Whew! That’s enough Shakespeare for today. But in this famous scene from Romeo and Juliet, Juliet asks a good question: What’s in a name? Juliet argues that the name of something does not matter. However, when it comes to pay-per-click advertising (PPC), I’m afraid I disagree with her.
Your brand name is important. For Quarter 1 of 2014, our clients received 47% of their Search Network clicks from branded campaigns. Your brand name is how people know you, remember you, and search for you.
But what if your brand name contains some common words that are used in other ways? A search for the list of southern states that made up the Confederate States of America during the Civil War might trigger an ad for our client Southern States. That’s not a relevant search to them, so we should not waste an ad impression on it. Google AdWords takes click-through rate (CTR) into account when they calculate quality score, so you don’t want to waste impressions on irrelevant searches. To oversimplify it, the lower your CTR, the lower quality score your keywords will have, and the higher your cost per click will be.
For this reason, the Search Terms Report is your best friend. In the Search Terms Report, you can see the search terms that lead directly to clicks on your ads. To avoid issues like the one described above, you can exclude search terms that are not relevant to your business. It’s not always easy, though. To help you decide what’s relevant, and what is not, here are 3 questions to ask yourself.
Can you tell that they were searching for you? Perhaps they couldn’t remember exactly what your name was, or they just misspelled it. Sometimes it’s OK to leave these search terms alone. Or can you tell that they were legitimately searching for something else? If so, go ahead and exclude that term from triggering your ads.
Sometimes it’s not always clear if a search was meant for you just from looking at the search term. Use AdWords’ ad preview tool and see if any other ads are showing for that term. Maybe you and your competitors have similar names, and a misspelled search query triggers both ads. Or perhaps there is another company with a similar name that is not a competitor at all. In both cases, you will need to determine a threshold of how valuable these searches are to you. For example, you could set a limit on the average cost per click for that term, and exclude it if it starts costing you too much money.
Lastly, if looking at the ads doesn’t help determine searcher intent, check the organic results to see what webpages should up naturally for that search query. If the majority of the natural search results for that query have nothing to do with you or what you do, then go ahead and exclude that term. The searcher was not looking for you (or they misspelled your name so badly that the search engine didn’t know what to do). However, if the organic search results are relevant to your business, then it could be worth it to keep that search term around.
Ultimately, you may have to make some difficult decisions. It can be tough, but let data be your guide! If you’re spending a lot of money on search terms and not getting any conversions out of it, then don’t be afraid to add those as negative keywords.
What are your thoughts? Have you had similar experiences with branded PPC campaigns? Share your thoughts below in a comment, or contact me on Twitter: @BlaineAAnderson
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