Who Benefits From Google’s Recent Change To AdWords Budgets?

Did you ever have somebody say they did you a favor, but after hearing what that favor was you didn’t know if the favor was really for your good or for theirs?

This recently happened with Google and their new change to how daily budgets are going to work.  Previously, advertisers would set a daily limit on how much they are willing to spend on a campaign (or multiple campaigns if using a shared budget).  By setting a budget, advertisers were assured never to spend any more than 20% over that budget on any given day.  Google gave themselves a little wiggle room in case the clicks for a campaign would come in fast and furious.  Understandable, okay.

However, I was shocked when I logged into my account last week and saw the following message:

Daily Budget Notification

Let me translate from Google speak.  An advertiser’s campaigns will no longer be limited to their daily budget +20% instead Google can charge up to twice as much as what an advertiser agreed that they are willing to spend per day.

In theory, this makes sense because if traffic for a campaign suddenly spikes and if your campaign is converting at a profit you wouldn’t want to have your ads stop showing, right?

Now Google wants their advertisers to be successful, after all those advertisers who are not successful/profitable will probably not continue to use Google to advertise.  However, Google also wants to make as much money as they can from their advertisers in order to grow.  So whose best-interest is the change to AdWords budget really for?

Well, consider these scenarios:

What if there is a spike in traffic that is not converting?

or

Make Each Click Count - T.O.P. Guide To Success Using Google AdWords

What happens to your ads near the end of the month given your daily budget has doubled on non-converting traffic and thus depleted your monthly budget?

or

What if you pause an underperforming campaign before the end of the billing cycle?

These 3 scenarios would all negatively affect an advertisers and scenarios that need to be considered when creating your daily budget.

Daily budgets have long been used as a protective net against large spikes in non-converting traffic.  Google has now removed this safety net and Google advertisers need to be fully aware of this fact.

So the question to ask yourself as you review your current budgets are the following:

  1. Always the most important question – are all of your campaigns currently profitable?
  2. Are you using negative keywords to limit your exposure for non-converting keyword searches?
  3. Are you currently managing bids on individual keywords within your campaign? Meaning are you bidding higher for keywords that convert compared with those that convert less frequently.
  4. Are you or is someone else on your marketing team regularly checking your AdWords accounts for both profitability and updating non-converting keywords to your negative keyword list?

If the answer is no to any of the questions above, you may need to consider lowering your budgets. This of course is difficult to do as we approach the holiday season, and I’m not suggesting you cut your budgets in half across your entire account, but profitability is the key to success using Google AdWords and you need to consider the question above when determining how well your account is currently optimized.

After all, you must do what is in your best interest even if a friend of yours says they have just done you a favor:>

Happy Marketing!

Andy Splichal

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Andy Splichal is an online marketing strategist  with more than a decade and a half of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues.  Although this blog focuses on driving profitable traffic through Google AdWords, True Online Presence offers additional services for lead generation as well as other proven marketing strategies customized for each client.

What Does Google’s Expanded Text Ads Mean For Advertisers?

Earlier this month, Google introduced a significant change to their standard text ads with the release of ‘Expanded Text Ads’.  Providing more character space for advertisers and increasing the headline from a single headline to multiple headlines, expanded text ads provide an immediate opportunity for advertisers to convey more of their marketing message to potential customers. 

Why Did Google Make The Change?

Last year, for the first time, mobile devices surpassed all other devices in the number of searches, and the percentage of mobile searches is expected to continue to rise.  With the original text ads, best-practices had advertisers creating one set of ads for desktop devices/tablets and another set of ads for mobile devices.Make Each Click Count

Google strives to keep a balance of providing the best experience to its users while also providing all the tools needed for advertisers to be successful.  With keeping to that core principle, expanded text ads display the same across all devices and have eliminated the need for advertisers to create multiple ad sets based on device.

This change also helps advertisers who were not creating mobile specific ads, as the new expanded text ads, which will be the only type of ad supported as of October 26, 2016, makes creating mobile friendly ads unnecessary.

Changes To Character Limits

The original text ads character limits were as follows:

Title/Headline – 25 Characters.
Description Line 1 – 35 Characters.
Description Line 2 – 35 Characters.
Display URL – 35 Characters.

Expanded text ads have the following character limits:

Title/Headline 1 – 30 Characters.
Title/Headline 2 – 30 Characters.
Description Line 1 – 80 Characters.
Display URL + 2 optional paths – 15 Characters each.

The most significant changes include an increase of nearly 50% in the amount of characters an advertiser can include in their ads; the change from one headline to two and the way the display URL is formatted.

Character Limit –

Expanded text ads now allow advertisers to use 140 characters combined in the two headlines and the description where original text ads allowed advertisers 95.

Multiple Headlines –

The change from one headline to two is more designed for mobile devices.  Before with standard text ads, if an ad was closed with a period punctuation, the first line of description text would serve as a second headline on desktop devices; however not always on mobile devices.  Now with the second headline, there are always multiple headlines across all devices.

Below are examples, of how an ad appears for both desktop devices and mobile devices:

Desktop ad

Expanded Ad For Desktop Devices

Mobile ad

Expanded Ad For Mobile Devices

As you can see in the examples above for online merchant and client, Trenz Shirt Company, both the mobile ad and desktop ad display as identical.  Creating the same experience across devices has also been the goal of Google and expanded text ads now has ads doing just that.

Changes To Display URL –

Before with original text ads, the display URL needed to match the actual website URL and then advertisers where allowed to append a keyword(s).

Expanded text ad’s URLs use the domain from the final URL for the display URL.  Advertisers are then allowed to add two paths with a maximum of 15 characters each that will display behind the display URL.

