Long Tail for PPC


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Long tail for PPC presentation showing you how you can leverage the long tail for PPC to help drive your paid search costs down, and your PPC conversions up!

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  • Today we’ll be talking about an advanced keyword research topic: the long tail of search as it related to paid search advertising. Today’s agenda will include: A brief overview of the long tail: what it is, and why you should care about it. An in-depth presentation showing you how you can leverage the long tail for PPC to help drive your paid search costs down, and your PPC conversions up! We’ll cover practical tips and strategies, caution against some common long tail pitfalls, and close with a question and answer period.
  • So what is all this long tail stuff? The concept of the long tail was first presented in a Wired article and subsequent series of books written by Chris Anderson. Initially, Anderson was analyzing revenues from Amazon.com. In a nutshell, the premise of the theory is that the sum of the frequencies of the more popular and obvious products Amazon sold were actually less, in aggregate, than the sum of the frequencies of the less popular and obvious items. So, as we see in the quote above, less popular products, when taken in aggregate, are more popular than popular products!
  • So how does this apply to search? Well, the long tail is a very real phenomenon when applied to search queries. If you look at a keyword or content report graphed by visit count per keyword or page, you’ll consistently see the same chart Anderson made popular: that same “long tail” will persist through every statistically significant keyword report. Additionally, there are some pretty staggering keyword and search query statistics that suggest that the long tail is very much alive in search. According to Google 20-25 percent of search queries they see are queries they haven’t seen in the last ninety days. This means your potential customers are coming up with tons of new ways to talk about the same products every day. Additionally 56 percent of buyers use at least three terms in their query, and Hitwise recently reported that on the whole our search queries are consistently getting longer. So buyers and searchers are looking for things in unexpected ways. They’re using longer and longer queries. As a PPC advertiser you need to know how to respond.
  • There are more reasons than the above to believe that the long tail is significant for PPC: namely, the nature of the queries. Broader or more general queries typically indicate that the searcher is unsure of what she is looking for, or is simply looking for information. Also, as these get searched frequently they’re often the most obvious choice. But, if the advertiser can identify and message to them, we know that the aggregate of longer, more specific terms is actually greater than the sum of the more popular terms, and those more specific terms are great because they show additional layers of intent.
  • Here’s a quick high-level example to hammer home the point: think about the relative specificity of the queries here. Running shoes could mean all sorts of things, whereas a person looking for Nike Air Terra is after a specific shoe. And if we made that query even longer, we’d get even more information and would be able to even better determine what sort of ad or landing to page to offer (think about how much better off we’d be if we knew the person searching wanted to “buy nike air terra” or had typed “nike air terra info”).
  • So that’s it: this is the money slide, right? Less competition, more intent, and it all leads to better ROI. Hurray for the long tail for PPC, on to Q and A.
  • Obviously it’s not quite that simple. Many people are actually proclaiming the long tail for PPC “dead”. Despite the information on the previous slide, advertisers often see most of their AdWords, Yahoo! or Bing paid search traffic being sopped up by a few hundred keywords. What about that nice long tail graph we were going on about?
  • The important thing to call out here is the difference between search queries and keywords. Basically, search queries are what the user types into a search box, while keywords are the words or phrases you actually bid on. By leveraging broad and phrase match options you’re letting all of your search query data be rolled up into “keywords”. As our friends at Click Equations like to say, this is “low resolution”.
  • Here we see a visual representation of what might be going on under the hood of our paid search accounts. As you can see with phrase and particularly with broad match it’s very difficult to get a true handle on how specific queries actually performed. So what we’ll need to do is gain increased visibility into our account somehow, and we’ll want to start to identify and manage long tail queries so that we can effectively turn them into keywords .
  • So it seems that there is a lot of value living in the long tail of search queries, but it also appears that it’s going to be pretty tough to tap into. What’s next?
