In the past pre-Internet days, if you wanted to market your products or services, the primary lever you were able to pull was REACH (aka ‘SIZE’ of audience). Contextual targeting was limited, at best, and you could do no better than target at an AUDIENCE level; it was difficult or impossible to target potential customers at an INDIVIDUAL level, to scale, with any high degree of accuracy.
Then along came the Internet, and it all changed!
Online platforms have given marketers the opportunity to target the RIGHT person, at the RIGHT time in the RIGHT place, with the RIGHT offer – 24/7/365 – globally.
Despite the tools and opportunities placed in front of marketers, it never ceases to surprise me how many get it wrong. There are various reasons for this, but I believe the primary reason is a lack of understanding of the key fundamental element of search engine marketing.
So I have decided to write a blog post about this, and I hope you find it useful.
What Is The Key Fundamental Element?
So what is the key fundamental element of search engine marketing success?
Relevancy. Relevancy. Relevancy. It is all about relevancy.
Relevancy is the fundamental element of search engine marketing success.
Simple right? No, clearly not simple, or everyone would be nailing it. So what exactly do I mean by relevancy in this context?
- Relevancy of keyword to target customer profile.
- Relevancy of your Ad to the keyword your Ad serves.
- Relevancy of your landing page to your Ad.
- Relevancy of the audience you are targeting.
There is a lot more to search engine marketing than relevancy, of course, but if you keep relevancy top of mind you will be 80% of the way there, trust me. Get this fundamental element right, and you put yourself in the game and give yourself a great opportunity to achieve a high and consistent ROI.
Examples Of Poor Relevancy Search Engine Marketing (shockers)
Shocker Number 1 – LOW Keyword Relevancy:
Rule breached = Relevancy of keyword to target customer profile
I once carried out an Adwords Audit for a client who offers an award winning telephone answering service. They had around 100 keywords in their account, nearly all of them using the dreaded Broad keyword match type. I HATE Broad keyword match type, and make sure it is not used AT ALL in ANY of the accounts under my watch.
One of the keywords they were using was along the lines of ‘award winning telephone answering service’. The fact that this was included using Broad match type, resulted in their Ads gaining impressions for a variety of particularly low relevance keywords such as ‘oscar award nominations’, ‘noble peace prize winners’ etc… Crazy! How on earth does Google think these keywords are even broadly relevant?!
If this example doesn’t convince you to get rid of all the Broad match keywords in your Adwords account RIGHT NOW then I do not know what will. Leaving Broad match keywords in your Adwords account is like writing a cheque to Google. DON’T DO IT!
If you need help to understand keyword match types, I wrote a blog post called Understanding Keyword Match Types just for you!
Shocker Number 2 – LOW Ad Relevancy:
Rule breached = Relevancy of your Ad to the keyword your Ad serves
You don’t need to look far to find examples of this relevancy rule breach, they are literally everywhere! It shocks me how frequently people make this mistake. The breaches range from Low Relevancy to ZERO relevancy.
Here are a few examples:
My search here was for ‘limited company mortgages‘, something I have been looking into recently. However, out of all the ads that display as a result of this search (see image) there is only one that can possibly be classed as relevant – the rest are in my opinion irrelevant, or at best have very low relevancy.
My search here was for ‘builder in cardiff’. I have circled an Ad which relates to ‘WEBSITE builders’, not general builders. This is a very good example of a FAIL when it comes to Ad relevancy targeting. This is wasting the company money and eroding their Quality Score. They should sack their PPC manager and hire me!
There are some great examples of really bad PPC Ads here in my blog post 7 Of The Worst PPC Ads Ever.
Shocker Number 3 – LOW Landing Page Relevancy:
Rule breached = Relevancy of your landing page to your Ad
This is another one of the commonly breached rules when it comes to relevancy. Some marketers do a great job at making sure they are targeting highly relevant keywords, and have good quality high relevance Ads. But they completely overlook landing page relevancy.
One of the most common breaches is simply directing users to your home page, rather than a targeted, relevant and specific landing page. Once you know the difference a good quality, highly relevant landing page makes you will never, ever make this mistake again.
I have seen relevant landing pages boost conversion rates by 300% or more literally overnight. This can be the difference between winning and losing, or when you win making sure you win BIG! Which is what we all want, right?!
Luckily there are a load of landing page software services out there which make creating high converting, high relevancy landing pages quick and easy. My current favourite is instapage.com which enables you to build, deploy and split test landing pages really quickly and really easily without having to code!
Here is my first example of a landing page relevancy FAIL.
My search was ‘fixed rate mortgages’. This (below) is the page that appeared when I clicked the Ad of The Chelsea Building Society. The landing page does not even mention fixed rate mortgages, which is a major FAIL.
I am searching for fixed rate mortgages, their Ad is relevant to fixed rate mortgages – but when I get to their landing page the relevancy flow is completely destroyed. What do I do? I click BACK, of course.
