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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sometimes the easy answer is the right answer

I was speaking with an associate a few weeks about a small AdWords campaign they had been running themselves for the past 2 years. When I say small I mean small - a dozen keywords with daily spends in the $2 - $4 dollar range. They primarily bid on their business name - it's a small local business and there' not much search volume associated with their name. The campaign has basically been on autopilot for 2 years. They added a handful of keywords but that's about it.

They called me when one day they noticed that they were not getting any impressions and all of their keywords were inactive for search. The AdWords interface indicated they needed to double their bids to reactivate their keywords even though the visible quality score showed "ok". They were pissed. I'm paraphrasing here but the basic feeling was how the hell can Google say they are "not relevant" or need to bid more when the name of their business is unique, no one else ever shows for it and their current bid had been fine for years. They were honestly ready to just shut off AdWords. It wasn't bringing them a ton of business (although it was bringing some and was showing a great ROI...just on a really small scale) and as a small business owner with 1,000 things going on at once he had neither the time or patience to fight with system that to him made no sense.

I took a quick look at his account and did a little research. It looked to me like his local listing was pulling the lions share of clicks for queries based on his company name. Nothing wrong with that...those clicks are free. The issue was, in my opinion, that since he set up his local account (about 2 months ago) the CTR of his AdWords ad tanked. Because of that AdWords reduced his quality score and deactivated his keywords/ads.

My solution...just create a new ad and add it to the rotation. Sometimes simply introducing a new ad can get your keywords activated again while your quality score is being reevaluated. Guess worked like a charm. Hours after adding the new ad all of his keywords were activated again with the same minimum bid requirements he had enjoyed for years. It's been a few weeks and the campaign is still running...and in a lot of cases the quality score has improved from "ok" to "great". A few of the keywords actually have lower minimum bid requirements now than they ever have and account wide his average CTR is up 3% while his average CPC is down 16%.

AdWords, actually paid search in general, can be complicated. The take away from this experience was that even though paid search can be complicated, that's not always the case. Sometimes the easy answer is the right one.

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At 6:24 PM, Blogger Jason said...

Great post; very insightful.

I didn't realize fresh ad copy could revive keywords on life support.

At 11:57 AM, Blogger Gregory said...

Great article! To read about a real life example problem, a solution and the data on what happened.... One example is worth a thousand theories.


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