Why I Start New Hires on Adwords Editor

This week’s PPC Chat discussion centered on PPC Basics – a topic near and dear to my heart. I love training new PPC’ers on the fundamentals.

One of the questions was “Do you believe entry level PPCers should immediately have access to Google and Bing Editors? Why?” The ensuing conversation was interesting, and frankly, surprising.

I immediately answered with “Yes! It’s the first thing I train new PPC staff on!” But many others disagreed, saying the Editors were advanced tools that should be reserved for experienced PPC’ers.

I respectfully beg to differ. Here’s why I start new hires on Adwords Editor (and Bing Ads Editor, too).

At its core, I love starting off with Editors because they make it easy to understand account structure. Account structure is so important to PPC success that failing to understand it can lead to less-than-ideal results. And it’s just easier to see account structure in Editor.

adwords editor treeIn Editor, everything is stacked hierarchically in the left tree. You can’t see ad groups without clicking on campaigns, and you can’t see keywords without moving over to the tabs. It makes it easy to explain structure to a newbie without overwhelming them: you start at the high level (campaigns) and work your way down.

To experienced PPC’ers, this structure is second nature. To a newbie, it can be hard to comprehend. Editors reinforce account structure by forcing you to navigate through it.

Contrast Editor to the Adwords online UI.

adwords ui

What are all those tabs? What am I looking at? What does all that data mean? ::head explodes::

It’s so easy to get tripped up in the online UI. You can click right to keywords, but you’re seeing every keyword in the account! That’s confusing to a beginner – and overwhelming. And it doesn’t reinforce the fact that small, tightly themed ad groups are a best practice. If you’re seeing thousands of keywords at once, it’s hard to focus.

Then there’s the issue of screen load times. Both Google and Bing are light years ahead of where they were 5 years ago when it comes to page load speed – Bing, in particular, used to be nearly unusable due to slow page loads. Still, especially in large accounts, it takes time for pages to load, and those seconds add up fast.

Editors, on the other hand, don’t have that problem. When you’re learning and trying to find your way around, it’s nice to eliminate the added frustrating of waiting for a page to load, only to discover it wasn’t the page you wanted.

The other huge benefit of training newbies on Editors is that it’s error proof – as long as you don’t post anything. I put the fear of God into my trainees by scaring them off from the “post” button.

Think about it – you can do whatever you want in Editor, including adding new keywords, ad groups, ad copy, settings, whatever – and nothing goes live until you post! Playing around is one of the best ways to learn, and PPC is no exception. I give my trainees the freedom to play around in the Editors all they want, as long as they don’t hit “post.” Everything they do in Editors can be erased with one click of the “Revert” button.

When it comes to doing real PPC work, of course your new PPC’er will eventually have to post things. The beauty of using Editors is that you can check their work before it goes live. If they’re working in the UI, every change goes live immediately unless they remembered to set the campaign or ad group to Pause – creating a bigger margin for error than I’m comfortable with.

Of course, bulk changes are also way easier in Editors. I said in PPC Chat that years ago, before Editor, we literally had to hire an intern to update ad copy every time our prices changed (I was doing in-house e-commerce PPC at the time). Not very efficient.

Some PPC Chatters felt that the online UIs were necessary for newbies to understand PPC basics. I disagree with that. What basics can you find in the UI that aren’t in Editor? Unless they’re talking about online learning resources, all the PPC basics are in the Editor.

Of course, there are some tasks that can’t be done easily or at all in Editor. Search query reports are a big one. Reviewing SQRs is a great task for new PPC’ers, but they’ll have to run the report within the UIs.

That said, I have trainees export the data to Excel, review it, make recommendations, and then send to me for review before making changes. All they have to do in the UI is run the report.

Enhanced campaigns are also not well supported in Adwords Editor at this time. There are several features, including ad group sitelinks, which are not currently supported within Editor. But a new PPC’er should not be working with complicated Enhanced Campaigns features anyway, in my opinion.

I’m not at all saying that people should never learn or use the UI. I use both Bing and Google UIs daily. But for learning PPC, the UIs are overwhelming. Editors make it easier.

