3 Ways to Boost Search Marketing Results

The great news is that the ecommerce sector continues to grow. In fact, findings from Forrester Research point to an anticipated compound growth rate in ecommerce of 10 percent from 2010 to 2015, when it is expected to reach $278.9 billion.

As this market sector continues to grow, online marketers are constantly looking for ways to seize more of the large ecommerce pie while boosting ROI. One of the most effective ways to do this is through search marketing. Yet if everybody's applying similar techniques, how can you stand out among the crowd? This can be especially challenging in the continuously evolving search marketing world.

There are three simple yet often overlooked areas that search marketing professionals can address today to boost their online presence. These areas are account structure, device targeting and continuous testing. While these three categories may seem obvious, they actually tend to represent the most missed opportunities.

Let's take a more in-depth look at these three categories:


Account Structure:

Since your account structure is the foundation for everything you manage - keywords, ad copy, device targeting, budgeting and dayparting, for example, it's important to regularly revisit how it's set up and managed. The account structure that worked a few months ago may need to be updated to make the most of the latest new features and ad extensions.

For example, consider Google Sitelinks. As you may know, Sitelinks are an ad extension that's meant to help users navigate your site. Since Sitelinks are set up and managed at the campaign level; it means all ad groups within a campaign have to share the same Sitelinks. This is a prime example where you may need to consider restructuring your account in order to ensure that your Sitelinks are relevant to the search query.

More specifically, an apparel company using Sitelinks may want to separate the men's and women's categories into separate campaigns to ensure that when someone searches for products for women, they are not shown Sitelinks for menswear.

Along with ad extensions, your account structure can also impact budget, delivery and Quality Score. Since daily budgets are set at the campaign level, it's a good idea to place branded ad groups into separate campaigns from non-branded ad groups so you have better control over the budget spent on each category. For Quality Score, it's important to keep a very limited number of keywords in each ad group to ensure relevancy to the ad copy.

While focusing on keyword build-outs and ad copy updates is important, make sure to revisit your account organization on a regular basis to maximize results.


Device Targeting:

As mobile searches continue to expand, so do the targeting capabilities available for paid search advertisers. Google recently reported in its retail blog that the last back-to-school season saw a lift of 500 percent in mobile searches for back-to-school items. With growth like this, advertisers need to quickly take advantage of all available targeting capabilities.

Both Google and adCenter allow you to target mobile devices separately from desktop. In Google, device targeting is set at the campaign level and allows advertisers to drill down to specific operating systems and carriers. Google has reported that advertisers who manage mobile in separate campaigns experience an average increase in clickthrough rate (CTR) of 11.5 percent compared to their mobile and desktop combined campaigns.

Within adCenter, device targeting can be done at the campaign or ad group level. The targeting options include all devices - desktops, laptops, smartphones and other mobile devices with full browsers. Keep in mind that your ad group settings will trump your campaign settings.

By adding this level of targeting, it allows you to monitor performance for mobile separately, manage bids to the specific ROI of mobile, set separate daily budgets for mobile, and adjust ad copy for the ads you know will be shown on mobile or tablet devices. Evaluating performance at more granular levels means you will be better prepared to drive higher ROI on future marketing efforts as well as more accurately anticipate response levels.


Test, Test, Test

All too often it's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day management and lose sight of the need to continuously test every aspect of your paid search campaign; from keywords, ad copy and landing pages to bidding and targeting. A good rule to follow is that whenever there is a decision to be made, it presents an opportunity to test.

Like with any experiment, you need to follow these basic guidelines:

1. Select a variable to test (example: headline ad copy).
2. Keep the rest of the ad constant.
3. Determine your key metric. Typically for ad copy, your goal is to improve the CTR. However, you might want to test which ad copy message leads to a better on-site conversion rate or higher AOV. Remember, improving CTR is very beneficial for your Quality Score.
4. Make sure you get enough traffic so your data is statistically significant.
5. Monitor external factors. Your competition's ad copy will have an impact on the performance of your ad copy, so it's important to not simply live within your AdWords or adCenter account. Use the Google Ad Preview Tool to get an idea of a searcher's experience.

There have been numerous occasions where expectations don't match results. However, testing provides the answers to your assumptions of which ad copy will attract more traffic and which landing pages will convert more visitors before your campaign goes live.

The world of search marketing will always be changing. However, if you have the right foundation in place, are using all of your specific targeting options and testing at critical turns, you'll see that your search marketing efforts deliver positive results.


About the Author

Kim Read is the senior director of Search Marketing Services at LinkShare, a leading provider of online marketing solutions specializing in the areas of search, lead generation and affiliate marketing.