Eric Enge and David Szetela Discuss PPC Optimization

Podcast Date: October 24, 2008

David Szetela Picture

The following is a written transcript of the October 24, 2008 podcast with David Szetela of Clix Marketing and Eric Enge:

Eric Enge: Hello everybody, this is Eric Enge with Stone Temple Consulting. You can see our website at www.stonetemple.com. I am pleased to be here today with David Szetela of Clix Marketing. You can see his website at www.clixmarketing.com, thatís c-l-i-x marketing.com. Thanks for joining us today, David.

David Szetela: Thank you, Eric. Great to be here.

Eric Enge: Indeed, so we thought we would talk a little bit about whatís going on in the world of broad match. Let us start just by talking about some of the general problems with broad match if we can, and then expand into the way Google has expanded it recently, making it potentially a lot more dangerous for advertisers.

David Szetela: Got it. So broad match is one of the keyword match types that can be used in Google Adwords PPC Campaign, and basically the way the broad match is supposed to work is for a given keyword, letís say a two-word keyword for example like red sneakers, Google was supposed to display the advertisers ad when somebody does search using both of those words in any combination.

So, broad match will match the keyword red sneakers to ďlooking for sneakers that are redĒ as well as ďI want the red colored sneakersĒ, so the point I am trying to make is the words, the keyword will be matched to a search term when that search term contains those two words in any combination with any intervening words that might occur in the search query.

So about a year ago, maybe a little more than a year ago, Google decided that that they would start matching keywords, broad match keywords, to a broader range of synonyms, and their official explanation for this is that they are helping advertisers who donít have the time or the imagination to bid on all of the variations of keyword that they should be bidding on.

Eric Enge: Right, maroon for example might be a synonym for red.

David Szetela: Thatís right. My official stance on Google is they are not evil, at the same time they are a publicly-traded profit-making company, so this is an example of a move that they made to both benefit some advertisers and benefit the shareholders as well, because increasing the number of search queries that match a keyword displace the ad more frequently and therefore I gets more click money for Google. Hopefully, that means more click money for the advertisers as well, but in practice there is a problem, and the problem is that Googleís software matches the keyword to a variety of search queries that is way too broad.

I will give you an example, letís say the advertiser is a sneaker manufacturer and they sell red sneakers and they sell a lot of them. Well, Google might match that keyword with a word that has synonyms for each of the individual words. So for example, they might match, if someone typed in a search term where can I see a picture of Ruby slippers?, the ad for red sneakers might come up because of the fact that Google decides that they have matched the word red to ruby and sneakers to slippers.

Eric Enge: Right.

David Szetela: Obviously thatís a problem because the ad is not at all relevant to the search query, and Google might say or some might say thatís not really a problem because if the ad display and the ad is pertinent to the search term then the person doing the search will not click on it. Well, there are two problems with that explanation, one is that if the ad comes in reaction to a search term thatís irrelevant, the ad accrues an impression and the click through rate is worse and the quality scores worse, so thatís a problem.

Eric Enge: Right.

David Szetela: A bigger problem is something that I have been trying with calling the Szetela Theorem which is that people will click on anything. Basically Eric, when we start talking about content I will describe this again, but basically you can assume that no matter how irrelevant the ad to a search query, some people that use that search query will click on the ad, and I think itís intuitively obvious that all of those clicks and combination will be less likely to convert, so the net effect is impressions go up, clicks go down, the clicks that do come through a low conversion rate, so that in a nutshell is the expanded broad match problem.

Eric Enge: Right, so it seems like you have two options: you can spend more money and get less results or you can spend more money and get less results. Letís talk about how we can avoid this problem or at least minimize it.

David Szetela: Yeah, there are three good ways to minimize it. I will start with the most extreme, and by the way we have tested all of these methods. I also worked out a couple of methods with the help of my good friend Matt Van Wagner of Find Me Faster, whoís a brilliant guy.

Here are those three ways - #1 is just donít broad match on one word and two word keywords, okay. So, thatís kind of the most prudent, safest method; just donít bid on them. And as a segue into method #2, I will say that if an advertiser has a sufficient number and variety of phrase match and exact match versions of dangerous one-word and two-word keywords, then they should be covering most of the bases. So again, solution #1 is just donít bid on one-word and two-word variations of keywords, broad match versions of those keywords.

Variation #2 is at the other extreme, which is keep them, and this is actually Googleís suggestion, which is go ahead and run one word and two word broad match keywords, but use a very useful report called the search query report that does a pretty good job of showing the advertiser the search queries that are matching the keywords in the ad group. So basically, this is how we first found that the bad matches were happening, running the search query report and seeing things like Ruby slippers, mauve high-heeled things like that, that Google was, that search queries that Google was matching to our keywords.

