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.

Using Audiences to Increase Conversions

There is a lot of trust that you need to convey to customers when making an initial sale.

Does a customer trust your products? Does a customer trust your price? Does your customer trust your shipping times? Does a customer trust that your website is secure?

However, for a user who has previously placed an order and become a customer those trust factors have been established. The only barrier to having the customer place their next order is the customer again needing your product(s) and the customer being able to find your product(s) again.

By utilizing Google’s tracking system, advertisers can keep tabs on past buyers and create a list of those buyers in what is called an audience.

By using audience lists to increase their bidding, advertisers can help ensure that past buyers are more likely to find their products the next time they are searching Google.

Not only can advertisers create an ‘audience’ of past buyers, but also an audience of past website visitors who did not buy or an audience of past visitors who exited after visited your checkout page or an audience of past visitors who stayed over 2 minutes on any page and didn’t buy.

I think you get the point. 

With Google’s tracking tag, advertisers have practically limitless ways to segment website visitors based on the way they interacted with their website and can group them into different audiences.

In addition, audiences are not limited to website visitors and how they have previously interacted with your business. Advertisers also are invited to tap into Google’s research into its users and how Google has segmented those users by specific interest, demographics, habits and how they are searching even for those who have never visited their website.

If you want to get crazy, and if you find an audience that converts why wouldn’t you, you can also add audiences similar to the your created audiences again filled with potential customers who have never visited your website.

Although Google audiences can be used in shopping, search, display and video, this article discuss how to use them and the benefits of using them exclusively for shopping campaigns.

Creating Audiences in Google Analytics

The first step is that you need to have already properly installed Google Analytics and linked Google Analytics to your Google Ads account. 

Although, we don’t go into details on the importance of properly installing Google Analytics in this article, Google Analytics and the data it provides is crucial in terms of proper tracking and optimizing of your Google Ads account.

Once you are inside of Google Analytics, you will want to navigate to the ‘Admin’ view. To access the ‘Admin’ view click on the ‘Admin’ link located in the very bottom of the left navigation bar.

The Admin view is divided into 3 sections: Account, Property and View. For our task of creating audiences, we will be using ‘Audience Definitions’ located within the Property section.

Once you click on the Audience Definitions, a new window will open that displays all previously created audiences and a big red New Audience button. In order to edit existing audiences, click on the audience name. In order to create a new audience, click on the red ‘New Audience’ button. 

Creating a new audience is almost limitless in what you can create. However, it is segmented into 3 main sections: Audience Source, Audience Definition and Audience Destination.

Audience Source

The audience source is where advertisers add the first party data source to their account. Most advertisers are going to have only one ‘View’ in their Analytics account so this field will pre-populate.

Audience Definition

Audience Definition is where advertisers can define their audiences. Google recommends a few pre-populated definitions such as All Users, New Users, Returning Users, Users who visited a specific section of my site and users who completed a transaction.

By clicking one of the recommendations, you can then customize the recommendation and change the membership duration (how long the user stays in your defined audience).

To customize a Google recommended audience type, click on the audience type and then the pencil icon.

This will open a new window where advertisers can overlay their own criteria. Criteria that can be used is also virtually unlimited. It includes Demographics, Technology, Behavior, Date of First Session, Traffic Sources, Enhanced Ecommerce, Conditions and Sequences.

One you define your conditions; you click the blue ‘Apply’ button the only thing left in this section is to name your audience.

Audience Destination

The Audience Destination section lets Google Analytics know where you want to apply your created list. Since we are going to use the audience to bolster our shopping campaigns, we are going to link the audience destination to our Google Ads account.

To do this simply click on the ‘Add destination’ button and select the correct Google Ads account. If it the account is not already linked, you will have to first connect your Google Ads account to your Google Analytics account.

Click Publish and you are done. You are ready to now start using your campaign to adjust bids within your Google Ads Account.

Using Your New Audience

Before you can start using audiences, the audience is going to have to grow large enough before Google will allow to use. Currently, the list for targeting search/shopping campaigns must be over 1,000 in the last 30 days before it is eligible for use.

