Improving exact match and phrase match (Ad Words PPC)

When people search for your products or services, they probably misspell a word every so often. In mid-May, we’re making improvements to our exact and phrase matching options so your ad will be eligible to show when people search for close variants — yes, that includes misspellings — of your keywords. In addition to misspellings, other close variants include singular and plural forms, acronyms, stemmings (such as floor andflooring), abbreviations, and accents.

With our improved exact matching and phrase matching, you can better target your ads, helping to improve your clicks and impressions.

Improvements to exact match and phrase match

With our improved exact and phrase matching, we’ll also show your ad when someone searches for close variants of your exact match and phrase match keyword. This means you can broaden your reach to customers who search for close variants of your keywords, while still having more precise control over which search terms trigger your ads.

Example

Exact match keyword Ads may show on searches for Ads won’t show on searches for

[tennis shoes]

tennis shoes red tennis shoes
tenis shoe buy tennis shoes
Phrase match keyword Ads may show on searches for Ads won’t show on searches for

“tennis shoes”

red tennis shoes shoes for tennis
red tenis shoes tennis sneakers

 Note

We’ll use your exact keyword, and not close variants, to determine your Quality Score andfirst page bid estimate. This means that when a close variant of your exact match keyword shows your ad, it won’t affect your Quality Score or first page bid estimate.

Choosing your exact match and phrase match option

In mid-May, your exact match and phrase match keywords will automatically be eligible to show your ads for close variants. We recommend that you keep this default match setting for your exact match and phrase match keywords. However, if you’d like to restrict your exact match and phrase match targeting for new campaigns or existing ones, follow the steps below.

Here’s how to restrict exact and phrase matching for new campaigns:

  1. Sign in to your AdWords account at http://adwords.google.com New Window
  2. Click the Campaigns tab.
  3. Click +New campaign.
  4. Scroll to the “Advanced settings” section. Click the Keyword matching options link.
  5. In the “Exact and phrase match” section, select Do not include close variants.

Here’s how to restrict exact and phrase matching for existing campaigns:

  1. Sign in to your AdWords account at http://adwords.google.comNew Window
  2. Click the Campaigns tab. Select the campaign you’d like to change the matching options for.
  3. Click the Settings tab.
  4. Scroll to the “Advanced settings” section. Click the Keyword matching options link.
  5. In the “Exact and phrase match” section, select Do not include close variants.

Keep in mind

When you narrow your exact and phrase matching, your ads won’t show for close variants of both your exact match and phrase match keywords. Since your ads are only eligible to show when someone searches for your exact keyword, or your exact keyword with additional words before or after it, you might not receive as many impressions or clicks.

Performance and reporting

Viewing a search terms report

When you view a search term report, you’ll see a “Match type” column that tells you how closely the search terms that triggered your ads on Google are related to the actual keywords in your account. With the improvements we’re making to exact match and phrase match, you’ll see some changes to the “Match type” column.

Here are the additional search terms match types you’ll see when you view the “Match type” column:

  • Exact match (close variants): The search term is considered to be a close variant of a keyword from your account.
  • Phrase match (close variants): The search term contains a close variant of a keyword from your account.

Remember, close variants include misspellings, singular and plural forms, acronyms, stemmings (such as floor and flooring), abbreviations, and accents.

Example

Let’s say you have two ad groups with the following keywords:

  • Ad group A, with the exact match keyword [purple flowers]
  • Ad group B, with the phrase match keyword “purple flowers”

This table shows the match type that appears in the column, depending on the search term and the ads it triggered:

Your keyword

Search term

Search term match type

Reason

“purple flowers” purple flowrs Exact match (close variant) The search term is a close variant (misspelling) of your exact match keyword from ad group A.
“purple flowers” free purple flowrs Phrase match (close variants) The search term is a close variant (misspelling) of your phrase match keyword from ad group B.

Using segments to view your keyword performance data

You can segment your keyword performance data by search terms match type to help you understand how actual search terms relate to the keyword you have in your account. Here’s an example of how your improved exact match and phrase match keywords will appear when you segment your data by search terms match type.

Example

Let’s say you have a keyword, dog toys, that you’ve set to broad match. If the customer searches for buy dog toys or buy dogs toys, the search terms match type will be phrase. If the customer’s search is dog toys or dogs toys, the search term match type will be exact.

Your keyword Search term Search terms match type
dog toys buy dog toys Phrase match
buy dogs toys
dog toys dog toys Exact match
dogs toys

Next steps

Compare Your AdWords Performance With Competitors: Auction Insights

This week (May 25, 2012), Google introduced a new AdWords report named Auction Insights. The report gives you a glimp into how well you are doing for a specific keyword compared to your competitors.

