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Search by numbers

Have you ever felt your paid search activity isn’t working? That you want to improve it but don’t have the knowledge, training or skills to take on Google ads?

Fortunately, you don’t need to be a search wizard to improve your paid search performance, it’s still marketing after all and many of the core principals of marketing can be applied to it.

Paid search is famous for being a very measurable piece of marketing activity. It’s full of numbers that you can use to improve performance. The idea being that if you improve each of these metrics by even a fraction of a percent, the result will be an overall noticeable improvement.

However, focusing on the sum of the parts of a search account can make it very difficult to see the bigger picture.

Numbers are reductive and make It very easy to ignore the overall point of running paid search. A year-on year improvement in click through rate is very little consolation when the business you work in has its sales fall. The silver lining of your improved click through rate will do very little to salve the impact of a loss in profitability to your CEO.

For younger, smaller and medium sized Google Ad accounts, a step back to look at the bigger picture is, at the very least, a very informative exercise. It can also improve performance across the entire account.

Take a look beyond the keywords and see what people are actually searching for in the search terms section of your account.

Take the most frequently searched term in your account and search for it on google. Look at what results appear and where your ad leads to.

Take a screenshot of your search query, search results page and landing page and put them side by side. This is your customer journey. This is what the people who are making this search actually experience.

Now ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What does the search indicate the person is asking?

  2. Does your ad suggest it can answer that question?

  3. Does your ad suggest it can answer that question better than the ads and listings around it?

  4. Does the page you take them to actually answer the question?

Ideally the answer to 2, 3 and 4 is yes. If any are no then you need to relook at the journey.

This is a useful exercise for several reasons:

  1. It demystifies paid search. Paid search is not a complicated thing, the concept is very, very simple.

  2. It shows that the numbers you see in a search account relate to actual people doing actual things.

  3. Real life is full of context, context effects numbers but it’s very difficult to measure context with numbers.

  4. You see your marketing from the point of view of your customer – it gives you an understanding of why they’re doing what they’re doing.

In summary, numbers are very useful at measuring performance, but they miss context and can often remove a person from the actual human behaviour they’re trying to measure.

So if you ever feel your paid search isn’t working, rather than drowning in the data, step back and walk through the customer journey for yourself.

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