According to a new study, advertises are planning on increasing their paid search spend by 72% in 2014. Further, the overall number of searches on Google continues to increase as well. Almost 6 billion searches were performed each day in 2013.
In such a competitive scenario, can you be sure that your search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns are fully optimized and you have taken advantage of all available tools and features?
I’ve been in the SEM game for over 6 years now, a majority of them at Google, and here’s some of the biggest SEM mistakes I’ve seen that can cost you dearly.
Mistake #1: Confusing Website Navigation
When a customer clicks on your ad in Google and then comes to your website, they should not see something like this:
You need to make sure that a person clicking on your ad is landing on the most relevant landing page. This will enable the visitor to quickly find what they’re looking for.
But sometimes, a visitor may want to look around for more information and you need to make these navigation options clear. If your website is confusing, the visitor is likely to leave for a better alternative.
So, what makes a good landing page for a website? Let’s look at a landing page for the search term “leather messenger bags”:
As you can see, it’s important not to overload the user with too much choice.
Instead the visitor has 3 easy options:
- They can use the search bar,
- They can click on the breadcrumb navigation, or
- They can select Business -> Messenger Bags.
- Make it easy to find the search bar on your landing page
- Have breadcrumb and topic navigation
- Use relevant page titles
Mistake #2: Your Ad’s Theme Doesn’t Match the Landing Page Theme
The importance of a congruent ad and landing page theme cannot be understated. It’s so important Google has made a video explaining it. What it means is that your landing page should feature what was promised in your ad.
When searching for “diamond rings” here’s the landing page that appears for a top ad:
This is an example of a landing page designed by someone who did not watch the Google video.
If we look broadly, the landing page is not wrong. The user is taken to the ‘diamond jewelry’ section which has various options. But since the ad specifically mentions ‘diamond ring’, it is more effective for the landing page to be of the actual product itself. This will ensure better conversions as the user gets what he is promised on the landing page itself.
- Use specific landing pages for ads.
- Add titles to landing pages.
- Use traditional thumbnail result pages.
Mistake #3: Not Using Exact Match On Expensive Keywords
Some keywords have very high traffic and so, their cost-per-click (CPC) bids are relatively high. Some examples include: “puma shoes”, “luxury hotels”, “designer jewelry”, etc.
For such keywords, it is important that businesses bid on them using exact match.
Let’s take a look at how this works using ads for two queries – “puma shoes” and “puma shoes vs nike shoes”.
Google’s search algorithm has recognized that “puma shoes vs nike shoes” is an extension of “puma shoes”; so why didn’t AdWords display the ad? It’s likely that the advertisers have used exact match for “puma shoes”. Thus, by using exact match you won’t overextend your budget. You’ll pay for the expensive keywords, but you’ll know that the clicks you receive on the ad are from high potential visitors.
- Identify expensive keywords and use exact match for them.
Mistake #4: Ignoring Obvious Negative Keywords
Creating negative keyword lists for your ad campaigns can ensure that your ads don’t appear for irrelevant search queries.
In the example above, when we searched for ‘wine glasses’, we saw the expected ads; not irrelevant ones for say, eyeglasses or beer glasses.
But how do you know what to add as negatives? The single best (and easiest) resource is the Google Keyword Planner.
Let’s see what the Keyword Planner show us when we search for queries related to “wine glasses”:
Using this list you can filter out the negative keywords (in this case “eye”, “eyeglasses”, “cat”, “frames”). Once you’ve done that, your ad will not trigger for queries with any of your negatives in them. These single negatives are broad match (which we’ll illustrate further down).
Next, you may want to eliminate more specific keywords like “personalized eyeglasses”.
But here lies a catch. You cannot add “personalized” to your negative keywords list because you may want your ad to show up for “personalized wine glasses”. So instead of just adding the word “personalized”, we’ll add the phrase “personalized eyeglasses” as a negative. We can do this by simply putting the words within inverted commas.
Sometimes, you may not want a particular query to trigger your ad, but want the other variations of that query to trigger your ad. For example, you may not want your ad to show for “wine festival”, but want your ad to show for “glasses for wine festival”, “wine festival glasses”, etc. In this case, you’ll have to add “wine festival” (in square brackets) as a negative in exact match.