The report contains the following fields:

  • Average position

Average position is a quick way to gauge how high your ads are ranking compared with those of other advertisers competing in the same auctions. Average position is the average rank of the ad in the auctions, which determines the order of the ads on the search results page.

  • Impression share

Impression share is the percentage of impressions you received divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive. Eligibility is based on your current ads’ targeting settings, approval statuses, bids, and Quality Scores. In the Auction insights report, impression share also tells you the impression share of other advertisers as a proportion of the auctions in which you were also competing.

  • Overlap rate

Overlap rate tells you how often you and another advertiser received impressions at the same time for this keyword.

  • Position above rate

Position above rate tells you how often another participant’s ad was shown in a higher position that yours was in auctions in which you both received impressions.

  • Top of page rate

This statistic tells you how often your ad (or the ad of another advertiser, depending on which row you are viewing) was shown at the top of the page, above the organic search results.

Here is a screen shot that you can enlarge:

You can access it on the keyword level by clicking on the icon on the left of the keyword and then on the “activity report” option:

For more details, see this help page.

Forum discussion at Digital Point Forum

Blue Links Be Gone: Yahoo Introduces Browser And Visual Search Experience “Axis”

Search launches seem to come in threes. A couple of weeks ago we had Bing Social, then came Google with Knowledge Graph and now Yahoo introduces Axis

When I met with Yahoo earlier this week to hear about it I received the now familiar speech that Yahoo is still very much in search and continuing to “innovate” around the UI and UX. There have been some interesting efforts along those lines on the PC in the past (Yahoo Search Direct), but Axis actually is genuinely different and noteworthy.

Three screen experience

Axis is available for all three screens: PC (as a browser plug-in), the iPad and the iPhone (as apps). Android is coming.

Axis is a fully functional browser that syncs content across all screens if users are signed in. Like other browsers Axis features tabs and book marks and can render any web page.

On the PC it functions more as a “companion” search bar at the bottom of the page on each of the major browsers: IE, Chrome and Firefox. Below is an example of how it looks on Chrome in the context of a search for “Hawaiian vacations.” I’ve got the standard Google results and then Axis results horizontally across the bottom of the screen:

Three screen experience

It doesn’t automatically insert or mirror the query you’ve done on Google or Bing or launch the module you see above. You have to manually enter the query at the bottom of the page. Then it offers a visual preview (live pages) of the top ranked sites. The ranking of these sites is somewhat different than conventional Yahoo search results. Clicks and time on the underlying sites are factored into the ranking of these Axis results.

Users can then horizontally scroll through results rather than clicking back and forth on links. These images run for the equivalent of the first two pages of search results and then you get text and descriptions. However Yahoo suggested that most people aren’t going to go beyond a page or two of results anyway. My sense is that people will horizontally scroll for “longer” than vertically.

While this PC experience is useful and provides a kind of secondary or back-up search capability, Axis is ultimately about delivering a better, mobile-optimized search experience that completely eliminates the “10 blue links.”

Getting rid of blue links

Yahoo special products director Ethan Batraski said that Yahoo was trying to get rid of the interim “second page” of search results (the list of links) and go right from the query to the web results in “one step.”

There have been other PC search engines and mobile apps to present visual results rather than links, most recently in mobile by Do@ (now Everything.me). All of those essentially failed. But Yahoo has the advantage of scale and greater visibility than any of the visual search startups that came before.

Whenever you’re on a specific website, you can pull down the page and see the horizontal bar of search results. It’s always there in the background. Touching another image loads that page but the search results remain in the background and accessible until you do a new query. You’re not hitting the back button to return to search results.

This functionality works relatively well on the iPhone (especially image search) but it really is best shown on tablets (iPad only for the moment). The larger screen enables the visual nature of Axis to shine.

There’s also a personalized home page with bookmarks and saved articles that carries across screens when signed in. Users can sign in with Yahoo, Google or Facebook log-in credentials to access the capability.

About the “Axis” name

I asked Yahoo about the name “Axis,” which I said reminded me of World War II. They responded that they went through many names and there are “negative connotations” to others as well, including Chrome and Safari (though not many readily come to mind). Another interesting element here is the black aesthetic.

Yahoo has done market testing and sees an opening with young, affluent early adopter males. (Perhaps the “Spike TV” crowd.) Jokes aside, the company is seeking to cultivate new audiences with Axis and the edgier image is part of that effort. It struck me a bit like a sports team adopting tougher-looking uniforms and colors.