Depending on your traffic, it will of course vary how long it takes before the list is eligible. However, once the list has grown to the required size your goal will be to adjust bids for audiences where purchase is more likely.

For shopping campaigns, audience bids can be added and adjusted at either the campaign or the ad group level. Note, if you add audiences at the campaign level it will affect all ad groups inside that campaign. However, if you add audiences at the ad group level it will ONLY affect that one ad group.

Adding an Audience

To add an audience, navigate to the campaign or ad group where you want to add the audience and click on the ‘Audiences’ link in the left-hand menu.

Then, you will click on the blue pencil icon which will open a new window.

In this window, you can confirm where you want to add the audience, which audience to add and how you want to apply the audience.

Observation – This setting ads an audience but continues serving eligible ads as normal.

Targeting – This setting will override the campaign or ad group targeting and ONLY serve eligible ads to the selected audience.

If you suddenly see a dramatic drop in your ads being served, you probably selected the wrong targeting type. Observation is going to be typically used unless you are running a specific campaign such as retargeting visitors.

Once you enter your new audiences, you can adjust the bids for specific audiences by clicking on the pencil icon in the ‘Bid adj.’ column.

Here you also will want to ensure that you have set your Targeting to Observation in order to continue serving ads to all users as well as your defined audiences.

Typically, advertisers will find a lower CPA (cost per acquisition) for audience list. Therefore, it makes sense to bid more on those customers.

As your account and your campaigns continue to compile more data, you will be able to optimize bids for past website visitors in order to increase conversions.

Final Word

The first sale is always the hardest to make. For a customer to push that ‘Confirm Order’ button, they need to trust your website and trust your products.

Once the customer has completed that first order and you have successfully fulfilled that order if everything goes right, you now should have a happy customer.

The barrier to having a happy customer place a second order, third order or fourth order is far lower.

That is why email marketing to your customer list is so powerful. However, your email marketing might now reach them the exact time they are searching for your product(s) in Google.

By creating audiences and increasing bids for those audiences, you can help ensure your past customers or past website visitors find your products more prevalent during their search.

The eCommerce average of a happy customer making a 2nd purchase is 30%; the average of a third sale is 35%; the average of a fourth sale and beyond is 90%.  Therefore, doesn’t it make sense to do everything you can to ensure customers continue to make repeat sales?

Creating and implementing audiences when used properly is an effective way to increase the lifetime value of a customer and it should be a piece of your online Google Ads strategy.

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 for small to mid-sized e-commerce businesses serious about substantially growing their online sales plus exclusive access to me, author of Make Each Click Count, The TOP Guide To Success Using Google AdWords.

Complete Access To The Academy of Internet Marketing For $1

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 see what makes us special and together we will grow your business.

If you are ready to take your online advertising to the next level, I welcome you to take a trial. It only costs $1 for access.

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.

Increase Your Conversions By Knowing Your Customer’s Location {revised 4/10/20}

Location, location, location, it is the well-known battle cry of real estate agents, but it just as well could be the battle cry of the savvy online marketer.

Depending on what products you are selling online, your conversion rates may differ substantially depending on which part of the country your customers live.

Imagine this scenario for the scuba diving retailer (I’m not pulling this example from thin air, I previously worked with a scuba diving retailer as a private client a few years ago).

As you can probably imagine, the users searching for scuba diving gear who live near the water – Florida, California, Texas, etc. had higher conversion rates than those not by the water – Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, etc. Meanwhile, the users searching in high income areas not by the water, New York, Denver, Chicago, etc. were somewhere in between – assuming they were planning their trips.

Therefore, to optimize the account, I used location bidding to bid more for areas by the water with the highest conversions; lowered the bid slightly for areas not by the water but with higher average income and bid substantially lower for areas not by the water with very few conversions.

What Does This Have to Do with You?

I realize you probably don’t sell scuba diving gear, but if someone asked you if your CPA (cost-per acquisition) was the same across all states would you know? Would you know which states are generating your highest conversion rates and at what CPA?

