both 2020 and 2021. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his website or his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.

The Great Shopify Mistake

Guess what one of the biggest mistake Shopify owners make advertising their products using Google Shopping?

It is thinking that using Shopify’s free Google channel will have your products correctly running on Google Shopping and the orders will start to flow in. 

Shopify, instructs you to open the proper Google accounts: Google Merchant Center and then Google Ads account if you want to run paid traffic. Then, Shopify instructs to connect those accounts to your products in Shopify. Many Shopify store owners think by clicking a couple of buttons, like magic your products will start to list and orders will start to come pouring in.

However, I’m telling you today that magic rarely exists and clicking that Google channel checkbox or two is not going to grow your sales at least not efficiently and I’ll tell you why.

First, with the free traffic.

It is true you can generate some free traffic through Google Shopping just by opening a GMC and linking your products. But for most, the free traffic is going to be a mere trickle.

The free traffic you will receive will range from 1 to 2 clicks per day to 1 to 2 per month depending on what you are selling!

Furthermore, the Google channel in Shopify does not let you adjust the different fields that Google uses to filter, sort and list your products.

You could use a supplemental feed inside Google Shopping to enhance your listing, but if are using Shopify’s Google channel to submit your products there is a good chance you have no idea what a supplemental feed even is.

Second, with paid traffic.

If you go on and also open a Google ads account and add some advertising budget, what Shopify will have you using for simplicity’s sake is a Google Smart Shopping campaign. For “smart” shopping campaigns and yes, I’m doing air quotes around smart, you have no idea of where you are advertising, at what bid or for what keyword. In addition, if you are submitting all products you would need to do some deep discovery to find out even for what product.

The only thing actually smart about a Google Smart Shopping campaign is the way Google has configured it to easily accept money from more well-intentioned, yet novice advertisers.

It is a fact that Google Shopping has many moving parts, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. I recently released a course designed to explain the entire process called Understand, Conquer and Profit Using Google Shopping.

This course is a free course within Google Shopping University, and it will clarify the entire process of using Google Shopping.

Click on the link below to signup and in under an hour you will know more about advertising using Google Shopping than 90% of Shopify merchants including probably your competitors!

You don’t need to be an expert, you don’t even need to run the advertising yourself, but you should absolutely know how Google Shopping works and that is why I created this course.

Click on the link below to read all the details and get started today.

Understand, Conquer & Profit Using Google Shopping
https://www.makeeachclickcountuniversity.com/conquerandprofit

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Splichal is the founder and managing partner of True Online Presence, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of Make Each Click Count University and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues.

He was named to Best of Los Angeles Awards’ Most Fascinating 100 List in both 2020 and 2021. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his website or his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.

Adding The ‘Who Done It’ List To Your Negative Keywords

Here is an expert tip on a fairly simple way to save some money on your Google Paid Ads.

How much ad spend you are going to reduce will depend on how much you are currently spending and how many negative keywords you currently are using, but I can tell you that it could be around 3-5% of your ads budget.

For you to save money on unnecessary ad spend what you should do is add what I call the ‘Who Done It’ list of negative keywords to your campaigns.

What is the ‘Who Done It’ list of negative keywords?

This is a list of negative keywords that block question searches from triggering your ads to show. Effectively blocking question searches in both shopping campaigns and search campaigns that utilize either phrase or broad match, this list will eliminate high level searches that rarely if ever directly lead to a sale.

What are these keywords and why do they never or at least very rarely lead to a sale?

Here are some of the words. Read through the list below and think what type of keyword searches these would generate for your campaigns then we will look at examples for one of my private clients:

  • ‘where’
  • ‘how to’
  • ‘how do’ / ‘how you’
  • ‘could I’ / ‘could you’
  • ‘can I’ / ‘can you’
  • ‘should I’ / ‘should you’
  • ‘does a’ / ‘is a’

Why does this list of ‘Who Done It’ keywords rarely if ever lead to a conversion?

Because these keywords are going to generate very high level / low buying intent traffic.

As you read through the list you probably filled in the rest of the question in your head as it comes to your campaigns so perhaps you already know what I mean, but let’s look at some examples:

A private client of mine sells shower drain covers and not the $5 variety from Home Depot, but rather super high-end drain covers starting at about $60.

For his company, he wants traffic from keywords from people searching to replace or install a new drain cover.

Here are some of the searches that contain ‘shower drain’ that adding the ‘Who Done It’ list will block.

  • Where are the screws to uninstall a shower drain?’
  • Hot to install a shower drain?’
  • How do I clean my shower drain?’
  • Could I make my own shower drain cover?’
  • Can I replace my shower drain cover myself?’
  • Should I cover the drain in my basement?’
  • Does a shower drain block water?’

You see the pattern, right?

The pattern is that none of these searches have a very high likelihood of leading to a sale.

Sure, you could serve visitors retargeting ads after they visit your website, but still, it is a longshot. Better to save the money on what it would cost to bring these looky-loos to your website and apply the ads budget you save to traffic with a higher likelihood of converting.

Creating Your Custom List of ‘Who Done It’ Negative Keywords

Besides taking the list of examples above, you may want to know how to customize the list for your account.

The most effective way to find your own ‘Who Done It’ list is by reviewing the terms that have historically driven traffic to your ad campaigns.

If you have been following my writings, you are aware that Google has partially hidden this data within your Google Ads account. However, it is still currently available using Google Analytics. Here is an article that goes into details – Google is Now Playing Hide and Seek with Your Search Terms

Fully detailed in the article mentioned above, here are the steps to access your full list of search terms using Google Analytics Search Queries Report.

  1. Login to Google Analytics (https://analytics.google.com/)
  2. In the left-hand menu click on ‘Acquisition’
  3. Then, ‘Google Ads’
  4. Then, ‘Search Queries”
  5. Change the date in the upper right to dates you wish to view.
  6. Using the Secondary dimension drop down to add ‘Campaign’. Note, without this step you will be viewing keywords from the entire account.
  7. Change rows to a number that will display all data (default is only 25 rows).
  8. Export data.

Applying Your List of Negative Keywords

One you have your own list of ‘Who Done It’ negative keywords the next step is to add it to your account.

When adding negative keywords, you have 3 choices:

  1. Add them at the ad group level.
  2. Add them at the campaign level
  3. Add them at the account level.

Here we are only going to review adding them to the account level because in my opinion there is no reason to have ‘Who Done It’ traffic in any campaign or ad group.

To quickly add these negative keywords to multiple campaigns, I recommend using a negative keyword list. A negative keyword list will easily let you add or subtract keywords to the ‘Who Done It’ list and quickly apply the list to multiple campaigns.

Here is how to create an implement a negative keyword list.

Create a negative keyword list:

  1. In the top menu, under Shared Library, click ‘Negative Keyword List’
  2. Click the blue plus button.
  3. Name your list and add negative keywords.
  4. Click Save

Apply negative keyword lists to multiple campaigns from the negative keyword library

  1. Click the tools & settings icon Google Ads (in the upper right tool bar) of your account.
  2. Under “Shared library,” click Negative keyword lists.
  3. Check the box next to the negative keyword lists you want to apply to campaigns.
  4. Click Apply to campaigns.
  5. Select the campaigns you’d like to apply the negative keyword lists to.
  6. Click Apply.