If I was a betting man – which I am not – I would bet a lot of money that their ROI on this particular campaign is significantly lower than it could be, if indeed it is positive at all.
My next example can be classed as an extreme FAIL. My search was ‘extension builder cardiff‘.
The Ad relevancy is pretty good – here is the Ad:
BUT – when I click on the Ad, this is the landing page that is displayed.
Not good! If this company wants to throw away money, I am happy to send you my bank details and you can simply wire it to me on a weekly basis. Mrs Best will put it to good use, don’t worry!
Any other examples of Ad relevancy FAILS? Add in comments below. They really aren’t hard to find, they are very common! And the only winner is Google (or Bing ads).
Shocker Number 4 – LOW Relevancy Audience Targeting:
Rule breached = Relevancy of the audience you are targeting.
I have a couple of examples of shockers here.
The first example of Low Relevancy Audience Targeting is a client who offers a patent renewal service. Having been disappointed by the amount of clicks they were able to attract in the UK, they opened up their Geo targeting setting on Adwords. The problem is, they were now attracting the vast majority of their traffic from either territories (countries) they did not serve – such as China and Pakistan – or attracting non-English language users to a landing page that was in English. The results, as you would expect, were extremely poor and the account took a fair bit of tidying up to get it in shape.
The second example is a gym client I helped last year. This is not really a shocker, but more of an example to illustrate how improving end-to-end relevancy can improve your results and ROI.
My client (a friend, in fact) had been running Facebook ads to promote a free 10 day gym pass, to get people into his gym to try it out with a view to retaining their custom with a paid subscription following the 10 day free trial. He was achieving a positive return on investment, but the cost per sign up (CPA) was relatively high and he wanted me to work my magic to help him get more free pass sign ups at a lower cost per sign up.
I made only a few relatively quick and simple changes, and it helped to decrease the CPA by more than 80%. i.e. to less than 1/5 of the original cost!
He was initially serving the Facebook Ad to both males and females. The same Ad and the same landing page for both sexes. We sat down and talked through the features and benefits that matter with gym membership for men and how the priorities differ for women. There were clearly some differences, as I expected. What matters to men in respect to gym membership is different to what matters to women.
So, we simply created 2 different landing pages and 2 different Ads. One focused on the features and benefits we had identified for women, and the other for men. We then split his Facebook Ads campaign into 2 Ad Sets, one targeting women and the other targeting men. And that is it. That is all we did. The offer remained the same, and we were essentially serving the same audience. We had simply increased the relevancy of the Ad and landing page based on the sex of the target customer. Relevancy really is that powerful.
How To Carry Out A Relevancy Audit On Your Google Adwords Account
So relevancy matters. You get it. This makes sense. Vous comprenez. Now, it’s time for action.
I recommend you stop right now – take some positive action – and carry out a Relevancy Audit on your Google Adwords account, following the instructions I have laid out for you below. Or alternatively get an expert to do it for you.
You can follow a similar process to carry out a Relevancy Audit on your Bingads, Facebook Ads or LinkedIn Ads account.
Start at a high level, and consider these questions with a very honest and thorough hat on:
- Are you targeting the most relevant keywords – i.e. highly relevant and specific in relation to your product(s) or service(s), with clear commercial intention, not just broadly specific keywords?
- Are each of your Ads highly relevant and specific in relation to the keyword that your Ad serves?
- Are each of your landing pages highly relevant and specific in relation to the keyword and Ad served?
- Are you targeting a relevant audience?
A Relevancy Audit process for your Adwords account
1. To asses your keyword relevancy in your Google Adwords account, take the following steps:
- Click on the KEYWORDS tab.
- Then click on DETAILS and select SEARCH TERMS -> ALL.
- Then select an appropriate time period, eg. 30 days.
You will see a report of the search queries for which your Ads have displayed.
It is important to understand the difference between ‘keywords‘ and ‘search queries‘. You enter keywords into your Adwords account, and these ‘keywords‘ tell Google which ‘search queries‘ you wish your Ads to display for. If all your keywords are / were set as exact match keywords, your Ads will only show for the exact keywords you select (and close variations, such as misspellings). However, if you have phrase or Broad keywords in your account, there are a variety of variations of ‘search queries’ for which your Ads can display as a result.
So, when you have displayed the search query report, take a look through it. These are the terms that users are typing into Google and for which your Ads are displaying. How relevant are they? Look at each individual keyword, and assess it’s level of relevance and value to your campaign.
2. To assess Ad relevancy in your Google Adwords account, take the following steps.
There are 2 ways I recommend you assess your Ad Relevancy:
First of all, start by using common sense. Common sense is always a great sense to use in online marketing!
These are the steps you should take to make a common sense audit of your most viewed Ads (highest impressions) in your Adwords account.
- Order your Ad Groups by number of impressions for a given time period.
- Start at the top, and work down through the Ad Groups from high to low volume of impressions.
