How often have you worked on a new AdWords campaign or added new keywords to an existing AdWords campaign only to see a large portion of those keywords turn Inactive for Search? Typically the only way to turn those keywords back on is to increase the minimum CPC to $1.00, $5.00 or even $10.00 and pay to play.
I am working on one such client in the entertainment industry where the keywords are celebrity and tv show names with modifiers added. Of the roughly 50,000 keywords in this new account, 75% were set Inactive for Search regardless if our client was the only one bidding on the term or if the term was highly targeted by competitors. We played the CPC game on some terms and implemented some other tactics that eventually drove the CPC down from an average of $0.63 in November to about $0.20 in January. However, there are still about 60% of the terms inactive for search while at the same time – since November – we’ve been able to buy the same terms (and more) at $0.10 and below in Yahoo!. At this point, in order to drive the most cost efficient traffic to our clients site while SEO ramps, we’ve decided to stop playing the CPC game in Google and spend most of the clients $100k February budget in Yahoo!. After all the client doesn’t care where the traffic comes from as long as it’s the most cost efficient and effective.
Google Rep Chimes In
So now that our client has gone from spending $45k to an estimated $10k per month in Google, Google wants to help. I had the pleasure of having the account transfered to the Google AdWords Entertainment department and spoke with 3 new reps assigned to this account. The Google reps I spoke with were on par with other good experiences I’ve had with Google reps and they were eager to listen to my frustration with the Inactive for Search CPC game. And I was completely frank in telling them I was done playing the CPC game and shifting most of the clients spend to Yahoo! where the average CPC is $0.10 and lower AND the volume of traffic was far better.
After the conversation one of the Google reps went back and reviewed the account and wrote back to me with the following three AdWords tips that have an affect on Quality Score and, if implemented correctly, should help to lower CPC’s and possibly act as a countermeasure to keywords turning inactive for search. Below are a list of suggestions that might help activate some of these keywords, without having to paying the min bid price.
1) Eliminate dynamic keyword insertion:
Quality Score is evaluated prior to the keyword being inserted into the ad text. Therefore, to increase Quality Score, creating 3-4 versions of static ad text can help.
2) Make sure the keywords in an ad group are included in ad text:
When creating the ad text use the keywords in the first and second line of ad text. Having these ads extremely targeted to the ad group can also increase the Quality Score. See the example attached.
3) Poor Status Rating:
Pausing the keywords that have a “poor’ status is also a good idea. They are actually bringing down the overall history of the account when they are sitting in the poor status and affecting Quality Score.
The first two insider tips I was aware of, the third was new for me. In addition to the AdWords tips above, my new Google rep included the attached slide showing examples of Poor, Acceptable, Good & Best ad group structures that factor into Quality Score. These are typical of the highly targeted for relevance structures we currently practice so it’s nice to see Google is on the same page as us.
For additional tips on Google AdWords Quality Score check out Adventures of a PPC Hero >> Inside Google AdWords Quality Score Handbook.