SilverDisc Blog

12th October 2012

Four PPC Old Wives’ Tales De-Bunked

There are lots of persistent myths that affect marketers’ decision making when it comes to paid search. To stop you from falling into the pitfalls of these deceptive old wives’ tales, this blog post aims to de-bunk some of them for you!

Old Wives's Tale 1:

When working to strict cost-per-action (CPA) goals, it’s tempting to steer clear of broad match keywords. We worry that they will prompt clicks from irrelevant search queries and increase our CPAs as a result.

This is true to some extent; the nature of broad match keywords means that they are more likely to generate impressions from more tenuously related queries than phrase and exact match keywords. However, we have some great defences in our armoury to help us increase the relevancy of the clicks generated from our broad match keywords:

  • Run regular search query reports and add re-offending unrelated terms to your negative keywords list.
  • Make sure your ad is clear and descriptive of your product offering. This will dissuade users whose queries don’t match your services from clicking through to your website.
  • Look into the option of utilising broad match modifier. By adding a + symbol in front of one or more  of the words in your broad match keyword you can specify that the word must appear in the user’s search query in order for your ad to be served.

Well managed broad match keywords can produce great results; we just need to manage them effectively.  Some of our best results have been achieved using broad match keywords to reach prospects that other match types could not reach!

Old Wives' Tale 2:

If you appear organically in position one for searches that match your company name, it’s quite logical to assume that there would be no need to appear in the paid listings as well. However, there are some compelling arguments for bidding on your own brand term:

  • Prevent your competitors from appearing in that ad real-estate. If you’re not occupying the top paid search spot on your own brand term then you’re freeing up that space for other advertisers.
  • Unlike your organic listing, your paid ad offers great flexibility when it comes to altering your message and destination URL at the drop of a hat.
  • Growing personalisation of organic results means that not everyone may see your prominent organic listings, even if you do.

As long as you are achieving your goals with your brand term campaign - why wouldn’t you go for it?  If you would like to read something slightly more in depth on this topic, Mary and I have both previously blogged about the benefits of bidding on your own brand term.

Old Wives' Tale 3:

Position one is by far the most appealing spot in the paid search results, and why wouldn’t it be? Ads in higher positions generally see higher click-through-rates. Plus, there is also something unquantifiably cool about appearing above your competitors.

However, higher positions inevitably demand higher cost-per-clicks. So rather than fixating on the location of your ad on the page, focus on the cost of your clicks in relation to the value of the conversions that your keywords are generating.

It’s great news if you can afford to appear in position one while maintaining cost-effective advertising, otherwise (particularly if you are working to cost-per-action goals) it is better to settle for the lower positions that generate cheaper and more profitable clicks.

Usefully, Google also offer a great “top vs. other” report so that you can assess the performance of your ads depending on their position on the results page (below):

Old Wives' Tale 4:

If we were setting up a new adgroup based around the term “nike running shoes” a few years ago, it might have been considered best practice to start out with a keyword list similar to the following:

“nike running shoes”

“new nike running shoes”

“buy nike running shoes”

“buy new nike running shoes”

“buy new nike running shoes online”

And so on...

More recently, the introduction of broad match modifier (which has just become compatible with Bing Ads as well as AdWords) has allowed us to enjoy the impressions from relevant long tail keywords such as “buy new nike running shoes online” without having to add hundreds of similar phrase match keywords to our campaigns.

If we were to set up this adgroup now, we would start with the keyword +nike +running +shoes before gradually adding further related keywords on the basis of some regular search query reports.

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions!

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