  • Well, here we move from theory to actual strategy. Our first plan of attack is to try to gain greater visibility into our long tail for PPC. We can do this with comprehensive keyword research out of the gate, which we’ll cover shortly, and with continuous keyword discovery and expansion. An additional strategy is to bid more aggressively on mid and long tail keywords. This allows those keywords to have a chance to win a spot in Google’s auction, as often high bids on broad matched terms causes those phrases to absorb most of the impressions, even if there is a more specific and relevant keyword in your account. A third lever we can pull is negative keywords. By using negative keywords properly we can expect to eliminate some of the search queries that might be “hiding” behind their associated keyword. And finally it’s always a good idea to test and tweak match types, such that you’re able to determine which matching type is the most cost efficient. Ultimately, effective long tail keyword targeting is a very dynamic and fluid process. There’s no simple A B C formula for success: you need to consistently monitor and optimize your campaigns, focusing on high resolution and effective organization.
  • Now that we’ve looked at overarching long tail strategy, let’s dive a bit deeper and look at some of the specific pieces involved. First, we’ll take a peak at how you might generate a list of long tail keyword ideas if you were operating with a new account. A good place to start is always with a brief brainstorming session to identify the way your company or your client’s company talks about their business. From there, you can start to take those words and phrases and expand on them. There are a lot of good tools to do this, here we’ve listed a few. At WordStream we just released a free keyword tool that is specifically designed to help generate long lists of keywords and to identify keyword opportunities for a specific niche. The tool lets you export up to 10,000 keywords for free, so that can be a good start. Additonally Google offers a variety of keyword tools. One I really like is insights for search. This gives you a nice idea of how a keyword is trending: either over time or seasonally, and can help you to narrow down and focus your list. AdCenter also offers some nice suggestion tools. The search funnel tool lets you see the searches people perform on Bing after they search for a given term. This is a great way to see how people are drilling down to find terms related to their initial search, and to think about the types of associations searchers are making. Finally, you’ll want to take some competitive tools for a spin to see what other people in your space are bidding on. I’m not a huge fan of competitive tools in general as I find that often your competitors keywords aren’t necessarily the best keywords for you and your business, but as an idea generator they can be helpful. There are lots of competitive tools, my favorite is SEM Rush. Another idea is to mash up your keyword lists by appending modifiers. This can be problematic, as these mashed up terms aren’t actual search queries, but it’s another tactic worth considering as you’re generating your “big list”.
  • An extension of keyword list generation should ALWAYS be negative keyword generation. The best way to generate negatives is to constantly identify the terms that aren’t relevant to your business as you research keywords. You can also take a look at stock lists of standard negative terms like “free” or adult terms, but as these aren’t industry specific I think it’s generally best to work off of words or phrases keyword tools find related to your initial seed queries, as the engines will generally find them related as well. And finally, the best way to find negatives is to mine your traffic! See what actually comes to your site, identify the irrelevant traffic, and filter it out. This can be done using search query reports, or better yet your traffic data. WordStream offers a negative keyword tool that is built to analyze your traffic data and suggest possible negatives based on what’s coming to your site.
  • Just generating a couple of lists doesn’t complete your long tail keyword targeting process. As with any keyword list, you need to drill down and segment your list based on paid search best practices Pick specific and relevant keywords, Group related keywords together, And write ad text and landing pages that speak to the intent of the searcher When a searcher types something into Google, they’re revealing a question, or pain point. When you reflect the user’s intent in your ad and landing page, everything in your account will work better.
  • As you do this, pay attention to the modifiers that in your keyword lists. It’s important to remember that every single term you add to a search query reveals an additional layer of intent. With every modifier the searcher is telling you something about what they’re after: listen, and segment your groups accordingly. This will allow you to map your ad text and landing page content to the visitor type. You can pay out informational services with softer offers, give people using “comparison” or “review” in their query custom content, or you can get out of the searchers way and get them right into a product page or a form if their query indicates they’re ready to buy!