You’ll want to go read the streamcap from Tuesday’s conversation – the whole thing is required reading for PPC’ers new and old.

What do you think? Want to add to the discussion? Share your opinions in the comments!

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Do the PPC Engines Reward the Right Behaviors?

Years and years ago, when I was in graduate school, I read an article published in the Academy of Management Journal called “On the folly of rewarding A, while hoping for B “. Originally written in 1975, the article was already a classic, even at that time. Still, as with most college reading assignments, I approached it with disdain, prepared to extract what I needed for the next class exam and then forget about it.

I was wrong. The article has stuck with me, all these years later.

The article’s basic premise: “Reward systems are fouled up in that the types of behavior that are rewarded are those which the rewarder is trying to discourage, while the behavior desired is not being rewarded at all.” An example given in the article is businesses who say they are committed to total quality, yet incent and reward employees for shipping products on schedule, even with errors and defects.

What does this have to do with PPC? A lot.

One example of “rewarding for A while hoping for B” in PPC is the quality score conundrum. Ever since Google rolled out quality score in 2008, advertisers have struggled in their attempts to improve it, often to their detriment. The pursuit of high quality scores is frequently at odds with PPC results goals.

Let’s say that an ecommerce advertiser is using PPC to generate sales. ROI is their primary key performance indicator (KPI) – in other words, the advertiser wants the most sales at the lowest cost. But let’s say this same advertiser is also trying to optimize for quality score, and that their PPC manager is measured and rewarded in part based on quality score improvement.

Both Google and Bing have openly stated that click-through rate (CTR) is the primary determinant of quality score. An advertiser must improve CTR in order to improve quality score. So, the PPC manager who is trying to improve their quality score needs to increase CTR.

In ecommerce, though, high CTR often does not correlate to high ROI. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see the best ROI on ads with the worst CTR!

Carefully crafted ad copy will, by design, discourage unqualified prospects from clicking. That’s why it’s a good idea to include product prices in your ad copy – to prevent clicks from tire-kickers who are clicking on ads to compare prices, with no intention to purchase at that moment. Including the price in the ad precludes clicks from price shoppers.

In this case, though, unfortunate PPC managers are faced with goals that are almost mutually exclusive. They need to improve quality score to make a client or boss happy, and yet improving quality score means increasing CTR – and reducing ROI. It’s a no-win situation, because if the PPC manager is rewarded for higher quality score, the company faces a potential decrease in ROI.

Enhanced campaigns are probably the most egregious case of “rewarding for A while hoping for B”. When Google announced enhanced campaigns, they touted the ease of management.

“Tired of maintaining separate campaigns for each device? Good news – now you can’t! Just use bid modifiers instead!” The same thing goes for geotargeting, dayparting, and other “features” of enhanced campaigns – by introducing bid modifiers, Google claims to have simplified account management.

Why did Google develop enhanced campaigns? The prevalent belief is that the current AdWords system had become unwieldy, with features bolted on to the point that it was taxing their system servers.

Enhanced campaigns are Google’s answer to a system that had become, in their opinion, needlessly bloated and complex. In other words, Google launched enhanced campaigns with the hope of reducing the number of campaigns in the AdWords system, thereby making it easier for advertisers.

Alas, Google fell into the “rewarding for A while hoping for B” trap. In their quest to reduce the number of campaigns, they’ve actually increased them.

Google rewards advertisers (or at least experienced advertisers) with a nearly endless number of levers to pull to improve performance and ROI. We PPC managers use every tool in our arsenal to weed out non-converting traffic and improve our conversion rates. We don’t want to pay a penny more for a conversion than we have to.

Enhanced campaigns took away some of our levers, namely separating campaigns by device. We’re forced to come up with crazy workarounds that, more often than not, require more campaigns, not less.

Employing bid modifiers created a similar conundrum, in that we now have to organize our campaigns by bid modifier. Where in the past we may have had two campaigns, we might now have 10: one for each geo, daypart, and device modification percentage.