FINAL WORD

Blocking searches using the ‘Who Done It’ list of negative keywords only works when using manual shopping campaigns. With smart shopping campaigns, you can’t block unwanted keyword searches and you won’t even be able to tell how many ‘Who Done It’ searches you are receiving. Yet just another reason to avoid Smart Shopping campaigns.

Adding the ‘Who Done It’ list of negative keywords is going to effectively block the higher purchase intent traffic or the traffic which is the furthest away from making a purchase.

In the image above, the ‘Who Done It’ list is going to block the awareness to interest group. Typically, those website visitors are a long way from purchasing and not profitable to serve Google paid ads.

Ideally when we are looking to drive traffic from Google at a minimum, we want traffic in the intent to evaluation stage or those looking to make a purchase.

Adding the ‘Who Done It’ list of negative keywords is one way to effectively ensure we are getting this qualified, purchase intent traffic to our Google Shopping and Search campaigns.

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Splichal is the founder and managing partner of True Online Presence, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of Make Each Click Count University and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues.

He was named to Best of Los Angeles Awards’ Most Fascinating 100 List in both 2020 and 2021. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his website or his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.

Google Campaign Optimization Scores – How You Should Manage Them

Last year Google introduced their Google Campaign Optimization Score.

This score measures how well each Google Ads campaign is rated based on Google’s preferred standards. Rated between 0% and 100%, this score looks like a cut and dry number to measure how well your account is optimized.

Optimization score is displayed on all active Search, Shopping, Display and Video Auction campaigns. A 100% score translates into your campaigns being fully optimized in accordance with Google’s best-practices with scores lower than a 100% meaning Google has other recommendations for your campaigns.

However, it is important to realize that your goals as an advertiser may not (and many times do not) align with Google. When it comes to preferred standards and your campaign’s score it is important to keep in mind that the Campaign Optimization Score is based solely on Google’s goals.

What do I mean?

You will see some examples below, but I like to think of it this way.

Google’s goal is to get as much money from its advertisers as possible while providing a viable marketing network for its advertisers and a good experience for its users.

Our goal as advertisers is or at least should be to optimize our advertising spend based on our own goals. Those goals could be sales and revenue, which is typical for eCommerce advertisers or traffic aka awareness (not as typical). Regardless of the goal, we should work to optimize our ad spend to maximize the value of our goals.

Now, if you are like me, you will find that nothing is more irritating in your account than seeing a low score. If you are an agency, it also can be disastrous if a client is in their account and sees their optimization score is low.

Fortunately, you do not need to accept all of Google’s recommendations to improve a campaign’s optimization score.

Ignoring specific recommendations will give your campaigns the full credit for that recommendation, but you first must login to each recommendation and manually review.

How Do You View Your Google Optimization Score?

  1. Login to your Google Ads Account.
  2. Click on Recommendations in the left side navigation menu.
  3. You can then filter your recommendations into specific categories by clicking on the category name.
  4. You can then Apply recommendations, View Recommendations or Dismiss recommendations. To dismiss you will need to first click on the 3 vertical dots.

You can also view your Optimization Score for individual campaigns. Click on the Campaigns button in the left navigation menu. The Optimization Score is shown by default. You can turn on/off the column. Therefore, if you don’t see it click on the columns button and turn it on. The field is listed under ‘Recommended columns’.

Reviewing Google’s Recommendations

Beyond improving your score there are obvious benefits to reviewing your Google Optimization Score.

First, consistently reviewing recommendations may alert you of new features within Google Ads, soon after they are released. This is how I was first alerted to Image Extensions, which have been fantastic on improving Search campaigns’ click through rates.

Here is an article on image extensions if you are not aware of what they are about or how to best use – Image Extensions – Making Google Search Ads Viable Again?

There is also a lot of what I consider non-sense recommendations, such as giving 24.6% improvement for changing to Smart Shopping (see image below) or high percentage increase for automated bidding within Search campaigns.

If you have read my Make Each Click Using Google Shopping book, you probably know how I feel about Smart Shopping, but here is a quick synopsis of why it may not be a good idea to trust Google with your Shopping campaigns.

New Google Smart Shopping Campaigns – What You Need to Realize

Another recommendation favorite is adding or improving responsive search ads. Which, I mostly agree with although like anything else in Google I highly recommend testing.

Below is a list of categories and common recommendations that I see and the actions that I usually take with each:

Bidding & Budgets:

Raise your budgets (Usually Review and Accept)

Move unused budgets (Usually Dismiss)

Raise your budgets for upcoming traffic increases (Usually Dismiss)

Bid more efficiently with Maximize conversions using a target CPA (Always Dismiss)

Keywords & Targeting:

Upgrade your existing keywords to broad match (Usually Dismiss)

Remove conflicting negative keywords (Will review)

Create Dynamic Search Ads (Will typically dismiss)

Add audiences for reporting (Usually Review and Accept)

Use Display Expansion (Always Dismiss)

Add new keywords (Will review suggestions)

Remove redundant keywords (Usually Review and Accept)

Automated Campaigns:

Switch To Smart Shopping (Always Dismiss)

Ads & Extensions:

Add image extensions to your ads (Always Accept)

Add responsive search ads (Usually Review and Accept)

Improve your responsive search ads (Usually Review and Accept)

Add price extensions to your ads (Usually Review and Accept)

Repairs:

Make sure your automated bid strategy can optimize your bids by fixing your conversion tracking. (Deserves attention).

FINAL WORD

For the most part, I believe that the recommendations that Google provides are a helpful feature for advertisers.

Although seeing a low score may be irritating especially when it is driven by recommendations that would most likely hurt performance, it does work to drive action. In order to improve your Google Campaign Optimization score you need to review and either accept or more likely dismiss each recommendation.  

And even through, I personally ignore and dismiss the majority of Google’s best-practices for my private clients’ accounts that I manage this is because of the systems in place of how my agency generates the best results.

Those with less experience managing Google or who want to spend less time optimizing or become more ‘hands off’ may accept more of the recommendations than I do and may even activate the dreaded Smart Shopping campaigns:<.

However, like almost everything else in Google, it comes down to testing to see what will give you the best results in your Google advertising and the recommendations are a great way to alert you of what is available within Google Ads that you may not be using.

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Splichal is the founder and managing partner of True Online Presence, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of Make Each Click Count University and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues.

He was named to Best of Los Angeles Awards’ Most Fascinating 100 List in both 2020 and 2021. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his website or his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.

Kissing Goodbye To The Broad Match Modifier

Let us start with the basics of how Google Search ads work and then we will discuss the recent change and its importance.

When advertising using paid Google Search Ads, advertisers must enter a list of keywords that they wish to trigger their Search ads.

These Search ads, when clicked, will redirect users to the advertiser’s website. Ideally a page on the website that is related to the product or service that the user was searching for on Google.

Plain and simple.

Now these keywords that are used to trigger ads from appearing start to get a bit more confusing, although not really when you understand how they work.

There are (or at least were) four ‘types’ of keywords allowed that determine when paid ads are eligible to appear.

These keyword types are Exact, Phrase, Broad and Broad Match Modifier. Note, there is also negative keywords, but negative keywords are their own complete subject.