Let me clarify.  In the previous example, say the final URL, where a user is directed if the ad is clicked, is: https://www.trenzshirts.com/political-t-shirts/Before with original text ads, the display URL would be https://www.trenzshirts.com/political-t-shirts/However, with expanded text ads, the display URL is https://www.trenzshirts.comThen, the advertiser can opt to use two 15 character path fields to append with keywords that will give the user a better description of the page they would land if the ad is clicked.

Ad Extensions –

All ad extensions are still available to be used with extended text ads and remain vital in achieving high click through rates and a high quality score.  For a review of best-practices using ad extensions, see my previous blog post, When It Comes To Your Google Ads, Size Does Matter.

Effectively Using Expanded Text Ads

All of the best-practices of writing ads still apply to expanded text ads.  These best-practices include:Make Each Click Count

  1. Relevant to keywords in a campaign/ad group.
  2. Clearly set expectations.
  3. List benefits and features.
  4. Include offers, be specific.
  5. Be unique.
  6. Be grammatically correct.
  7. Add relevant keywords to display URLs.
  8. Implement relevant ad extensions.

However, now that advertisers have 50% more characters available there is more space to rework ads to convey a stronger message to potential customers.

When reworking your ads, advertisers should keep the following in mind:

1. Don’t simply add a 2nd headline to existing ads. Take the opportunity to look at all ads and rework your message. If you put in the work to create more effective messaging it will pay immediate dividends, as many of your competitors most like won’t.

2. Use existing character limits. New extended text ads have 45 additional characters. Rework ads to ensure you are using the full limit in order to effective convey your marketing messages.

3. Optimize headlines. Most potential customers will click on an ad based on the headline now headlines. Use Google’s system of rotating ads to fully optimize the best headline and then keep testing.

Summary –

Standard text ads will be supported until 10/26/16 at which time only extended text ads will be available.  However, advertisers should convert their ads as quickly as possible.  By converting ads, advertisers will have a competitive advantage over advertisers who wait until the deadline. Typically, most advertisers do not perform changes until necessary.  For advertisers, who do they will have a couple of months of serving larger ads, which quite possible will increase their click through rates and subsequent quality scores.

Finally, the expanded text ads also provide advertisers with an opportunity to review all their text ads and refresh some stagnant ads that perhaps haven’t been producing high click through rates or at least haven’t been recently tested.

Overall, the development of expanded text ads is a great release that provides another tool for advertisers to enhance their marketing message in order to attract more customers.

Still need help or looking for someone to bounce ideas off?  I am currently offering free marketing discovery sessions to those interested. Call True Online Presence at 1-888-456-6943 or schedule online.

Good Luck & Happy Marketing!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Andy Splichal is an online marketing strategist  with more than a decade and a half of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues.  Although this blog focuses on driving profitable traffic through Google AdWords, True Online Presence offers additional services for lead generation as well as other proven marketing strategies customized for each client.

Individual Campaign Budgets Vs. Shared Campaign Budgets

Google allows advertisers to create daily budgets for their Campaigns thus limiting the amount of money that can be spent in a day.  This budget can either be determined for an individual Campaign or across multiple Campaigns using shared budgets.  Here we will discuss how advertisers create both individual and shared budgets and when it may be optimal to select one method over the other.

First and foremost, an advertiser’s daily account budget should never be higher than that Make Each Click Countwhich they are willing to spend.  Ideally, an advertiser will always be generating profitable clicks where it wouldn’t make sense to limit the amount of clicks; however, in reality Campaigns are not always created as profitable from inception which is a common example of where tighter budgets are useful.

In addition, budgets protect advertisers from unexpected surges in traffic.  A budget safeguards the amount an advertiser will spend in a day even if the amount of user searches suddenly and dramatically increases.

For example, perhaps an e-commerce advertiser sells a product featured on a national morning show, which creates a sudden increase is searches.  However, maybe those customers who take to the Internet to search for the ‘hot’ product aren’t converting instead they are just looking.  In this example, the advertiser’s budget could save the advertiser considerable costs.  However, if the surge of traffic was converting, the budget could also cost the advertiser profitable sales by restricting ads from running due to budget constraints.  Luckily, budgets are easily changed and optimized similar to most other features in the Google AdWords interface.

Individual Campaign Budgets

An individual daily budget is initially determined while creating a new Campaign along with the Campaign’s default bid and the bid strategy.

Creating Individual Campaign Budgets In Google AdWordsAfter a Campaign has been created, an advertiser can quickly change an individual Campaign’s budget in one of two ways:

The quickest and easiest way is to click on the budget column for the Campaign they wish to change.  A pop up help window will display that allows advertisers to enter their new daily budget and save.

Popup Budget Help Window - Google AdWordsAn individual Campaign budget can also be changed by clicking on the ‘Settings’ tab/’All Settings’ sub-tab and changed similarly to how the budget was initially created.

Google AdWords Settings TabCreating budgets are an essential safeguard to ensure an advertiser never spends more money than they are expecting.  However, what if an advertiser has hundreds or even thousands of Campaigns?  How can they possibly manage and optimize all of those budgets?

Shared Campaign Budgets

Shared daily budgets allow multiple Campaigns to pull from a single budget.  Ideal for advertisers with a large number of Campaigns or for advertisers looking to easily restrict their daily budget across an entire account, shared budgets can be used in numerous effective ways.

In order to create a shared budget, advertisers need to access the ‘Shared Library’ link in the left navigation bar.

Google AdWords Shared LibraryOnce inside the Shared Library, advertisers will need to ‘View’ the Budgets.

Google AdWords View Shared BudgetsThen, to create a new Shared Budget, click on the +BUDGET button. 

Add New Shared Budget In Shared LibraryA help window will then display prompting an advertiser to name the budget, apply it to campaigns (optional) and set the daily budget.

