There's a big temptation that PPC managers need to stay away from, especially when first building an account. The temptation is assumption. (And yes, we all know what happens when....) If you assume, you can waste a lot of time building out a campaign that you will just have to spend MORE time fixing later.

A couple of primary assumptions that would be easy to make...

  • Keyword phrase "x" is definitely going to work so I'll spend the time to build an ad group and write targeted ads for it.
  • Keyword phrase "y" isn't working, so I'll just delete it.
This leads me to my main point. Data, not opinions, should make decisions. If the data doesn't tell you to do it, don't do it. As in the first case, if keyword phrase "x" hasn't proven that it's worthy of your time to build an ad group around; don't do it. First, let it prove itself.

And if you don't have enough data to do it; don't do it. As in the second case, if keyword phrase "y" has only been running for a few months and you've only tried a couple of ad and landing page combinations, don't delete it unless you realize that searchers are looking for something other than what you're offering. If it's really a phrase that you believe targeted searchers are using to try and find what you're offering, keep optimizing and testing.

It could be that you aren't using the right messaging for your audience. Or, maybe the phrase has a lot of synonyms or word combinations that are showing your ads that need to be added as negatives. Whatever it is, you've got to give each keyword market enough of a chance to probe for how you might service it most effectively or you may lose out on significant business that you could have taken advantage of.

As I mention in the post "Scouting Keywords That Will Become Your All-Star Players," the process of building out your campaigns is all about scouting. So, especially at the beginning, don't spend a bunch of hours building out hundreds of granular ad groups for every 3-word phrase that you can think of. Use 1 and 2-word phrases to hunt for the 3 or more-word phrases that deserve your money, time and effort. Also, look for words and phrases that triggered your ads that were wasted impressions and clicks and add them as negatives. The Search Query Report is your best friend in this endeavor.

For example, if my website sells guitars, I would use phrases like "acoustic guitars" and "electric guitars" to go out and scout for the long-tail phrases that will be my all-stars and then spend the time and money on those phrases.

The same applies to Content Network campaigns. I would use contextual campaigns to go out and find the sites that perform well enough to pay attention to and exclude the ones that don't. It takes patience, but waiting for data to make your decisions will save you money, time and energy in the long run. Slowly but surely, now you're funneling your money into the right keyword markets and you don't have to keep building, deleting, building, deleting.

May 11, 2010

Mike Fleming specializes in Analytics and Paid Search for Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. You can follow Mike on Twitter at @SEMFlem. Mike enjoys playing, writing and recording music along with playing basketball to get his workout in. He resides in Canton, Ohio with a girl who threw a snowball at him one day…then married him.

Mike and the team at Pole Position are available to help clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Contact them via their site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

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Search Engine Guide > Mike Fleming > Funneling PPC Money Into the Right Keyword Markets