For now, we will look at these 4 match types, what they are and the change to the Broad Match Modifier.

Broad Match Keywords – Allows user searches (or close variants) that match a keyword or keywords related to your broad match keyword to trigger an ad to appear. This keyword type is used to maximize reach.

How to implement this match type: This is the most basic search type is also Google’s default. No punctuation needed to distinguish Broad Match type within the Google Search Ads console. Just enter the keyword and it is automatically a Broad Match Keyword type.

Example: For a broad match type, ‘Lawn Mowing Services’ will trigger your ad for search Lawn Mowing Services; however, it will also allow your ads to be eligible to appear for the simple search query Mowing Services (without the word Lawn) or even a more broad, yet related search such as ‘Lawn Aeration Price’. When using broad match there are going to be many more advertisers and how often ads appear will be reliant on your bid as well as your quality score. Note, that just because you are eligible, doesn’t mean your ads will always appear.

Phrase Match Keywords – Allows user searches (or close variants) that match a keyword phrase in the order of the phrase to trigger an ad. This keyword type is used as a balance between reach and precision.

How to implement this match type: Phrase match is used by adding quotes “ “ around the keyword phrase an advertiser would like to advertise.

Example: For the phrase match ‘Lawn Mowing Services’, only searches containing ‘Lawn Mowing Services’ or a close variant will trigger an ad to appear. ‘‘Lawn Mowing Services’ will trigger an ad as well as ‘Lawn Mowing Services Near Me’ and ‘Hiring a Lawn Mowing Service. Previously, a search for ‘Lawn Mowing and Leaf Blowing Services’ would NOT trigger an add to appear since the words Mowing and Services are separated by the word Leaf Blowing in the search. This is what is changing.

Exact Match Keywords – Allows only user searches (or close variants) that exactly match the keyword to trigger an ad. This keyword type is used for precision.

How to implement this match type: Exact match is used by adding brackets [  ] around the keyword an advertiser would like to advertise.

Example: For the exact match [Lawn Mowing Services], only a search for ‘Lawn Mowing Services’ or a close variant such as ‘Lawn Mowing Service’ will trigger an ad to be eligible to appear.

Broad Match Modifier Keywords – This match type is a hybrid between phrase and broad match. It allows keyword to trigger ads regardless of the order they appear in the user search, however, all words must be used within the search query. In addition, Broad Match Modifier keywords will trigger ads to appear only when the keywords match the ‘meaning’ of the search’. This keyword type is also used as a balance between reach and precision.

How to implement this match type: Broad match modifier is used by add a plus symbol + before each word or words.

Example: For the Broad Match Modifier Keyword +Lawn +Mowing +Services, both the search for ‘Lawn Mowing Services’ as well as the search for ‘Lawn Mowing and Leaf Blowing Services’ would trigger an ad to appear. Having the words in the broad match modifier interrupted does not matter as it previously did with the Phrase Match keyword.

What Is Changing and How It Works

Starting in February 2021, Google announced that phrase match keywords will start to incorporate the behaviors of the broad match modifier keywords.

No longer will phrase match keywords not trigger ads to appear based on the word order as long as all keywords are present. In addition, Google will begin to incorporate meaning into the searches.

One point that sometimes confuses those is what is meant by Google matching the meaning of the search with an advertiser’s keyword specially the Broad Match Modifier keyword type and soon to be Phrase Match keyword type.

To best exemplify this event, I’m using an example provided by Google when they announced the recent change.

For the broad match modifier +Moving +Services +NYC +To +Boston

An ad would be eligible to appear for ‘affordable moving services NYC to Boson’, but it would also appear for ‘affordable moving services Boston to NYC’ since word order does not matter in with broad match modifier.

The updated phrase match will not include the reverse direction where the search has a different completely meaning but will not include searches regardless of word order.

Still confused?

Below is a chart that demonstrates the change.

As you can see from the chart, the new updated phrase match will cover almost all of the searches previously covered by broad match modifier with the exception of now it can interpret meaning!

When Is It Changing?

The change went into effect February 2021. Starting in July of 2021, you will no longer be able to even create BMM keyword types.

Fortunately, you won’t need to make any changes to your account. You can still leave all of your broad match modifier keywords if you have them and they will start to also work interpreting the meaning.

However, going forward (starting at least in July), you will need to enter keyword types as phrase that you would have before added as broad match modifier.

Note, this change will not impact negative keywords in how they work.

Final Word

As a disclaimer, for most of my private clients I exclusively used a combination of exact and broad match modifier keywords match types. I found this combination worked well to provide relevant keyword traffic.

Google changes frequently their algorithm and their interfaces. Mostly minor changes, sometimes major changes; however regardless of the change it always seems to make those using Google ads cringe at the thought.

This change although a bit complicated to grasps seems to make the keyword system more efficient and will be easier to manage moving forward.

No longer do you need to distinguish between exact, phrase and broad match modifier. Now you will just need to use exact and phrase and I guess broad if you don’t care about driving relevant traffic (see examples above)!

Only time will tell, but my thought is this will be a positive change in driving relevant traffic.

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Splichal is the founder and managing partner of True Online Presence, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of Make Each Click Count University and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues. In 2020, he was named to Best of Los Angeles Awards’ Most Fascinating 100 List. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his website or his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.

Numbers Don’t Lie When It Comes To Marketing

As an eCommerce marketer you occasionally may find it a challenge keeping your focus where there is the highest opportunity for potential growth.

With all the various ways that customers can find your products – email, pay-per-click, organic and direct it can be difficult to know which marketing channel to focus your efforts.

More and more, it has become essentials for retailers to focus on driving potential customers to their website using paid traffic.

Options for paid traffic include Google Ads (shopping and search), Bing/Microsoft Ads, Pinterest, Facebook Ads, eBay, Walmart and Amazon just to name a few. And these are only just some of the available marketing channels!

Today, most retailers find it is necessary to use paid ads to drive traffic to their website if they want to scale sales and substantially grow as a business.

Afterall, nothing is more frustrating than having great products, but your ‘right’ customers don’t even know that you exist.

Regardless of how much demand there is for your products or how much your customers will love your products, without knowing you exists it will not matter.

The scenario of not effectively advertising typically means little to no sales or even worse, sales, but little to no profitability.

Given we know that we need to advertise where should we focus our online marketing efforts?

An undisputed truth when it comes to marketing is that numbers never lie.

Therefore, as marketers it is our job to track the numbers and specifically the right numbers in order to measure and improve the effectiveness of our marketing.

Here are the most common KPI’s (key performance indicators) and the different measurements that I use to guide successful marketing for my private clients. In addition, I’m going to show how I compile this information and use it to make strategic decisions.

I’m using these KPI’s in terms of Google Ads, but you can use these same key performance indicators to evaluate any of your paid marketing channels.

Account Health – KPI’s – Key Performance Indicators

‘Account Health KPI’s’ are used to monitor the health of your advertising channel. They give you a 30,000-foot view to measure your advertising efforts.

These KPI’s should be reviewed on a timeframe that allows enough data to become statistically relevant.

For my private clients, the following Key Performance Indicators are what I use to track on a monthly basis as indicators of the overall health of their accounts.

ROAS – Return on Advertising Spend

An easy formula to calculate, ROAS is calculated simply by dividing dollars generated by dollars spent.

