Fundamental Flaw in Google Adwords Platform

An official request to Google for 2009: Please ensure PPC Ads are shown for the relevant search terms, even if the search volume is low. Ta.

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Google adwords presents website publishers with an excellent medium through which to attract highly targeted traffic to their website.

By carefully selecting keywords, crafting appealing ad copy and sending the visitors through to the most appropriate landing page, pay per click (PPC) marketing can be an extremely effective form of online marketing.

In the UK, and many other territories, the Google Adwords platform is currently way ahead in terms of market share and PPC advertisers can drive significant volumes of traffic to their websites.

Arguably one of Google’s greatest strengths is the concept of quality score and the fact that you are rewarded (financially) by careful management of your PPC campaigns. Underlying the quality score concept is the overall ambition that Google has to ensure relevancy for its users – if you are looking for an seo agency in the UK, you should ideally only see results relating directly to UK SEO agencies.

The more advanced PPC marketers amongst us will know that the keyword matching options used in a PPC campaign can have a significant effect on the overall performance of a PPC campaign. By using phrase match, or exact match, you can exclude your ads from searches that are not immediately relevant to your chosen focus – you will reduce overall exposure (impressions) but you will typically see an increased click through rate (CTR), which will help to improve your quality score.

So far, so good, but there is a fundamental flaw in the system that is proving to be extremely frustrating.

Where a keyword that you are targeting has very low search volumes (as determined by Google’s own keyword database), you often run into problems where your ads are not shown, even if you search on the exact phrase that you are bidding on. If you have encountered  this problem, you will no doubt have seen the following message using the ad diagnostic tool:

(we have blurred out the actual keyword as it is not immediately relevant to this post – this is a problem that we have experienced across all PPC campaigns that we manage)

The quality score is shown to be great (maximum score) and yet it is impossible to trigger the ads when you search on the keyword that is being targeted.

Google believes that the search term is essentially off the radar so it will not show the ad when the keyword is searched for. The user will therefore see other ads which will be related to the search term but, the chances are, actually slightly less relevant.

The only way to get the ads to show is to start bidding on slightly less relevant keywords – surely this is the exact opposite of what Google is aiming to achieve? It is also a more expensive strategy as the more generic phrases are typically more expensive and tend to convert at a lower rate than the more precise terms.

In theory, this will only happen to very low search terms and that the problem will go away if that term becomes popular, but it is extremely frustrating and we see it across almost all the PPC campaigns that we manage (yes – we do keyword research properly and include the VERY long tail in most campaigns).

Dear Google – an official request for 2009 : please ensure that ads will be triggered for all search terms, even those that are supposedly very low volume. Best regards, Browser Media (on behalf of all PPC advertisers).

 ***UPDATE : Please see this post for mini test***

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