Adwords allows you to create shared libraries of negative keywords that can be edited and applied to as many campaigns as you like from one central location. This makes negative keyword management more efficient and reduces the chance of problems due to human error or multiple people handling the account.

Why Negatives Matter

Negatives are an important part of your keyword strategy because they let you reduce irrelevant clicks and better direct traffic.

Google does a decent job of matching your keywords to relevant queries, but some irrelevant traffic is bound to accrue to your higher traffic keywords. The most common cause of this is that keywords have double-meanings or alternate usages. An example is the keyword “chevelle accessories”: you might think of cars when you see the word “chevelle” BUT you might also associate this word with a metal band. The keyword in my example, could match to decals, stripes and other accessories for a car or to band paraphernalia. Whichever one I’m targeting, traffic for the other is pretty much useless to me. I might not know about the overlap until looking at query reports, but once I see this, I want to cut down on useless impressions and clicks.

Another important usage of negatives is to better direct traffic. Differences in CTR and quality score can cause different ads to show up for queries than what you planned. If you have some strong ads for generic queries, or if you move components around then you risk having the ad that Google thinks is best be shown rather than the ad that you created.

In either case, you want better control of where your ads show and where they send traffic. Negatives are an important part of gaining this level of control.

Creating Your Negative List(s)

Start by getting a handle on all the campaign-level negatives that you have in your account. Export all the campaign negatives from Adwords editor and then dedupe them. We focus on the campaign-level ones because ad group level negatives are usually specifically needed for that ad group. If you find that you have the same ad group negative in every ad group of a campaign or in every ad group period, then you should really just make it a campaign-level negative.

Once you’ve deduped, you will have a list of unique negatives. Make sure you give this list a thorough review because there are going to be campaigns where you need exceptions. As a rule, look for these 3 things:

  1. Am I using the most narrow match type I can?
  2. Is there a conflict between a negative and a positive keyword in my account?
  3. Are there numbers or letters that should be searchable (e.g. measurements, skus)?

Another good technique is to run a vlookup against your positive keyword inventory. You’ll be surprised how many good keywords have had their potential limited because the same keyword was inappropriately (or too widely) used as a negative.

Now that you have pulled and cleaned your campaign-level keywords you can paste them into Adwords to setup your lists.

Setting Up Shared Negative Lists in Adwords

Setting up shared negative lists is really easy.

1. Login to the adwords online interface (sorry you can’t do this in Adwords Editor), navigate to the correct account (if you are in an MCC account) and look in the left column.

2. Click the Shared Library link and then click the campaign negative keywords link.

3. You should now see a screen with 2 tabs and a blank space where your negative lists will show. Click the button that says new negative keyword list.

4. You will now have 2 input boxes: 1 for a list name and the other for pasting the negatives. Make sure that you give your list a descriptive name. You might also add a date so you know when a list was last edited.

5. Once the keywords have been added, you need to assign them to different campaigns.

Which campaigns you assign the list(s) to will depend on how well you’ve segmented your accounts. Likewise for determining how big your lists should be. I’ve got some clients where we use 3 lists and others where we use 15 because the clients sells a different range of products for different years of car.

[box type=”alert” style=”rounded” border=”full”]You might experience an initial drop in traffic. Give it at least 48 hours and then go back in and look for conflicts. The drop is usually the result of some higher traffic broad match keywords losing less-relevant traffic. If the traffic decline seems to be a trend then, unattach the negative lists from the hardest hit campaigns and then focus on making specialized list for them.[/box]

Using the List Suggestions

This post focused on helping you transfer your existing negatives into the shared libraries.But you probably noticed a tab in the screenshots that said List Suggestions. This is Adwords trying to help you with setup by giving you sets of negatives that are common to multiple campaigns.

You can use these lists as starters, but I advise you to go through and also compare them to the master list that we talked about earlier in this post. The suggestions focus on the negatives that you already have in your accounts, so are only as comprehensive as you have been in the past. If you think your existing negative sets are good and you just need to transfer them, then go ahead. But we’ve found that it always helps to do a manual review.

[box type=”note” style=”rounded” border=”full”]Another reason to follow our steps is to ensure good labeling and organization of your negative keywords. With List Suggestions, you may not immediately recognize patterns in your negatives or group them in illogical way. This will make it harder to adjust the lists later on.[/box]

Sharing is Nice

Until Google introduced negative keyword lists you had to manage all your negatives distinctly. This meant that you were often creating lists and then copying them into every campaign. This opened up a lot of opportunities for human error. You might accidentally forget to copy a keyword or overwrite a older set by accident.

