July 17, 2018

AdWords Ad Rotation Changes – Here’s What You Can Do.

Three days ago while attending SMX Sydney, as I was sitting down contemplating the changing world of SEO, my mind was brought zooming back to PPC with this post from Google.

It seems nothing is sacred in our AdWords tool chest anymore! Hot on the heels of changing how Exact and Phrase match work,    Google have now updated ad rotation settings to, quite frankly, ensure they maximise overall ‘clicks’ on their network.


‘Facepalm’ as Search Engine Watch have also said

So what exactly have they changed on us?

As advertisers we have long had the ability to define how our ads are rotated within ad groups:

  1. ‘Optimise for Clicks’,
  2. ‘Optimise for Conversion’, or
  3. ‘Rotate’.

I’m assuming you know where to find these settings (campaign settings > advanced settings > Ad delivery: ad rotation…) but essentially they have, for a long time, allowed us to align out Ad delivery with basic campaign coals or tactics.

eg. After traffic – optimise for clicks, after sales – optimise for conversion, want to scientifically improve CTR & CR – rotate them!

No surprises here.

However Google have now said the following:

Starting next week, the “rotate” setting for ad rotation will change. Instead of rotating creatives for an indefinite period of time, this setting will only rotate for a period of 30 days. After that, the setting will then optimize to show the ads expected to generate the most clicks.

After 30 days (when there have been no edits to any ad within a particular ad group) the ads will begin to optimise for ‘clicks’. Each time an edit is made, the counter is reset for another 30 days.

There is no doubt here that Google have run the numbers and see a great opportunity to drive increased clicks (revenue) from advertisers who may be using the ‘rotate’ setting with minimal actual testing an optimisation going on. There will also be many advertisers with far too many ads in their rotating ad groups, diluting impressions across all and potentially hindering the account’s ‘performance’.

This however brings us to the crux of the issue. Google is defining performance for all as ‘clicks’. I don’t know about you, but for most advertisers, performance is about conversion, not ‘clicks’ alone.

This change will enable us to provide users with the most relevant ad experience and should help advertisers improve the performance of their AdWords accounts.

I don’t have a problem with Google making money, and we can pretty safely say that this change will help Google achieve more clicks from certain AdWords campaigns. What I am concerned about is the way Google have given us no option to opt out, or change, the behavior that occurs after he 30 day period.

Whya can’t we choose to default to ‘optimise for conversion’ after the 30 day period?

So,  Who will be most affected? What can we do moving forward?

Any ad group that does not receive a statistically valid number of clicks within a 30 day period is impacted the most – eg. there will not be enought data to make a call on the winning variant before you neet to reset the test by making an update.Those where volume is high can, at a minimum, produce a winning variant.

However the problem extends father than this.

Even with high click volumes, you will still have to remember, (after 30 days) to either reset the test (by changing something), set to optimise for converson, or pause all but the winning ad in a ad group, until you are ready to test again. This could work – but the challenge is scale. If you’re working in an agency on multiple accounts, get ready to fill up your calendar with ‘campaign ad setting reminders’ because no matter what your strategy is from this day forward, once those ads stop rotating, you’ll be optimising to the highest in CTR / click volume.

One last point – apparently, once this change is live, ad groups that are set to rotate, but have not had an update in the last 30 days, will start optimising to ‘clicks’ automatically.


## UPDATE (June 4th): Google have announced an update to the new rotation settings – the rotation period will be extended to 90 days (from 30) and advertiser will also able to opt out all together via filling in this form.


AdWords Quality Score Reporting Update: Improved Transparency for Advertisers

On Tuesday, Google released an update to their AdWords Quality Score reporting that lifts the hood a little on the individual components that make up your QS.

When you hover over the status icon in the Keywords tab, you will now see a rating for each measure, ‘Expected clickthrough rate”, “Ad Relevance” & “Landing page Experience”. The ratings are:- Average, Above Average or Below Average.

This should be a welcome addition for most advertisers (direct and agency) as it takes away a big chunk of the guess work and may actually save you time!.

