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Soaked to Skin with the Spring Showers of Google AdWords Updates

| Posted in category Google PPC Advertising

Watch your AdWords budgetWow, this spring has been pretty hot for the whole SEO community - the Google Penguin update  is still keeping some SEO newbies frozen, while the search monopolist has rolled out really big updates for its advertising system - AdWords. Let's see what we, PPC managers, have to work with now.

New matching behavior for phrase and exact match keywords

The biggest thing I consider is the new way keyword match types function (this part has been a bit of a pain for many PPC beginners and now they have to learn that again). Here's the explanation of how match types are currently interpreted by Google:

Starting from mid-May, phrase and exact match keywords match their close variations that include

If you have     your ad can be displayed for

"bicycle" - buy bicyle
[bicycle] - bicyle

Singular and plural forms
"bicycle" - red bicycles
[bicycle] - bicycles

"floor paint" - stylish flooring paint
[floor paint] - flooring paint

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Why to do that? Well, most of us are not perfect at typing (and spelling), which is why many advertisers had to create separate ad groups in their AdWords accounts with misspelled words, plural forms, etc. The groups with misspelled keywords sometimes had poorer performance (they are not used in the ad/landing page copy so their relevance is lower), which could actually influence your whole AdWords account. So, fewer keywords and ad groups mean you have more time to focus on your primary key phrases.

What's in it for Google? Obviously, more impressions can generate more clicks and more revenue, but Google prefers talking about "focusing on user intent" and "making users happier" with more relevant search results. Okay, Google, we got it!

By the way, if you don't want to get additional impressions and clicks with this feature and keep the current matching behavior, feel free to adjust it in your account settings:

Log in to your AdWords account, choose the Campaigns tab, and under the Advanced settings select the Keyword matching options:

Keyword matching settings

If you are not sure whether your ad will be showed to users, use the ad preview tool to test it for keyword variations.

Tip: I would suggest keeping your current matching options for most of your ad groups. To see how the new option works, create a test group (or pick from the existing ones) and analyze the common metrics: CTR, conversion rates and budget spending. If you notice any improvements – use the option for the rest of the ad groups.

Ad rotation changes

We are pretty used to the following ad rotation settings:

-    Optimize for clicks
-    Optimize for conversions
-    Rotate evenly

It's not difficult to guess which rotation option is most favored by Google – any guesses?

Starting from early May, you have 30 days to control your ad rotation, after that, the system will automatically switch to the "optimize for clicks" mode. Ta-dah! That's the part I have questions about – is 30 days really enough to pick the winning ad? And what about the low search volume keywords with a smaller number of impressions? Unfortunately, you can't opt out of this feature – just be careful and watch your ads. 30 days of even rotation are counted each time you create or modify ads. Remember, you need conversions in the first place, not lots of useless clicks, so act accordingly.

Sigh.. Ok, let's move to the brighter side of updates.

Plan and create campaigns fast and accurately

Building a new campaign in Google AdWords is theoretically simple: the process takes just a couple of clicks and your ads are running! However, it's not just the process, but the knowledge that helps create effective ad groups. The following system improvements are targeted at bringing more data to chew on.

Now, when you search for keyword ideas using the keyword tool, Google arranges the found phrases into themed groups. You can quickly choose to add the suggested ad groups to your account or switch to the common Keyword Ideas view to research the phrases the common way.

Adwords keyword and group ideas

What's more, the keyword tool now better integrates with Traffic estimator, which allows users to easily view the necessary traffic volume data. Now Traffic Estimator also features the graphing functionality for more convenient data representation.

AdWords traffic estimator

Get educated by Google

With so many updates coming out one after another, you might have more questions on managing your PPC accounts. I think it may be useful for you to attend some live Google webinars that feature AdWords tips and how-to’s. Here are just a few that attracted my attention:

  • Our Mobile Planet: Understanding U.S. Smartphone Consumers (June 6 at 10am PDT)
  • Get Local with ZIP Code Targeting to Increase Sales/Leads (June 12 at 10am PDT)
  • Account Management Tools for Large Advertisers and Agencies (July 10 at 10am PDT)

To register and access some of the past webinars, visit the Google AdWords webinar page.

Let's hope that all of the mentioned updates are here to make life of a PPC manager times easier and ad delivery more accurate (okay, I know that it's the main financial source for Google, but I'm kind of optimistic today!) Next time, we'll take a closer look at AdWords for YouTube and learn how to create an effective video ad campaign.

As usual, you are welcome to share your current AdWords experience and ask questions!

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