You will need to refine your lists over time, but having a centralized library makes negative keywords easier to use, faster to implement and more effective for managing cost and traffic.

Did I miss anything? Are you using shared negative lists? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of  The Sun (UK)

Some things that are going through my head right now:

  • Their mobile site traffic is growing fast, but the site is incomplete. How high a priority should fixing the site be if it’s not selling right now?
  • Display advertising is driving sales, but the CTR  is so poor that I wonder if we are in the wrong place(s). Should we work on targeting better now or just accept what you’ve got and look at other issues?
  • The social graph is supposed to give us unimaginable insight into our customers, but the stats don’t seem to give me the customer I want. I may know that Becky makes 60K, drives an Altima and likes Limp Bizkit, but does that make her more or less likely to buy my jewelry?
  • There is a huge chasm between the  amount of online marketing talent that companies want and the amount of  talent available.  How many new grads equals one good marketer (assuming I can train and manage them properly)?
  • How badly do I need to bring in a pro to rebuild this website?
  • If my client doesn’t seem to like me, but keeps offering me business, then what does that say about the long-term prospects for our relationship? What about if I don’t like them?

My work thoughts tend to revolve around establishing priorities, doing better for clients and helping Actonia grow. The exact questions change but most everything falls into one of these baskets. I’ve found that I either need to find the answers, ask for advice or let them go.

Just a thought.

What are you thinking about? What keeps popping into your mind? Share in the comments and maybe we can swap some ideas.

Image courtesy of Conversation Agent

I read this post on Seth Godin’s blog yesterday about checking in with a client long after the work has been completed. I’m not talking about a 1, 3, or 6 months later. I’m talking years later. The post got me thinking about how Actonia stays in touch with past clients and how we might do a better job.

I think everyone should read Seth’s stuff, but here is the part that really got me:

Doctors and consultants and builders are often hesitant to ask about how something worked long after the work is done. It feels like nothing but a chance to hear a complaint.

I don’t think hesitant is the right word for me or my colleagues. Honestly, I’d love to talk with my past client’s more about what’s happened since our engagement ended. I think for us the main thing might be that we get distracted

  • Distracted by new projects
  • Distracted by new ideas
  • Distracted by new problems
  • Distracted by new successes

As a consultant, you (hopefully) find yourself with very little unplanned downtime. There are new proposals to edit, new clients to onboard, new strategies to develop, new plans to execute. Everything is new, new, new. I think the reason that we don’t get back to our old clients enough is that we don’t think as often about where we’ve come from. I know this is particularly true for a smaller firm like ours. We take the time to think about what worked and what didn’t, but we tend to put it in the context of how we can do it better or fast next time. By looking at it this way, we keep our pipelines full and our practice active. But we also give up some opportunities.

  • Opportunities to build stronger relationships
  • Opportunities to see how your work evolved over time
  • Opportunities to reflect on how you and the industry have changed
  • Opportunities to do more business with past clients

Seth’s post got me thinking about what Actonia was missing and I think it’s time we did a better job of reaching out to our past client’s. We take pride in our work and expect it to standup to wear and tear. It only makes sense that we go back and take a look at what we helped build.

I’m going to put together a list of client’s to reach out to over the coming weeks. I think everyone should do the same.

Do you have a strategy in place for reengaging with clients? Have you found that reaching out 1 or 2 years later is worth it? Let me know in the comments.

Image courtesy of Human Condition Fitness

Just hopped over to Coremetrics to check on how we are doing this week and discovered that Coremetrics homepage was being redirected here. IBM is folding Coremetrics into it’s Enterpise Marketing Management Division.

Here is a screenshot of the page you get redirected to:

IBM Coremetrics is now part of IBM Enterprise Marketing Management

What’s Next?

I don’t know what this is going to mean for Coremetrics users. Right now, the interface of Coremetrics looks the same, but it’s worth noting that Coremetrics Search increased it’s integration with Adwords extensions and segments earlier this year. With the new (or maybe just official) relationship between Coremetrics and other IBM products, it’s probably safe to assume more upgrades and maybe a redesign are in the works. so we can probably expect more upgrades and redesigns to rollout.

