Trick or Treat: The Scariest Paid Search Mistakes

Kamal Thakarsey
October 31, 2012
Halloween Pumpkin Carvings

What do Halloween and Search Engines have in common? Well nothing really. But on the scariest day of the year, we thought it would be fun to share some of the scariest search marketing mistakes. Some of these may be stating the obvious, but nonetheless it’s always important to make sure you are paying close attention to every aspect of your paid search program. Anything short of this and you could be missing out on huge opportunities or wasting large percentages of your budget. Rest assured that the following mistakes will more than likely result in a boss turned feral.

Freddy Krueger is a Rogue Keyword

This one takes the cake (or candy corn). Your campaigns might be performing well, but when was the last time you looked at a search query report? Run one, open it up and take a quick peek. You might be surprised to find a completely irrelevant keyword that has generated many more clicks than what would make you comfortable. Like Freddy, keywords like this one will terrorize your paid search program and your dreams. Combat this horror by continuously mining for and adding negative keywords across your campaigns. Each click you save from an irrelevant query is a click that’s made on a relevant, and hopefully converting, query. Think of it as turning a “trick” into a “treat”.

Keywords Waiting to Burst

Remember in Aliens when the little alien bursts out of the guy’s chest? Well you've got keywords in budget capped campaigns that are just waiting to make your night. Drill into these campaigns and run an impressions share report on your top performing keywords. If these keywords have lost impressions share due to a limited budget, it’s time to start optimizing your campaign. Find under-performing keywords and pause those. Generate search query reports and begin applying negative keywords, liberally. Take a look at your conversion rates throughout the day and week, and consider day-parting. Each of these tactics can go a long way in freeing up extra budget for your top performing keywords. Implement them today and let those little keywords burst.

Even Jason Splits out Search, Display, and Mobile

Get it? I used “split” because Jason uses a machete. So right before your boss turns feral he might go to you and ask, “How are we doing in mobile search?” As your boss flips your desk and jumps out the window onto the street, you only now begin the task of creating separate search, display and mobile search campaigns. Not only does splitting out these channels allow you to report on each segment quickly and easily, it also allows you to implement different bidding and optimization strategies. For example, bidding more aggressively on mobile keywords is an effective way to push keywords into the top two positions where a majority of all mobile clicks occur.

When Good Metrics Go Bad

Optimizing for the wrong metric can have terrifying consequences; like in The Fly when Jeff Goldblum’s character, Seth, successfully teleports himself only to slowly mutate into a fly. You might look at your paid search performance and find that the cost-per-lead (CPL) and return-on-investment (ROI) metrics line up. But what’s occurring further down the funnel? Too often, companies optimize against the wrong metrics and miss out on greater revenue opportunities down the funnel. If you’re a lead gen company, are you tying downstream data to top of the funnel cost data? You could be optimizing for a low CPL, but missing out on higher CPL keywords that drive leads your sales team can actually close. If you’re in retail, are you optimizing towards conversion rates? If you are, you may be missing out on keywords that may have lower conversion rates but much higher margins.

On the scariest day of the year, remember to avoid these ghastly paid search mistakes. Take the treats I've offered throughout this post and stash them away for recall throughout 2013. When these mistakes are avoided, even the likes of Freddy, Jason, Seth or an alien can’t stop your paid search program from taking off on a broom and reaching its full potential. Have a safe and happy Halloween!

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