Then, Googleís recommendation continues by saying then the advertisers should use negative keywords to try to make sure that such bad matches donít occur in the future. Well, I think that could be a fine strategy for advertisers with relatively small campaigns, with relatively small number of keywords; because it takes a lot of time #1 and #2 it, Matt and I coined the phrase, itís like playing Bob the Weasel, itís basically closing to barn door after the horse has gone or scrambling to negative out bad matches after the money has been spent.

Eric Enge: Right.

David Szetela: So, for our clients, we concluded that basically closing the barn door once a week or once a day was basically prohibitively time-consuming and not really staunching the flow of ad money.

Eric Enge: Right, so that the preferred tactic then is the, take the one-word and two-word phrase and exact and phrase match them.

David Szetela: Right, but here is one trick, and this is solution #3 and I have to credit Matt for this, which is letís take the example of red sneakers again. The phrase match version of red sneakers would match the search query I am looking for red color sneakers but it would not match the search query I am looking for sneakers that are red, because phrase match only matches search queries with the same words in the same order.

So, the way to mitigate this is, and I will through a quick step-by-step process which is the way we are handling it, and that is #1 stop bidding on one-word and two-word broad match keywords, #2 make sure that the phrase match and exact match versions of all those keywords that you might turn off do exist in your campaign, and #3 add phrase matched versions that are the inverse of the two-word broad match keyword. So if you bid on phrase match red sneakers and phrase match sneakers red, then you will cover the widest variety of almost all of the matches that you might have gotten with broad match if it were correctly, it wasnít expanded out.

Eric Enge: Right. So, thatís very cool. Well, super. Why donít we talk a little bit about ways to turbo charge your Google content advertising?

David Szetela: Yeah, okay, before we get into that I just remembered one thing that I really do need to include and that is 3 months or 4 months ago Google introduce yet another feature very similar to expanded broad match called Automatic Match. And I am not going into detail about it, just realize the fact that itís like broad match but on steroids, and it results in an even greater number of inappropriate ads being triggered by keywords where the search query and keywords bear no resemblance to each other.

So, my recommendation for most advertisers is to definitely do not use automatic match, turn it off if itís on; the only exception again is the small advertisers with small ad groups or small overall campaigns with a small number of keywords that just donít have the time to manage a campaign as tightly as others.

Eric Enge: Alright.

David Szetela: I hope I saved some listeners a lot of money.

Eric Enge: I imagine you did, and so letís talk about content advertising.

David Szetela: Okay, in a nutshell, and by the way I want reference to our blog where there is a lot of information about expanded broad match and content match or content advertising and also to the 30-Installment Search Engine Watch column that I did on content advertising, so I am going to summarize the best advice from those 30 columns in about 10 seconds to 45 seconds.

Okay, the #1 reason why advertisers do not succeed on the content network is they donít realize that best practices for content network PPC Advertising are much, much different from best practices in search. So here are the top three tips, #1 never run a combined search and content campaign. Unfortunately, this is the condition by default in Google and Yahoo and Microsoft too. So basically, if you have combined search and content campaigns, turn off the content. If you are creating new campaigns, create separate campaigns for search and separate campaigns for content; just do that and you will save the lot of money.

Tip #2 is that one of the main reasons that, one of main ways that content and search campaigns are different is that the keywords function completely differently. In a content campaign, the keywords should be the words that appear most frequently on the kinds of sites where the advertiser wants their ads to appear.

So one of the examples I give in the column is, a company that sells bodybuilding equipment and they realize that their target audience is also interested in hunting, so basically they want to put their ads on sites where hunters hangout. So basically, their keyword list would be all about hunting, it would be big-game hunting, I donít know hunting very well so I am not going to do well on these keywords, but letís just say the keywords are all about hunting; so that the ad which may even be addressed to hunters like ďhey hunters, want to make sure that you are physically fit for the next hunting trip come to our body building websiteĒ it seems counter intuitive to search advertisers because they are used to making sure that their keywords match search queries, search queries match the ad and itís all about the product and service.

To be successful at content advertising, you have to start thinking about what kinds of sites do I want my ads to appear on and sometimes thatís a demographic group sometimes it is a special interest group, so the keywords, if you just follow this one tenet you will do fine, and that is the keywords in a content keyword targeted campaign should be the words that would appear most frequently on the target group of websites.

Eric Enge: Right, because ultimately this is display advertising, itís a different environment, right? And, someone is on a website, this is about hunting site, they are not really thinking about bodybuilding when they get there, but because the demographic matches right, that might be good place for you to run your ads.

David Szetela: Absolutely. In concert with that, tip #3 is exactly as you just said Eric, content advertising is much more like display advertising, or print advertising, or television, radio; basically the ad is interrupting the main event which is the content that the website visitor came to view.

Search advertisers are used to writing ads that assume that the person looking at the ad came to the page with an interest in what the ad might be selling, just the opposite occurs when an ad appears in a website, the site visitor and the person who is looking at the page came for the content and the ads are tangential to the content. So, the ad has a responsibility that every ad has but itís even sharper with content ads, and that is itís got to jump up the page and scream I have got something for you, so it has to, its first duty is to distract attention away from the content and to the ad.