This scenario may sound familiar to you:  You may be  (or have a client or a manager who is) obsessed with the QS for a particular group of terms. You may have them sitting at 7 or 8 out of 10, but no matter what you do, you’re cannot get it any higher…

STOP, breath slowly, and listen to me… As far as QS goes, NOT ALL KEYWORD TERMS ARE CREATED EQUAL. If the intent of the query is not all that commercial, QS will likely never get to double digits. So now you can stop wasting your time.

Check out the new rating for your keywords, and get a more accurate read on the Quality Score potential. If you’re getting Average to above average on all three measures, but your QS is only at 7, then perhaps this is close to as good as it gets for that term.

Image credit: Inside Adwords blog.

Attack the low hanging fruit first – look for terms that are performing well for you (CTR ,CR, CPA – whatever your goals), but have below average ratings for one or more areas of the QS and focus on at least getting those to Average or above average.

Don’t waste your time obsessing over why you can’t get a QS 8 keyword to QS 10. if the ratings are telling you you are above average, then perhaps it’s as high as it’ll go.

Let me know what you think of this new reporting feature in the comments.


## Update: It’s worth being clear that this IS NOT a change to the way Quality Score or Ad Rank is calculated, It’s simply a change to the way Google are reporting it.



What most Agencies never ask new AdWords advertisers.

But probably should ask…

Do you have your web site ready for PAID traffic?

It’s very easy to get carried away at the thought of instant traffic to your site in the form of AdWords clicks. But if that site of yours is not ready for traffic, then you’re just wasting your time and money.

I’m not talking about conversion optimisation here – all these things follow later. I’m talking about giving your business the best possible chance of generating ROI from your ad spend, and forming some kind of relationship with the user that just clicked through. Conversions that matter are not always transactional in the form of money in the bank and a product sold. They can often be as simple as an email sign-up or a ‘White Paper’ download.  Building a relationship with the researchers and the information hunters is just as important as converting those ready to buy.

The idea here, in simple terms,  is that even if this user (who’s click you just paid for on AdWords) does not purchase from you on their first visit, if you get your ‘hooks’ into them somehow, then you may be able to get them back to your site for free the next time when they are ready to buy.

Here’s a list of things I’d consider:

  • Email sign-up form (even if you don’t send out emails yet)
  • Facebook Fan/Business Page and a ‘Like’ box on your site. (yes, simple as that. They’re free, 500 million ++ people might see it… so go get one).
  • A Contact Us form that works… (You know who you are, the site with the broken contact form that emails no one, or the incorrect email address listed.)
  • Follow Us on Twitter link. (If you are on Twitter make sure you let people follow you easily).
  • Local business?  Phone number and even your address on every page!

OK that’s just a few ideas for now.

The other question to continue to ask yourself even while you are paying for traffic is:

Are you also doing everything you can to build a consistent and reliable source of ‘free’* traffic?

* nothing’s ever free… in the case of free web traffic I refer to that which you have not had to purchase it via amedia buy. Eg.  SEO  versus PPC (SEO you pay for on-site dev, and off-site factors, not the actual click from the search engine).

BP Show You How to Claim Bankruptcy! AdWords Fail

This is too good not to share.

Search on Google.com today for ‘How to Claim Bankruptcy‘ and look who’s in second position….

Broad Match fail in AdWords. Oh the irony!

They have already lost millions, what’s a few more thousand a day on badly managed adwords?


AdWords Displayed URL is Too Long

I came across this post over at at WebmasterWorld and It made me laugh.


Unfortunately the displayed URL is too long.
I skipped the www. , but it is still one letter too long. Asking for an exception was rejected without any further hint, how to make it work.
Any suggestion?


Get a shorter domain.

If you don’t know already, AdWords allows 35 characters in the display URL field.


get-a-really-long-spammy-domain.com -> count = 35 Chars.

Honestly, there’s NEVER a good reason to have a domain name this long anyway. AdWords display URL limits are the least of your problems dude.

Additionally, if you are trying to stuff keywords into a hyphenated domain name so that you can try and rip off people with weight loss re-bill offers, Google won’t take long to bring down the ban hammer.

