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Creating a paid search keyword strategy across platforms like Google AdWords or Bing can be challenging and like Yin & Yang, there is a balance of both positive & negative keywords that must coexist, independent yet interconnected. Most advertisers are familiar with choosing keywords to bid on (positive keywords) that will lead potential customers to see their carefully crafted ad and click through to their website. Complementary to these keywords, are negative keywords that can be implemented to prevent your ad from showing if the term was queried and broad matched to those keywords being bid on. For example, perhaps someone may search for Cardinals Football Training, which may match to Cardinal Path Training – if we had football as a negative, we would ensure that our ad would not accidentally show, and fully prevent a potential wasteful click!

A healthy balance of keywords is vital to running a successful Google AdWords campaign and can lead to increased revenue dollars and customer acquisition. When choosing keywords to bid on, the following analysis can help:

  1. Customer’s search journey: Brainstorm what kind of keywords your customer would search to find out about your business at various stages of their awareness to conversion.
  2. Keyword Tools: Compare your brainstormed keywords and search for potential expansions with the Google Keyword Planner.
  3. Website Analysis: Does your website include enough information about these keywords? Your ad will point to the most relevant page, which should have the best content to boost your quality score and provide a great user experience.
  4. Competitor: What terms do your competitors use in their ad copy or on their website? Your customers will become familiar with this terminology in their research, so you should too.

When considering our overall keyword strategy, advertisers often neglect to implement those fundamental negative keywords, which are necessary to prevent irrelevant broad matching and any erroneous clicks on your ad. Negative keywords, which can be added on both a Campaign and Ad Group level in a variety of match types, can preserve your budget, improve your CTR, and achieve a more harmonious account, where both types of keywords work together to maximize conversions.

Generally, implementing negative keywords can be a reactive optimization – you see search queries within the Search Terms Report after the click has taken place, and then proceed to implement the undesired term as a negative. Instead, I recommend proactive negatives right from the get-go as part of your initial keyword strategy. You can add in negative keywords in the following ways:

  1.       AdWords Keyword Tab  
  2.       AdWords Editor
  3.       Shared Library (Account Level) – Negative Keywords List

At Cardinal Path, we’ve created and continuously curated standard negative lists that can be applied to multiple client verticals and are housed in our account’s Shared Library. After discussing a client’s keyword strategy within a few clicks, we’re able to proactively include the most appropriate negatives to ensure the campaign starts off on the best track possible.  

Below are a handful of standard broad negatives that are useful for most activity and I recommend auditing your account to ensure you have these negatives and close variants in place:

  •       Free
  •       Image
  •       Photo
  •       Job
  •       Career
  •       Hire
  •       Salary
  •       PDF
  •       DIY
  •       Headquarters

After creating your lists on an account level within Shared Library, you will now see these lists within each individual campaign and that they are being “shared from a manager account” but have not been applied to any campaigns as yet.

In order to apply these lists to your campaign, you will have to select the lists and then “Apply to Campaigns” to actually project them, as the platform will not auto-update every time that you create a new campaign.

Keep in mind that if you are often updating your Shared Library negatives that you will not be able to track these through your Change History Report, and that if you are constantly creating new campaigns it may be easier for you to copy and paste existing campaigns which hold all your negatives, either through the interface or AdWords Editor.

As part of your overall Keyword Optimization strategy, I would recommend regular sweeps of your Search Terms Report for negative keywords as well as keyword expansions. It’s a good idea to occasionally audit your current negative keywords to ensure these terms are still undesirable and if the business is expanding products/services, ensure that you have not previously negated terms that you would now like to trigger your ad.

Want to learn more about paid search keyword strategies? Join us for Cardinal Path AdWords Training in class or online and learn all about keyword match types, how to choose the best keywords – both positive and negatives, how to structure your account and save money with setting up & optimizing an AdWords campaign according to best practices.

Overview

Google’s Paid & Organic Search Reports have been around for about 4 few years now, but they are still one of the most underrated tools available for SEO and SEM analysis.

You may be wondering, “what questions can I answer with the paid/organic search report data?” Here are several of them:

  • For a given query, what were the paid acquisition statistics when an ad was shown (without the presence of an organic listing)?
  • For a given query, what were the organic search statistics for the results (without the presence of a paid ad)?
  • Most importantly, how does a paid result impact my organic search results, and vice versa, when both the paid listing and the organic listing are shown simultaneously?

While most of the data reported in the paid & organic search reports is visible in either the Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and AdWords platforms, it would be difficult to join all of these different data sources.