Example, if you spend $1,000 advertising and generate $6,500 in sales, then your ROAS is 6.5. (6,500 / 1,000 = 6.5).

A ROAS below 1 means that you are spending more on ads then generating revenue (of course not good). The higher the ROAS the healthier and typically more profitable is your advertising campaign.

Not only do I track ROAS for the account, but I will use this indicator as a benchmark for individual advertising campaigns.

Note, that ROAS does not account for cost of goods, however, it is a simple calculation that can quickly measure the success of your advertising efforts and that is why I prefer this indicator.

Just like the amateur golfer, you are using this number to compete against yourself striving for better numbers and using ROAS to compare past results.

Rolling CAV – Customer Annual Value

Rolling CAV is calculated by calculating the total sales generated over the last 12 months and dividing by the number of total customers over the last 12 months.

Example, last 12 months your generated $150,000 online and had a total of 1,200 customers, then your CAV is 125. (150,000 / 1,200 = $125)

Note, it is important to use the number of customers and not the number of orders. Using the number of orders will give you the average order value, but not the customer annual value.

This KPI is important because it measures the importance of gaining a new customer. Many times, customers where it initially costs to attain them through paid advertising become exceedingly more valuable as return customers. By keeping track of the CAV, advertisers can determine just how valuable on average each customer is to their business.

True ROAS – True Return on Advertising Spend

This is a combination of your ROAS and your Rolling CAV. I calculate True ROAS to show the annual health of paid advertising and the dollars that I expect marketing to generate over a year.

Why is this metric important?

Unless you are selling one-off goods, typically you will have repeat buyers.

Once a customer purchases your product initiated through paid ads, then the customer is yours. You are free to market to them as you see fit whether that be through email, direct mail or any other variety of touch points.

In addition, generating a new sale from a past customer typically is going to be less expensive than generating that initial purchase and that is reason this metric is important.

Example, last month you spent $1,000 and generated $6,500 in sales for a ROAS of 6.5. This $6,500 was generated by orders from a total of 80 customers.

Over the course of the year, we can expect those 80 customers each to generate an average of $125 in sales based on our current rolling CAV.

Therefore, our True ROAS would be calculated by (80 * 125) / 1000 = 10

This calculation does two things.

First, it demonstrates the importance of gaining new customers by calculating their expected value through the next 12 months and not solely based on the initial sale.

Second, and maybe more importantly, it demonstrates the importance of concentrating on repeat business from your current and past customer base. Increase the CAV from $125 to $200 (just a sale more per customer on average per year) and guess what happens to your true ROAS.

(80 * 200) / 1000 = 16

It goes from 10 to 16!

Optimizing Indicators – KPI’s – Key Performance Indicators

Account Health KPIs are terrific for measuring longer term success. However, measuring success on a monthly basis alone is going to have you more reactive in your account changes instead of proactive.

Fortunately, there are five main optimizing indicators that can give us quick insights into the health of the account on a much more granular level.

When I look at a Google Account for a shorter time frame, such as weekly or even daily, these are the Optimizing Indicators that I review for any sudden spikes or declines.

Conversions – Number of total sales.

Conversion Value – Total dollars generated from your sales.

Cost – Dollars spent to generate all sales.

Avg CPC – Total ad spent divided by total clicks.

CTR – Total clicks divided by total impressions.

These Optimizing Indicators are all readily available within the Google Ads Console.

In order to remove or add or even rearrange columns, advertisers can use the column button.

An important realization is that knowing your KPIs are not enough to make successful changes. You must take decisive actions to successfully optimize your paid advertising once KPIs are calculated.

What action?

That is really going to be the million-dollar question or in the case of some eCommerce businesses the multi-million-dollar question.

Throughout my books as well as my podcast I offer different techniques and strategies to optimize on changes both positive and negative to your KPIs and hence to your marketing.

Final Word

What gets measured, get improved. A cliché for certain, but truth none the less.

If you don’t stay on top of your numbers, then your numbers will stay on top of you. I think that I just made that up, but it sounds a bit profound for me so who knows :>

What this article has given you are the key calculations you should be crunching on a monthly basis as well as the KPIs to review on a weekly/daily basis.

Knowing your numbers alone will not help you get better results. Once you have identified a positive or negative trend using Account Health Indicators or you identify a sudden spike or sudden decrease in your Optimizing Indicators it is important to take quick and decisive actions to either halt the negative or capitalize on the momentum.

These actions come in the form of increasing or decreasing bids, adding negative keywords, adjusting bids based on device and a host of other strategies to optimize your paid advertising results.

However, one thing cannot be denied, which is if you don’t keep track of your KPI’s, then you will never know that any action is needed along with the other undeniable fact, which is numbers never lie!

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Splichal is the founder and managing partner of True Online Presence, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of Make Each Click Count University and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues. In 2020, he was named to Best of Los Angeles Awards’ Most Fascinating 100 List. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his website or his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.

Google is Now Playing Hide and Seek with Your Search Terms

Those that successfully advertise using Google paid search know that the most effective way of doing so is by limiting your spend on unrelated search terms. Effective marketers also know that the number one method to block unrelated and unwanted search terms is with the use of negative keywords.

Especially important for Google Shopping ads where there are no specific targeted keywords. Instead of targeted keywords, with Google Shopping your products are eligible to appear based on Google’s algorithm matching keywords in their product and descriptions with user searches.

This makes monitoring search and continuing to add negative keywords critical to the success of Google Shopping campaigns.

When you first launch a Shopping campaign you should have a list of initial negative keywords to block generic searches.

I have a generic list that I add to new accounts and campaigns which include negative keywords using a phrase match. Examples of these terms include terms such as cheap, knockoff, fake, etc.

However, once you begin running Google paid campaigns you will quickly discover other keywords specific related to your products where you would not have your ads appear.

Being able to identify these keywords has always been a rather straight forward process.

Although it has been moved in the placement through the years, all search terms that have triggered product ads to be displayed have always been available through the Google Search Terms Report.

What Has Changed?

A few months back, Google sent an announcement that they would no longer show irrelevant search terms within the Google search terms report.

Let me tell you for marketers (especially those on a tight marketing budget) there is no such thing as an irrelevant search term when those searches are actively costing you money.

The first month or so after Google’s announcement not much changed. About 95% of search terms were still included within the Google Search Terms report.

However, over the last few weeks only about 50 – 70% of search terms now appear within the Search Terms Report inside the Google Ads interface. This lack of transparency makes it difficult for advertisers to effectively weed out those unprofitable keyword terms that cost budget but produce few sales.

Limiting transparency might well be Google’s long-term plan as they continue to push their automated campaigns including the Smart Shopping.

However at least for now through the end of the year there remains an alternative place to gather your full list of keyword terms driving ad spend.

Google Analytics (Universal Code)

This is great news!

If you have properly installed Google Analytics and have properly linked your Google Analytics account with your Google Ads account, then your full list of search terms is still available within Google Analytics (so-called irrelevant terms and all!).

Note, that these terms are only available within Google Universal Analytics. Google is pushing a new G4 Analytics (Google Analytics 4), which for now WILL NOT include access to search terms.

Fortunately, Google is not requiring advertisers migrate to the new Analytics until the end of 2021.

