A good place to start with search engine marketing (SEM) is the use of keywords because that is how your customers find you, right?
If there is anything that you remember from this article, remember these 3 things:
- Think holistically about the different ways that customers could reach you
- Align your keywords and their management with your overall business outcomes
- Delete your low search volume keywords
There are a few ways to develop a list of keywords for your AdWords campaign. Think of the words on the website, your services and products that you offer. What terms do you think your customers use to describe or search for you? What terms do your competitors use to be found?
Remember the story of the 3 bears? Goldilocks tried the porridge and one was too hot and another was too cold and one was juuust right. Well, you can think of keywords for AdWords in the same way. Some are too broad and some are too long and some are juuust right. In SEO, we LOVE Long Tail keywords because those are very relevant. They may not be searched as much as a broad term, but when they are, its money in the bank. Unfortunately, you can’t have a lot of long tail keywords in AdWords because of the low search volume. Compared to shorter keywords (those with two to four words), keywords that contain five words or more drive less than half the volume of clicks and impressions on average. It also hurts your quality score. I’ll explain this a little later.
Let’s say you are David Bouley, the owner and chef of Bouley’s French Restaurant in New York City and you want to have a campaign to sell more gift certificates to your restaurant. Using the term Gift Card is too broad because it will trigger all kind of searches that are irrelevant. He doesn’t want people seeing his ads when searching for Harry & David Gift Baskets. Using Restaurant Gift Certificates is a little better because it triggers those searching for that more specific gift certificate, yet it can still be a problem because it can show up for Olive Garden gift certificate, or Chili’s, which target totally different diners with a different price and dining experience expectation in mind. A good keyword phrase could be french fine dining gift card or french fine dining gift certificate. This targets diners who are interested in a French Fine Dining Experience. Another possibility could be Bouley’s Gift Certificates, however I bet the search volume would be very low.
There are many software tools available to assist you in finding the best keywords for your campaign or website. One of them is the Google Keyword Planner. What I have found though, is that these tools are not as accurate as you may think. The search volume has been off and the bids weren’t as accurate as what I saw when my campaigns went live.
I was told once by a very successful online marketing professional, Matt Trainer, who has made a good living by helping major brands with getting massive targeted traffic and customers into their sales funnels, to take 10 – 15 minutes and step away from the computer and actually think how I, as a potential client would search for that product or service. I’m sure you can think of the right terms just as well as any software can. Heck, you can even think of what terms your competitors are using. Like many things in life, you just gotta take action and step out in faith. Give it a try yourself and, you may start to realize that this practice will work better for you too if you try it and practice it. Maybe you have already seen the same things that I have experienced.
Google LOVES tightly themed, related and relevant content. You want to match keywords to a user’s search terms and to the ads as well as the landing page you are sending them to visit. I arrange keywords within the adgroups. It also makes it easier for you to manage and maintain your account. If you are on a tight budget, keywords are often grouped at the campaign level for greater budgetary control.
Stay Clear of Low Searched Keywords
Watch out for low search volume keywords. As Stated earlier, SEM doesn’t like long tail keywords. These terms often haven’t driven a single impression in months or even years because people aren’t performing searches on them (not because your bid isn’t winning any auctions). While you want them on your page for SEO, Delete them in SEM campaign if you have other keywords that could potentially cover that traffic. My personal preference is to have 2 – 3 long tail keywords that are super relevant even though they don’t perform well because when people do search for example: Buy Bouley’s NYC Gift Certificates, His ad will show up and the person looking for that and ready to buy a $500 gift certificate for a 5 course French Fine Dining luxury experience will have found exactly what they want.
Let’s Get Negative
Just as important as the keywords people use to find you; Negative keywords are an essential part of a well-rounded keyword strategy. In order to increase the profitability and improve control over the flow of traffic in your account, use negative keywords to the fullest. On the most basic level, negative keywords prevent you from showing ads to people who are less interested in what you have to offer, even though their queries may be syntactically related to the keywords in your account.
So, let’s go back to the example of David Bouley’s French Restaurant. He doesn’t want to show up for searches of gift cards from Pizza Hut, or Chili’s or Applebee’s, etc. So a sure fire way to assure we are targeting the most relevant audience is to add these restaurants to the negative keyword list along with gift baskets and Harry. Once the campaign is running, you will see in the keyword details reports what terms are triggering your ads and then you can add the appropriate ones to the negative keyword list.
Having a strong negative keyword list will be valuable as it improves the performance of your campaign and improves the quality scores of your ads.
Scoring High Marks on Quality
You know how you have those warning or indicator lights on the dash of your car? They turn on when you need to check your engine, or if your oil or gas is running low? Well, you can think of the Quality Score of your keywords as a warning light: something that alerts you to potential problems which need to be checked. A lot of advertisers spend a lot of time on this. A good rule of thumb I go by is a score under 6 is a stronger indicator that I need to check the relevance of the term and how it’s performing and if I need to tweak my landing page or ad or both.
Attempting to use tricks, shortcuts or short-term solutions to force the quality score up isn’t the way to go. Rather, you’re better off to focus on your long-term performance outcomes and look for ways to reach them by improving your user experience. Google is ALL about the user experience and so should you.