Here are a few of the problems associated with joining data from these various sources:

  • Many of the metrics do not line up with one another on a one-to-one basis
    • Data joins would have to be performed on a common metric (Adword keywords with organic queries, for example)
  • If you were to join up this data, you would still lack the interaction metrics from each channel on one another

This interaction is what makes the paid/organic search reports so valuable overall.

The Data in Paid & Organic Search Reports

Let’s take a look at the data included within the report:

*Keywords masked for privacy.

For any query, we can see the paid statistics for when an ad is shown only (without organic listings) for any given query – which is data that is also available in AdWords. Note that this view contains query level data, so it is campaign and keyword agnostic.

*Keywords masked for privacy.

From an organic perspective, we can determine the performance of organic queries with and without a paid listing. For example, the average change in position shows us that average organic listing is 2.2 when paid ads are not running, but 1.3 for an average position when both are shown.

Note that when an ad is shown only, we see an average position of 1.1 in the search results. Given the roughly 50/50 distribution between organic clicks and paid clicks, we can assume that the average positions can be aggregated and divided by two to determine the average positions across both channels combined.

However, the simple calculation of (2.2 (organic only) + 1.1(ad shown only) / 2 yields an average combined position of  1.7, meaning that the interaction of the two channels are providing value above and beyond individual performance.

While there are other factors involved, and the interaction lift of one channel on the other is well documented, the paid/organic statistics allow you to get a sense of how much lift one channel is generating for the other.

How can we determine this? Google ran a test (for the second time) to determine the probability of click recovery based on an organic position.

The top line results are as follows:

Organic Position 1

When an organic listing is in the top position and a paid ad does not display, there is only a 50% chance of recovering the click.

Organic Positions 2 – 4

When comparing organic listing positions between 2-4, there is an 82% probability of losing the potential user to a competitor’s paid or organic listing.

Organic Positions 5 and higher

Finally, organic positions greater than 4 experience a near-total loss (96%) in probability of recovering the click. Though the underlying Google study may potentially have noise within the data, the methodology is well-grounded.

The paid-organic reports can help you understand this at the aggregate level by comparing average positions for branded vs. non-branded queries, for example. This can help an SEM analyst pare down spend where the probability of recovering the incremental click is at least 50% (implying an organic listing in position 1).

How do we use this report for SEO?

Looking at the paid performance of queries triggering ads can be an extremely useful source of information for keyword optimization. If there are queries triggering ads that do not trigger organic results on site, more often than not, content specific to that query doesn’t exist on the site.

Content Hubs

These keywords can be leveraged for on-page optimizations, or within the body copy to help a particular landing page rank for this keyword.

Data Store

In addition, the organic data is pulled from Google Search Console, which is to a 90-day query restriction. Enabling these reports are provide a way to house your organic queries beyond the 3 month window, alongside paid data. Caution: Pausing AdWords campaigns for extended periods of time may affect this storage though, so only rely on pulling Google Search Console query data from here if there is no risk of a long paid ads pause. (Remember, Google’s incentive to provide access to this organic data is highly correlated with revenue through paid search).

Deeper Dives

Ultimately you can improve the efficiency of your SEM spend (paring down spend on those keywords that have the highest probability of converting organically) while sourcing new keywords from the report.

In addition, look to those keywords that are consistent category ‘outperformers’. AWRCloud performed a study highlighting what the expected CTR is in nearly any organic search engine result page, and how the clickthrough rates differ from industry to industry. This is one of the most robust data sets of its kind, with results from over 50,000 websites, and thousands of unique search engine results pages analyzed.

Using this data, we can map out what the expected Clickthrough rate should be by organic position. A first position organic result with a CTR of less than 10%, for instance, is well below the 26% – 36% expected range. In this case we can assume that the probability of recovering this click (if an ad is not shown) is less than the 50% claimed in the Google study.

Conversely, if a first position organic listing has a consistent 45% CTR, for example, we know that the probability of click recovery is greater than the 50% claimed. The AWRCloud study in conjunction with Google’s incrementality study and the paid & organic search reports allow us to build keyword tiers to determine if a paid or organic keyword is outperforming, underperforming, or just on par with expected results.

At Cardinal Path, we leverage the paid & organic search reports to achieve maximum paid acquisition spend efficiency, while consistently mining these reports to uncover high-value SEO keywords.

Enabling the Paid/Organic Search Reports

Enabling these reports is fairly simple and Google provides great documentation on how to accomplish this. Here are the steps to follow:

  • First, sign in to your AdWords account and click Settings.
  • Next, click ‘Linked Accounts’ in the left-hand pane, and then ‘view details’ under Search Console.
  • Finally, Enter the exact site URL in the text box.

