If 2008 taught us anything, it was the value of search engine marketing in a recession. While banks went broke and high street stores suffered dramatic falls in foot traffic, online sales flourished. In many ways the last 12 months have been a time for experimentation, particularly for pay-per-click advertisers who’ve found new and improved functionality bestowed upon their 70 character ads almost on a monthly basis.
Now however, there’s a new term feel about search marketing and time to put into practice all of the things we’ve recently learned. So, what advancements were made in 2008 and how can we use that knowledge to design better paid search marketing campaigns in 2009
5. Using Search Insights
Google Trends offers up insightful data for search terms, organizing search volume and trends around useful filters such as language, city and geographic region. In June 2008, the tool was updated and expanded, showing actual figures per search term on the graphical result and providing a download to spreadsheet option. Information can also be organized according to vertical and time of day, throwing up hugely useful data that indicates the best way forward for most paid search advertising. If you feel that your pay per click account lost it’s way in 2008, Search Insights are the single most powerful means of putting you back on track.
Use Search Insights to research new phrases, check that search volumes remain feasible for already included keywords and download the data for a more in-depth assessment. Pay particular attention to trends over the last 12 months – have a particular group of keywords shot up in popularity? Are there any new words or search strings enjoying heavy traffic in the last three months? Break down the data by city or region your business operates in and then use this information to determine whether or not it’s worth creating individual, location-targeted campaigns with different ads, keywords and bids for the most popular phrases in that locale. This is a great money saving tip as you can concentrate resources minutely, bumping up positions and visibility for only the most used search words in that particular area.
As data is scalable, Search Insights can also be used to put the current keyword selection through its paces. It can also be brought in to play if you’re planning a complete overhaul of your search presence and applied on a campaign level basis. Search volumes are dynamic and change constantly, but with the current shift in retail habits, it’s important to reassess your chosen campaign keywords and check that they are still the most relevant and widely used terms for your advertising.
6. Search and Content
Statistics was a keyword for Google themselves in 2008 with a whole host of new features brought online for advertisers. As well as giving more information than ever about keyword popularity and traffic patterns, the search engine also cast its knowing eye over content network partners. Their first change involved new ways to assess content stats with a modified interface placing search and content stats side by side in columns organized by campaign, network and ad group. This change was intended to provide advertisers with deeper insight into the cost of their content campaigns and their ROI in comparison with search ads for the same products. This was coupled a little later with a brand new campaign summary separating out content and search results at campaign overview level. The separate aggregates of advertising stats were intended to give users better value for money by making it easier to compare the two placement options quickly and easily.
Start the New Year with a new content campaign to enjoy a wider overall presence on popular web properties. Web users interact with content network ads in a unique manner and usage patterns often won’t reflect those gathered from search results. With greater informational resources at your disposal however, you can directly compare and contrast and test content network advertising secure in the knowledge that no stone is being left unturned. Use the modified content statistics interface to trial performance on various networks, keep a record of results and compare input with output, not only on the content network but directly against the search network.
7. Contextual Targeting
Contextual targeting is a fancy name for technology that matches keywords in ad groups to keywords on a web site and then shows the ad accordingly. It’s a lot like the way keywords in searches trigger an ad on the search results page of a search engine. In July 2008 Google wielded its considerable power to make contextual advertising on the content network even more alluring. Following previous revisions to the content advertising platform, the changes to contextual targeting allowed advertisers to bid more or less for a specific context network site being contextually targeted and write more refined text for a pre-determined clutch of pages.
These advancements means advertisers keen to make a relevant appearance on say, a magazine site or a social network can do so by bidding within their price range for an advert tailored to that small clutch of pages to appear in the preferred position.
Most advertisers will value certain sites or pages within a site above the rest of the content network. They may be pages with a complimentary demographic or the section of a general forum or portal site dedicated to their own particular product, service or industry niche. Using this more complex mix of contextual and placement targeting in 2009 means you can use your content ads more intelligently – set specific bids for specific placements to ensure your ads appear exactly where desired but use only a segment of the overall budget to cover costs. You can also show adverts only where keyword and placements match, allowing highly targeted text that flags up key calls to action for readers of that particular page or section of pages.
8. The Search Based Keyword Tool
Debuted mid-November, the Search Based Keyword Tool turns keyword research on its head. Rather than guessing which keywords web users may be typing into the search box to find products and services, Google’s Search Based tool goes back to the beginning of the search process, crawling through the advertiser’s web site landing pages to suggest keywords that its users are inputting to find those same products and services.
Use this ingenious tool to plug any keyword gaps you have – it will identify keywords not currently being used in the target campaign and leverage search volume data to suggest popular words and phrases that are highly relevant to the site and used by the target audience. Although this tool is most useful to new advertisers, it can also act as a fresh pair of eyes, adding a new dynamic to a campaign that has perhaps been left to its own devices. Even if you update your keyword selection regularly, this tool will verify that you’re on the right path and identify any missed opportunities.