Create New Shared Budget In Google AdWordsMake Each Click CountOnce a new shared budget has been created, advertisers can easily apply it to existing Campaigns or add new Campaigns once created to an
existing shared budget.

In order to add Campaigns to an existing budget, advertisers again have two options.  The first option is to access the ‘Shared Library’ and clicking on the shared budget they wish to apply to a Campaign and then clicking on the ‘Apply to campaigns’ button.

Apply Shared Budget To an AdWords CampaignOnce the ‘Apply to campaigns’ button is pressed, a pop up help window will open allowing advertisers to select which Campaigns they wish to have their budgets replaced with the current shared budget.

Similar to adjusting individual Campaign budgets, in the second method advertisers can add Campaigns to a shared budget by clicking on the ‘Settings’ tab/’All Settings’ sub-tab and selecting ‘Apply a budget from the Shared library’.

Google AdWords Shared Library SettingOnce the ‘Apply a budget from the Shared library’ button is pressed, a help window will open listing available shared budgets and a partial list of what Campaigns are linked to each.

Shared Library Popup WindowTo add one of the shared budgets, an advertiser simply needs to select the radio button next to the shared budget that they wish applied to the Campaign and save.

Summary –

Creating budgets is an essential component to creating and growing a successful AdWords account.   A budget is good when it serves as a safeguard protecting an advertiser’s bank account; however, too low of a budget can be detrimental to an account by restricting conversions by limiting clicks and impressions. Conversely, too high of a budget could actually increase the cost per click if an account is utilizing automated bidding strategies.

It is important for advertisers to realize that creating a budget is NOT a one-time set it and forget it setting.  Finding the optimal budget for each Campaign should be fluid as it is an important factor in optimizing conversions throughout the account. Optimizing a Campaign for budget is similar to optimizing keyword bids in that an advertiser does not want to be too high or too low.  Furthermore, Campaign budgets should be reviewed (based on historical data) and increased or decreased as needed both for individual budgets as well as for shared budgets.

Still need help or looking for someone to bounce ideas off?  I am currently offering free marketing discovery sessions to those interested. Call True Online Presence at 1-888-456-6943 or schedule online.

Happy Marketing!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Andy Splichal is an online marketing strategist  with more than a decade and a half of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues.  Although this blog focuses on driving profitable traffic through Google AdWords, True Online Presence offers additional services for lead generation as well as other proven marketing strategies customized for each client.

Important Changes To AdWords When Adding Negative Keywords

Adding negative keywords to AdWords Campaigns along with adding new search terms that utilize various match types are important ways to improve a Google account’s profitability. These two issues are so essential to running a successful AdWords account that I have dedicated entire past blog posts to two different subjects. For a review of each, read The Art of Adding Negative Keywords and Properly Using Keyword Match Types In Google Advertising.

Make Each Click CountPreviously accessing the Search Terms report and where to add negative keywords was difficult as both were a bit buried inside the Google interface.  However, within the last few months, Google has made these fields much more accessible.  This blog post focuses on the location changes to these tools.  However, for a full review of the importance of negative keywords and why they are essential to an account’s profitability refer to the blog post, The Art of Adding Negative Keywords.

Adding Negative Keywords

As a quick review, negative keywords are a Google keyword match type that causes an advertiser’s ad NOT to be displayed.  Negative keywords are important for limiting ads from displaying for searches that have historically produced low conversions and a low ROI.  Negative keywords are eligible to be added and it is recommended to utilize them for both Google Search and Shopping Campaigns.

When adding negative keywords, advertisers previously needed to access the Keywords tab and scroll to the bottom of that page to access the ‘Negative keywords’ link. With recent Google changes, negative keywords can now be viewed and added by clicking on a new ‘Negative keywords’ subtab on the TOP of the page within the Keywords tab.

Google AdWords' Negative Keywords SubtabOnce accessed, the rest of the process remains identical to before.  By accessing this part of the AdWords console, negative keywords can be added for either the Ad group or the Campaign level.  In order to add negative keywords to multiple Campaigns, advertisers should continue to use the Shared Library link located in the left menu.  For a review on how to use the Shared Library for adding negative keywords, refer to my blog post, The Art of Adding Negative Keywords.

In addition to moving the Negative Keywords access, Google also moved where advertisers are able to access the Search Terms report.  The Search Terms report displays actual search terms that users performed which triggered an advertiser’s ad to display.  An extremely useful tool in adding both negative keywords and new search terms, the Search Terms report is also now much easier to access.

Previously buried under the Details subtab, this report can now be accessed simply by clicking on the ‘Search terms’ subtab next to the new ‘Negative keywords’ subtab.

Google AdWords' Search Term Report

The Search Terms report also has retained the ability to segment, filter and add or remove columns.  A useful report that savvy advertisers will use to determine which search terms are driving traffic, costs and conversions to their different keywords and Ad groups.

When looking at a Search Terms report, I typically review a few different columns some which will need to be added using the ‘Modify columns’ option located under the Columns subtab.

In particular, I pay close attention to which keywords in which Ad groups where attributed to different search terms.

How To Use The Google AdWords Search Term Report

Make Each Click CountFor search terms generating a large percentage of the traffic, I will want to ensure the Ad group contains the Exact match for these search terms.  Having an Exact match versus a close variant is another way to improve quality score and ensure that corresponding ads contain the most popular keywords inside the ads.  For information on why this is an effective technique when creating Google ads, refer to my blog post Creating Effective Ad Copy in Google AdWords.

Besides being a good source for adding keywords, the Search Terms report is essential to review in finding negative keywords that can be added to a Campaign or Ad group.  Search terms that have generated numerous clicks with little or no conversions make good candidates for negative keywords. It will be up to the account manager to ultimately decide, but using this report provides the insights needed to make an informed decision.