  • While the two are often thought of as different entities, keyword organization is really an extension of keyword research. This is true because keyword research shouldn’t end in the account set up phase! Effective keyword research is continuous and dynamic, and that requires a strong, logical keyword structure so that you can easily integrate and eliminate keywords as time goes on. Keyword organization is a single point of leverage that affects everything in your account, including reporting, the relevance of keywords to an ad group, landing page and text ad, your click through rate, your quality score, your ad position, your impression share, your minimum bid, your actual cost per click, and yes, even your conversion rates, since by targeting the specific intent of the searcher, he’s more likely to find whatever it was you wanted him to find.
  • Really, the best way to expand and prioritize long tail keyword variations is to leverage your own traffic! Your query data is yours alone: no one can access it by navigating to a URL and punching in a keyword. By integrating analytic keyword data within your paid search campaign, you can consistently expand your keyword list, generating unique queries that you have unique access to.
  • Here’s a quick visual of how you can expand your keyword lists and constantly introduce new long tail keywords into your accounts: You start by aggregating keyword data. Next you do research and analysis work, bucketing together related, relevant keywords Finally you act on the data, by publishing ads and landing pages, which in turn generates more keyword data to be analyzed As the cycle repeats, you learn more about your keywords, enabling you to be more relevant & effective.
  • So what’s the point? Why bother with all of this targeting, strategy and execution around the long tail for PPC? Because increased visibility into your account leads to better decisions. You’ll be able to make your AdWords, YSM, or adCenter long tail start to look more like your analytics long tail. By more precisely targeting keyword searches with laser focused ads, you can increase click-through rates, raise Quality Scores, and generate more conversions by being able to better target your landing page content.
  • Let’s run down some common long tail keyword mistakes: Many people ignore the long tail because their keyword list doesn’t reflect it: obviously this is the biggest long tail mistake of all! Additionally be sure not to fall into the trap of considering quantity to be synonymous with quality: greater search volume or impressions do not mean a keyword is better for your business, and a keyword tool telling you a keyword is profitable is far from being indicative of a profit-driving keyword for your account. Dynamic keyword insertion is another commonly misused PPC tactic. There are some instances where DKI can be valuable, but all too often it’s used as a crutch for poor campaign structure: get it right with keyword organization and targeting, and your ads will be plenty dynamic! By simply bidding a keyword up as it gains conversion data, you’re often effectively lopping off your paid search keyword long tail. Be conscious of the fact that you need allocate bids so that long tail keywords have plenty of bid to appear for specific queries. Finally, don’t expect to have your long tail keyword strategy perfectly implemented overnight: this is a lot of work, carefully execute each step, and continually monitor your progress.
  • Here’s a final overview of how to effectively manage long tail keyword targeting: Be sure to create a strong, logical keyword grouping and organization structure, efficiently apply negatives throughout your account, look for higher impact “quick wins” and prioritize tasks based on their relative impact. Act on insights – it seems obvious, but be sure that as you’re gathering data it’s actionable, and then take the data points you have and start to make more informed, more effective decisions. Finally be sure to distribute the work if possible, and leverage software options to enhance the productivity of whatever human resources you have at your disposal. Tasks like keyword research and organization are ripe for targeted automation.