Google hoped to simplify the AdWords system, but by rewarding PPC managers with multiple levers, they’ve instead complicated the system by an order of magnitude.

Many advertisers also unwittingly “reward for A while hoping for B”, often with distractions and pop-overs on landing pages that pull visitors away from the primary conversion action. Don’t make this mistake! Align your goals with your ad copy, landing pages, and website – and don’t reward visitors for something other than what you’re hoping for.

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on Search Engine Watch on June 25, 2013.

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Google Adwords is a Bad Parent

As many of you know, I’m the mom of twins. They’re 16 and about to start their junior year of high school. They’re great kids – smart, well-behaved, laid back – but at times they try my patience.

What does this have to do with PPC, you may ask? Stay with me – I’m getting there.

When they were younger, parents of older kids said, “Just wait till they’re teenagers. I thought I’d kill my kids when they were teens.” I was horrified to hear people saying this about their children.

But now, I understand. I don’t want to kill my teenagers, but there are days that I think to myself, “I can’t wait for them to go off to college.” The back-talking, arguing, and laying-about wears thin after a while. Not to mention the stress of having two inexperienced drivers in the household all of a sudden. I won’t even go there.

What keeps me sane is reminding myself that these behaviors are totally normal for teens. It’s part of growing up. Teens naturally challenge their parents on the road to independence – which parents ultimately want, right? We want our children to be ready to leave the nest when it’s time. Although we love having them around, we know that they must strike out on their own one day.

And I believe it works this way not only for the teenagers, but for their parents as well. The fact that they test us on a daily basis eases the blow of them leaving home. I felt the same way when they went to kindergarten. While the emotional part of me was sad that my kids were no longer babies, the rational part of me was tired of all-day daycare. The kids were past that and had gotten squirrely. I knew they were ready for the new challenges and opportunities that school would bring.

It’s the same thing with teens. They challenge parents as a way of teaching us that they’re ready for the next phase in life.

In the PPC world, Google is akin to a parent. They make the rules, and we PPC manager “children” must follow them or else. That’s fine. The absence of rules is chaos, and no one likes chaos.

But if Google makes the rules, why do they treat us like regressing toddlers? I’m sure you can guess that I’m talking about enhanced campaigns and the loss of control we’ve experienced as a result.

Search is a maturing industry. On the industry lifecycle scale, it’s still in growth mode, but it’s not a startup, either. PPC managers are becoming more and more sophisticated with campaign optimization.

So why has Google taken away our car keys?

Instead of truly enhancing things by offering bid multipliers for tablets and search partners, they’ve omitted search partner control (AGAIN) and taken away tablet bidding altogether. What a disaster. Just this week I lamented that one of my clients is paying $1.94 per click for desktop and $5.10 for tablets. Are you kidding me Google??? Why????

The complete lack of control over search partners continues to frustrate me, too. It feels like the times that I ask my children to do something over and over and over and over and they still don’t do it. But with my children, I can enact consequences for their disobedience. The only consequence I can impose on Google is to stop spending money there – which in most cases is cutting off my nose to spite my face. It makes no sense to stop advertising where all the traffic is.

So, I’m stuck with Google and its all-or-nothing setup. Either I advertise on all search partners, or none of them. I have no way to boost bids on high-performing partners and turn off low-performing partners. If search partners as a whole are doing better than Google search, I can’t increase my bids (and pay Google more money). And I’m stuck with tablets – either I accept the (frequently) poor performance or I turn off my campaigns altogether. Can anyone say Bing Ads?

And don’t get me started on the foolishness that is display placements on tablets. Google’s treating us like toddlers in this case. Sean Marshall did a great writeup over at PPC Associates on tablet display lunacy. His post is a must-read.

The kicker of all this is, Google already has Adwords Express for inexperienced advertisers. It’s pretty much a disaster as is, and I don’t recommend it, but if you’re looking to get started in PPC in a simple way, Google offers that. Why not put all the “basic” or “standard” features in Express, and then create an “advanced” version for the rest of us with all the levers and dials? Kind of like video games: there is a simple mode with just a few controls, and there is an advanced mode with lots of options. When I’m playing video games, I want to keep it simple; when I’m managing PPC, I want all the controls.