By frequently reviewing the Search Terms report in order to consistently add negative keywords that are under-performing, advertisers can increase both their ROI and their quality score.

Summary

Google periodically makes changes to their interface.  Some of the changes they make help accessing various tools easier and some are changes that advertisers may not necessarily like.  Moving the access to the Negative Keywords and the Search Terms report was a change that absolutely makes accessing these pieces of the AdWords interface easier.

And make no mistake.  It was not a coincidence that the Search terms subtab was placed right next to the Negative keyword subtab next to the active Keywords subtab.  By using all three in conjunction, an advertiser can work to quickly and effectively optimize AdWords Campaigns by adding new keywords and negative keywords based on historical data.  Savvy advertisers should spend time in the Search terms report on a frequent basis in order to view customer search behavior in regards to their Ad groups and optimize bids and search terms using this insight.

Still need help or looking for someone to bounce ideas off?  I am currently offering free marketing discovery sessions to those interested. Call True Online Presence at 1-888-456-6943 or schedule online.

Happy Marketing!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Andy Splichal is an online marketing strategist  with more than a decade and a half of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues.  Although this blog focuses on driving profitable traffic through Google AdWords, True Online Presence offers additional services for lead generation as well as other proven marketing strategies customized for each client.

Restoring Bid Levels In The New Year {updated 1/6/20}

The holidays have come and gone and if you are a 4th quarter seasonal eCommerce advertiser you most likely increased bids (if not, shame on you) to capture as much traffic and sales as possible during the Q4 crush.

Now that the holidays are over, your conversion rates will typically return to normal levels, yet your bids are still inflated.

So how should you restore your bid levels in the new year in order to generate maximum sales while also generating a healthy ROI?

It depends on your level of involvement in your Google Ads account, but typically you have two choices – either reviewing and adjusting bids manually or using Google’s automated bid strategies to adjust bids. This blog post will look at both options and let you decide on which or perhaps a combination of both will be best suited to re-optimize your account.

Manually Adjusting Bids

If you have sufficient time to dedicate to managing your AdWords account, I would recommend at least in part that you manually adjust bids especially for best-sellers and higher margin items.  By manually adjusting bids, advertisers can determine which campaigns are still producing a high conversion rate using seasonal bid rates, while also determining issues other than the time of year that may account for lower conversion rates. 

Examples, of issues that can negatively affect conversion rates include lack of inventory, competitor discounting and other on-page factors such as out of date pages or availability language.

By manually adjusting bids rather than relying on Google bid strategies, advertisers can account for these “other issues” when reviewing and ultimately determining whether to return bids to pre-holiday levels or leave bids at inflated holiday levels. 

A downside of manually adjusting bids is that advertisers need to have enough data in order to enact proper decision making.  While waiting for data to accumulate, CPA can sometimes increase much higher than in Q4.  However, waiting and incurring this cost can often be worthwhile in discovering items that will produce a solid ROI throughout the year despite continuing to use higher Q4 optimized bids.

Let’s look at an example from one of my clients:

During December because of optimizing and ultimately increasing bids, the Military Campaign for one of my private clients skyrocketed accounting for 87 sales cumulative $3,000 in revenue; a 5.5% conversion rate; $11.54 CPA and a ROAS (rate on advertising spend) of approximately 3. It also had an average cost per click of $0.63.

Note, in order to easily look at various campaigns it is a best-practice to clearly define each campaign and to properly segment campaigns in order to not only be able to easily view past results, but also to be able to adjust various settings. For a review on the importance of segmenting campaigns for Google Shopping Campaigns review my article – How Segmenting Google Shopping Campaigns Can Boost Profitability.

For this Campaign, I originally segmented it from the rest of the Google Shopping Campaigns in mid-September of last year.  Here is how it performed in October: 10 sales cumulative $402; a 2.18% conversion rate; $16.61 CPA and a ROAS of 2.4.  It also had an average cost per click of $0.36.

One would assume that once the holiday shopping frenzy is complete that it would make sense to decrease bids to pre-holiday levels for this Campaign ($0.36 vs $0.63). 

However, before automatically lowering bids, I continued to allow the Campaign to run as is for another 2 weeks after Christmas to see how it would perform post-holidays with holiday bids.  Here were the results: 14 sales cumulative $333 sales; a 4.73% conversion rate; $6.03 CPA and a ROAS of 3.96. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, an average cost per click of $0.29 (that is a lower CPC than before the bids were raised and optimized during the holidays).

So what happened?  By optimizing and increasing bids during the holidays for products within this Shopping campaign, those products performed so well that they began to receive clicks at a lower price than the bid.  Remember, Google’s quality score?  If not, make sure you read my article – Why Google Advertisers Need to Know Their Quality Score.

After the holidays, product ads in this campaign continued to receive clicks below the bid value and are still attaining click share and impression share at holiday levels which is helping to account for a conversion rate almost as high the two weeks after Christmas as the three weeks preceding Christmas.

What should we do with this campaign?

That is a great question and why optimizing campaigns is never dull and should never use a set it and forget it strategy. It will take deeper investigation to determine which products are performing well inside the campaign and to determine if there are any products not performing up to a desired level and adjust those bids accordingly.

However, one thing is certain; bids should not be unilaterally lowered on this campaign now that the holidays are over. In fact, it might be wise to test raising bids to gain even more click and impression share.

Google’s Automated Bidding Strategies

What should you do if you don’t have the time to dedicate to each of your campaigns or at least not to your “lesser important” campaigns? 

If advertisers don’t have the needed time to dedicate to each Google Ads Campaign, they have the option of using Google’s automated bidding strategies to help ensure their spend remains aligned with their ROI goals for both Search and Shopping Campaigns.