  • Long Tail for PPC

    1. 1. Advanced Keyword Research & Targeting – Why the Long Tail Still Matters Larry Kim Wordstream
    2. 2. Agenda <ul><li>The Long Tail of Search </li></ul><ul><ul><li>History and Definition </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What is it, why should you care? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>How to Leverage the Long Tail for PPC </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Practical tips and strategies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Common Long Tail Pitfalls and how to avoid them </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Q&A </li></ul>
    3. 3. The History of the Long Tail <ul><li>Popularized by Chris Anderson in a 2004 “Wired” magazine article that has led to a series of books </li></ul><ul><li>Long Tail Theory: “Long tail products that are in low demand (low sales volume) collectively make up a market share that exceeds the bestsellers.” </li></ul>
    4. 4. The Long Tail and Search <ul><li>Real phenomenon that permeates many aspects of search marketing </li></ul><ul><li>Popular Examples of the Long Tail: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Keyword (Search Query) Reports </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Popular Content Reports </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Why should you care about the long tail for PPC? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ 20-25% of all Google search queries are unique” (Google) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ 56% of buyers who search use queries of three or more words, while only 7 percent use one word or an acronym” (Google) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Searchers are using longer queries” (Hitwise) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Has many implications for managing PPC Campaigns </li></ul>
    5. 5. The Long Tail for PPC in Theory <ul><li>Broader (more general) search queries are indicative of early in the buying cycle </li></ul><ul><li>They’re also relatively more expensive due to increased advertiser competition </li></ul><ul><li>More specific the query, the closer the searcher is to a decision (conversion) </li></ul><ul><li>Also relatively cheaper due to decreased advertiser competition </li></ul>
    6. 6. Consider these Google queries: <ul><ul><li>“ Running Shoes” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>+10 pages of sponsored results </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Nike Air Terra” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>~2 sponsored listings </li></ul></ul></ul>Searcher Intent = vs. vs. vs. vs. Searcher Intent =
    7. 7. So in Theory, Long Tail for PPC: Less Competition (Lower CPC) Better Ad Positioning More Searcher Intent (Higher Conversion Rates) Better ROI!
    8. 8. Dude, Where’s My Long Tail! <ul><li>In Google AdWords, the long tail often doesn’t exist! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ 300 keywords generate +90% of my clicks” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Therefore “the long tail is dead!” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Yet Web analytics keyword reports show 10’s of thousands of unique search queries! </li></ul><ul><li>What’s happening here?! </li></ul>
    9. 9. Search Queries vs. Keywords <ul><li>Search Queries : What the user actually typed into the search box that triggered your ads. </li></ul><ul><li>Keywords : The words in your Google AdWords account that Google attributes an impression/click/conversion to. </li></ul><ul><li>Use of aggressive keyword match types kills your long tail for in Google AdWords </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Can fundamentally distort cause and effect </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Operating PPC in “Low Resolution” (Thanks Craig!) </li></ul></ul>
    10. 10. Keyword Match Types & Search Queries Keyword Match Type Keyword Possible Valid Search Query Broad Match Adidas Shoes Nike Slippers Phrase Match “ Adidas Shoes” Adidas Shoes for basketball Exact Match [Adidas Shoes] Adidas Shoes
    11. 11. Long Tail for PPC Implementation Strategies <ul><li>Wow. This is a lot of theory and sounds pretty hard. How do you actually implement this?? </li></ul>
    12. 12. PPC Strategy for Long Tail <ul><li>Need greater visibility into the search queries that are actually driving traffic & conversions and leverage that information to correct for Google’s built-in tendency to distort reality </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Continuous Long Tail Keyword Discovery & Expansion: Self Explanatory </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bidding : By bidding lower on “Head” terms versus mid and long-tail terms. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Negative Keywords : Restrict ads from showing if you have more specific ads that you’d rather show. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Match Types : Application of more or less restrictive match types </li></ul></ul><ul><li>No prescriptive way to manage the long tail for PPC, rather, you need : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Better resolution into the actual search query data and outcomes in order to understand and react to it </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Effective keyword organization strategy </li></ul></ul>
    13. 13. Long Tail Keyword List Generation <ul><li>Generate an initial list of ideas (brainstorming/talking to clients) </li></ul><ul><li>Leverage a variety of tools </li></ul><ul><ul><li>WordStream’s Free Keyword Tool </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Google’s Tools </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Insights for Search </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>AdCenter Keyword Tools ( http://adlab.microsoft.com/ ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Search Funnel Tool </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Competitive Tools </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>SEM Rush </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Use common modifiers: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>SEO Book has a nice list at: tools. seobook .com/ keyword -worksheets/ keyword -worksheet.xls </li></ul></ul>
