When I’m creating new AdWords account or need to optimize existing campaigns there are few strategies I keep in mind. There are many step by step resources on how to setup campaigns but here we are going to focus on pure strategy. My plan for the next few weeks is to go over strategies to use when setting up an account – or at least till there is more important topic to cover.
One of the most over looked optimization strategies is checking the performance of the Google Search vs. Search Partners.
This is one of the changes that could save a lot of waste for your account and it is too easy to skip.
What is the difference between Google Search and Search Partners?
Google search partners are basically other places on the web besides Google.com that can show your ads if you so choose. For example AOL and Ask.com are Google search partners, but there are several other partners as well.
The search partners can do pretty well and typically have lower Average CPC than the standard Google search. But sometimes their performance is too low to justify taking piece of your campaign budget. This is especially true if you are already hitting your maximum daily budget.
But before we move on there are a few warnings to consider:
Make sure to have significant data. This will depend on your account and how many clicks you are getting. I typically look back 6 to 8 weeks for making these types of decisions. If the account gets low amount of clicks, you may want to have 2 to 3 months of data.
Check each Campaign Separately. One thing I have noticed is that the performance between Google search and partners can vary dramatically from campaign to campaign. So don’t make this decision at an account level, get deeper and look at your campaigns.
Search Partners are less expensive. Even if you find the search partners performing worse don’t Google search, do consider that typically search partners are cheaper. So you may get double the traffic at 20% higher bounce rate at the same cost. That’s not a bad deal.
Okay now that you read the caveats, let’s move on.
Here is how to compare Google Search vs Search Partners using Google Analytics
Log on to Google Analytics
1. Go to the Accusation Menu > AdWords > Campaigns
2. Then Click the Secondary Dimension and choose Ad Distribution Network.
3. Now you should see your campaigns split up with each distribution network.
If you want to analyze a single campaign, just type in the campaign name you are analyzing in to the text filter. You should now see only one campaign with each separated ad distribution network.
Start analyzing the click-stream data including bounce rate, average visit duration, and pages / visit. If you have goals created, go ahead and check out the goal conversation rate for each distribution.
So what to do next, you have analyzed the two search networks and you decided to make some changes.
Unfortunately you cannot adjust your bids for the search partner network, but if you see that the performance is way below Google search and your budget is maxing out, then do consider not including the search partners.
4. If you do decide to turn off the search partners, start making these changes to one campaign at a time.
You turned off Search Partners, now what?
Now, don’t just set it and forget it.
- Mark in your calendar or better yet use Google Analytics Annotations, the date you made this change.
- Also mark in your calendar a date in the future to come back and check the results of this campaign.
When you come back to check the performance of this change a week or so after, do look at your daily budget. Check if your daily budget is being spent and by how much.
If the budget is barely being spent and not getting many searches then the audience size has dropped by too much. In that case you should consider turning the search partners back on. In any case, do move on to the next campaign and see if this strategy will help its performance.