Another option is to simply migrate existing Shopping Campaigns into Google Smart Shopping Campaigns. However, before this is done advertisers will need to be aware of the pitfalls of using Smart Shopping Campaigns. You can read more in my article – New Google Smart Shopping Campaigns – What You Need to Realize

However, by using Google’s bidding strategies although advertisers will forfeit the ability to dive into what factors other than bid may be affecting ROI and conversion rates they will not lose the ability to eliminate unwanted searches through the use of negative keywords.

Even though not typically preferred in use with my private clients, a campaign optimized using Google’s ‘Smart’ technology is far superior to a campaign left unattended. 

For Search Campaigns, Google offers the following automated bid strategies: Target CPA, Target ROAS, Maximize clicks, Maximize conversions, Maximize conversion value and Target Impression Share.

Target CPA – Google automatically will adjust an advertiser’s bid in order to get as many conversions possible at the advertiser’s selected cost per acquisition goal.

Target ROAS – Google automatically will adjust an advertiser’s bid in order to get as many conversions possible at the advertiser’s selected return on ad spend goal.

Maximize Clicks – Google automatically will adjust an advertiser’s bid in order to get as many clicks as possible within an advertiser’s daily budget.

Maximize Conversions – Google automatically will adjust an advertiser’s bid in order to get as many conversions as possible within an advertiser’s daily budget.

Maximize Conversion Value – Google automatically will adjust an advertiser’s bid in order to get as much conversion value as possible within an advertiser’s daily budget.

Target Impression Share – Google automatically will adjust an advertiser’s bid in order to get the highest search impression share possible within an advertiser’s daily budget.

Automated bid strategies can be changed once selected through the settings link. However, it is advised to allow time (typically at least 2 weeks) for a bidding strategy to have enough data before judging its success or failure and definitely before making a change to a different strategy.

Automated Shopping Strategies

For Shopping campaigns, the automated bidding strategies are a bit more limited, although those available work in the same way.

Target ROAS – Google automatically will adjust an advertiser’s bid in order to get as many conversions possible at the advertiser’s selected return on ad spend goal.

Maximize Clicks – Google automatically will adjust an advertiser’s bid in order to get as many clicks as possible within an advertiser’s daily budget.

Note, currently there is not a way to migrate a campaign from a Standard Shopping campaign to a Smart Shopping campaign. Therefore, if an advertiser would like to test a Smart Shopping campaign they will need to recreate the campaign and select Smart Shopping during campaign setup.

Final Word

I hope you didn’t think that now that the holidays were over that you could put your feet up and relax? The fact is that the beginning of the year is a critical time to optimize your Google Ads Campaigns. Having a good start to the new year can set a successful tone for the entire year.

Remember that whether reviewing your campaigns manually or creating automated bid strategies that will allow Google to automatically optimize your bids, putting a plan in place is essential and should be done immediately.  Without a plan, advertisers will likely waste budget that can be used for additional advertising throughout month and throughout the year.

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, the founder of The Academy of Internet Marketing, author and certified online marketing strategist with more than a decade and a half 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

The Art of Adding Negative Keywords {updated 3/3/20}

One of the quickest and most effective ways for advertisers to optimize their Google Ads account is with the proper use of negative keywords.  A powerful optimizing tool for both Shopping and Search campaigns, negative keywords work to block unwanted search terms from triggering ads to be shown.

Let’s quickly review what Google keywords are before looking at negative keywords.

For Google shopping campaigns, there are no keywords. Google matches keywords found in an advertiser’s product titles and descriptions and matches them to related user queries. The lack of keywords makes using negative keywords especially in shopping campaigns a must for advertisers to prevent product ads from appearing for irrelevant searches.

Google search campaigns are more straightforward. Keywords are created within the Google ads account added by the advertiser and these keywords fully dictate which search terms trigger ads to appear. Negative keywords are still important especially if advertisers are using match types other than Exact Match.

Currently, Google supports five different types of keywords for Search campaigns: Exact Match, Phrase Match, Broad Match, Broad Match Modifier and Negative keywords.

Regardless of campaign type, negative keywords have the top hierarchy of the different types of keywords.  Adding a negative keyword to an advertiser’s account, campaign or ad group will block all ads from being displayed even if that same keyword is also listed as one of the other keyword types for a search campaign. 

However, although the negative keyword will block ads from being shown, having a keyword as both a negative and either an exact, phrase, broad or broad match modifier keyword in a search campaign will trigger a Google alert and is not recommended.

How Do You Know Which Negative Keywords to Add?

In order to determine if it is necessary to add a negative keywords, review your search terms report in order to discover which keywords are driving traffic.

Effectively using Search Terms is an entirely different subject which I have dedicated another entire article – Keyword Search Terms – Unlocking The AdWords Puzzle.

For now, we are going to assume you have a list of negative keywords you would like to add. Common negative keywords across accounts include keywords such as: free, coupon, pictures, cheap, wholesale, etc. Therefore, we will use these keywords in our example.

Adding Negative Keywords At The Ad Group & Campaign Levels

Once you have your list of negative keywords they can be added for the ad group, campaign or account level.  We will look at how to properly add negative keywords at all 3 levels and strategies to implement.

The process for adding negative keywords to either the ad group and campaign levels is identical and will depend on which whether you are viewing the campaign or ad group level.

In order to add negative keywords at either the ad group or campaign level, first navigate to either the ad group or campaign you wish to add the negative keyword(s) and click on the Negative Keywords link in the left hand column below the Keywords link. (You may need to click on the small arrow to the left of the Keywords link in order to view the Negative Keywords).

The negative keywords view will show all existing negative keywords currently applied to this campaign including which negative keyword, where they are added to, the level (account, campaign or ad group) and the match type for the negative keyword.