Potential Drawbacks

Although there are multiple use cases for the paid/search organic reports, it does not provide a source of historical information. The data begins populating once you enable the link between the accounts. Depending on your traffic levels there may be a bit of lag between when you enable them, and when you are actually able to pull any meaningful data and insights from them.

Ultimately, however, when used properly this report serves to drive both, SEO and SEM efficiencies. Traditionally, SEO and paid acquisition have been fairly siloed despite the obvious overlap between the two channels, and this report also serves to break down those silos to provide more cost-effective, targeted digital marketing.

Cardinal Path is a market leader in Search Engine Optimization and Paid Search Acquisition. We stay ahead of SEO algorithm updates, and develop data-driven strategies to help poise your company for page-one visibility through this holistic view at search query data. Contact us today to tell us more about your individual Digital Marketing needs.

Sound project management practices, frameworks, and policies can help any organization operate more efficiently. At Cardinal Path, our client work is the single most important part of our business. Along with analysis and insights, our clients also expect top-notch project management and a solid and mutually beneficial professional relationship. Sound project management practices can increase speed to implementation of recommendations, streamline problem solving and build trust.

Here are a few key sample areas that take the client relationship to the next level outside of our foundational project management tools and resources (such as budget trackers, status sheets, project plans etc.)

1) Creating project structure

  • For large projects, dividing the project into portfolios and assigning subject matter experts
  • Clearly defining lines of communication and accountability

Benefits:

  • High quality deliverables
  • Consistency
  • Valuable relationships
  • Structure

2) Define and document deliverable processes

  • For repeatable deliverables, document the delivery process from beginning to end
  • Agreement and alignment of scope and expectations for the project team as well as our clients

Benefits:

  • Improved deliverable quality
  • Higher delivery efficiency and consistency

3) Define and execute a deliverable strategy

  • Create a curation document which houses all deliverable recommendations and findings
  • All subject matter experts are responsible to keep this up to date on a weekly basis

Benefits:

  • Consolidation and curation of all projects delivered to date
  • Gives our clients an executive level view of year
  • Acts as a reference document for testing plans
  • Helps with future planning of similar projects

When properly managed, top notch project management practices can help transform narrow funnels into high-capacity pipelines. In addition, it makes our clients and teammates feel like they are our most important assets, and rightly so, because they are.

In our latest webinar “Bigger Returns. Smarter Decision Making. Marketing Budgets that Work.”, hosted by the American Marketing Association, experts from Cardinal Path and Data2Decisions Canada shared their deep experience gained from executing optimization and media mix modeling projects for some of the world’s leading brands.

One of the most difficult challenges marketers face  is the ability to understand the different media touch points that are involved throughout the entire consumer journey. As the landscape becomes increasingly complex, organizations are missing out on profits. So, how can marketers best tap into the potential that exists, without relying on guesswork? In this webinar, our presenters Irina Pessin, Managing Partner at Cardinal Path, New York, and Andrew Dodds, Managing Partner, Data2Decisions Canada, showed us how best to unlock this potential through modeling and optimization. In case you missed it, you can watch the on-demand webinar here.

Below, you will find some of the questions that our audience asked during the webinar, as well as those questions that we didn’t have time to answer in the live session.

Q: What data is needed for the modeling and optimization work?

A: Andrew:  There is a long list of data required for modeling. You shouldn’t think of it as a list in the sense that you can check it off as you go, and then never think about it again.  Your data should reflect the conversion you are trying to measure, for example, traffic. All of the other data is an independent variable (execution, environmental impacts, pricing etc). This should be all media data, such as impressions, CTR, time spent on page. Through modeling, we test those variables for their relationship in explaining our influence on sales. The data itself should not be limited to being of a particular region or market, it could be as granular as the marketing data available, and can be built from store level. We recommend having granular data and an abundance of it. For optimization work, its more limited because it’s about the effects of sales on the business.

Q: How do you evaluate the accuracy of your models?

A: Andrew: A variety of statistical techniques that we use (e.g. R2 or adjusted R2) will help us to understand the ‘goodness of fit’ meaning how much of sales will it actually explaining and what is the margin of error. That is not to say it’s the sole determinant of a good model. A lot of it is dependent on the amount, and the quality of the data used to build the model. Statistics should reflect the validity of a variable and whether it is a meaningful and explanatory variable.  Typically we use a T-stat and P-value. We also use ‘hold out’ samples to test the accuracy of the model – if it is a good model, it should be an accurate predictor of the dependent variable when the actual independent variables for the holdout period are inserted into the model.

Q: How long does it typically take to deliver a project?