Google, please stop treating us like children. Many of us are PPC grownups. Please give us the control we’ve earned.

Are you as frustrated as I am with the lack of control in Adwords? Have a teenager that’s trying your patience? Just want to vent? Share in the comments!

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Google Has Become Yahoo

Google Adwords has been in the headlines a lot lately, and not in a good way. For some time now, PPC advertisers have been complaining about Adwords reps, and the lack of good ones. I even got in on the action back in May, complaining about a rep who reached out to us, only to turn out to be a thinly veiled sales guy. In that post, I lamented the good old days, when we all had Google reps that cared about our business and were there when we needed help or had questions.

That post is the most-commented post on my blog to date. It clearly struck a chord, with many other PPCers chiming in with their own horror stories.

Well, this week it got worse. Search Engine Land covered a story recounted by Martin MacDonald, who posted the audio of a Google rep who thought he’d hung up on one of his client’s voice mail, but really was being recorded the whole time. The story has been dubbed GoogleGate by the SEM community.

The audio is pretty damning. In the SEL article, Google came out and admitted that they use outside contractors. As an agency PPCer, I’d be the last person to complain about outsourcing. But if you’re going to outsource, it helps to use competent and professional people. And the idea of using outsource reps is to supplement your service, not do away with it altogether as Google has seemed to do. True Google reps who are marketing partners have all but disappeared in favor of hard-sell shills.

Read the comments on both the SEL and Martin MacDonald’s posts. They’re rife with accounts of people who had no option but to call Adwords general support, only to have the Adwords Help files quoted to them. I’ve had this happen many times myself. It’s frustrating as a PPC professional to have to educate the Google staff, instead of the other way around. After all, I wouldn’t call if I already knew the answer!

Ever hear the saying “Everything old is new again”? That’s what it’s looking like in search these days. Yahoo took the #1 spot in search in July, for the first time since 2011. How retro.

But I’m not bringing that up to reminisce. I’m bringing it up because Google is starting to remind me of Yahoo back in the old Yahoo Search Marketing days.

Back in 2009, I wrote a rant about Yahoo’s “optimizations.” To summarize, they were making changes to accounts without permission, and (supposedly) telling us after the fact. It caused quite a stir in the PPC community. And we all know what happened to Yahoo not long after – can you say Bing-Yahoo Alliance?

Well, if you read the comments on the SEL and MacDonald post, a lot of people expressed concern over outsourced Google reps contacting them for “optimization” help, and then asking them to sign a list of T&Cs that, among other things, allows Google to make changes “on behalf of” the advertiser without advance notice. I had to read those comments twice, because it sounded so familiar.

Yes, Google has resorted to the same tactics that got Yahoo in hot water 4 years ago. I sincerely hope that they don’t have the same outcome that Yahoo did. I guess time will tell.

What’s your prediction? Is this just a bump in Google’s yellow brick road, or is it a sign of serious troubles ahead? Share in the comments!

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The Good, The Bad, and the Enhanced

Well, PPC friends, the day we’ve all been dreading is upon us: the date we’ll be forced to convert to Enhanced Campaigns. Yes, Monday is the day that Google will “upgrade” our campaigns if we haven’t already done so ourselves.

Enhanced Campaigns have been talked to death in the PPC community. I’ve written about them myself. Since we now have no choice in the matter, I won’t resort to complaining. Well, not too much.

Many people have written about the good parts of enhanced campaigns. There are several features that you should be embracing if you’re not already:

The list goes on, but these are my favorites. Enhanced sitelinks take up even more screen real estate than “regular” sitelinks, so it’s worth it to convert to enhanced campaigns for this alone. Geo bid modifiers are great for advertisers with relatively uncomplicated campaigns. The display network is truly enhanced. And mobile-preferred ads are helpful for local advertisers or for those who may want to have different calls to action for mobile vs. desktop.

And yet, there is still so much bad with enhanced campaigns. The most egregious is the lack of tablet bidding. I continue to maintain that tablets are not the same as desktop. They just aren’t the same. It’s frustrating.