Accessing Google Analytics Search Queries

Here are the steps:

  1. Login to Google Analytics (https://analytics.google.com/)
  2. In the left-hand menu click on ‘Acquisition’
  3. Then, ‘Google Ads’
  4. Then, ‘Search Queries”
  1. Change the date in the upper right to dates you wish to view.
  2. Using the Secondary dimension drop down to add ‘Campaign’. Note, without this step you will be viewing keywords from the entire account.
  1. Change rows to a number that will display all data (default is only 25 rows).
  2. Export data.

Final Word

The trend of Google becoming less transparent with their system is a bit unsettling to say the least.

Google continues to try to push their automated marketing including automated bidding and automated placements (Smart Shopping).

Without a doubt, automated or semi-automated campaigns are easy to create and require little to no management from retailers.

However, the problem is that these type of campaigns (when you hand the keys to Google) typically do not perform nearly as well. And when marketing budget is tight, not performing nearly as well can often be the difference between a struggling business and a thriving online business.

Fortunately for now, using the Search Queries report from Google Analytics allows for a workaround to the issue of Google hiding what they now consider to be irrelevant search terms!

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Splichal is the founder and managing partner of True Online Presence, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of Make Each Click Count University and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.

Beware of The Phone Call From Google

If you are advertising using Google, you will likely at some point receive a call from a Google representative.

One way that Google continues to grow is by assigning representatives to advertiser’s accounts in the role of account strategist. Depending on how much money you spend each month, will determine how often a Google Account Strategist contacts you regarding well strategizing on your account.

Now, before I go into a tirade of how Google uses live representatives to convince their current advertisers to unnecessarily increase their spending, I want to talk about the positive side of advertising on Google.

I believe that Google is perhaps the greatest advertising channel ever invented!

That might sound over the top, but I really do believe it. Where else in the history of mankind can you reach so many potential customers where they have an interest to purchase? Regardless if you are a company offering roofing repair or a company who sells t-shirts, the ability to reach potential customers is incredible.

In addition, Google’s advertising platform continues to evolve. Google offers advertisers the ability to select where within the Google Network to advertise, using different keywords with different formats types all while being able to either manually or automatically control bids.

No wonder that with so many ways to optimize a Google Ads account, many advertisers do not take advantage of everything that would benefit their account.

Quick Analogy, then we will talk more about the Google account strategist.

Have you ever been to an all-you-can eat buffet?

At a good all-you-can eat buffet, there are going to typically be many more choices then you can possibly eat. Some of the options like the artichoke salad with fresh sardine oil may not look right for you. Maybe for some it is, but to most it probably would not.

Now what if there was ‘Buffet Strategist’ from the restaurant that came to your table, while you were eating and asked if you had time to discuss the buffet?

You probably would listen to what they had to say, right?

After discussing how to be go about the main dishes of the buffet like the roast beef carving station and the different pastas, the buffet strategist might ask you if you tried their new artichoke salad with sardine oil.

After you tell him no, he will tell you about the artichoke salad in how it was made, how good it is for you and how many other buffet goers have enjoyed it.

Now you may decide to try it. However, before you do would you want to know that the buffet strategist gets paid more depending on how many people eat this sardine salad? Would it change your level of trust knowing that is why he wants more people to try it?

I’m not sure if you followed my buffet story; however, let me plainly explain the point I’m trying to make.

Google typically changes representatives every quarter to managing different accounts. The goal of the Google Account Strategist is to increase spending in the quarter for their assigned accounts.

What is the best way for them to do this?

By having their assigned advertisers either:

  1. Increase spending on current types of advertising. (Eat more of the Roast Beef).
  2. Convince advertisers to expand advertising across networks not currently in use. (Try that artichoke and sardine salad).

As an official partner agency, Google rewards points based on how much money my clients spend and more points based on how well an account is optimized compared to Google’s automated metrics. In addition, an agency will receive additional points for having their clients spend more money on notoriously poor performing (at least profitability wise) channels such as Google Display.

These rewards have never meant anything to myself, although I redeemed them a few months ago for a shiny new Google decked bike that I tool around the neighborhood in. However, my agency first and foremost works for our private clients. They are number one with their goals of profitability.   

Now how much do you think these rewards motivate the Google Account Strategies that calls you on the phone? You and I will never know for sure, but it is something to keep in mind.

The first goal of the Google Rep – Increase accounts spending on current types of advertising.

This is where Google and the goals of its advertisers are joined.

If an advertiser is generating a healthy profit using Google Ads and they can fulfil all their orders, then an advertiser should increase their spending to garner more sales, don’t you think?

If advertisers are spending more money, that means more money for Google which means happy shareholders.

With so many different ways to tweak campaigns, this is where your friendly Google Specialist may come in useful. It is also why even I take their calls. They may have the insights of an expert looking at an account at an overview that you have missed working on an account on a daily basis.

Sometimes, you get too close to stuff and it’s great to get a birdseye view from an expert, wouldn’t you say?

However, do you make it a habit to look at Google’s automatic ‘Recommendations’ within your account?

If not, you should.

The Recommendations link is located in the left menu just below the ‘Overview’ link.

These recommendations are automated ‘Google Account Strategist’ and of course help an advertiser spend more money, but they also help advertisers ensure there is nothing negatively affecting their account.

Examples, of common suggestions and warnings.

– Warning regarding overlapping negative keywords.
– Suggestions for new keywords to add to a campaign.
– Suggestions on adding different ad types.
– Suggestions to add common ad extensions.
– Suggestions on adding new bidding strategies.

About a year ago, Google introduced a 0 – 100% rating on how optimized each account was optimized. An although I find this rating a bit arbitrary and meaningless, the percentage of increase percentage with each recommendation will tell you how important Google feels each change will be to your campaigns.

However, when reviewing you must realize that these suggestions are automated. Automated being the key word. Never blindly accept recommendations, in order to generate maximum results, you must know how these suggestions will affect your advertising.

Pro Tip – Even by declining the recommendations in the ‘Recommendations’ sections of your Google Ads account it will increase Google’s optimization score on your campaigns.

In addition, many of these recommendations Google automatically emails if you have selected to receive their customized help & performance suggestions.

Note, you can manage those email settings within your preferences notifications if you wish to receive or to stop receiving these recommendations.

Just like in within the account recommendations inside the account, Google commonly sends out are ways to increase your ad spend.

A favorite for them to do this is through adding keywords to your account. If you receive these ‘suggestions’, you need to be very careful because they are based on keywords your competitors are also advertising and may not be relevant to your account.

Come to think about it. It’s very smart for Google to let you know what keywords your competitors use as it inspires competition and increases the price for popular keywords! 

Another favorite of both the Google Account Strategist and the automated Google suggestions is the suggestions to either fully or at least partially automate your campaigns.

Through Google Shopping this means using Google Smart Shopping campaigns and in Google search it means using automated bidding strategies.

I have written about both smart campaigns and automated bid strategies and the drawbacks from using them quite a bit at blog.trueonlinepresence.com, if you are looking for more information on the pitfalls and exactly why you should not use.

However, in a nutshell what the biggest drawback of using is that these automated strategies take the control from the advertiser on how and where to spend their money. Instead advertisers blindly (in the case of Smart campaigns) and semi-blindly (in the case of automated bidding strategy) trust Google to make the best decisions with their advertising dollars.

