When is the last time you gave your search campaign a spring cleaning? In the physical world, a spring cleaning weekend is often the result of some event (perhaps a visit from an in-law) that highlights just how badly your place needs a deep clean. Online is no different, and with the upcoming mandatory upgrade in Google AdWords to an Enhanced Campaign structure, now might be the perfect time to do a spring cleaning of your accounts, while perhaps even reorganizing things at the same time.
Another reason to go into your campaigns with a fresh look is the launch of Google’s Image Extensions (now in beta). Image Extensions deliver the power of images across advertisers – not just those online retailers who have had an opportunity to experience huge increases in CTR on their PLA ads. If you aren’t aware of the Google Image Extensions program, it’s exactly what you would expect, but is outlined in Google’s public announcement.
Regardless of what other reasons you have to dig into your AdWords account, here are some spring cleaning tips that will serve you well, even if you’ve already moved your Google campaigns over to the enhanced setting.
- Find the 404 errors. In the early days of 404 “page not found” errors, the bad listings were easier to find because the lack of conversions on the listings would highlight the poor ROI and therefore bring attention to the errors. With the newer intelligent commerce platforms, the 404 errors of the past have been replaced with dynamic search results pages or other personalized suggestion pages that will often provide your customers with enough of an alternative that they’ll struggle through your site and convert anyway. If this happens, your conversion rate will be significantly lower than it would otherwise be. Often keyword listings resulting in 404s are long tail and low volume and individually won’t represent a lot of wasted budget. Collectively, however, they might waste budget and result in a poor customer experience. Some campaign management platforms can help you identify the 404 errors and flag the listings separately (rather than simply floating them to the surface based on a conversion rate report).
- Duplicate listings. There are many reasons to have listings that are near duplicates of each other but differ based on match type or audience targeting parameters such as geography. There are also situations where one might want to run a seasonal campaign with identical settings to the master campaign and pause this campaign in time periods outside of the seasonal period when the campaign makes sense. Doing this can be easier than swapping out creative and landing pages within a single campaign during a seasonal sale. Even under Enhanced Campaigns, one may have a campaign with a different set of ads and landing pages for mobile with a mobile bid boost to assure that the mobile ads serve on smartphones. However, duplicate keywords that are active at the same time as everything else don’t make sense. Kill one of the listings and – if you want to test different ads against a keyword – do that in the same ad group.
- Non-standard or missing tracking. Over many years and possibly as a result of changes in analytics or campaign management platforms, tracking technologies may have shifted or the coverage provided by them may have become less than comprehensive. Check to make sure that your tracking systems are intact and functioning.
- Poor landing pages. You probably are cranking out new landing pages all the time for your power keywords, resulting in a situation where these highly critical keywords are associated with the best-performing landing pages. That’s great and the way your campaign manifests the 80-20 rule makes it important that you focus on the keywords that can move the needle. However, there may be less important keywords that still burn budget, and improving the landing page experience for them may result in them using budget more effectively. Improvement areas may include navigation, copy, layout, or image. Don’t neglect the importance of landing pages that merchandise more than one thing. If the search term use happens to be ambiguous, a landing page that is too narrowly focused can backfire.
- Smartphone-specific campaigns and user experience. Now is the time to decide how to handle smartphones. Do nothing and you’ll see your smartphone clicks arriving alongside your desktop/laptop and tablet clicks. If this doesn’t result in the best user experience, you can depress the bids against the mobile (smartphone) traffic and ignore that segment, or you can decide how to provide a user experience that also meets your needs as a marketer. Obviously every business is different in terms of each’s desire for mobile traffic and the ability to monetize it. Now is the perfect time to address this issue if you haven’t already.
Grab that spreadsheet and start the spring cleaning!
Image on home page via Shutterstock.
SEO and search marketing are a vital part of any marketing strategy, linking together channels like social media, content marketing and offline advertising.
There is of course a lot of discussion about content and what does and doesn't work online. Is long-form the key? Does short-form content have a role to play? Are there other factors at play?