We’re also seeing noticeably higher CPCs on campaigns that have been moved to Enhanced and are opted in to mobile. A lot of our clients don’t use mobile at all, so those campaigns are all fine and we haven’t noticed any differences in performance. But the campaigns that are in mobile and desktop have seen CPC spikes of 20-30% or more. While some in the industry deny that this is going on, in our case I’ve seen the data, and the data doesn’t lie. It’s frustrating, because even playing with mobile bid modifiers is limited – because it’s all at the campaign level. It’s too macro. We PPC’ers want micro control.

I won’t even go into the fact that we can no longer have mobile-only campaigns. Argh.

While we’re at it, let me grumble about the lack of separate bids for search partners. If Google really wanted to enhance things, they’d let us set separate bids for search partners, and would let us easily exclude certain search partners. Why they haven’t done this is beyond me. I’m starting to think that this is a wish that will never be fulfilled.

Alas, none of these lamentations matter. At this point we’re stuck with it. So I spent a chunk of time this week porting over my remaining campaigns to enhanced, lest Google do it for me (heaven forbid).

How about you? What are your good and bad experiences with Enhanced Campaigns?

Note: Huge credit goes to Lisa Sanner for the title of this post. If you’re looking for a fun meme, check out this Facebook post by Clix Marketing. There’s also a good post, complete with photo memes, over at Search Engine Land. Better to laugh about enhanced campaigns than cry.

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Adwords Support Sinks To A New Low

Back in the good old days, when I was doing in-house SEM, we had a dedicated Google rep to help us with our account. While the reps changed pretty frequently, each and every one of them was helpful and knowledgeable. They got to know our business quickly. A few of them even became friends.

About 4 or 5 years ago, Google decided to centralize Adwords support – and they took away dedicated reps from all but the largest advertisers. People have complained about the poor support for years – one guy created an entire blog just for one post complaining about Adwords Support. I’ve done my share of complaining about them, too.

Still, if you work for an agency, sometimes you get lucky enough to have a rep assigned to you on a quarterly basis. Just this week I had a call with someone who I initially thought was our new quarterly Adwords Support rep. As is typical in agency life, we’re really busy and I was hoping to get some help with PPC grunt work.

Wrong.

While the rep I spoke with was very nice, it turns out he deals strictly with new business. He can’t even help me with existing clients at all (despite my repeated requests).

Think about that for a minute. Google’s most proactive reps now are dedicated solely to new business. They can’t even touch existing clients unless they are ready to – get this – increase their spend by 10x. So, if my $25,000 per month PPC client suddenly decides they want to spend $250,000 per month, Google’s all over that. How many clients actually do that? Heck, I wouldn’t even recommend that big of an increase in most circumstances – there’s way too much risk involved. But unless I’m ready to pony up 10 times the cash, I’m stuck with general support.

So, I asked the rep what their “new business” service entails. Since they can’t help me with clients who ALREADY HAVE THEIR CHECKBOOKS OPEN TO GOOGLE, I thought maybe they had some amazing new biz services to offer.

His answer? Are you ready for this? Here’s the extent of their new business offering:

  • Basic education about Adwords. He did admit that for agencies, this usually isn’t necessary. Duh.
  • Initial campaign setup
  • Bid management for the first 90 days – on a daily basis if you’re spending $25,000 per month and up; on an every-other-day basis if you’re spending between $10,000 and $25,000

Yep, that’s the end of the list. No reporting assistance, no strategic insight, NOTHING that would be useful to an agency. Basically, they’re doing crap that I can do in my sleep.

And they’re not doing it as often. Managing bids every other day on a new account? Are they crazy? A good PPC manager will be on top of bids MULTIPLE TIMES PER DAY in a new account, because things can go south that quickly. I don’t care if you’re spending $20 or $20 million – every other day in the early days doesn’t cut it.

