In Search

The Google AdWords platform has rolled out a bundle of changes over the past six months. Which means it’s important for campaign managers to understand their account options and balance the choices for their paid search advertising campaigns. To help facilitate this process, check out the following breakdown of the most important issues.

Let’s start with match types.
This week, Google changed the way exact and phrase match-type keywords are served. Until now, “exact” meant…well, simply that: exact. So to achieve accurate results, searchers had to type in keywords exactly as they appeared in your keyword list. But with the new match-type options, close variations (e.g., misspellings and plurals) will still serve ads against your selected keywords. As Google claims, searchers aren’t perfect spellers, so Google is always striving to provide the desired search results even when the search terms are not totally precise.

If you are more of a hands-off advertiser, this change will benefit your campaign by allowing Google more freedom to reach a wider (yet relevant) audience. However, if you are someone that desires greater control—and that heavily monitors and optimizes daily—you still have the ability to select “do not include close variants” in the Keyword Matching Options within your Campaign Settings tab.

Moving on to ad delivery.
Google Adwords also made a modification to the ad delivery options: a “rotate ads evenly” stipulation. Previously, a user could set up an ad to rotate evenly, split among however many versions of text ads were live. The new adaption means that if no changes are made to the ad creative after 30 days, the ad rotation then optimizes for clicks. This forces advertisers to continually analyze and refresh ad creative to conduct ongoing A/B testing (which we always recommend).

Now for quality score.
A few months ago, Google began quietly rolling out the biggest change to its PPC algorithm. Google changed its Adwords quality score formula, placing greater weight on landing page relevancy while reducing the weight of click-thru rate. At this point, all accounts are up to date on the change, but advertisers are likely looking for ways to see if they’ve been affected and figuring out how to respond.

This adjustment compels campaign managers to dig even deeper into Google Analytics and on a more frequent basis, analyzing bounce rates and user interaction of their various landing pages. But that practice should already fall into the routine mix of optimizations as advertisers look to maximize cost-per-conversion. Click-thru rate is still the strongest indicator of campaign effectiveness. Advertisers just need to be aware of their AdWords performance within their Google Analytics account in order to balance all aspects of their paid search campaigns.

Google has always stressed to advertisers the importance of creating relevant landing pages, and this change in their algorithm communicates that even louder. It is extremely vital that your ad messages match your landing page and have a very clear call-to-action. This is an ongoing “best practice” in the industry of online advertising—and now, it’s a measure in quality score.

What does it all mean?
These changes further affect the need to establish a sound paid search strategy from the start, as Google has given itself a little more freedom to “run” your paid search campaigns. And while this will be great for some advertisers, others need to be aware of how the new changes will impact their actions. As always, it is essential to stay on top of everything related to your paid search campaigns and maintain a strategic approach to selecting which options are best for your Adwords account.

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