Let’s refresh our understanding on how negative match works:
- Negative Match: eyeglasses
- Ads may show on searches for: wine glasses
- Ads won’t show on searches for: eyeglasses, prescription eyeglasses.
- Negative Match: “personalized eyeglasses”
- Ads may show on searches for: personalized wine glasses
- Ads won’t show on searches for: personalized eyeglasses, prescription personalized eyeglasses.
- Negative Match: [wine festival]
- Ads may show on searches for: glasses for wine festival
- Ads won’t show on searches for: wine festival.
- Setup negative keyword lists using Keyword Planner.
- Properly use the different match types for your negative keywords.
Mistake #5: Neglecting Mobile-Friendly Landing Pages
Google put out an article where they found that 48% of online users are frustrated with the mobile experience on a website. The solution is to create a mobile-friendly website, where the pages load properly on a mobile device, the content is suitable for mobile devices, there are quality images, less text, and the navigation is easy.
In the above example, users will find Nuts.com more friendly as it displays its options neatly and visibly (search bar, topic navigation, topic links, brand name, etc).
- Implement mobile friendly and responsive websites.
- Include relevant titles, images, etc on landing pages so visitors immediately know that they’re on the proper page.
Mistake #6: Not Using Ad Extensions
Ad extensions are extra information about your business that appear along with your ad.
Search Engines and ad networks typically claim that using ad extensions can greatly increase click through rates (CTR). For example, Google says that using the sitelinks ad extension can increase CTR by 30%.
Along with the primary landing page in the ad, sitelinks allow you to offer more landing pages. To understand the concept better, let’s look at the example below:
The second advertiser has offered the visitor a choice of 5 landing pages. The primary link will take users to the “iPhone 5s” landing page; and the links below the ad will go to other relevant landing pages.
We can thus use sitelinks to prompt visitors to navigate to featured product pages, store locator pages, contact pages, etc.
- Use the sitelinks extensions to create relevant landing pages for visitors.
Mistake #7: Not Using Automated Rules
Automation has made it easier for advertisers to optimize their campaigns. However, we find that many advertisers aren’t using automated rules on their AdWords campaigns. This puts a burden on the ad manager and makes the entire ad program inefficient.
You can set rules to scenarios like:
- Change daily budget based on the busiest shopping times.
- Set the maximum CPC bids using CTR or conversion rates
- Change maximum bids based on busy days or a busy time of year (or during the low season), or
- Change landing pages based on current promotions or new products.
- Setup rules for the repetitive tasks you manually handle now.
- Setup rules for maximum bids based on your customer shopping cycle.
- Setup rules to change landing pages for new promotions or products.
Mistake #8: Not Using Remarketing
Remarketing lets you serve ads to people that have already visited your website once before. Here’s how it works:
- Google Ads places display ads on various publisher websites.
- When a visitor comes to your website to browse specific topics, leaves, and visits those publisher sites, remarketing allows you to serve relevant ads to entice the person to come back to your site and make a purchase.
- Start using AdWords remarketing ads.
Mistake #9: No Call-To-Action in your Ad
People may read your ad, but if there is no call-to-action (CTA) in the ad, you may miss out on clickthrough traffic to your landing page.
In the above example, when we searched for “lakme cosmetics online”, the second ad looked more enticing. It had multiple CTAs or action words like “Get Rs 125 Off”, “Free Shipping”, “Pay CoD” and “Shop Now”.
Listing what you’re offering can be enough in some cases. People are used to clicking on titles of products or categories; but sometimes you need to add action words to entice people to click.
Second, make it obvious what action your visitors should take on the landing page. You want to move them through the sales process and encourage them to make a purchase.
- Use CTAs in your ads.
- A customer should find it easy to complete your goals from the landing page.
Mistake #10: Not Adding Local Attributes
In a recent study it was found that 43% of all searches on Google are local.
We talked about ad extensions earlier, but it’s worth pointing out that if your business is local, adding relevant local information becomes critical.
Failing to add this information may cut down your ad’s relevancy because local users won’t know if your business can serve them.
There you have it. A comprehensive overview of some of the biggest SEM mistakes to avoid.
Did we miss any mistakes that you’ve noticed?