Needless to say, I didn’t take the guy up on his “offer.” I told him this whole premise is totally backwards. We need help AFTER launch, not during it. Many clients are just dipping their toes into the PPC waters when they sign on with an agency. Those who have done PPC before are often gun-shy due to poor management by another agency. Does Google really think I’m going to take a gun-shy client, whom I’ve sold on my PPC prowess, and then let Google set up the campaigns? Can you even imagine the disasters those campaigns would be? All broad match, terrible ad copy, targeting search & display together… the list goes on.

Sorry, Google, but in my book your “support” leaves a lot to be desired. What about you? Have you had good luck with Google’s new business team? Share in the comments!

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PPC News in February, Enhanced Campaigns Edition

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you already know that Google’s Enhanced Campaigns are February’s big PPC news. Countless articles and blog posts have been written about Enhanced Campaigns already. Here are a couple that I thought were particularly informative.

A Detailed Look at Enhanced Campaigns by PPC Hero. Great overview and step by step detail on Enhanced Campaigns.

Enhanced Campaigns – New Bidding Opportunities and Challenges As usual, Rimm-Kaufman comes through with a thorough post on the pros and cons of Enhanced Campaigns.

Should You Upgrade To Enhanced Campaigns? by Brad Geddes over at Search Engine Land. This post outlines who should upgrade now, and who should wait.

I’ll be appearing on the Marketing Nirvana podcast on Webmaster Radio in a couple of weeks to talk more about Enhanced Campaigns, so stay tuned for more on that.

Speaking of Webmaster Radio, check out this PPC Rockstars episode  where Marty Weintraub and I talk about using Google Analytics to improve PPC performance. I even get an Eddie Van Halen reference in there!
eddie van halen
Rock on, PPC friends!

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Adwords Search Query Reports, US vs. The World: The Followup

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about a client of ours and the vast difference in Adwords search query report numbers for the same 2 keywords in the US vs. in Germany. It was the most-commented post on this blog in recent memory – not only did people commiserate, but they asked great questions to try to get to the bottom of the mystery.

I was able to answer several of the questions right away (although, of course, there are no bad questions, and I thank everyone who commented for helping me think everything through). But 3 questions came up to which I didn’t have the answers:

•    Is the client brand a German word?
•    How does traffic break down by device?
•    How does traffic break down by Google vs. search partners?

The first question I had to look up, but quickly realized that the answer was no, it’s not a German word. Of course I had to run some reports to answer the second and third questions, and the results were interesting indeed.

Searches By Device:

I re-ran the SQRs for each country, and segmented impressions by device. I suspected there might be a big difference, but alas, the two countries were nearly identical:

us by device
germany by device

Germany did have a slightly higher percentage of mobile searches than the US: 11% vs. 9%, but the difference isn’t statistically significant. Clearly, devices are not the reason why US search queries were so much higher.

Searches By Network:

I noted in my previous post that session-based queries were high in Germany compared with the US, and that prompted someone to ask about distribution by network. We’ve all seen questionable websites, sites that aren’t really search sites, lumped into the search network. Let’s take a look at the segmented report data:

us by network
germany by network

Bingo.

I have to admit, I was stunned to see the difference. I knew that the search network was probably more robust in the US than in other countries, but this is downright horrifying. Only 2% of the impressions in Germany on the brand terms came from search partners, but fully 30% in the US were from partners. And just to refresh your memory, the majority of matches in the US were broad match, as compared with Germany where the match types were more evenly distributed.

I smell a rat. I’m still not convinced that we’re getting fair treatment here in the US.

And for heaven’s sake, if you haven’t already done so, please go sign the petition to allow separate bids for search partners. This is something I’ve wanted for a long time, and clearly it’s long overdue.

Or perhaps Google is deliberately holding out on giving us separate bids for this very reason? What do you think?

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Adwords Search Query Reports: US Versus The World

The subject of broad match gone wild is a popular one in PPC, and has been since the dawn of search query reports. Search marketers frequently lament the irrelevant and sometimes downright puzzling queries which triggered their ads. In fact, better search query matching was one of my 2007 PPC wishes that still hasn’t come true.