Yahoo went to some length with me and in the press materials to underscore that there’s innovative technology on the back end behind Axis:

Axis is built upon the Yahoo! Cocktails mobile development platform, which is designed for creating deeply personalized products that are built for connected devices first. Comprised of Mojito, an open source JavaScript MVC framework and Manhattan, a cloud-based hosted environment, Cocktails is a blend of open, standard web technologies including HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript and Node.JS.

Differentiated but will it “move the needle”?

Doing my best Walt Mossberg, I can say that after using it for several days on both the iPhone and iPad, and to a lesser degree, on the PC I think Yahoo has created a useful and differentiated mobile search experience. The syncing and multi-screen capability are also useful, although not unique.

Search Direct is the mother/father of this experience. And if it “takes” we may see traditional Yahoo search on the PC incorporate some or many of these UI/UX features and elements. That very much remains to be seen and is contingent on the success of Axis.

There will inevitably be questions like, “Will it move the needle for Yahoo?”

I don’t know. It depends on how aggressively Yahoo promotes Axis, how many people try it out and how many continue to use it. However I don’t think we’ll see any dramatic change in user behavior in the near term. But it does put some additional UI pressure on Google in mobile search, which just released a new version of its iPhone app today.

There are no ads for now. But one can easily imagine display ads showing up among the visual search results in the not too distant future. Yahoo wants to build an audience before it starts inserting ads, however.

Because Axis is quite distinct from the traditional PC and mobile search experience some will like it but some may find it too foreign. However I would encourage you to try it. It’s definitely worth a test drive.

PPC Warfare: Get Out of the Trenches & Gain a New Strategic Perspective

Getting lost in the trenches of PPC warfare is a common but dangerous hazard. Sometimes you need to take a step back and review the battleground from afar. In other words, extract yourself from keyword-level analysis and take-in the bigger picture. 

Even the most battle-hardened PPC manager can hit the wall. They may be at a strategic crossroads on how to expand a highly-optimized campaign. They may feel exhausted after slugging it out with a campaign that has been suffering from sub-par performance.

For those folks who are in the trenches, or perhaps feeling a bit aimless, here is a list of motivational and rejuvenating tactics that can get you back on track.

Look Beyond Yesterday or Last Week

Recent performance can lie. Or at least your current stats may not be entirely indicative of the account’s direction.

Continuously analyzing yesterday, last week, or even the past month doesn’t provide the entire picture. Remember to conduct a long-view analysis as well. Look at your most recent quarter performance as well as the previous six months.

Look for trends regarding click-through rate (CTR), cost-per-click (CPC), conversion rates, and other core metrics. You may be surprised what you find. You may be doing better than you thought – or worse.

Compare the Years

Where was the account this time last year? Is your performance better or worse? Sure, the entire PPC landscape can change in a year (it can change in a day!), but looking at annual data can help you in a few interesting ways:

  • Establish benchmark goals: Review your performance peaks and valleys from last year. You should aim to accentuate your highest conversion timeframes, and mitigate the low-tide periods. You should have month-over-month goals, as well as year-over-year goals and they should be aligned with seasonal patterns.
  • Expose strengths and weaknesses: You may find that specific keyword set worked better last year. Conduct additional analysis to understand what is different: have you changed the targeting for these terms, or have users changed the way they search for your product/service?
  • Reveal search pattern behavior: You should use Google Trends or another forecasting tool to determine if search is down overall for your core terms or your entire industry.

Don’t confine your analysis within your AdWords or adCenter account. Look through your analytics data as well. Look for shifts in traffic sources and audience engagement.

Reviewing revenue stats, profit margin and conversion rates is mission critical, but don’t neglect to look at changes in bounce rate, time on site, visit duration, and other metrics that can indicate a swing in user behavior or a change on the website that is deterring people from deeper engagement.

Find Your Day of Infamy

If after studying the long-view trends, as well as annual trends, and you’re still unsure what next step to take, you should review the most recent quarter performance – but don’t look for trends.

Look for the day or week where the campaign/account took a downturn. Try to determine what changed. Why did performance start to slip?

Relive the Past

Within AdWords and adCenter you can review the change history of your account. Once you have determined the day of infamy (a marked difference in performance), then you should review the historical changes of your account.

Perhaps there was a change made that inadvertently affected your performance negatively. The most common campaign changes that fall into this category include:

  • Negative keyword implementation: When you launched a specific negative keyword it may have made sense at the time, but perhaps this has stopped mission-critical terms from appearing properly.
  • Bidding strategy adjustment: The campaign-level bidding strategy may have shifted. Bids may have been increased or decreased. Or the bidding option may have changed (from CPC to CPA).
  • New campaign launch: New search or display campaigns may inadvertently syphon traffic from an older, established campaign.
  • Campaign settings adjustment: Sometimes settings can are altered accidently and this can have a huge impact on performance.