In order to add additional negative keywords at either the campaign or ad group, an advertiser will first click on the blue plus button.

This will open a new window where advertisers can add their desired negative keywords.

Here advertisers are allowed to either manually enter new negative keywords or apply a negative keyword list (we will discuss later in this article). In addition, advertisers can decide whether to add the negative keywords to either the campaign or ad group level.

If adding manually, here you will add the negative keywords. By including either within brackets, quotes or with no punctuation will determine the negative keyword match type.

Exact Negative – Brackets – Excludes all searches from appearing that contain that exact search.

Phrase Negative – Quotes – Excludes all searches from appearing that contain the negative phrase.

Broad Negative – Nothing – Excludes all searches from appearing that contains that word or words.

Adding Negative Keywords At The Account Level

Adding a list of negative keywords at the account level will limit ads being triggered throughout the account. 

A distinct advantage of adding negative keywords at the account level is a quick and semi-easy way to limit unwanted traffic for generic terms that advertisers wish never to be able to trigger their ads across their account.

A distinct advantage of adding negative keywords at the account level is a quick and semi-easy way to limit unwanted traffic for generic terms that advertisers wish never to be able to trigger their ads across their account.

Then, click on blue plus button to add a new negative keyword list or click on an existing list to modify the keywords currently contained within a list.

To add a new negative keyword list, click on the blue plus button; add your negative keywords; name the list and then save.

Once you create or when you using and existing negative keyword list, advertisers can easily apply the list to multiple campaigns.

To apply to multiple campaigns, first click on the negative keyword list you would like to apply. Then, you will be either allowed to add more negative keywords or to apply the list to one or more existing campaigns. In order to add to campaigns, click on the blue ‘Apply to Campaigns’.

This will open a new window where you can select campaigns to apply your negative keyword list. Simply select the box next to the campaign or campaigns that you wish to add the list and click the ‘Done’ button.

Remember that you can also apply negative keyword list directly within the campaign where you add individual negative keywords (see instructions above).

Final Word

The proper use of negative keywords is a powerful tool in optimizing an advertiser’s campaign.  By examining past account performance, an advertiser can find a list of keywords that if properly implemented will stop ads from being displayed for non-relevant search terms. 

Properly optimized, keeping up to date with negative keywords is a best-practice that not only can substantially save ad budget, but will also make your ads more relevant thus helping improve overall metrics in an account.

Keep in mind with negative keywords that once you are done you are not done. The use of negative keywords is NOT a set it and forget it technique. 

In order to get the most out of an ads budget, a properly optimized account will need an advertiser continuing to search, discover and implementing new negative keywords on an ongoing basis throughout the lifetime of the account.

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Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Splichal is the founder of True Online Presence, the founder of The Academy of Internet Marketing, author 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.

When Advertising With Google, Where Are You Really Advertising?

So you are or have decided to start advertising using Google AdWords.  If you are like most advertisers, you think this simply means your ads will show on either the top or to the right of the page when a user does a search for one of your keywords on www.google.com.  But did you know that your ads could be displaying in places other than Google?  Well it is true and it depends on how you have your campaign configured to determine where your ads will show.

Here are the options when launching a new campaign and one of these options must be selected for every new campaign: Google Search Network with Display Select, Google Search Network, Google Display Network Only or Google Shopping.

Since Google Search Network is the most common choice for advertisers that is the focus of this post covering what it is, the options and the best-practices for ensuring success.

Note, for detailed information on Google Shopping – what it is, how to properly set up and tips for optimizing, I suggest checking out these posts: Google Shopping – What It Is, How Has It Has Changed; Top Tips To Optimize Google Shopping and Enhancing Google Shopping Using Promotions.

Review-and-Ratings-SystemGoogle Search Network –

Google Search Network is the option that advertisers should select when they wish to have their ads displayed on Google.com.  However, this option also includes Google Search Partners.  Google Search Partners are websites other than Google that have an agreement to display Google ads on their website.  There are hundreds of Google Search Partners (such as AOL and various search directories) and these websites show Google ads because they get paid when users click on ads on their site generated by Google.

Is advertising on Google Search Partners good for advertisers?  Well, it depends on the advertiser.  It definitely will increase an advertiser’s reach; however one thing for certain is that advertisers running ads on Google Search Partners absolutely benefits both Google and their Search Partners. This is why advertisers are automatically opted into Google Search Partners as the default to the Google Search Network.

Google-Search-Partners-Opt-In general, Google does a great job of being transparent to their advertisers.  However, this is not the case with their Google Search Partners.  Advertisers are unable to tell which of the partners are generating impression, clicks, costs or conversions and are also unable to opt out of displaying on a specific Search Partner.  In addition, an advertiser cannot bid different on Google Search than on Google Search Partners.  It is truly an all or nothing shot.  Advertising with Google as well as with Google’s Search Partners can indeed be beneficial, but an advertiser needs to be aware and periodically review their account to make sure it is and continues to be beneficial to do so.

Checking Google Search Network Results vs. Google Search Partner Results

Even though Google does not allow its advertisers to view results of specific Search Partners, fortunately Google does allow advertisers to view results of the entire group and here is how it is done.

Assuming an advertiser has been running their ads on both Google Search as well as Google Search Partner in order to have data for both, an advertiser can look at the results using the segment tool. Within the Campaigns tab, simply click on the drop down for Segment and select the Network (with search partners) option.

Google-Search-Partner-SelecAfter an advertiser selects the Network (with search partners), every campaign is broken down into results of either Google Search or Search Partners.  Advertisers have the ability to customize the columns or use the default to view all the statistics available and then review each campaign.