For each campaign?

That’s right, if you have followed best-practices and grouped campaigns into similar products then conversions rates may very well vary by location even within different campaigns.

If your campaigns are not currently optimized by location or you don’t know how this is done, then you should read the rest of this article.

Below we will reveal exactly how to dive into your Google Ads account to uncover this data. Once you can identify trends in user behavior based on their location you can optimize your campaigns based on historical data to increase your profitability.

Accessing Location Data

You can access location data at either the account or campaign level.

In order, to access you are going to click on ‘Location’ located in the left-hand menu.

Then, you will click on either ‘Geographic report’ or ‘User Location report’ located below the ‘Location link.

Geographic Report displays the location that triggered your ads to display based on both location as well as area of interest.

User location report displays the location that triggered your ads to display based exclusively on destination.

Which should you use?

If you are advertising a product or service that is specific to a geographical region – example Georgia football shirts, then you may want to use the geographic report to optimize bids as you would want to be able to subdivide data by both actual location as well as area of interest.

However, if you are selling an item with no geographic ties – example children’s tricycles, then best-practices would suggest using the user location report to subdivide and optimize on your data.

For the example below, I will use the User location report.

Once you click on the User location report, the report displays at the top level which is for country.

If you then click on the country, options will open including region, state, region, congressional district, county, municipality, city, postal code, airport, borough, city region, neighborhood university and district.

For my private clients, I generally will subsegment by state or even by city if there are substantial conversions to warrant.

Once you open the report, basics columns will display including clicks, impressions, CTR, Average CPC, Cost, Conversions, Cost/Cov and Value/Conv. You are also able to add additional KPIs by clicking on the column button on the report. You can also export the data into an excel file if that makes the data easier for you to work with.

Once you have identified some trends and are ready to either increase or decrease bids, you will click the checkbox next to the field you wish to adjust; select the edit button and choose Add targets and set bid adjustment.

Proprietary Best Practices For Adjusting Bids

Now that you know how to extract your data and how to either increase or decrease bids, the important question becomes when to make the bid adjustments and how much to adjust the bids.

This is up to the individual advertisers of course, but here are the guidelines that I use for the majority of my private clients.

First, I calculate the ROAS – Conversion Value / Costs. This can be done by exporting the data into excel and adding a column with the formula above to automatically calculate ROAS.

For items with traffic over a certain threshold (say 200 clicks over the last 30 days) I change the bids based on the following schedule:

ROAS 2-5 – Increase bids 10%
ROAS 5-10 – Increase bids 15%
ROAS 10-24 – Increase bids 25%
ROAS over 25 – Increase bids 40%

For categories, with certain number of clicks (say 100) and 0 conversions I would look at lowering bids.

100 – 150 clicks with 0 conversions – Decrease bids 10%
150 – 200 clicks with 0 conversions – Decrease bids 15%
Over 200 clicks with 0 conversions – Decrease bids 25%

If this is confusing, please download my Google Shopping Location Bidding Strategy Guide for a complete look at the bidding formulas and more explanation on each.

It is free to download.

Last Word

If you are not reviewing which location your conversions are being generated, you are most likely wasting ad spend AND not capitalizing on the ability to increase profitable conversions.

By setting up a schedule of when you review these locations, you can systematically increase or decrease your bids for areas that either historically either do or do not convert.

It is important to note for this method to be effective; you will need to ensure AdWords is properly tracking conversions – see Measuring Conversions – Implementing Proper Tracking.

However, if your account tracking is properly installed you will soon discover how effectively adjusting bids based on conversions can boost your overall account profitability.

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 for small to mid-sized e-commerce businesses serious about substantially growing their online sales plus exclusive access to me, author of Make Each Click Count, The TOP Guide To Success Using Google AdWords.

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 see what makes us special and together we will grow your business.

Complete Access To The Academy of Internet Marketing For $1

If you are ready to take your online advertising to the next level, I welcome you to take a trial. It only costs $1 for complete access for 2 full weeks.

Happy Marketing!
Andy Splichal

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Author2.jpg

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.