As you’re looking back, keep in mind that you may have not made the change that impacted your campaign. AdWords and adCenter make changes to ad serving all the time. These changes can be related to keyword match types, display network updates, or ad rotation.

Keeping your day of infamy in mind, review these helpful resources to see if there was an algorithmic shift during your target timeframe:

Look to the Future

Through this process you should have a different perspective on your PPC account. You should have a stronger grasp on your recent performance and a deeper comprehension of your seasonal trends. You should understand the external (platform level) and internal changes (account optimization) that may have affected your performance.

Now, you can look to the future.

Hopefully, pulling yourself out of the keyword-level trenches will help with innovation and motivation, and for this specific PPC battle, you will emerge victorious.

5 Local Linkbuilding Ideas For The Post-Penguin/Panda Era

 I have been fielding a lot of calls from sites big and small that believe they got hit by Penguin, Google’s “over-optimization” algorithm. Or maybe it was Panda? Who knows? Traffic is down and everybody is freaking out. 

I have a particular soft spot in my heart for the small, local businesses that have been hit, in many cases because they bought into someone’s spammy linkbuilding scheme.

I have had a few discussions with other SEOs who are attempting to take down clients’ spammy looking links, and while that might be effective, the ROI on finding and getting all of those links deleted seems iffy at best.

This mindset gets at the heart of why the site had a problem with these wacky animal updates to begin with – linkbuilding is not a substitute for a marketing plan.

With that in mind, I thought I’d offer up all you localistas out there some tried and true local marketing tips that just so happen to also help generate links, hopefully without infuriating any Google algo-beasts:

1.  Sponsor My Kid’s Baseball Team

There’s not much for us parents to do while watching our little Jeters learn the fine art of hitting off a tee, so getting your name on their jerseys for cheap might be a good way to build awareness.

It also might get you a link or two from the league’s website which is what we call a “citation” in the local SEO biz.  Here’s an example. It also gives you an excuse to connect with all of the parents on Facebook if you’re into that kind of thing which brings me to my next idea…

2.  Doing Something Socially Good In Your Community

How about a fundraiser for cancer that gets you a link from one of the top newspaper sites in the area? Or maybe a charity golf tournament?

3.  Join Your Local Business Association

Sure, it’s a good networking opportunity, but chances are, you will also get some nice links/citations out of the deal. Check out the Pleasanton Downtown Association’s Business Directory (which is not very well optimized btw – Hey PDA, give me a call!).

Another upside of joining these types of groups is that they help market you.

4.  Run A Contest 

The state of today’s media is that pictures of dogs with funny ties is news – see proof to the right. Well, so are pie eating contests.

If you need something to wash the pie down, how about a local brew crawl (promoted by the Pleasanton Downtown Association, btw)?

5.  Make A Video

One of the great things about the Web is that it’s super easy and cheap to make and distribute your own videos.

Find a local artiste who is looking to build their rep and have them whip out something for you that can get some attention (and links) like Presidential Car Wash.

I could go on, but hopefully by now you get the picture. For SEO to succeed over time, you have to invest in marketing your business.

If you stop thinking of SEO as some alien witch-crafty thing and start thinking of it as a natural compliment to your marketing plan (assuming you have a marketing plan that is) – you’ll find that the only Penguins and Pandas you need to worry about are the ones your kid is spending way too much money on on Farmville (excuse me if my farm is more exotic than yours).

6 Targeting Methods To Reach Your Business Audience Via LinkedIn

Most B2B marketers have a list of potential buyers at specific companies that they would like to reach. It can be very difficult to selectively target this audience via PPC Search ads or banner campaigns. Even behavioral targeting has its limitations.

Your next move… LinkedIn Ads:  https://www.linkedin.com/ads/

LinkedIn Ads is an offering from the popular professional networking site that provides many targeting options and cost-effective innovative ways to reach your audience.

Campaigns can be created to target a specific message, product, general brand, promote a web conference or anything you want to make sure your audience is aware of.

Here’s a look at how you can use specific targeting options to make your LinkedIn Ads campaign work for you.

Step 1: Create Your Ad

This process is similar to other ad networks we all use to promote brands, products and offerings. Make sure the messaging in line with what you want your audience to do…buy a product, sign up for a conference, add a new service offering or just plain remember your brand. Don’t forget to include your company’s logo. Brand awareness is key and helpful.