A few weeks ago, I was doing routine search query report reviews for one of our international clients. We use broad match on their branded terms to cast as wide a net as possible, and we use extensive negative keywords to control the wildness.  Anyway, I pulled a SQR for our Germany campaigns, and then pulled one for the US. Again, the task was all typical – but the report results were anything but.

We’ve created ad groups by match type for control and new search query mining, using the SQRs for not only negatives, but new positive keywords to add to our account.  For both Germany and the US, I looked at just 2 keywords this time: the broad match and phrase match of the client’s brand. I noticed that reviewing Germany’s report took a lot less time than reviewing the US report. This came as a surprise, since our branded campaigns are set to “all languages” and I had to pore over German-language keywords in the SQR as a non-German speaker (Google Translate is my best friend for this). So I decided to compare the two reports.

What I discovered stunned me.

Allow me to illustrate with a few visuals.

search queries

Look at the total number of search queries: the US has nearly 3 times as many as Germany. Remember, this is on the same 2 keywords! That’s the stat that got me started on this in the first place.  I find it hard to believe that people in the US are 3 times more creative than people in Germany when it comes to searching for the client’s brand (or searching for anything, for that matter).

This goes a long way towards explaining why our US CPCs are so much higher than other countries for this client. I know that the PPC market in general is more saturated here than elsewhere. If nothing else, there are more US-based advertisers. And our population is 3 times bigger than Germany’s (82 million for Germany vs. 311 million for the US), so I might accept the notion that if every person in each country conducts one unique search related to these 2 keywords, we’d see 3 times as many SQs in the US as in Germany. I think it’s a stretch, but it’s at least plausible.

But let’s look at search query distribution across match types. Remember, we’ve segmented our ad groups by match type, so there are no exact matches. What’s left in the SQR is broad, phrase, and session based broad.

A couple of visuals will make this easier. Let’s look at Germany first.

germany sqr

Half of the queries were broad matched, and the rest were pretty evenly distributed between phrase match and session-based broad match. I’m not thrilled about the high percentage of session-based broad matches, but that’s another post.  Still, the fact that over 1 in 5 matches were phrase match isn’t too bad.

Now let’s look at the US.

us sqr

Are you as speechless as I am? Fully 84% of the matches in the US were broad match (and remember folks, there were 860 of them, compared with 193 in Germany). There were virtually no session-based broad matches, so at least we have that going for us.  But only 15% phrase matches, vs. 22% in Germany? Why, Google, why?

And here’s the kicker – you know this is coming – the US SQR is loaded with totally irrelevant queries.

Methinks something is rotten in the state of Denmark. (It’s close to Germany, right?)

Have you seen similar behavior in your international campaigns? Are we Americans really that much more creative in our searches? Or is Google showing their patriotism by fleecing us? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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New Adwords Sitelinks Policy – An Interview with Jeremy Brown

Adwords sitelinks are a great PPC feature that Google introduced a couple of years ago.  I’ve written about the good and bad in previous Search Engine Watch posts.

As is the way with PPC, last week Google made some tweaks to Sitelinks, which of course sparked discussion on Twitter.  This post was inspired by those discussions.

So, with no further ado, here’s my interview with Jeremy Brown on Sitelinks.

Melissa Mackey: First, introduce yourself!  Tell us a little about your business and the type of clients you work with.
Jeremy Brown:  I’ve been working in online marketing since 2000 and in PPC for the past 10 years.  I’ve recently started Metric Theory with a great team of folks to offer PPC management services to ecommerce and B2B companies with budgets ranging from $10k-$500k per month.  Our team previously built an agency that was managing over $60 million in annual PPC spend, and we have wide experience working with large retailers as well as cutting-edge tech companies.  We are growing quickly and we are looking for new clients so we can apply our data-focused strategies to drive results.

MM: Without spilling any trade secrets, how have you used Sitelinks successfully in the past? What best practices have you followed?
JB:  Sitelinks are absolutely great for taking up more space on the page.  That is their number #1 utility.  Second to that, they can be used as additional ad copy.  Google may want you to think of them as navigation (like organic search), but they are ad space and provide opportunities for selling.  They can be used to feature unique selling propositions, special sales, email newsletters, and a whole plethora of detailed information.