I think it’s also safe to expect more integration with IBM’s Websphere Ecommerce platform. I actually like Websphere, but wish it did a better job with SEO out of the box.

If you follow the link to IBM’s marketing solutions page, then you will see a lot of products (they call them solutions) listed. I’m not familiar with all of them, but I’ll try to change that quickly.

Here is a screenshot of list of IBM Marketing Solutions:

IBM   Solutions and software for marketing

Again, I’m not familiar with all of these. I’m wondering if all this stuff will be add-ons to Coremetrics or if we will have to register for different products separately.

What’s All This Mean?

It doesn’t look like anything is changing in Coremetrics–right now. But I’d keep an eye out for offers to upgrade or test out the various solutions. This may only apply to bigger customers, but you never know.

Personally, I’m excited to see what IBM will do in Ecommerce. They have the big data chops to bring a lot of insight to the space and the money to develop some amazing tools. Coremetrics continues to get better, though there are a few quirks with page loading and date ranges that irk me. Maybe I’ll send a wishlist to them and see if they can help me out.

Think this is a good move for IBM? Are you excited or worried about changes to Coremetrics? Let me know in the comments.

Earlier, I walked you through some key analytics reports and campaign settings for mobile campaigns. By looking at the reports you learned which devices & which operating systems accounted for your traffic; how to identify carriers, and how to identify the geographic regions that matter most to you.

In this post, we look at the 2 common mobile campaign types: national and metro area. We’ll walkthrough the device settings and give you a refresher on geo-targeting settings.

Mobile Device Targeting for a National Campaign

If you serve customers all over the country, then you will want to setup a national campaign as a starting point. You can look at geo-targeting after you’ve collected some data but right now you just want to get your feet wet and get a feel for how users respond to your ads and site(s). I work mostly in the U.S., so that’s what we use for the example. But the same steps will apply anywhere that Adwords has rolled out the mobile targeting options.

Below we have the settings you’ll need to adjust to setup this up through Adwords Editor:

Adwords Editor Mobile Targeting Settings for National Campaign

Here are the same settings, but in the Adwords online interface:

Mobile Device Targeting in Adwords Website

[box type=”note” style=”rounded” border=”full”]We are still testing the impact of Wifi on traffic volume and quality, so I’m not showing it selected here. I’l write a followup post talking about wifi targeting when I’ve reviewed our data.[/box]

Mobile Device Targeting for Atlanta

Some of the best mobile performance we see is for local campaigns. This works for all types of businesses: retailers, storage spaces, restaurants, car washes–you name it. For this example, we will use Atlanta. The device settings will be similar to our national campaign example but you’ll have to select a geographic area and you will need to think about the carriers that you want to support.

Let’s get our geo-targeting handled before we get into the device targeting. I’m going to target the entire Atlanta metro area because I know that Atlanta has a lot smaller cities that tightly connected to it.

The geo-targeting settings are to your right (just in case you want them):

Geo-Targeting for Atlanta Metro in Adwords Editor

Now that the geo-targeting is done, let’s get the mobile device targeting handled. Because I’m looking at a smaller region, I am going to see if there are any cell carriers that don’t operate in the metro area. I do a quick search and find a cool site that shows cell towers, but it doesn’t include MetroPCS or Cricket Communications, which are on Google’s list. Fortunately a couple of quick searches confirms that both these services are in the area too.

[box type=”tick” style=”rounded” border=”full”]You probably already assumed that a big metro area like Atlanta had all the carriers, but it’s important to check. You’ll find that services vary a lot by region, especially when you get into less-populated areas. Many people in the Southwest and Mountain states get their cell service along with cable and internet from a local cable or phone company rather than a national cell carrier. If your business is targeted at locals, then you don’t want to waste budget on people just passing through.[/box]

Here are the device settings in Adwords Editor. I’ve de-selected all except Cricket Wireless & Verizon here to give you an example of only targeting a small group of carriers:

Device Targeting for Local Market

Below are geo-targeting and device targeting settings from within the Adwords online interface:

Putting Atlanta on the Map


Atlanta Device Targetingin Adwords Online

That’s it for device targeting. Of course, you still need to setup the rest of the campaign components but you have your target devices setup and that’s a good start. In my next post about mobile, we’ll look at other aspects of campaign setup.

Do you need help or want more detail? Did I skip something you think is crucial? Want an example from another part of the world? let me know in the comments and I’ll cover it in a later post.