- When you have selected an Ad Group, take a look first of all at the keyword(s) in your Ad Group.
- Then look at the Ad(s) in the Ad Group.
- There should ideally be a very high Keyword(s) to Ad(s) relevance in each Ad Group. Not a broad relevance, but a very high and specific relevance of each individual keyword to each individual Ad. The more keywords in the Ad Group, the less likely that each individual Keyword is going to be relevant to each individual Ad.
Secondly, judge Keyword to Ad relevancy by analysing your Click Through Rate.
Click Through Rate is the % of Clicks to Impressions. i.e. if your Ad shows 100 times and you get 1 click, your Click Through Rate is 1.00%.
Follow this process:
- Select a time period.
- Click on the Ad Groups tab.
- Filter to only show Ad Groups that have had a statistically significant number of impressions. There is no hard and fast number that can be classed as statistically significant, you have to use your own judgement. 150 impressions may be statistically significant in one case, but not in another. It is certainly always the case that the higher the number of impressions, the more statistically significant the data, but you need to judge the cut off point.
- Order the Ad Groups by Click Through Rate.
- In general, a Click Through Rate of below 1.00% should be a concern. However, you need to assess your Click Through Rate in association to your Average Position. i.e. if your average position is 1.xx then a Click Through Rate of 1.00% may be considered below average.
Note- improving Keyword to Ad relevancy, will have a directly positive effect on your Click Through Rate, which has a knock-on effect on your Quality Score. A high Quality Score gives you a higher position at a lower average cost per click!
3. To assess your landing page relevancy to your Ad and the Keyword served.
There are 2 ways you can asses this.
a. Common sense…. again.
- Make a general common sense sweep of your account. How relevant are your landing pages to the Keywords and Ads they serve?
- If all your Ads point to your Home Page, then chances are your Ad to landing page relevancy is less than optimal. Routing all Ads to website Home page, is one of the biggest mistakes advertisers make…
- If you only have one landing page relating to a number of Ads and Keywords, then chances are that the relevancy is less than optimal.
b. Google landing page Quality Score assessment.
We have touched on Quality Score above, and will not go into detail in this post. But lets just say, high Quality Score means high relevancy and increases your ROI.
Google provide a landing page Quality Score grade in the Adwords interface. This is how you access it.
- Click on the KEYWORDS tab either for all online campaigns, or in a specific campaign or ad group.
- You should have a column titled Status.
- Next to Keywords that say ‘Eligible’ there should be a small speech bubble. If you hover over this, you will be displayed some information in relation to Quality Score. This will include ‘Landing Page Experience’.
Although landing page experience includes a number of factors, it is largely linked to Relevancy. So if the rating is Below Average, it is an indication that you have some work to do!
4. To assess whether you are targeting a relevant audience.
This is very much a common sense process, but this is the way you should go about your assessment.
Location Targeting Relevancy:
- Select an appropriate time period.
- Click on the DIMENSIONS tab.
- Click on USER LOCATIONS.
Look at the user locations for which you are gaining impressions and clicks. Are the user locations highly relevant for your business / purpose? Or are you marketing to users who are not in your ideal target locations?
You can change your location settings as necessary, and also add or exclude specific locations to improve your Location Targeting Relevancy.
Remember- location targeting in Adwords is not just on a country level. You can target right down to a specific longitude and latitude with a set radius. You have extreme control over location targeting in Adwords, so use it.
Hour of Day and Day of Week Relevancy:
Ads are set to run all hours of the day, and all days of the week by default in Google Adwords.
If you are an eCommerce business, you may be happy for your Ads to show continuously. However, you will most likely find that there are hours of the day and days of the week when users are more or less likely to convert. You can and should set bid adjustments as necessary using the Adwords Ad Scheduling functionality.
If you are a standard business (whatever that may be??) and have office hours between 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday, for instance, then you will likely want to limit your Ad spend outside of your standard office hours. Again, do this using the Adwords Ad Scheduling functionality.
By implementing an Ad Scheduling strategy either based on common sense, or based on a review of past hour of day / day of week data by clicking the DIMENSIONS tab in Adwords, you will improve the relevancy of your Advertising.
Is your website mobile optimised? If not, then it could be considered that leaving the option open to target mobile users will in itself lead to lower relevancy.
However, there is growing data to support the hypothesis that a lot of users start the buying research process on mobile devices, and then finish it on desktop or tablet. So a low conversion rate on mobile devices is not necessarily the full story. Consider things like mobile bounce rate, average number of pages visited and time on site. If these stats are positive, then you may consider maintaining your mobile traffic exposure.
Whatever the situation, if your website is not mobile optimised you need to get it mobile optimised soon – or you will be left behind. Here are 5 reasons you absolutely must optimise your website for mobile traffic.
So, there it is. Hopefully this has been a useful blog post. Any feedback always welcome, any questions gladly received. Please feel free to post comments below.