As the paid search and marketing world changes, so too must the best practices opinions change. By definition, best practices are those most highly recommended tips, tricks and procedures resulting from repeated use by the experts in the field. They are based on the evidence of successful and effective search results in the fast-changing world of digital marketing. Our purpose here is not to devalue the existing practices of paid search marketing, but to re-examine them in the light of a new day, and to explore whether new methods might also provide effective insights to improve paid search marketing going forward.
- Broad Matching
Most best practices recommend avoiding broad matching to the greatest extent possible. This allows paid search engine marketing to leverage the greatest control over accounts because searches generally include close variants of search terms such as plurals and misspellings. This diverts traffic from other ad groups that overlap. Many businesses find it difficult to have budgets to manage AdWords matching strategies covering the potential number of keywords and ad groups currently in circulation. Broad match overuse may also trigger auctions for AdWords campaigns that target audiences other than your desired demographic. Best practices dictate you limit your AdWords spending to the direct audience only.
The counterpoint to this best practice analysis is the fact that broad match can be an excellent way to reach potential customers online who use search terms other than those on your AdWords account. Broad match, therefore, becomes an excellent net to catch more business than the very specific AdWords chosen for your search campaign. Also, the search and marketing department of your business can often use the results of broad match to determine more effective search terms for future campaigns.
- Repeatedly testing, analyzing and optimizing search terms
This search practice is the core of paid search marketing, as well as other digital marketing practices. Constant analysis of search terms and updating search terms frequently to maintain optimal search engine performance is essential to respond rapidly to the search behaviors of potential customers. It is the best method to experiment with new marketing strategies, examine and analyze the results and put these results into action. It is also the only way to weed out what is not working. A strong SEO marketing team can analyze virtually thousands of searches in a few days, providing valuable data for the paid search campaign. This routine has made paid search the largest and perhaps most valuable method of digital marketing currently in use.
- Move Beyond Google
Google currently represents about 65 percent of U.S. search traffic, while Bing and Yahoo bring in around 33 percent combined. For paid search success, the marketing team absolutely must have a presence on all three search engines to make an impact with a paid search campaign.
However, this requires a large advertising budget just for paid search campaigns. Very valuable brand terms, for instance, are pricey on Google, so having a presence on Bing and Yahoo is required. Most Google AdWords customers are not big spenders, having budgets under $1000 per month. For those, focusing first on Google for paid search efforts makes sense at first. It simply does not make sense to stretch a budget or a new marketing team too thin within a small business. Once a business grows and has more resources in terms of time, people and money, expanding search business to the other search engines is a wise investment.
- Use of Negatives
A strong technique for paid search marketing is the effective management of negatives to help control what the search engines submit on your behalf. Negatives control also impacts which campaigns and ad groups get submitted for keyword queries. For instance, search marketers cut back keyword groups to streamline them. An effective negatives management strategy keeps your business ahead of the search marketers in this regard. It is important to understand how advanced this approach has been for an account’s negatives, so check this item regularly.
Opposing viewpoints agree this is a best practice to keep. Negatives are a valuable parameter for paid search marketers, although some have not mastered the technique. This can seriously impact the effectiveness of a digital marketing campaign, limiting its effectiveness and the scale of the campaign through improper management.
Another consideration when dealing with negatives is considering whether multiple individuals are managing within the same account, as may occur within a large advertising agency. Each paid marketing account manager might be using a different negative strategy that operates in opposition with the others, adding disorder to the account. It pays to ensure all the personnel on the account are utilizing similar methods to address negatives to avoid performance issues.
- Mobile vs. Desktop Advertising
There has been a dramatic increase in the use of mobile devices to access marketing, to the point that mobile is now the dominant method used for most paid searches. As such, it is imperative that search marketers utilize appropriate ad copy and media for the mobile market. The question remains, however, whether separate copy and media should be used for desktop searches. Search behavior on mobile devices is vastly different that on a desktop, simply based on the nature of the device.
Opponents counter that the use of extra time to write two sets of copy and develop two sets of media is not manageable. Just managing, reporting, analyzing and testing two sets of copy and ad words is a job that takes twice as much creative talent. For a business already stretched thin on resources, it might pay to think about where to prioritize this tactic in relation to other best practices.