    14. 14. Negative Keyword Generation <ul><li>Keyword Research is Also NEGATIVE Keyword Research </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Be on the Lookout for Negatives as you research – Tools give you suggestions : the suggestion could be right or wrong (a positive or negative keyword!) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Consult lists of negatives </li></ul><ul><ul><li>http://www.komarketingassociates.com/blog/200-plus-negative-keywords-to-consider-for-b2b-ppc/ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>http://www.engineready.com/sem-resources/sem-newsletter/a-free-resource-to-negative-nirvana.php </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Constantly mine your own traffic! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>See how people are coming to your site (historically and dynamically) and ruthlessly weed out bad keywords! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Search query report is OK for this, but incomplete </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Better is a log file/javascript analytics tool with negative keyword functionality, like WordStream’s negative keyword tool </li></ul></ul></ul>
    15. 15. What’s Next? Keyword Organization! <ul><ul><li>Select specific keywords & negative keywords </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Group together closely related keywords </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Write relevant text ads and destination pages to speak to the intent of the searcher! </li></ul></ul>Awful: Too Broad! OK: Somewhat Related Better: Reflects Intent
    16. 16. Pay Attention to Modifiers! <ul><ul><li>Modifiers reveal intent: specifically if the person is looking for information, making a comparison, or is ready to purchase </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Be aware of modifiers and where they sit in the buying cycle ( tools. seobook .com/ keyword -worksheets/ keyword -worksheet.xls ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Map messaging/content to visitor type: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Informational – Softer offers (white paper, trial) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Review – Show comparison charts, user reviews, testimonials </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Buy – Just give them the product/form! </li></ul></ul></ul>
    17. 17. Is Organization Really Part of Keyword Research? <ul><li>Yes! Keyword research should never end, and organization is a single Point of Leverage Affecting your Entire PPC Account ! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reporting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Relevancy of Keywords to Ad Group, Text Ad, Landing Page </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Click Through Rate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Quality Score </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conversion Rates </li></ul></ul>Keyword Organization ROI
    18. 18. Don’t Stop with Suggestions! <ul><li>Your BEST Keyword Opportunities comes from Your Own Website ! </li></ul><ul><li>Mine analytics to continuously aggregate keyword research data (clicks and conversions) from your own website and store that data in your own Private Keyword Database ! </li></ul>
    19. 19. Ongoing Keyword Research Workflow Re-factor new keyword opportunities into your existing keyword research, continuously expand and optimize!
    20. 20. Long Tail for PPC: What’s the Point? <ul><li>Long Tail for PPC awareness & strong campaign organization to better understand and react to how people are really interacting with your PPC campaigns </li></ul><ul><li>To make your Long Tail of Keywords (in AdWords) look more like your Long Tail of Search Queries in Web Analytics </li></ul><ul><li>Why? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It means you’re more precisely matching keyword searches with their intended ads and landing pages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Will (on average) yield Quality Scores, better exposure, lower CPC’s, higher conversion rates. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>More work, but … </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Meaningful impact on CPCs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Great infrastructure for conversion friendly landing pages </li></ul></ul>
    21. 21. Common Long Tail Keyword Mistakes: <ul><ul><li>Ignoring/Denying the Long Tail of Search </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mistaking Quantity and Quality </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Fake keyword generators (permutations or combinations of lists of keywords) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Over-trusting keyword suggestion tools </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Negative Keywords </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Avoid Keyword Injection: Need {Keyword}? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Shortcuts hurt performance </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Write targeted ads and landing pages </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Simplistic bidding rules can torpedo the Long Tail for PPC </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Trying to do everything at once </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Take an iterative approach </li></ul></ul></ul>
    22. 22. Ways to Effectively Manage Long Tail Keywords <ul><li>Tight Keyword Grouping & Organization </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Properly organize your long tail keywords for the best results </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Use negatives </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Negative keywords improve your relevance without requiring you to comb through the list individually </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Prioritize tasks </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Once you have gathered long tail keywords, continue to optimize the campaigns as you do with other keyword groups </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Act on insights </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Turn insight into action! Dedicate time and effort towards crafting relevant ad groups and content pages </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Distribute the work </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Break up work into smaller tasks, enlist the support of a team </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Use Software </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Leverage keyword research and management software </li></ul></ul>