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PPC Searcher Needs and Behavior: Reading Between the Lines

  |  February 7, 2012   |  Comments

There are hidden gems in each PPC account.

The majority of our PPC world centers on the use of keywords to reach our prospects. Typically, advertisers will select keywords based on what they think is important, or simply keywords that describe the product or service offering. However, it is the searcher's needs and behaviors that are really behind how people are searching for your products and how to expand reach to target them.

Searcher queries and behavior can reveal their mindset. Our task is to read between the lines in the data to better understand how to target, communicate with, and engage them. There are hidden gems in each PPC account.

PPC query reports are a great starting place to unearth this data. These reports show searches that led to impressions on your ads and can add insight to your audience. In the keywords tab, you select the "see search terms" drop box, then "all" to view the actual searches that triggered your ad and led to a click. You'll learn a few things: 1) impressions would signify interest and how Google connects these searches to your keywords, 2) click tells you how relevant the searcher saw the fit by clicking, and 3) you can also look at themes for opportunities.

In the example below, we see that "metal paint" is triggering ads quite a bit, but has a lower CTR than other close options like "metallic paint." Metal paint may be triggering searches for those who want to paint metal material, not purchase a metal colored paint. Big difference. For those clicking through most, we see people are interested in "textured paint." From this one keyword we may see an opportunity to expand into new keywords and/or content. Perhaps offer tips on how to apply certain textured effects.

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We also see that half of the keywords are related to environmentally safe paint. From this we can determine that the environmental aspect of the paint product is relevant to the audience. This also tells us that "eco," "organic," and "odorless" have a higher CTR than "VOC" (a more technical term). We can tell the intent of the searcher is researching an environmentally safe paint, but they may not be knowledgeable enough to know what "VOC" is. Bottom line in this example: there is an audience for the advertiser to create more campaigns around environmental concerns. They will need to use more mainstream descriptive terms, rather than technical terms in the keywords and ads.

Placements on the Google Display Network offer another great area to gain insights into searcher behavior. If your ads are targeted to "Automatic placements," Google is selecting the sites you show on. You can review placement reports to see where your ads are being served and clicked most frequently. For example, you may notice the ads appearing frequently and/or getting clicks on YouTube or other video sites. This gives you more information about your audience and where they choose to spend their time. Bottom line on this example: the advertiser's audience spends leisure time watching videos online and may be more tech savvy. The advertiser should test video ad types, or sponsored video ads on YouTube to see if they can expand reach in this area.

While only two examples have been provided, you can see the opportunity exists within the current performance data to gather more insights than appear at first glance. Digging deeper into how searchers discover your ads in search results and on websites is a first step toward a greater understanding of your audience's needs and how to meet them.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lisa Raehsler

Lisa Raehsler is the founder and principal strategist at Big Click Co., an online advertising company and Google AdWords Certified Partner, specializing in strategy and management of SEM and PPC for search engines, display, retargeting, and social media ad campaigns. Lisa has led strategy on dozens of PPC accounts and puts her experience into practice every day as a thought leader in integrating clients' search campaigns with ecommerce websites, behavioral targeting strategies, and web analytics. She has participated extensively in the local interactive community, as well as at national search engine marketing conferences. Lisa's recent speaking engagements include SES, OMS, MIMA, HeroConf, and SMX conferences, as well as numerous private and public training engagements. As a columnist for ClickZ and Search Engine Watch, she writes on the topic of paid search. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRocksSEM.

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