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Christina Baldassarre

5 Ways To Make AdWords Keywords More Competitive

Christina Baldassarre

Looking for ways to improve your AdWords campaigns? Check out these five, easy-to-follow tips to make your AdWords keywords more competitive. 

5 Ways To Make AdWords Keywords More Competitive

1) Simulate Bidding Scenarios

In order to scale a campaign but still be profitable, the right bids are essential. The bids should be high enough to get volume but at the same time low enough to generate a profit considering cost per conversion and the life time value of each customer. Google AdWords provides custom columns that include a variety of metrics, like the Bid Simulator.

By adding the column “Est. add. clicks/wk (top page bid)” for instance, you will be able to see the increase in clicks if you used the recommended top page bid. Don’t forget to always add the matching cost column as well, in this case “Est. add. cost/wk (top page bid).” This way you can evaluate the increase in volume based on the increase in cost and split test different bids for your best keywords.

Here is where to find the Bid Simulator in AdWords:

  • Go to All online campaigns
  • Select a campaign
  • Select an ad group (optional)
  • Click on the keyword tab
  • Click on Columns (button above the graph) and in the drop-down “Customize columns”

Competitive Metrics

  • Select bid simulator
  • Click “Add” for each column you want to add

Competitive Metrics

  • Scroll down and click “Apply”

2) Use Competitive Metrics

Competitive metrics are another tool in the column customization feature described above. In order to view and choose from competitive metrics, simply choose “Competitive metrics” in step six (see previous point). Make sure to select the keyword tab because competitive metrics show different options based on whether you are on a campaign, ad group or keyword level.

What are competitive metrics and why should you use them?

They give you insight into how you measure up against competitors for a specific keyword or even the entire campaign regarding impression share. On a keyword level, the result would be for instance 30 percent impression share (“Search Impr. share”) or 30 percent impression share lost due to rank which is called “Search Lost IS (rank).” It enables you to better understand where your competitors are getting a bigger piece of the pie and take corrective actions, such as increasing the ad rank to increase your impression share.

3) Search Funnels and Assist Clicks

While all AdWords metrics and custom columns are useful, “Search Funnels” is one of the most underestimated tools. This is mainly because the terms “assist clicks” and “assisted conversions” are not a part of the basic AdWords vocabulary and do not show up anywhere else in the live AdWords account.

What are assist clicks and assisted conversions?

Assist clicks are all clicks that happen before the last click immediately prior to a conversion. How that plays into assisted conversions can best be explained with a concrete example.

Let’s assume a customer clicks on two different ads that are both for the keyword “website.” The same customer then clicks on a third ad for the keyword “ web designer” and converts. That would count as two assist clicks and one assisted conversion.

What can you do with this data?

Knowing how many times a customer clicks before converting is extremely helpful because it can result in you creating more ad copies, for instance, or it can keep you from pausing ads that never officially converted but actually assisted conversions.

You could pause an ad that never converted according to AdWords, and then see your conversion rate decrease for no obvious reason. When you know the click behavior of your customers, however, you are less likely to make this mistake. For more information on search funnel reports and conversion data review Google’s support guide.

4) Auction Insights Report

The Auction Insights Report compares the performance of your keyword to other advertisers and even shows the display URL your competitors are using to identify them. Metrics that are listed include the impression share in percentage and the average position.

Additionally, it displays the so-called Overlap Rate which is what connects the dots. The Overlap Rate stands for the percentage of impressions when both your ad and the ad of your competitors showed up. Last but not least it shows you how many times your competitor showed up higher than you (Position Above Rate) or on top of the page (Top Of Page Rate).

Where to find Auction Insights Report in AdWords:

  • Got to All online campaigns
  • Select a campaign
  • Select an ad group (optional)
  • Click on the keyword tab
  • Check the checkbox on the left of the keyword you want Auction Insights for
  • Double check the date range
  • Click on Details (below the graph) and select “All” or “Selected” in the drop-down menu below Auction Insights.

Wondering how to use the Auction Insights Report to your advantage?

In order to get the most out of the data, you have to interpret the columns in relation to each other. For instance, if a competitor has triple the impression share you have, chances are the budget is high. It should not be a surprise then if that same competitor has a high Position Above Rate. And if your budget is small, this competitor might not be the best one to take head on.

In order to take them down one at a time, start with the one closest to you percentage wise. For instance, use the AdWords Ad Preview Tool to spy on ads of specific competitors in different geographic locations and write ad copies to beat those ads. The competitors you start with should have better results in the Auction Insights Report, but not be too far away to blow your budget right off the bat.

5) Search Query Report

The Search Query Report is a list of keywords that include both the keywords from your campaign or ad group, as well as the keywords that were triggered due to match types. For instance, a keyword in your campaign could be +red +carpet and it would show up in your Search Query Report. Additionally, "cheap red carpet" would show up with the match type "broad" because it was triggered by +red +carpet. You would be able to differentiate whether specific keywords are part of your campaign or not because the Added/Excluded columns automatically shows the status added for any keywords that are in your campaign.

Actions to take based on a Search Query Report

The Search Query Report shows conversion data, clicks and impressions. While it seems obvious to exclude irrelevant, low converting or too expensive keywords and to add profitably converting keywords, most people end up with neither added nor excluded keywords after a while.

One of the tricks to maximize your Search Query Report is to never have keywords that are neither added nor excluded because you will no longer be able to sort by status if you do. Instead, add the keyword and then pause it or make a label as a reminder to keep a watchful eye on it. This way it shows up added and you will be able to sort by added or excluded but at the same time you are not missing out on potential impressions.

Where to retrieve the Search Query Report in AdWords:

  • Go to All online campaigns
  • Select a campaign
  • Select an ad group (optional)
  • Click on the keyword tab
  • Check the checkbox on the left for all keywords you want to learn more about
  • Double check the date range
  • Click on Details (below the graph) and select “All” or Selected in the drop-down menu below Search Terms.

If you have any other suggestions, I'd love to hear them in the comments!

Christina Baldassarre is a Social Media Consultant and Founder of 1DollarAd.com and Zebra Advertisement, a multilingual PPC agency and Google Partners All-Stars winner. She was shortlisted by the 2014 U.S. Search Awards in the category of “Best Use of Social Media in a Search Campaign.” Her most recent article for SEMrush was “5 Ways to Better Sell Your Skill Set.”

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