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Guest comment: Boost your search marketing results today using three simple techniques

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by Kim Read

Search engines like Google and Bing dominate the web. They are the first port of call for a huge percentage of online activity. Most digital marketers understand that effective search marketing, for example search engine optimisation and pay-per-click, will make or break a digital strategy. Search marketing has proven return on investment (ROI); however marketers are becoming a victim of their own success in this space. Now that everyone is applying similar search marketing techniques, how can marketers stand out from the crowd?

There are three simple yet often overlooked areas that search marketing professionals can focus on to boost their search results immediately: account structure, device targeting and continuous testing. Often the simple methods are the most effective, and these three categories tend to represent the most missed opportunities in search marketing.

Account structure

Marketing account structure is the foundation for everything you do online, such as advertising copy, keywords and device targeting. As this is the basis for all activity, it’s important to regularly revisit how it’s set up and managed. The account structure that worked a few months ago may now be out of date. Technology is developing at breakneck speed at the moment, and it’s important to make the most of the latest new features and ad extensions.

A recent example of this is Google Sitelinks. Sitelinks are an ad extension that helps users navigate websites. As Sitelinks are set up and managed at a 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 updating your account in order to ensure your Sitelinks are relevant to your chosen search queries. For example, a fashion retailer using Sitelinks may want to separate the men’s and women’s categories into separate campaigns to ensure consumers see the right products.

Device targeting

As mobile capabilities continue to develop and consumers use their smartphones to do more and more, targeting technology has also become more sophisticated, allowing advertisers to make the most of consumer browsing and buying behaviour. The British Retail Consortium recently reported that mobile accounted for 10 per cent of retail searches. With growth like this, advertisers need to quickly take advantage of all available targeting capabilities.

Both Google and adCenter allow retailers to target mobile devices separately. In Google, device targeting is set at the campaign level and allows advertisers to drill down to specific operating systems and carriers. Once retailers start to team this with data on shopping behaviour of users with different devices, Click Through Rate (CTR) and ROI can skyrocket. At the start of the year Google reported that advertisers who manage mobile in separate campaigns experience an average increase in CTR of 11.5% compared to their mobile and desktop combined campaigns.

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.

Test, Test, Test

As with any experiment, you need follow the 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

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 not to simply live within your AdWords or adCenter account. Use the Google Ad Preview Tool to get an idea of a searcher’s experience

The search marketing space is one of the most rapidly developing areas, even in the fast-changing world of digital marketing. However, if you have the right foundation in place, such as account structure and device targeting and testing at critical turns, you’ll see your search marketing efforts deliver positive results.

Kim Read is senior director, search marketing services at LinkShare.

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