Key statistics include clicks, impressions, CTR, costs, average position and conversions.  I also like to include the search impression share metric.  This number is generally higher for Search Partners opposed to Google Search and can provide some insight into what may happen if an advertiser increased their bid which would likely increase the impression share on Google Search.

Note, when comparing Google Search results to Google Search Partner results make sure that you have selected a large enough date range to make the data relevant.  In general, I recommend looking at a bare minimum of 3 months.

Summary –

Advertising with Google Search Partners indeed will bring an advertiser more clicks subsequently more visitors.  Will these clicks be profitable?  That is the million dollar question each individual advertiser needs to answer based on looking at their results as described above.

In general, I do recommend beginning campaigns to include Search Partners for eCommerce advertisers, but I also make sure that I am periodically checking the results for each and every campaign in the account to ensure that it generates a positive ROI.

For Professional Services clients, I typically recommend turning off Search Partners from inception as these clients are looking for those “red hot” leads coming directly from Google not the hundreds of other websites where a Google ad could appear if not opting out of Google Search Partners.

Still need help or looking for someone to bounce ideas off?  I am currently offering free marketing strategy sessions to those interested. Call True Online Presence at 1-888-456-6943 to schedule.

Happy Marketing!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Andy Splichal is an online marketing strategist  with more than a decade and a half of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues.  Although this blog focuses on driving profitable traffic through Google AdWords, True Online Presence offers additional services for lead generation as well as other proven marketing strategies customized for each client.

Why Google Advertisers Need To Know Their Quality Score

When using Google AdWords, advertisers create a set of keywords for which they want to have an ad displayed, determine the maximum they are willing to pay if someone is taken to their website for those keywords and then create ads to show for these keywords.  Within the ad copy, advertisers determine which page on their website that the user will be taken once the user clicks on their ad. 

Keyword quality score is a highly relevant factor in establishing successful Google marketing campaigns for both eCommerce as well as Professional Services advertisers. There are two important factors in determining quality score: ad quality and page relevance.

Let’s cover the basics first and then look at how Google determines and finally how an advertiser can improve their quality score.

What is Google’s Quality Score – Every time a search is done on Google, Google runs a real-time auction to determine in what order paid ads are listed.  The real-time auction takes into account two things in determining Ad Rank (what position ads are shown): how much an advertiser is willing to pay if their ad is clicked and the quality score of the keyword being auctioned. Quality score is determined by how often an ad is clicked on (click through rate) along with how long the user spends on the website they are taken and if the user hits the back button immediately (referred to as a bounce). If a user bounces, Google calculates that the user was not interested in the page they were taken and assigns a low quality score for that search to that particular keyword.  If this happens on a ratio that Google deems lower than average, the keyword is defined as having a determined low quality score.

Why Does Google Assign A Quality Score? Google wants those searching their results to find what they are looking for easily.  This keeps people using Google to perform searches instead of using a competing search engine. Therefore, it is in Google’s best interest to provide users with the most relevant results in order that they keep their users using Google to perform Internet searches.

What happens if advertisers have keywords with low quality scores?  If an advertiser has a keyword with a low quality score, three things are likely to happen.  1). Ads will be displayed lower on the page than competing advertisers with a higher quality score that are willing to bid the same amount for the same keyword. 2). Google will charge more per click to serve ads for keywords with low quality score (although an advertiser can NEVER be charged more than the maximum bid they have allowed).  3). Keywords will receive the message that ‘ads are rarely being shown due to low quality score’.  This generally happens when a keyword is assigned a quality score of either 1 or 2.

Review-and-Ratings-SystemHow can advertisers determine the quality score for keywords.  In order to determine the quality score for keywords open the Google AdWords dashboard and go to the keywords tab and click on columns and then select customize columns. Under attributes is listed Qual. Score (short for quality score of course).  Simply add Qual. Score and hit apply.  Now, when viewing keywords advertisers will see a column for quality score rated from 1 to 10 with 10 being the best. The lower the quality score for a keyword the more expensive, less often and lower placed the advertiser’s ads will appear.

Improving quality score through ad copy – A low quality score may indeed be due to a poorly written ad.  For advertisers looking to improve quality score, make sure that ads contain popular keywords from the ad group for which they are being served.  This technique is known as tying creative to keywords and if done well will increase the likelihood of users clicking on an ad thus improving click through rate (CTR). 

Help ads stand out with the use of offers and creative copy. This can be challenging with just four lines of text to work with so it is important to always be testing and optimizing ads. Include a call to action, this is a chance for the ad to convince potential customers to select your ad as well as letting potential customers know what to expect when they visit an advertiser’s website.

A third technique that can help increase quality score by strengthening an ad is adding Google ad extensions.  Google offer a number of ad extensions which includes: call extensions, location extensions, review extensions, seller rating extensions, dynamic sitelink extensions and app extensions. Each of these extensions have their place and their success depends on the business using, but they all have one thing in common: they take up more real estate on the page (when displayed) making an ad more prominent thus increasing the likelihood of clicks and leading to increased click through rates.

Improving quality score through landing pages – Two words: Be Relevant.  Make sure the page a potential customer is brought to when clicking on an ad matches their search.  Advertisers often make the mistake of dropping potential customers onto pages which are much too broad (including the home page) rather than creating a landing page geared toward a user’s search.

Having landing pages closely related to a user’s search will not only increase an advertiser’s quality score on their Google ad campaign, but it will also work wonders in increasing conversion rates. It is a cardinal sin to make potential customers search a website once they have arrived from Google in order find what they were initially searching for on Google and customers simply won’t do it.  What customers will do is hit the back button and click on a competitor’s ad that the user hopes will be more relevant.  Customers bouncing back to Google hurt an advertiser’s quality score and costs advertiser’s money for the visitor they received who took no action other than to leave. It takes time to create relevant landing pages, but it is an effort worth the trouble ten-fold in order to improve both conversion rate and quality score.