It’s important to think about what audience you are reaching with each campaign and model your Sitelinks appropriately.  For example, we often find it quite effective to feature a link to client testimonials as one Sitelink for small retailers on their brand campaign.  This provides additional social proof and a sense of security, and can be just what people need when they are reaching the decision point of the buying cycle.

MM: Google recently updated their Sitelink policy and is about to begin stricter enforcement.  What do you think about this?
JB: I’m definitely not a fan of Google enforcing a unique link for every Sitelink, and I’ve provided feedback to Google through numerous channels that this will result in a worse user experience.  Many, many advertisers do not have 4 relevant pages for a given campaign (much less 6-10).  Also, a good portion of those advertisers do not have the resources to create new pages easily.

What I see happening is that a number of advertisers will stick with current sales-focused Sitelinks and will use whatever pages they have at hand as the actual links.  Non-brand Sitelinks often get a small number of clicks and advertisers won’t fret over taking someone to an unrelated page.  As a Google user, I would much rather have 4 Sitelinks taking me to 1 related page rather than 4 Sitelinks taking me to various, unrelated pages in order to satisfy a Google directive to make paid search look and feel more like organic search.

MM: Google is also recommending that advertisers use 6-10 Sitelinks.  Isn’t it a challenge to come up with 6-10 unique Sitelink landing pages per campaign?
JB: It’s definitely a challenge.  In particular, it’s ridiculous for B2B or B2C advertisers who use dedicated lead forms.  Are they supposed to develop 6 slightly different lead forms so they can use Sitelinks effectively?  That doesn’t make sense.  We’ve worked with some clients who have only a handful of dedicated PPC landing pages and those have been obsessively tested and, in some cases, meticulously combed over by the executive suite.  They want to present a standard brand and image in certain advertising channels.  Having 6+ different landing pages often doesn’t mesh well with certain client goals.

Overall, Google is treating Sitelinks as pure navigation – whereas they should be treating them as part of a paid ad that advertisers can test and use as they see fit.  I don’t see this enforcement change helping advertisers or helping Google users.

MM: There is talk in the PPC community of “Sitelinks 2.0,” with Sitelinks available at the ad group level.  How do you think this will help or hurt advertisers?
JB: As much as I’m criticizing Google for their unique Sitelink policy, I want to heap praise on this move.  Advertisers have long asked for this capability, and it’s good to finally see it happening.  What do advertisers want?  More control so they can better craft their ads to drive strong results.  This definitely provides more control.  Advertisers can now use Sitelinks that are appropriate to each ad group as opposed to being stuck with what’s set at the campaign level.  This is a big improvement, and I do see many advertisers taking advantage of this to tailor more relevant Sitelinks to each high-volume ad group.

Still, this impact could be diminished if Google goes forward with their unique Sitelink policy: it’s much easier to craft relevant Sitelink descriptions for each ad group as opposed to creating different, appropriate landing pages for every ad group.  That’s asking a lot for most advertisers.  Based on Google’s documentation (or lack of) over the years, I’d say even a company of Google’s size has trouble marshaling the resources to quickly generate new pages of website content.

MM: Thanks so much for your insight!  It’s going to be interesting to see how the new sitelinks policy plays out.  How can people get in touch with you if they want to learn more about you and Metric Theory?
I’m easily reachable by email at jeremy@metrictheory.com.  We’ve also been putting up a number of blog posts at the Metric Theory blog.  I’ve been on Twitter for years at @jbguru (seriously, this was supposed to be an ironic name :), and we’ve just started as @MetricTheory on Twitter.  I encourage companies who need help with their PPC to reach out as well as folks in the PPC community.  I’m a big believer in shared knowledge so I’d love to hear others’ thoughts on Sitelinks and similar topics.  Thanks again for hosting, Melissa, and I’ll see you on #PPCchat in the near future!

Wow! Huge thanks to Jeremy for this insightful interview!  So, devoted readers, what do you think about the new sitelink policy? Do you have any questions for Jeremy? Share in the comments?

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