More Exploratory Work on Google Adwords
With costs having increased this year over last year by about 50% for one particular local small business I'm taking a hard look at our adwords spend and seeing what we can do to fix this in one form or another.
By explanation, this is an adwords campaign for a local/regional business in a relatively well populated metropolitan region, the Washington DC area. We run quite a few campaigns that are regional and/or they expand into the neighboring metro regions --Baltimore to the North and Richmond to the South. The business does get customers from those areas. Its a niche business. Its services might be of some interest to about 10% of the population, give or take some significant but indeterminate percentage. We've been running this business for years. We are invested in several very different verticals, this being one of them with other businesses of this ilk in some other regions. We have ample experience. All things being considered there are certain "market conditions that drive interest in the business niche. They vary year to year.
Over the past 11 months this year google has reported somewhat over 340,000 impressions in our adwords campaign; roughly about 30,000/month. That is somewhat deceptive and subject to change all at google's will, discretion, and how they operate.
For instance, during the 11 months of 2010 google reported about 160,000 impressions and in 2008 about 116,000 impressions. Click totals for the 3 different years are about the same. The campaigns haven't changed much. Interestingly we got roughly the same number of clicks each year. What gives???
As referenced elsewhere, google takes broad term phrases, and virtually all your phrases and runs them into endlessly more queries. Meanwhile for our core money phrases, google takes the ads from other businesses, and irrelevant businesses and shows them in our core phrases.
So our ads with our bid prices are showing in irrelevant phrases. I suspect in those cases our "quality scores" STINK...But you know what, our bid prices are in there and they push up the competition. It forces higher costs. Likewise in our competitive phrases the ads from other businesses are PUSHING UP our bid prices. That has to account for part of the significant jump in prices.
Of the 340,000 impressions that google is telling us about, I can drill down, into some level of specifics by looking at Specific Keywords. When doing that google gives specifics on some 80-90,000 impressions. It also gives us the detail on almost all of our clicks...some 10-12,000...BUT NOT ALL OF THEM. So if I look at the details of what Google chooses to show us in its DETAIL report...I'm seeing click and impression data suggesting we have about a 12-13% click through rate...versus the 3% rate on all impressions. Far Higher.
But that isn't a necessarily helpful piece of data. I filtered the data looking at roughly 1 impression every other day as a minimum or about 150 minimum impressions for the past 11 months. That seems reasonable as a minimum. I checked all the phrases that showed...and they were all relevant and money phrases to at least some degree. I'm going to play with that minimum, adjusting it to a level that feels comfortable..but I liked that data for this year.
Of that data it showed about 70,000 total impressions and about a 7% ctr. That also suggests that google's DETAIL report includes about 18-20, thousand impressions with anywhere from 1-140/150 impressions and an INCREDIBLY HIGH CTR of about 30%. There are a lot of long tail phrases in there, but very rarely queried...and some of them click on our ads.
Anyway when I download the detail with a filter wherein I'm looking at an impression every other day, I'm looking at about 80 search phrases; I'm seeing slightly less than half the clicks for the year...
When I look at the detail for =< (equal and less than the filter number) I see A TON of clicks and a rediculously high ctr of about 30% or more. Dang. There is a lot of long tail on the ppc side of things for this business...and its expensive. Google shows me almost all those clicks..but not all of them. It has decided NOT to show us all the search phrases for which its running the ads.
Lesson learned so far is that independent of google's data is that one must use a FILTER to get relevant data, and one needs to understand the business to apply a filter # that is relevant and telling. That takes judgement. I'll have to continue to play with it.
A couple of side notes:
In its adwords forums when questioned why it doesn't show DETAIL on all those impressions, Google reps revert to the "privacy" defense that it used as its reason for not showing organic keywords. I believe that is HOGWASH. Google doesn't want the ad payers to know how many irrelevant phrases are carrying their ads.
When I look at the DETAIL with adwords clicks on long tail...and see that there are THOUSANDS of clicks on long tail...-> OH lordie, I do miss organic keyword detail. Just a reminder. I can't get over that.
This smb site gets about 2/3, 3/4, or maybe 80% of its google traffic from organic/maps and about 1/3, 1/4 or 1/5 from ppc. Dang...I don't see that organic volume in any context anymore. Dang those Google b@stards. They have the data and I don't. (Okay I see some of it in webmaster tools data....but I don't trust that data for accuracy in any context whatsoever)
This business is paying a ton more than last year. Competition is hitting us up. One thing is we bid A LOT for keywords and top position. Of the 80 search phrases with more than 140/150 impressions for the 11 months...our average rank in ppc is about 1.3 and only 13 of them are at a rank of 2 or higher. HEY ---one reason we are paying a lot is because we are bidding very competitively. I'll be working on those bid prices and see what it does.
Anyway there is a LOT of detail to all this "STUFF". I'll continue to work on it and give reports...and am always open to your great suggestions. Meanwhile...I'm sure google will continue to make tons and tons of money. Google is Big...we are all small. Unless we are China or Europe-->