Strategy for monitoring quality score – It is recommended for advertisers to keep a close eye on their quality scores.  A keyword with a low quality score could have the ability to negatively affect an entire ad group making it more expensive for keywords with an average to high quality score. Low quality score keywords do this by lowering click through rates for ads being served to other keywords within the same ad group.

If an advertiser has a keyword with a low quality score, it is recommended to either pause the keyword or pull the keyword into its own ad group and work on making either the ad copy, landing page or both more relevant to that keyword(s).

Quality score is often overlooked in importance in favor of bid, but remember Google uses a combination of both to determine Ad Rank. Therefore, it is critical to monitor keyword quality score as low quality scores are red flags that are not only costing advertiser’s budget, but affecting the overall quality health of the campaign.

Still need help or looking for someone to bounce ideas off?  I am currently offering free marketing strategy sessions to those interested. Contact True Online Presence at 1-888-456-6943 to schedule.

Happy Marketing!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Andy Splichal is an online marketing strategist  with more than a decade and a half of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues.  Although this blog focuses on driving profitable traffic through Google AdWords, True Online Presence offers additional services for lead generation as well as other proven marketing strategies customized for each client.

Holidays Are Over, Top 8 Things To Do Planning For Next Year

The decorations are still on the house and if you are like me you still have leftover turkey and eggnog in the refrigerator. For those of us in e-commerce, the last six weeks have been the busiest time of the year.  Although, it may be tempting to take a break, put your feet up and watch some New Year’s Day football, it is also an essential time of the year to start thinking about next year and what you can do to make it more successful.

Your advertising efforts are all fresh and to analyze your results now will be well worthwhile in laying the framework for next year. Here is a list of the top 8 things to do when reviewing your Q4 marketing results.

1. Did your analytics program track your results properly? A good analytics program is worth its weight in gold. Without a proper analytics program, you can still figure out some key sales metrics by looking at your different marketing channels, but it will be a difficult task to see the complete marketing picture. If your analytics program did not track properly or worse you do not have an analytics program installed, DO NOT hesitate and make it priority 1 for the new year. Get analytics in place before you begin spending marketing dollars in the new year. Google Analytics is free with an AdWords account and is quite effective in tracking revenue sources and much more.

2. The most important metric – ROAS (Rate on Advertising Spend). Rate on Advertising Spend (ROAS) measures dollars spent to dollars earned on your marketing channels. To calculate, divide revenue generated by ad dollars spent on each channel. For example, let’s assume you spent $8K in December on Google AdWords and generated $45K in revenue; your ROAS would be 5.62 meaning you earned $5.62 for every $1 you spent. A full cost analysis is required to determine your total profitability, but this metric will easily allow you to identify and rank the success of your marketing channels. Note, if you don’t have an analytics program such as Google Analytics installed, use average sale price and multiple by conversions and use that number for your dollars earned. It won’t be perfect, but it should give you an adequate ballpark figure.

3. The next metric to pay attention to is CPA or Cost Per Acquisition. To calculate, divide the cost by number of conversions.  For example, let’s assume you had 100 conversions and spent $1,000.  Your CPA would be $10.  Compare that number to your cost of goods plus shipping costs.  Is the CPA low enough to generate a healthy profit on every marketing channel?  It sure better be because during Q4 for most ecommerce companies your CPA is going to be at the lowest level of the year.  If you are not making a profit on each marketing channel in Q4, if that is in fact your busy time, you need to make changes now to your marketing strategy before 2015 starts.

Receive Make Each Click Count4. Dig in to your campaigns. Really get into your campaigns.  You are going to want to analyze both ROAS and CPA on the campaign level all the way to the keyword level (for highly trafficked keywords).  Generally, not only does Q4 generate the lowest CPA and ROAS of the year, but it also generates the most traffic, providing a ton of data.  Only by fully diving into your data can you find those hidden gems that help account for highly profitable sales and those landmines that were busy eating your marketing budget.

5. Act on the facts. Once you have taken the time to analyze your marketing efforts make sure you act.  For Pay Per Click Campaigns, raise bids for keywords that worked, lower or pause bids for keywords that didn’t provide sufficient numbers.  This should be done throughout the year, but the best time to do an in-depth review is the beginning of the year when data and revenue levels should be at a premium.

6. Review your ads. Did you have ads that were geared toward the holiday season?  If so, those ads may no longer be relevant.  Make sure your marketing is current.

7. Review your traffic – With more and more people shopping on mobile devices and tablets, it is more important than ever to make sure you know your numbers. How did your conversions, CPA and ROI numbers look on across different devices?  Are you bidding the same amount for all devices?  It is important to know, track and optimize as needed.

8. Review new channels – Did you start a new marketing channel during Q4? Maybe you ran a test budget for one of the CSE (comparison shopping engines) like PriceGrabber or Amazon Product Ads.  Q4 is a great time to add to your marketing efforts, but it is important to make sure it was a success before moving into next year.

Reviewing fourth quarter marketing takes time and you will need to plod through extensive numbers to properly evaluate, but doing the work at the beginning of a new year can save advertisers substantial budget and is essential in optimizing sales.  Reviewing marketing today is a task that will pay dividends all year long!

Still need help or looking for someone to bounce ideas off?  I am currently offering free marketing strategy sessions to those interested. Contact True Online Presence at 1-888-456-6943 to schedule.

Happy Marketing!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Andy Splichal is an online marketing strategist  with more than a decade and a half of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues.  Although this blog focuses on driving profitable traffic through Google AdWords, True Online Presence offers additional services for lead generation as well as other proven marketing strategies customized for each client.