Especially with Smart Shopping campaigns, where advertisers cannot see their bids, what keywords their ads appear for, what networks their ads appear in or in what device ads are running, this takes a lot of trust.

Trusting Google is a bit like putting the fox in charge of the hen house, wouldn’t you say?

Of course, Google wants its advertisers to be successful. If not, they will not advertise anymore. But there are different levels of success when it comes to advertising with Google. By reducing profitability just a bit while substantially increasing advertisers spending and testing different lesser used advertising methods inside Google Ads may make perfect sense especially if you are Google. But, does it make sense for you?

If the Smart Campaigns and automated campaigns performed better, I would have no problem implementing across all of my client’s accounts. In fact, it would make my life much easier and allow my team more time to work on other things to help increase client’s conversions. 

However, I’ve tested and the automated campaigns extensively and only once has an automated campaign outperformed one of our manually optimized campaigns.

Now granted, we are doing more than most advertisers optimizing accounts particularly using Google Shopping as I detail in my new book Make Each Click Count Google Shopping Simplified.

However, my warning is this when you are talking to your Google Account Strategist. They are getting incentivized to increase your spend and incentivized to have you switch to using automated bidding strategies (which also will increase your spend).

This fact you should keep in the forefront of your mind!

The second goal of the Google Rep – Expand advertising to networks not currently being used

This goal goes hand in hand with the first as it will help you spend more money with your advertising but is a bit different in how it goes about it.

Google offers five main networks – Search, Display, Shopping, Video and Discovery networks.

Almost all advertisers use the Search network. These are the traditional text ads that appear on Google.com or their partners when you search. Search ads are the original Google ad type.

In addition, the majority of eCommerce advertisers use the Shopping network. Shopping ads are the ads that appear with your product’s picture, name and price either on the main Google tab or within Google Shopping.

However, when it comes to Display, Video and Discovery networks those are used very little in comparison.

Display ads are ads that appear within the Google’s network. Commonly used display ads include retargeting ads, which I use. However, advertisers can also just serve their ads within the display network to users who have never visited their website.

These type ads are much cheaper to use, but they also have much lower conversion rates.

Video ads are just as they say. They are video ads that are served on YouTube and across the web.

Finally, there are Discovery ads. Discovery ads are non-video ads that run on YouTube, Gmail and Google Discover.

After your Google Account Strategist discusses why your account should transition to automation, the next topic will inevitably be expanding advertising to any of the networks that you are not currently using.

This is where it is important to know your goals in advertising using Google.

Is your goal in advertising doing it for profit or for brand awareness?

I love that term brand awareness. Brand Awareness means advertising knowing you are not going to get many if any sales. Instead, you goal is letting people know who you are.

And especially for those of you that are a small to mid-sized eCommerce company, who the heck cares they see your name if they aren’t going to buy?

Final Word

The more money you spend advertising using Google ads the more often you can expect to receive a call from a Google representative.

I’m not suggesting that you don’t pick up the phone and don’t take their calls. In fact, I always take their calls.

However, what I’m suggesting is to know their motivation is to increase your account’s spending and getting your account to advertise across different networks.

I am also suggesting to NEVER, NEVER, NEVER change how you are advertising a successful campaign without testing.

With search campaigns you can test by running Experiments in Google account. You can change variables within a search campaign, such as the bidding strategy, and actually test for a set time period and see what performs better.

Testing with Smart campaigns is a bit more difficult, but you can and should attempt different methods of testing. Whether it is side-by-side or testing different time periods, make sure you don’t make a change without testing.

By testing, you may indeed find that automated campaigns perform better. However, especially for those using Google Shopping that follow best-practices as detailed in my new book Make Each Click Count Using Google Shopping, you will most likely find out that a well optimized manual campaign outperform Google Smart Shopping campaigns every time!

Looking for More Information on Google Advertising?

Check out the all new The Academy of Internet Marketing (www.theacademyofinternetmarketing.com), the premier online marketing destination trusted by small to mid-sized eCommerce businesses serious about substantially growing their online sales. In addition, The Academy of Internet Marketing includes exclusive access to me, author of the Make Each Click Count book series.

The Academy of Internet Marketing

If you have the dedication and are ready to take your online sales to the next level, then The Academy of Internet Marketing was created for you. It provides the tools in the form of knowledge of what works today. Join us and discover for yourself what makes us special. Together we will grow your business!

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Splichal is the founder of True Online Presence, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of The Academy of Internet Marketing and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.

What Google Removing Keyword Transparency Could Mean For Advertisers

One of the common misconceptions for those new to advertising with Google Shopping is that you want to generate as much traffic as possible.

As with any marketing channel where you pay for traffic, this is blatantly false!

With Google Shopping unlike Google Search there are no keywords. Instead, Google uses their algorithm to match eligible products from an advertiser’s merchant center account with a user’s search query.

In order to match eligible products, Google uses the product title and description to filter the most relevant results based on the searches of users actively Shopping.

However, as anyone who has been running successful Google Shopping campaigns will attest, sometimes the search terms that are sending traffic are terms an advertiser would rather not pay to receive.

Imagine that you are selling Nike Air Jordan’s. As an advertiser, you wouldn’t want your products appearing for the search term ‘Nike Air Jordan Knockoffs’ or ‘Fake Nike Air Jordan’s’, would you?

No of course not.

You wouldn’t want these keywords triggering your products to appear because traffic coming from those search terms would most likely have a very low conversion rate for your standard priced Air Jordan shoes.

And although this traffic would have a very low conversion rate, you (the advertiser) would still be charged each time your products appeared for these searches when your product ads were clicked.

Negative Keywords

This is where negative keywords are useful.

In order to avoid these clicks, an advertiser can enter the words fake and knockoffs as phrase match negative keywords at the account, campaign or ad group level.

The retailer selling Nike Air Jordan’s is a random example that I just fabricated. However, the keywords that drive unwanted traffic are very real and generally they are a huge budget eater for most advertisers. In addition, they can vary tremendously from account to account and even campaign to campaign.

For a well run, fully optimized account, it is essential for advertisers to identify keywords driving unwanted traffic and ad spend and use negative keywords to prevent future ad spend.

For advertisers using standard shopping campaigns, Google offers or least had been offering full transparency of what search terms trigger products to appear as well as what search terms triggered products that appeared that were subsequently clicked.  

This tool that provides this transparency is aptly named the Search Terms report.

Proper use of the Search Terms report is one of the most effective ways for advertisers to improve profitability. In fact, it is arguably the most important tool advertisers have to monitor keywords for their Shopping campaigns within their Google Ads account.

By reviewing the Search Terms report on a consistent and ongoing basis, advertisers can identify which keywords are driving unwanted traffic and prevent future unwanted searches by adding them to their negative keywords.

What Is Changing

A few weeks ago, when I logged into one of my private clients Google Ads accounts, I saw a concerning alert.

The alert read that the Search Terms report is being changed to only show keywords that are searched by a “significant number of users”.

Again, I’ll repeat because it is important to realize.

The Search Terms report is being changed to only show keywords that are searched by a “significant number of users”.

