From John: Today’s guest post comes from Megan Marrs, a blogger and marketing associate at Wordstream. We don’t often talk about PPC here on the Distilled site, but we think it is important to explore all areas of inbound/online marketing. Many PPC ideas and activities can also heavily influence our SEO work, so knowing the basics can make us better marketers. Over to Megan!
AdWords contains a number of elements that need attention when crafting your PPC campaign. Today we’ll be examining three factors that many deem essential in being successful with AdWords: Negative Keywords, Quality Score, and Long-Tail Keywords.
Negative keywords are tremendously important in establishing a successful keyword list. Using negative keywords in your AdWords campaign can save you bundles of money and increase your ROI dramatically.
So What Are Negative Keywords?
While keywords are specific word terms you bid on, negative keywords are words you are asking Google to not have your ad appear for.
For example, imagine for a moment you are a local farm stand selling pumpkins. With big ambitions for fame, you decide to create an AdWords account. Of course you want people to see your ad when they search the term “pumpkin”. But you don’t want to be broad-matched against keywords like “pumpkin seeds,” “pumpkin costumes” or “pumpkin pie,” (no pumpkin pie? What kind of farmer are you?). Those keywords that trigger your ads are sending you irrelevant traffic and could be costing you big bucks with no chance of conversions.
Implementing negative keywords in your AdWords campaign is incredibly beneficial for a number of reasons. Using them can:
- Keep Away Irrelevant Search Terms — Negative keywords ensure that your advertisements aren’t triggered by irrelevant search queries.
- Reach Your Most-Likely-to-Convert Audience – By creating negative keywords, you are more likely to be connected with prospective clients who will make conversions.
- Reduce CPC and Increase ROI – Negative keywords stop money from being wasted on unwanted impressions and clicks from irrelevant searches that trigger your advertisements.
Discovering Negative Keywords
Finding negative keywords requires some serious time commitment and research. Doing it on your own means digging through months of search query reports, and it can result in plenty of hair pulling and teeth grinding.
But don’t despair just yet—there are plenty of negative keyword tools out there that can assist you in this work. Wordstream offers a negative keyword tool, among others, and additionally has a great Negative Keywords E-Book if you’re looking to learn more.
Our own PPC expert Larry Kim advises on the importance of negative keywords:
“If I had just 15 minutes to spend on optimizing an account, I’d do negative keyword research! Why? Because it’s the most impactful account optimization you can do in a short amount of time. Every account wastes on average 10-30% of their budget on ridiculous search queries that have nothing to do with your business and by doing negative keywords you can find and eliminate the garbage in your account that is killing your performance. “
Google’s Adword Quality Score is a grading system designed to evaluate your ads and judge them with a score. Your AdWords Quality Score is determined by several factors:
- Relevance of ad copy to keyword
- Relevance of ad to corresponding landing page
- Click-through rate (CTR)
- Historical account performance
- Other relevance and performance factors
Relevancy is a big deal to Google. It’s kind of their mantra. You’ll notice that most of the factors above incorporate relevancy in some way.
Google claims that “ads are just answers,” so by that logic, searches are just questions. Google wants advertisers to connect the right answers with the users’ questions, personified in relevancy.
If your ads are relevant to what an individual is searching for, you are giving them the answers they need. This makes the searcher happy, making Google happy too—and when the search engine king is happy, so are all his subjects (the humble advertisers).
What is Google’s reward to his loyal advertisers? Google offers a number of incentives to get advertisers to pay attention to Quality Score. With a higher Quality Score, you can receive:
- Lower costs – Advertisers with high Quality Scores have a lower cost-per-click (CPC), which can lower your cost-per-conversion as a result.
- More exposure – Having a high Quality Score means that your ads will be displayed more often and in better positions. You can get more exposure, more clicks, and more conversions without having to raise your bids.
As Quality-Score-master Larry notes:
“The higher your Quality Score, the lower your cost per click and higher your ad position. This seems like a no-brainer here: who wouldn’t want to get more for less?”
Understanding the value of long-tail keywords will do wonders for your AdWords campaign. These less competitive keywords are the ones that will drive the most relevant traffic while being the least expensive.
Search keywords generally fit into three categories:
- Head - these keywords are the most popular, and therefore are more competitive. These broad keywords tend to be one or two terms.
- Torso/Mid-Tier - slightly longer keywords that have mid-level competition
- Long-Tail - the longer, less popular keywords
Hopefully your high school days aren’t so far behind you that you don’t remember that the kids who are the least popular sometimes make the best friends.
Long-tail keywords, despite being unpopular and uncompetitive, are extremely valuable if you’re selecting phrases that are relevant to your ads.
What is Larry’s advice when it comes to using long-tail keywords?
“Eliminate 1-word keywords like “insurance” (which are hopelessly unspecific) and instead focus on targeting more specific 3-word terms that are more relevant to your business. Ideally +80% of the impressions in your accounts should be accrued to +2 word keywords in your account.”
Some information about long-tail keywords:
- Over half of buyers using search engines use queries of three or more words, with only 7% using a single world or acronym.
- 20-25% of all Google search queries are unique
- Long tail advertisers make up half of Google’s revenue
In a nutshell, there is big money in those long-tail keywords. With a quarter of all Google’s search queries being totally unique, targeting those new keywords would be hugely beneficial.
The problem is that it’s not easy to target those unique queries. The best way to put yourself in position to rank for those new keywords is to aggressively target mid-tail keywords and long-tail keywords.
To do this, you’ll have to plan your site around using those mid to long-tail keywords. Concentrate on developing:
- Information Architecture
- Outside Link Building Strategy
- On Page SEO & Content
Each of the above steps require dedication and careful planning, but it pays off in the end when you are appearing for unique queries and getting the most qualified traffic to your site for the least amount of spend!
Get a Quick and Free PPC Audit
The first step towards improving your AdWords campaign is understanding its current condition and areas for improvement. The AdWords Performance Grader is a great tool that serves as a free PPC audit, reviewing your AdWords account and grading its performance against competitors of similar spend ranges.
The Performance Grader evaluates your account on the key metrics we discussed today, in addition to others, and provides actionable tips on how to improve your score and optimize your AdWords account.
About the Author:
John Doherty is the head of and consultant in the Distilled New York City office. His work time is filled with data consumption and strategic awesomeness, while his free time consists of extreme sports, travel, and bicycle riding in Brooklyn.