A: Irina: Typically, a project can be delivered over a 12-14 week period. This includes time to gather the data using an existing MMM, or using benchmarks, setting  up the tool, and working with stakeholders to make sure the optimizations are as relevant as possible.

Q: How much does a project typically cost?

A: Irina: I will outline an optimization-only project for the purposes of this question. However, an optimization-only project’s cost will still rely heavily on the scope. If we’re talking about one brand, the starting cost will be around 15K, if we are talking about 3 brands the cost will typically go up to 30 or 40K. Of course, there are economies of scale which can be applied across brands.

Q: Does modeling only work for sales?

A: Andrew: No. Although sales tends to be the most common measurement that the model will be built for, it can also work against other forms of conversion. Depending on the environment and vertical we are operating in, it could come in some other form such as store traffic, footfall, click through rates, or other action.

Q: Which markets and verticals do your benchmarks cover?

A: Irina: In terms of marketing, our benchmarks mainly cover all of North America, most countries in Europe, some countries in Asia, and Australia. We don’t yet cover South America right now, but generally speaking all of the other main markets are covered. Some of the benchmark verticals include: home care, healthcare, food and beverage, retail, banking, insurance, and more.

Q: How detailed can an MMM get for digital media channels?

A: Andrew: Digital is very dependent on the complexity of digital execution – there may be few “channels” used, or there could be many. In the event there are many, there is a very good chance we will experience auto-correlation which is a fancy way of saying everything is happening at the same time, and therefore it is difficult or impossible to assign value to the specific pieces.  Instead, we manage it as a whole. In this case, there are other options such as digital attribution which are better suited to get at the minutia of the digital execution while the MMM can be used for a more strategic and macro assessment of the digital environment.

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017, 12-1pm CST

It’s the age-old question: which part of your marketing budget is working for you and which part is being wasted?

In our upcoming webinar with the AMA, you’ll discover how the marketing team at a Fortune 1000 retailer applied a killer combination of data science and technology to solve for this problem with dramatic results: 33% more incremental revenue, with 26% less budget, for an overall 80% improvement in their marketing ROI. 

Plus, learn how marketing budget optimization techniques can deliver transformational insights, including:

  • Expected return on investment for varying scenarios and levels of media spend
  • Likelihood of profit and sales targets being achieved
  • Allocation of budget between brands and sub-brands, campaigns and supporting core products, and between media channels
  • Whether to use a continuity, drip, or burst strategy for your campaign for best results

This session is lead by Irina Pessin, Managing Partner, New York, Cardinal Path, and Andrew Dodds, Managing Partner, Data2Decisions, Canada.

Cardinal Path

The Yin & Yang of Paid Search Keywords

Creating a paid search keyword strategy across platforms like Google AdWords or Bing can be challenging and like Yin & Yang, there is a balance of both positive & negative keywords that must coexist, independent yet interconnected. Most advertisers are familiar with choosing keywords to bid on (positive keywords) that will lead potential customers to … Read Full Post

Using the Paid & Organic Search Reports to Drive Cross-Channel SEO/SEM

Overview Google’s Paid & Organic Search Reports have been around for about 4 few years now, but they are still one of the most underrated tools available for SEO and SEM analysis. You may be wondering, “what questions can I answer with the paid/organic search report data?” Here are several of them: For a given … Read Full Post

Project Management Tips for Stellar Client Relations

Sound project management practices, frameworks, and policies can help any organization operate more efficiently. At Cardinal Path, our client work is the single most important part of our business. Along with analysis and insights, our clients also expect top-notch project management and a solid and mutually beneficial professional relationship. Sound project management practices can increase … Read Full Post

Bigger Returns. Smarter Decision Making. Marketing Budgets that Work.- Webinar Q & A

In our latest webinar “Bigger Returns. Smarter Decision Making. Marketing Budgets that Work.”, hosted by the American Marketing Association, experts from Cardinal Path and Data2Decisions Canada shared their deep experience gained from executing optimization and media mix modeling projects for some of the world’s leading brands. One of the most difficult challenges marketers face  is the ability … Read Full Post

Register for our upcoming webinar with the AMA: “Bigger Returns. Smarter Decision Making. Marketing Budgets that Work.”

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017, 12-1pm CST It’s the age-old question: which part of your marketing budget is working for you and which part is being wasted? In our upcoming webinar with the AMA, you’ll discover how the marketing team at a Fortune 1000 retailer applied a killer combination of data science and technology to solve … Read Full Post

Benchmark Your Marketing Analytics Maturity

See how your marketing analytics performs against thousands of organizations. (Approx. 5 minutes).