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Building out and expanding your keywords is a lot of work; we can all agree on that. But you can’t exhale for too long without turning your focus on optimization: adjusting bids, match types, account structure, etc., based on how those keywords are performing.

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Evaluating keywords for optimization is no easy task, and often, it can be a daunting one, especially when you are running multiple campaigns across devices, engines, languages, and countries. Below are some tips that can help you streamline this process for your SEM campaigns:

1. First, establish a cadence – how often do you need to evaluate keywords?

-If it is your first time evaluating your keywords, it is best to look at all-time performance; that way you cast a bigger net of terms that have performed.

-Look at all the metrics and evaluate based on your campaign goals: impressions, clicks, CPA, ROI, revenue, LTV, etc.

-Once you have done your first round of evaluations, then you can revisit your keyword mix every 3 to 6 months.

2. Eliminate zero-impression keywords. This is the first easy step and less time-consuming. We see this type of situation happen often: there are keywords with zero impressions that have been active in an account for a long time. Cut those out!

3. Keep in mind that you need to evaluate brand and non-brand separately. Taking a holistic approach to keyword segmentation will not work, as performance across both differs. Keep in mind that you need to evaluate both front- and back-end metrics.

-For branded terms, the best approach is to look at the terms that perform well in terms of traffic, conversion, revenue, and LTV.

-For non-brand, bucket the terms based on theme – meaning, you should break up in separate campaigns terms that are similar in nature. This way you can set up different bidding rules based on different keywords and allocate budget to top performers.

-We recommend you bucket in one separate campaign your top-converting generic terms; that way you have control of budget and performance.

4. If you are running customer acquisition campaigns, look into LTV of generic terms. We have seen that although CPA may be high for these terms, they can often generate a higher LTV than brand terms.

5. When you add new terms to the account or move them between campaigns, we recommend you use 3Q Digital’s Alpha/Beta approach.

-Use Beta (Broad/BMM) campaigns for query harvesting and Alpha (exact) campaigns to include only your top-performing terms

-In both Beta/Alpha campaigns, we recommend to implement single keyword ad groups (SKAGs) for ultimate control on bidding, landing pages, etc., for each unique term

-As a best practice, you should add your exact terms as negatives to your BMM/ Broad campaigns to maintain better query control. This comes handy especially when you run SQRs to feed your campaigns with new terms.

6. Not all languages perform the same. If you are running campaigns in other languages, you can apply the same tips mentioned above; however, keep in mind that you may see a slight variation of keyword performance from country to country.

What are your best practices for evaluating keyword performance – and optimizing based on your findings? Leave a comment!