A word from the wise.

  • Long domains suck.
  • Keep your domain short regardless of where you’re advertising. You want people to remember it after all.
  • Hyphens in domains suck.
  • If you really need a hyphen – keep the domain short.

Happy AdWor’tising!

It Seems Landing Page Quality Score Does Not Matter When you are Google

I searched for ‘adwords credits for non profits’  on google.com.au


Awesome: ‘Google Grants is now available to AU non Profits…’

Picture 157

I click on the ad…


Picture 158


More Common AdWords Mistakes

AdWords mistakesOk much has happened since last I updated, so I’ve decided to finish the remaining ‘adwords mistakes’ in one giant post!

Mistake #5 – Not monitoring bids at the keyword level.

Don’t fall into the trap of just setting bids at the ad group level and forgetting about individual keyword bids – success is in the detail guys, so pay attention to what’s happening in your accounts at the most micro level possible.

I spoke with someone the other week over the phone who couldn’t work out why their average CPC was 2 x what ‘they were bidding’. A few questions back and forth and we realized that while the ad group bid was set at $0.12, the individual CPC’s for keywords were all set at $0.25. Ouch.

Anyway – easy fix, but pays to remember this.

The thing is though that, depending on your ad group structure, setting the bid ‘just’ ad the group level may well mean you’re missing out on opportunity, or paying too much for some phrases, and not enough for others.

To illustrate, you could have an ad group for ‘compare home loans’ and in that group you have the following keyword with 2 match types.

History of this keyword – you already know this terms converts well…

What would happen if the bid was set only at the ad group level? Say at $2.50.

compare home loans
phrase match
conversion rate 18%
compare home loans
exact match
conversion rate 26%

Well chances are you will end up paying either too much for the Phrase match term, or not enough for the exact match term. Eg. The better converting ‘exact match’ phrase should be treated differently than the phrase match variant, simply because it converts better. But if you’re not controlling at this level, then you may be leaving opportunity behind.

Mistake #6 – Not using different keyword ‘Match Types’.

I started going into this above… and while I’ve covered negative keywords in an earlier post, and another great write up can be found over at PPCHero, today I want to go through broad, phrase and exact match in a little more detail.

Broad match, according to a Google rep at SMX Sydney who said  ‘Broad Match is your friend’….  I disagree!

Broad match may be Google’s best friend, but it’s not yours. Think of it more as that annoying friend on facebook that always takes things too far and is often inappropriate.. yeah that’s Broad Match!

Reason? Well BM is designed as a ‘catch all’ in the adwords system. You can set one key phrase on broad match and bam – your appearing for all sorts of crazy stuff (hence why negatives are important too!).

Let’s go back to the example above ‘compare home loans’.

If this is set on BM then you could match for things like

  • compare home loans
  • home loan compare
  • loan compare
  • compare home loans in melbourne
  • do not compare home loans
  • compare home loans for dummies
  • compare mortgage insurance for home loans
  • home loans
  • home loans suck
  • home loans for dummies

See what I’m getting at – it’s dangerous. Goes to far, and is inappropriate at times

That’s why we have ‘phrase’ and ‘exact’ match.

That same list again using phrase match:

  • compare home loans
  • compare home loans in melbourne
  • do not compare home loans
  • compare home loans for dummies
  • compare mortgage insurance for home loans

Getting better – phrase match tells google ‘we only want to match in the specified word order.’

The same again with ‘exact match’:

  • compare home loans

Simple as that – exact meant ‘exactly as I’ve written it!’

Match types allow more control and flexibility, but… and more importantly,  you’d be amazed at how much the intent of a search query changes with just a few words added.

Take the following where it matched on Phrase Match..

  • compare home loans in melbourne
  • compare mortgage insurance for home loans

If you were on broad or phrase match for ‘compare home loans’ and did not have these terms in another ad group – chances are that they would trigger you generic ‘compare home loans’ ad. However, if you were smart you’d see straight away that these terms should be directed to a specific landing page – one addressing ‘melbourne’ and the other incorporating ‘mortgage insurance information.

