AdWords Opportunities Can Teach You A Thing Or Two

Ever since AdWords launched the Opportunities tab my opinion has varied between incredulous to downright disappointed. The main factor has always been the overwhelming feeling that Google is just recommending that you increase bids, add more keywords (usually more generic keywords that are only tangentially related to your keywords) and utilize every possible ad extension. Basically, it felt like they were just trying to get you to spend more with little to no consideration of results.

However, the Opportunities tab has been slowly evolving into a very useful area and while I was analyzing some of the recommendations recently I came across a suggestion to “Add negative keywords to prevent your ads from showing on unrelated searches”. This piqued my interest because it was actually a recommendation aimed at decreasing costs/increasing performance. I clicked through to view the details and got this screen:

On the surface, this is just a couple of keywords that you can add to save a few bucks. For this particular account, it’s a minuscule amount. But if you look closer you start to see more.

Using Time-on-site As Quality Metric

Using time-on-site as a quality indicator is what caught my attention. While my usual protocol for finding negative keywords usually involves CTR and conversion metrics, this was intriguing. Then I hovered over the recommendation and the small, small print shows that not only are they reporting the time-on-site for queries including the suggested negative keyword, but they’re comparing it to the campaign average. For the negative keyword “pdf” that is the difference between 22 seconds and 590 seconds. Take a moment to let that sink in. For reference, 590 seconds is just shy of 10 minutes.

This is a very intelligent analysis that has eliminated a lot of legwork. Of course, this is only possible with a link between AdWords and Google Analytics, so you may have to do this yourself if you’re on another analytics platform.

But then I noticed that it went even deeper.

Using N-Grams

For those of you that aren’t familiar with the term, an “n-gram” is a word or phrase that can be 1 word (a 1-gram), 2 words (2-gram), etc. To get an example of what I mean, you can pull up any search term report and filter by search queries of various lengths. Like this:

That filter would look for any instance including “example phrase” and you could look at the totals to see combined performance across many keywords, ad groups, campaigns, etc. It’s a really cool analysis that you should read up on here.

But the point is this; AdWords is doing n-gram analysis of your search term reports and then cross-referencing against time-on-site data to find potential negative keywords. So what can that teach you?

Take The Template & Run With It

Here are some ideas using this template that could show you some more improvements to your accounts:

Conversion Data

Do the same analysis, but instead of time-on-site look at conversion data. N-grams with low CPAs could show potential new keywords or areas due for bid increases. N-grams with high CPAs could show you where to cut some fat.

CTR Data

Same as above, but use CTR and conversion data together. Especially relevant would be high CTR terms with low conversion rates. Maybe your landing page needs to include the n-gram in copy more or maybe you need to add some negatives.

Bounce Rate

Follow the lead of AdWords and use your analytics data in combination with PPC stats.

You may already be doing this for keywords, but n-gram analysis takes it a step further and gets you closer to your customer because you’re looking at actual queries. So take a few minutes to try these out yourself and keep an eye on those n-grams.

Do you apply AdWords’ suggested Opportunities to your accounts? Why or why not? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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