So, I go into probably two installments of this in the column using imperative words, using exclamation points, using very, very strong offers in the ad are all good practices. Now, the good news is that, and this is another major difference between content and search; with content ads you are not penalized if your ad text does not correspond directly to the keywords and if you think about my explanation of the keywords you will see why thatís true.

So, there is lot more latitude the advertiser has in the language that they can use in the ads, they could and should basically jump off the page, grab this site visitor by the throat and convince them that there is something to gain by clicking through to the website.

Eric Enge: Right.

David Szetela: And by the way, I go into a lot of detail in the column about non-text ads because as many people have probably noticed there are some really great non-text ads that do a great job of distracting attention away from the content. Sometimes obnoxiously so, but if you do, the advertisers do their job right, they are making a very logical, credible connection between the content, the ad, and the website thatís offering the product or service.

Eric Enge: So, right I mean at the end of the day, if your mission is to be a distraction, which it is in this environment to some degree, then embrace that mission. I think thatís a great tip. This so much opportunity I think in content advertising because very few people do it that well.

David Szetela: Yeah, I mean the time right now is perfect to start using it because #1 at the available click inventory, the number of possible impressions and clicks is huge and growing faster than search and #2 as you just pointed out, since it has traditionally been very scary to advertisers there is much less competition in the content network than there is in the searching network, where the competition is huge and is driven and the cost per click clicks up way out of the range of some advertisers.

Eric Enge: Alright, cool. So letís move to our third topic and talk about different types of keyword variations that people should have in their ad groups.

David Szetela: Great topic! The backdrop to this is that people type some crazy things into that search box and sometimes you can blame the literacy, sometimes you can blame different styles, sometimes there is just no explanation; but we have spent a lot of time in our company doing research into what people actually type into the search box. And so, I will give you three tips out of many that I believe every advertiser should be using in every campaign.

#1 is when a noun appears in a keyword list, the advertiser should bid on three different plural versions of that noun or that noun within a search phrase. And those plural versions are the correct one, and at least two incorrect ones. So if the keyword is a red sneaker, then obviously the keyword red sneaker should be included, but also red sneakers with sneakerís and red sneakers with sneakersí. People use the incorrect pluralizations all the time and Google letís you bid on them separately.

We have frequently found that there are more impressions and more clicks on the keywords that are incorrect pluralizations, and we would not have gotten those if we had just bid on the singular version of the noun or just the correct pluralization of the noun, so thatís tip #1. Tip #2 is I am going to, itís kind of 2a and 2b, 2a is many savvy advertisers bid on their trade names, let us say the name of their company.

Eric Enge: Sure.

David Szetela: The slightly more savvier bid on the domain name and the URL of their company because the fact is that people doing searches, many people, and I am talking about uneducated people, I have watched lots of my educated friends do this, they donít even use the address bar or the address field on the browser, they just go directly to Google or Yahoo, they type the domain name into the search box, they donít go immediately to the site, but generally the listing for the site comes up first in organic and then they click on it and then go to the site.

What is less well-known and well-practiced is that, again people type very strange variations of domain names and URLs into the search box. So, we routinely bid on, I think we are hitting up to 250 or 300 different variations of domain names for every brand name or domain name thatís we bid on. And I am talking about things like ďwww (space) domain name.coĒ, things like if the domain name is two words like Clix Marketing, they enter ďhttp://www.clix(space) marketing.comĒ where they accidentally put a space in.

And if the advertiser is not bidding on that, then the searcher even though they know exactly what they are looking for will not find the site, because the site wonít come up in natural and it wonít come up in an ad. So thatís 2a, 2b is frequently when people are looking for specific product or service, they start by saying to themselves, I wonder if there is a site out there that is named exactly this product or service. So, an example of that is red sneakers; if someone is get set on buying a set of red sneakers right now, many people will say I wonder if there is a redsneakers.com and type that search term into the search box on the search engine.

Another best practice is to find your best multiword keywords or even one-word keyword and bid on all of the domain name variations and URL variations of that word, and you will be very surprised to find that lots of people typing crazy things and the clicks are cheap and the conversions are high.

Eric Enge: Well great David, I think those are some great tips that can really help people who are new or even fairly advanced in paid search and content advertising jack up their campaigns. So, thanks for joining us today.

David Szetela: My pleasure and I just wanted to add that I would love to hear from listeners; I would love to hear success stories based on what I have tried to teach and also be happy to answer any questions. My email addresses david@clixmarketing.com.

About the Author

Eric Enge is the Founder and President of Stone Temple Consulting (STC). STC offers Internet marketing optimization services, including SEO, Social Media and PPC optimization, and its web site can be found at: http://www.stonetemple.com.

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