As you can see in the image above, ads can be simple text or include an image. The headline allows for 25 characters and the body text can span two lines with a total of 75 characters.

Step 2: Determine Audience Targeting

This is where the real value of LinkedIn Ads is… very granular audience targeting! Here is a summary of the six main ways B2B marketers can target business buyers.

Geo-Targeting

Pick your continent, pick your country, pick your state, region, pick your metro. You can target your audience right down to their exact location. While this is similar to many ad networks just wait and see what else you can do…

Industry Targeting

Targets can be selected based on the industry they serve. You can reach those in agriculture, arts, construction, education, government — to list a few.

There are even more specific categories within those broad industry categories. Be mindful that you can only select up to 10 industries. If you need to reach more industries, I recommend that you create separate campaigns. This approach also allows you to offer more relevant ads.

Company Targeting

You can select your audience based on the company they work for (or have worked). Do you have a list of leads that you want to notify about your latest product offering or conference? Create a campaign and remind them they need to sign up or update their product.

Selecting companies by their size is also available so if you need to reach small business you can opt-out of companies that may be too big for your offering.

Role/Title Targeting

Only need marketing managers? Skip the C Level and go straight to the Marketing department. Know the exact job function you want to reach? Simply enter the specific job titles.

Targeting the right people has never been easier. This feature is great if, for example, you are trying to increase registrations for a conference that would be helpful to Fortune 500 Marketing teams.

Group Targeting

Are you trying to reach a certain group of people not necessarily based on their company or job function, but rather groups they are members of …yeah you can do that too. For instance, B2B marketers may want to reach members of organizations relevant to a certain industry.

One example: targeting a CPA group because your business offers software for financial auditing.

Demographic Targeting

Finally, do you only want to find women or individuals in their 30’s…you can reach them through LinkedIn’s targeting offerings.  All you have to do is opt in.

Step 3:  Optional ReTargeting

You can keep your ads running outside of the LinkedIn platform by opting in to the LinkedIn Network which allows you to follow that Marketing Manager that you are targeting if they visit any site in the Network. This option is similar to PPC search retargeting – across various content/display networks.

Target Your Business Buyer

For B2B Marketers reaching your exact audience has never been easier. Setting-up a LinkedIn Ads campaign is at your fingertips. And remember, this isn’t about driving the biggest click-thru-rate this is about reminding prospects of your business, product, or upcoming conference. This is about awareness.

If I remember anything from my advertising studies at Penn State its frequency, frequency, frequency…and LinkedIn Ads offers this in an affordable, highly-targeted format.

The Penguin Update: Google’s Webspam Algorithm Gets Official Name

Move over Panda, there’s a new Google update in town:Penguin. That’s the official name Google has given to the webspam algorithm that it released on Tuesday.

What’s An Update?

For those unfamiliar with Google updates, I’d recommend reading my Why Google Panda Is More A Ranking Factor Than Algorithm Update post from last year. It explains how Google has a variety of algorithms used to rank pages.

Google periodically changes these algorithms. When this happens, that’s known as an “update,” which in turn has an impact on the search results we get. Sometimes the updates have a big impact; sometimes they’re hardly noticed.

Who Names Updates?

Google also periodically creates new algorithms. When this happens, sometimes they’re given names by Google itself, as with the Vince update in 2009. If Google doesn’t give a name, sometimes others such as Webmaster World may name them, as with the Mayday update in 2010.

With Penguin, history is repeating itself, where Google is belatedly granting a name to an update after-the-fact. The same thing happened with Panda last year.

When the Panda Update was first launched in February 2011, Google didn’t initially release the name it was using internally. I knew it, but I wasn’t allowed say what it was. Without an official name, I gave it an unofficial one of “Farmer,” since one of the reasons behind the update was to combat low-quality content that was often seen associated with content farms.

In the end, I suspect Google didn’t want the update to sound like it was especially aimed at content farms, so it eventually let the “Panda” name go public, in a Steven Levy interview for Wired about the update about a week after it launched. Panda took its name from one of the key engineers involved.

Say Hello To Penguin

Since Panda, Google’s been avoiding names. The new algorithm in January designed to penalize pages with too many ads above the fold was called the “page layout algorithm.” When Penguin rolled out earlier this week, it was called the “webspam algorithm update.”

Without a name for the new webspam algorithm, Search Engine Land was asking people for their own ideas at Google+ and Facebook, with the final vote making “Titanic” the leading candidate. A last check with Google got it to release its own official name of “Penguin.”

By asimfarooq633 Posted in Google