At face value, it appears that Google will not be as transparent. As I understood the alert, it means that Google will no longer show the keywords that trigger shopping ads to appear just a few or as they say a non-significant number of times.

However, what is non-significant? This is the real question that Google has not yet answered.

If you multiply one or two clicks per hidden search term by a hundred or maybe two hundred weekly clicks at $0.50 then the costs wasted could very well be significant to my private clients for sure!

It is also concerning, that in the past changes that Google makes to the Google Ads interface have always been to make navigating the Google Ads platform easier for its advertisers.

This change DOES NOT make it easier to navigate.

In fact, what it does is make it less transparent and this change could make Standard Shopping Campaigns more like the Smart Shopping Campaigns. For more information on this, refer to my recent article –

Google Can Keep Their Stinkin’ Ping Pong Table Because I’m Not Doin’ It

In that article, I write about how Google is strongly incentivizing partner agencies like mine to promote and convert from Standard Shopping campaigns to Google Smart Shopping campaigns.

So who knows?

Making Standard Shopping Campaigns more like Smart Shopping Campaigns may be their plan all along.

However, then again, I could just be imagining a conspiracy.

For now, I will put away my tin foil hat and get back to the present and what we should be doing in our campaigns to prepare for this change.

Now in the weeks that followed Google’s announcement, there has not been much clarification on what ‘significant number of users’ exactly entails. However, this warning provides definite cause for concern and advertisers would be wise to be proactive to this news.

What Should We Do?

There are a couple of actions that we can take, while we still have full access to the complete Search Terms report.

The first recommendation that I would make to someone calling me asking for advice would be work on a negative keyword list for the account.

Google offers a number of ways to add negative keywords and one is through creating a negative keyword list.

By creating a negative keyword list, advertisers can easily add keywords that will prevent unwanted searches from appearing into the list and then add this negative keyword list to the campaigns that they select.

When I first launch a campaign for a private client, I have a standard list of negative keywords that I add to a new negative keyword list for eCommerce retailers.

This initial negative keyword list contains approximately 150 keywords such as: pics, pictures, instructions, video, how to, knockoff, fake, etc..

I then add this list to all active new campaigns in order to block these unwanted search terms.

In addition, when I’m reviewing the search terms keywords using the Search Terms report on an ongoing basis, I’m constantly splitting out the negative keywords that I want to add as either adding to the account, the campaign or the ad group level.

If I want to add negative keywords to the account level, I’m adding to those keywords to my general negative keyword list.

This list which is already linked to most if not all of the Shopping campaigns and sometimes to the Search campaigns as well, will instantly allow these negative keywords to stop unwanted traffic throughout the account.

My second recommendation would be consider using priority levels to dictate which traffic is eligible to trigger your shopping ads to appear.

In my new book, Make Each Click Count Using Google Shopping, I dedicate an entire chapter to a strategy called positive keywords.

The positive keyword strategy mind you is a bit complicated but follow me for a quick minute if you have never heard of this.

The subject of positive keywords took a full chapter of my book to cover but here is a quick overview.

By using the priority levels of high, medium and low at the campaign level settings, advertisers can use low bids with high priority level campaigns to filter out a ton of generic traffic.

Using our earlier example, of the eCommerce retailer selling Nike Air Jordan shoes, I will explain how this would work.

If a campaign was created as a high priority campaign at a low bid ($0.05) and negative keywords were added to the campaign of “Nike” and “Air Jordan”, then any generic search terms that would cause eligible products to appear without those keywords would be directed to this campaign.

Keywords with low conversion rates such as ‘Tennis shoes’, ‘basketball shoes’, etc. would all be directed to this campaign with the $0.05 bid.

Now, if we created a new campaign, with a low or medium priority that contained the exact same product with higher bids, then searches with keywords that included Nike or Air Jordan would be directed to this campaign.

I realize that this is a bit fast, so for more clarification, please read the chapter on positive keywords in my book.

However, just know that this is an effective way to reduce unwanted more generic terms from generating clicks at least at your cost per click rate.

Now this would not stop those keywords for ‘Nike Air Jordan Knockoffs’ or ‘Fake Nike Air Jordan’s’ in your medium priority campaign, so it would be important to also use a negative keyword list in conjunction with the positive keyword strategy.

Final Word

The bottom line when interpreting Google’s alert is that we don’t know what a ‘significant number of users’ will constitute.

We don’t know how much of an effect on either yours or my campaigns this will have. 

In addition, the recommendations that I have just given with creating your account negative keyword list and implementing positive keywords are two things that already would be benefiting your account.

If Google only ends up removing  keywords for instance with a few impressions and no clicks, then you will still be able to fully add negative keywords that you no longer wish to receive traffic.

However, right now we just don’t know.

Therefore, if you are not doing it, make sure you start to work on implementing a full list of negative keywords while you for certain have full access to your accounts Search Terms report.

Whether or not this Google change ends up being a big deal or not, using these strategies will help boost your profitability and generally will do it very quickly!

Looking for More Information on Google Advertising?

Check out the all new The Academy of Internet Marketing (www.theacademyofinternetmarketing.com), the premier online marketing destination trusted by small to mid-sized eCommerce businesses serious about substantially growing their online sales. In addition, The Academy of Internet Marketing includes exclusive access to me, author of the Make Each Click Count book series.

If you have the dedication and are ready to take your online sales to the next level, then The Academy of Internet Marketing was created for you. It provides the tools in the form of knowledge of what works today. Join us and discover for yourself what makes us special. Together we will grow your business!

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Splichal is the founder of True Online Presence, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of The Academy of Internet Marketing and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.

Google Can Keep Their Stinkin’ Ping Pong Table Because I’m Not Doin’ It

In this article, I discuss the perks of being an official Google partner agency. What that means for us and for our clients.

In being an official Google partner agency, Google offers my agency a variety of perks. One of those perks are rewards points based on how much our clients spend along with how well optimized our clients’ accounts are based on Google’s criteria of automated metrics.

These reward points have never done much to incentivize actions with us at True Online Presence. Our focus has always been to do what is right for our private clients first and foremost. My sole goal with working with a private client managing their Google Ad spend is optimize their Google account with the purpose of increasing both their sales and profitability.

Now as a disclaimer, I did redeem some Google reward points about a year ago for a shiny new Google colored bicycle that I sometimes tool around my neighborhood riding. So, even though the points don’t incentivize us, I’m admitting to you that I do sometimes open and look at the Google reward point updates and some of the swag gifts they are offering.

Before I go any further, I’m not accusing Google of being diabolical and out to get their advertisers. However, truth be told, like with any mega company, Google has their own agenda that sometimes may not fully align with that of their advertisers.

I think that Google’s rewards system is genius in nudging agencies to optimize clients’ accounts in the direction that Google would prefer. It is a classic example of positive reinforcement and the bigger the rewards that Google offers the more effective this strategy becomes.

With all that said, a few days back I opened the Google rewards updates email that I received as I wanted to see what Google was currently promoting.

The first page that opens for a Google Partner Agency is an introduction page to Google’s Product adoption. Google refers to product adoptions as “challenges that are designed to help you improve the quality of clients’ accounts. Product adoption targets are specifically tailored to your company’s clients past performance”.

