Search Is a Gold Mine for Brand Advertisers, Can You Dig It?

  |  March 15, 2011   |  Comments   |  

Half the battle is won when you select the right keywords; here's how.

In the e-commerce world, golden keywords are defined as the search teams typed in by customers but not by visitors when using a search engine to find a company's website. So while standard keywords deliver visitors, golden keywords deliver customers who take action to purchase. In the branding world where sometimes e-commerce is not available on a company's product websites, we define golden keywords as the must-own search terms that help close the loop for buyers to convert potential users to buyers from a branding perspective.

Half the success of a search campaign starts from selecting the right golden keywords. Currently in the search world, people sometimes adopt the "long-hand" approach, which is to use search engines' keyword tools to identify words and phrases that have substantial traffic and a low number of websites competing for them. Our team analysed this method and named it as popularity-competitiveness method. Another similar method available in the market is called KEI (keyword effectiveness index). In essence, this method uses the same two elements, popularity and competitiveness, and establishes an 'index' by getting the ratio of popularity vs competitiveness. A higher KEI means a better rating keyword.

The above methods have the same limitation, i.e., containing only two consideration factors. We agree that popularity (number of visits per month) and competitiveness (number of advertisers) are good indicators of keyword potential. However, we believe other elements such as commerciality must be considered because they play an equally important role in determining keyword effectiveness. Therefore, our team developed an improved method for golden keyword research and selection: the gold-mining method.

Our new method mandates the systematic consideration of the following consideration factors: search volume, relevancy, competition, and commerciality.

Having served many top-class branding advertisers in the consumer package goods category, we learned that relevancy is most important and popularity comes second. Competition is the least priority, because in the fast moving consumer goods industry, securing a brand's own territory is crucially important to win the category battlefield even if it costs a lot.

Based on our gold-mining method, a proven golden keywords strategy has been developed.

  • Brand and product keywords: all
  • Generic and long-tail keywords: only keywords which have more clicks than account average and keywords which have fewer clicks than average but have substantially high CTR
  • Expansion of account's top 10 spending keywords: all with higher than account average volume
  • Website keywords: product feature keywords, brand and competitor offline activity slogan, competitor website product keywords and their expansions, and product-related question long-tail keywords

Now that we have selected golden keywords based on our gold-mining method, we need to categorise them by level of priority:

  • Tier1: Brand terms and competitor terms are of highest priority among all keywords. No brand advertiser can afford to lose them.
  • Tier 2: Key generic industry keywords become the second important factor for creating brand connection with those who have already showed needs for the product category.
  • Tier 3: Expanded generic keywords include a wider range of product category terms. Flexible generic keywords will help the advertiser to remain as the market pioneer and quickly adapt to any market changes. We believe with appropriate description, these keywords will also have high CTR.
  • Tier 4: Seasonal promotion keywords should be used to leverage explosive presence, especially when an advertiser launches offline and online promotional activities.
  • Tier 5: Audience interest keywords help advertisers to be there along the consumers' purchase funnel.

We used the above gold-mining method and strategy for our biggest branding client's search campaigns. Within less than two months, 95 percent of industry keyword coverage was owned by our client compared to an average of 50 percent of other main competitors. We secured 99 percent-plus impression share for golden keywords compared to an average of 58 percent than other main competitors in the market. We achieved over 1 million visits to the new product website with CPC 24 percent lower and CTR 154 percent higher than industry benchmark. During the holiday period, the holiday-related keyword ad group performed even more impressively with CPC 100 percent lower and CTR 92 percent higher than KPI.

For brand advertisers, search is a gold mine. And yes, we can dig it as long as we truly understand client's brand equity, deeply study client's product features, and thoughtfully analyse search user behaviour.


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Sara  Ye

Sara Ye is MD for GroupM Search/Digital Lab. She heads the strategic and operational development of GroupM's four agencies' (Mindshare, Maxus, MEC, and Mediacom) search marketing organisation in China. Dr. Ye has 14 years of marketing and advertising experience in China and the United States, more than half of which were spent in digital media and search marketing. Prior to joining GroupM, she worked for Google's California headquarters and Google China for four years. Ye started her career with J. Walter Thompson. From 1996 to 2000, she was associate director in Euro RSCG. Her client portfolio includes P&G, Colgate Palmolive, Pepsi Food International, Intel, HP, among many others. Dr. Ye holds a PhD degree in communication and an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin in the United States.

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