Powerful stuff when done well.

Mistake #7 – Not splitting out Campaigns to target Search and Content Network separately.

This was going to be a big rant about not separating out your campaigns between search and content… but you know what, I’ve written about the google content network quite a bit, and this really is the most basic of the basic step.
Simply put, you must always break up your campaigns into one targeting Search / Search Partners and another (potentially) targeting the content Network. Ever have the one campaign targeting both because it just makes things harder for you.

Targeting Your Geographic Region in AdWords (7 AdWords Mistakes – #4)

7 Common AdWords mistakes that will kill your Quality Score and increase your costs.geo_targeted_world_small

Mistake #4 – Not Targeting Your Geographic Region.

In the last post we talked about using Negative Keywords and how to best utilise these to cut out on unwanted and un-targeted AdWords traffic. Pretty neat huh?

But there’s another fatal mistake that I’ve see all too often and this one can be even more costly in the long run – Geo-Targeting.

The PPC engine such as AdWords allow the advertiser to be very selective in where they want to show their ads, eg. which countries, cities, regions or languages to target.

Most common targeting that an advertiser would use would be the country level, i.e. Australia, and for an online business that does indeed ship products country wide, this probably makes sense.

However I’ve also seen, time and time again, US merchants targeting Australian ‘eyeballs’ with their ads, and after investigating realise they only ship within the US and Canada! I’m sure there are a few Australian merchants that have done the same and accidentally targeted the US and other English language countries without realising. Can be costly!

I’d like to take this a step further however, think about the current targeting for your campaigns, then think about your target market, delivery constraints, serviceable regions, etc…

Does your product or service really cater to everyone in the region your are currently targeting who search using your keywords? If it does then great, keep your geo-targeting broad, but if it doesn’t think again.

If you’re a small business that only services a specific region, then this is especially important. Rather than target your PPC ads to the whole country or state, perhaps you would be better off targeting your city, or even a region within that city. Sure this will vastly cut down on the impressions and clicks that your ads will potentially receive, but we’re after quality, not quantity in cases such as this so there is not point in wasting hard earned dollars on visitors  who will never buy your product or service.

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Sending All Clicks to Your Homepage (7 AdWords Mistakes – #3)

7 Common AdWords mistakes that will kill your Quality Score and increase your costs.man_on_arrow

Mistake #3 – Sending all Clicks to Your Home Page.

Let’s start this post with a question. What is one of the single most powerful features of search engine marketing? The key to why PPC and SEO work so well?

Quite simply, the user is actively broadcasting their needs and desires to the world every time they search for something.

‘Useful’ is an understatement… The ability for us to promote products and services in the targeted manner that Pay-Per-click allows is incredibly powerful and profitable when done right.

The key (excuse the pun) to being successful is choosing the right keywords in the first place (to be covered in separate posts) which will not only target the users when they’re ready to buy, but also target users when they are at other stages of the buying cycle – research, comparison etc.).

Once you have developed your master keyword list, you then need to break this up in to campaigns & ad groups, write your ad copy and select your targeted landing pages…
This is where many advertisers let themselves down and ultimately pay the price in the long run.

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Are You Making These 7 Google AdWords Mistakes? (Mistake #2)

7 Common AdWords mistakes that will kill your Quality Score and increase your costs.

Mistake #2 – Not using negative keywords.

Google AdWords (Yahoo and Bing) allow advertisers to select words or phrases that you do not want your PPC ads to appear against. They call this adding ‘negative keywords’.

The idea is pretty simple, but often overlooked.

Let’s just assume you have added in your list of keywords to AdWords using the default ‘broad match’ match type. What this means is that Google will show your ad for not only the keyword you’ve chosen, but also for any other potential phrase combination that includes your original keyword.

Let me use a real world example.

My father is an owner of an organic olive oil business called Donkey Hill Organic Products. They’ve decided to run a small PPC campaign on Google to hopefully attract some wholesale enquiries and potentially a retail client or two. The main focus however remains B2B.

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