March 20th, 2019 | in Media Buying

2019 PPC – The State of Keywords

Part 2 of a series

By Steve Plimmer - Director of Account Management US

In part 1 of this blog series looking at the new PPC management landscape after Google Ads’ redesign, Bing’s takeover of Yahoo Search PPC, and the emerging ad and campaigns types we’re seeing, we looked at the top level issues and questions you should address before embarking on adopting these new features. In this part, we will look at the keyword (and keywordless) environment in terms of search (including Shopping ads).

There are many parts to this subject because there are a number of different campaign/ad group types in Search and Shopping and there are many types of advertiser. So precisely how you might use them in combination is ultimately up to you.

Campaigns using keywords

Only “Call-Only” and “Standard” search campaigns involve keywords on which you can bid directly. They operate on potentially 4 match types (depending on how you might wish to categorize them):

  • Exact
  • Phrase
  • Broad Match Modifier (BMM)
  • Broad

The complicated part in 2019 is explaining and controlling the range of searches that now match against these keyword match types. Exact match, in particular, has evolved and morphed from the purest form (absolute alpha-numeric character matching) to almost semantic match. It’s not impossible that we’re approaching the dying days of keywords, in fact.

A pretty good summary is found here in the interests of saving inches on this post.

In practice, Broad match is a near-meaningless match type since we now how Dynamic Search Ads (keywordless) but the other 3 continue to have a purpose in terms of traffic control.

What is “traffic control?” It’s ensuring that you can be confident in the nature of searches that will trigger any given ad group. This means you can understand both the intent and how qualified that traffic is. An example would be if you have a set of keywords for “reviews” and one for “prices”. You would want to prevent “reviews” ad group(s) triggering for “prices” searches so the respective ads can concentrate on the stated priority of the keyword/search.

So you should certainly continue using keywords in the interest of traffic control but mainly concentrate your keyword-based efforts on the highest-volume terms by traffic and revenue/conversions. The less voluminous keywords can come via the keywordless options.

Keywordless campaigns

Campaigns that deliver on search (and beyond) that do not use any keyword bidding are:

  • Shopping Campaigns (including Smart Shopping campaigns)
  • Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) and can be special ad groups within standard campaigns.
  • Hotel Ads Campaigns

Despite the lack of keywords, there are still plenty of levers of control on these, except for the “Smart Shopping” campaigns. The latter will display ads across Google properties as the platform sees fit, aiming for an efficiency goal and using a budget you provide.

Shopping

Traditional shopping campaigns are a terrific outlet for retailers, provided you know what you’re doing. If you use auto-bidding, you can assist the effectiveness of this by structuring your campaigns based on theme, device and performance and including impactful audiences in the targeting (such as remarketing but also in-market, similar audiences, etc.).

The ultimate way to shape the traffic across your shopping structure is using negative keywords, sometimes at the ad group level, sometimes at campaign level and sometimes shared as lists across multiple campaigns.

Structure and performance can be greatly affected by the quality of the feed (as is the case with Hotel Ads) in that the titles, images and categorising needs to be very good, compelling and concise. A muddled feed will only cause problems in all kinds of ways.

Hotel Ads

Hotel ads have a different general look and feel but, because advertisers can choose to only pay for sales, the efficiency is built-in. It becomes, then, more of a reach challenge to maximise sales.

Dynamic Search Ads

DSAs are most effective when the site in question is large and complex, and there are many searches which could be potentially relevant but harder to predict. You can use audiences, auto-bidding, negative keywords and excluded website segments to help you sculpt the traffic to your desires.

DSAs do not use keywords to bid on and instead match searches to the URLs or segments of your site they are set to target. They then complete the ad copy that you haven’t already written based on content from the page chosen as the landing page for that query. A key takeaway here is that the website must be content-rich, well organised and be full of text of relevance for when Google Ads crawls it. The URLs you submit can be from a feed or manually configured.

Tip: Give the DSA a better chance at gaining conversions by submitting specific URLs that show the same page using different sorting, filtering, and layout configurations. These configurations won’t be crawled if you don’t manually submit them. For example, if a page listing lots of products can be sorted by popularity, price and user ratings, submit the same page sorted in all 3 ways as separate entries. This can only be done if such layouts are coded into the URL (which is quite common).

This ad type is on both Google and Bing Ads.

All of the above campaign types have multiple messaging options, sometimes exclusive to the ad type, and we’ll address these in the next part of this series.

 

For more information about Digital Advertising and ESV Digital’s Paid Search strategy, get in touch.

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