For my product adoption, Google was offering 11,000 points for converting at least 27% of my private clients shopping campaign ad spend into Smart Shopping campaigns (I’m currently at 0%) and 6,600 points for having at least 12% of my client ad spends dedicated to using display advertising (I’m currently at 3%).

Translating that into goodies and swag gifts, an agency would need 10,610 to redeem for a Google Ping Pong Table; 15,300 for a Google Pixelbook; and 16,260 for an official Google Foosball Table.

Now there are other ways for an agency to earn Google reward points; however, Google is currently being very aggressive with trying to have agencies such as mine move clients into using Smart Shopping campaigns and to spending more with Google display ads.

This begs the question as to why?

First, let us look at Google Smart Shopping campaigns and what they are.

By using Google Smart Shopping campaigns, advertisers no longer define their bids, negative keywords or devices they wish to advertise. In addition, the option to adjust bids by time or day or location no longer exist. Instead, advertisers are trusting Google to make those decisions for them.

I have written about both smart shopping campaigns and different automated bid strategies and the drawbacks from using them quite a bit at blog.trueonlinepresence.com, if you are looking for more information on the pitfalls and exactly why you should mostly avoid.

However, in a nutshell the biggest drawback of using these automated strategies is that Google assumes the control from the advertiser on how and where to spend their ad dollars. Instead, advertisers blindly trust Google to make the best decisions with their advertising spend.

Another factor to consider is where your ads appear now and where they will appear using Google Smart Shopping Campaigns. Currently, when advertisers create a standard shopping campaign, they are opted into Google’s Search Network. Google’s search network includes all Google sites as well Google.com.

In addition, ads are by default opted into also being shown on Google Search Partners, YouTube, Gmail and Google Discover. However, currently advertisers with a standard Shopping campaign have the option to opt out of showing ads anywhere other than within the Google search network.

However, with Smart Shopping campaigns the option to remove certain networks is no longer an option.

In addition, with Smart Shopping campaigns advertisers cannot see specific product bids, what keywords their ads appear for, what networks their ads appear in or in what device their ads are running. This takes a whole lot of trust.

And trusting Google is a bit like putting the fox in charge of the hen house, wouldn’t you say?

Why would Google prefer advertisers even use Smart Shopping campaigns you may ask?

Of course, Google wants its advertisers to be successful. Because if advertisers are not profitable using Google, they will most likely not advertise anymore. I think we can all agree on that? But there are different levels of success when it comes to advertising with Google.

If Google is slightly reducing advertisers’ profitability while substantially increasing an advertiser’s ad spend and at the same time also being able to test different lesser used marketing channels such as display ads, then this may make perfect sense for Google.

However, is this an ideal strategy for you the advertiser?

If Google’s Smart Shopping Campaigns and other automated campaigns performed better, I would have no problem implementing them across all of my client’s accounts.

In fact, it would make my life much easier and allow my team more time to work on other things to help increase client’s conversions. 

However, I’ve tested all of these types of automated campaigns extensively and only once has an automated campaign outperformed one of our private clients manually optimized campaigns.

Now granted, we are doing more than the majority of agencies optimizing accounts particularly using Google Shopping strategies and best-practices as I detail in my new book Make Each Click Count Google Shopping.

However, heed my warning. When you are working with an agency or interacting with a Google representative, be aware that they are getting incentivized to increase your spend and to have you switch to using automated bidding strategies (which also will increase your spend).

I believe that the reward system is a very effective way for Google to make sure agencies are incentivized to help Google push their automated strategies.

However, my agency first and foremost works for our private clients. Our private clients with their goals of increased sales and profitability is our sole focus.  

Given that, it doesn’t look like I will be earning the rewards points for changing my clients over to Smart Shopping campaigns anytime soon.

Now On To Display Ads

Remember when I told you earlier that Google was offering 6,600 points for having my clients total spend for display advertising reach 12%?

Display advertising for those that may not know is when ads appear within the Google Display Network outside of the Google Search Network.

There are over 2 million websites within the Google Display Network.

Now display ads are typically promoted as being effective for building awareness and brand recognition. However, since they appear when users are not actively shopping or searching, they have a much lower conversion rates and generally are not nearly as profitable.

That is why the only display network ads I typically run for my eCommerce clients are dynamic retargeting ads. Dynamic retargeting ads work to show a product that a shopper looked at on your website where they did not purchase.

These type of display ads I find to be much more effective and therefore they are the only type of display ads that I typically use.

Dynamic retargeting ads work to keep businesses and products where a shopper has shown interest in the forefront of a shoppers’ mind. In addition, these type of display ads also give shoppers the impression that you are a large company that advertises across many sites.

In addition, to standard display ads not being effective, they are also riddled with fraud. If you listened to a recent Podcast episode that I did with Neil Andrew of PPC protect, he says within that interview that up to 80% of display ads are actually fraudulent clicks.

When it comes to display ads, it is important to keep in mind your advertising goals. With my private clients, the goal is typically profitability.

With display ads is your goal in advertising profitability or for brand awareness?

I love that term brand awareness. Brand Awareness means advertising knowing you are not going to get many if any sales. Instead, your goal is letting people know who you are and what you are.

And especially for those of you that are a small to mid-sized eCommerce company, who the heck cares they see your name if they aren’t going to buy?

So, with Google rewards system, they are offering 6,600 points for increasing clients spend to advertise more on a network that historically provides poor results and is riddled with fraud.

Darn, it doesn’t look like I’ll get the Google rewards points for display ads either!

Final Word

Google continues to redesign their search results trying to determine the optimal layout for its users. The more users continue to use Google the more advertisers will seek to advertise.

However, the number of advertisers is not infinite. If an advertiser is not successful showing profitability in their sales (depending if that is their goal) then most likely they will not continue to advertise with Google at least not for very long.

The more advertisers, the more competition and the more expensive Google will become.

Fortunately, for us, our private clients and those who have read and implemented the strategies inside my book Make Each Click Count Using Google Shopping, using Google as a marketing channel continues to work driving profitable sales.

But those companies where their Google advertising may not be as well-run may indeed find becoming profitable using Google ads a challenge.

For those advertisers, they may be better off letting Google handle their ad placements and ad spend through Google Smart Shopping Campaigns. In fact, why they are at it, they may want to try to increase their brand recognition through some Google Display Ads (although I would highly advise against it for most eCommerce companies).

By letting Google manage campaigns in this way, they will most likely see better results than just setting up a single shopping campaign that has all their products with just one bid. This is what I unfortunately see all too common in companies starting to advertise with Google Shopping that do not have a plan.

However, with either letting Google run their ads or setting up a Shopping campaign and not optimizing it, these companies are missing an opportunity to use Google Shopping as a significant and profitable marketing channel simply because they do not know how it works or do not have the time to manage it. 

Fortunately, for our clients, this is not that case.

Although, sadly it doesn’t look like team True Online Presence will get that new Google Ping Pong table anytime soon!

Looking for More Information on Google Advertising?

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Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Splichal is the founder of True Online Presence, author of the Make Each Click Count book series, host of the Make Each Click Count podcast, founder of The Academy of Internet Marketing and certified online marketing strategist with twenty plus years of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues. To find more information on Andy Splichal, visit www.trueonlinepresence.com or read The Full Story on his blog, blog.trueonlinepresence.com.