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You can't do search engine advertising without web analytics. At least, you can't do it well. Getting the click from the search page to your web page is just the first step; everything else depends upon your analytics.
If you can't move your visitors beyond the landing pages, you can't close the sale.
Web analytics isn't rocket science. It isn't even quadratic equations but it can seem complicated. There are so many reports, so many metrics. Which ones are important, which merely clutter? For search advertising, the first metric you need to pay attention to is bounce rate. It's not the only one but because it's the first one, it's one you need to get right.
What's in a Bounce?
A bounce is defined by adCenter Analytics as a single page view per session. That's typical of most web analytics. What concerns us with search advertising is the bounce rate for a landing page. If you can't move your visitors beyond the landing page, you can't close the sale.
The value of having a unique landing page for every campaign, if not every ad group, should be immediately obvious. Sending loosely related campaigns to the same landing page muddies your view of visitor behavior and visitor behavior is what you're trying to influence.
The question then is how do you move a greater percentage of your paid search traffic off the landing page? At this point, it doesn't matter where they go, as long as they don't leave your site. Eventually you hope they'll go to your checkout page but at this stage, it's small steps. The goal is simply to reduce the bounce rate per landing page.
If your paid search engine campaignis poorly targeted, you're paying for the wrong audience.
If the question is how to reduce bounce rate, the answer is targeting. Targeting is simply pitching your offer to the right audience, a receptive audience. Targeting, like every other aspect of search engine advertising, is about relevance. But the answer leads directly to another question. How do you identify the right audience?
The Demographics of Success
Identifying the demographics of success can be a powerful tool when targeting your search engine advertising to the right market segment. Both adCenter and adCenter Analytics incorporate demographic data; adCenter reports demographics for both impressions and clicks while adCenter Analytics reports demographics per page.
What are the demographics of your visitors who become customers? In adCenter Analytics, check the demographics of your confirmation page. Admittedly only a minority percentage of your customers will have demographic data, typically 20%-25% from my limited experience, but enough to safely assume that the balance of your online customers probably share a similar distribution. If most of your sales are made to men age 35-49 but the demographics of your landing page indicate your paid search traffic is mostly young women 18-24, it's a clue that your paid search campaign is poorly targeted. You're paying for the wrong audience.
Once you have a clue about your audience, how do you target them in your search advertising campaigns? And how do you measure success?
Within adCenter you can incrementally boost your bid by demographic for visitors with known demographic data. For example, if your target audience is men age 35-49, you could have adCenter increase your base bid by a percentage you designate, say 35%, whenever the system positively identifies the visitor as belonging to that demographic. The higher bid rate places your ad higher on the page for that specific visitor, increasing the likelihood of a click. And since that demographic is more attracted to your offer, they're more likely to move off the landing page, reducing your bounce rate.
The same principle applies to geographic targeting and day parting. Do you have a higher conversion rate for paid search referrals from a particular location or section of the country, a particular time of day or even day of the week? Again, you can incrementally boost your bid and raise your ad position to attract your target audience while still competing for the balance of the traffic at your base bid.
Are you being too clever for your own good?
Conversely, you can use negative keywords to exclude those visitors mistakenly attracted to your landing page by some unanticipated semantic relationship to your positive keywords. For example, if you advertised for the Paris Hilton Hotel, you could expect a lot of tangential traffic. Blocking that traffic from ever seeing your ads is the purpose of negative keywords.
And don't forget the slant of your ad copy. Are you pitching your ad clearly to your target audience, identifying the value proposition that resonates with your demographic, or are you being too clever for your own good?
Make incremental changes to your campaigns and closely watch the bounce rate for the campaign's landing page. If your change reduces the bounce rate, integrate it as a best practice for that campaign. If not, lose it. Online advertising is about experimenting, testing, and reviewing the data. Your web analytics are an integral part of that cycle.
The Bottom Line
The synergy between paid search and web analytics creates a feedback loop that can ratchet up the impact of both your search advertising and your web site. The tight integration of adCenter and adCenter Analytics allows you to test and track the performance of your search campaigns, making course corrections like a rocket in flight, but adCenter Analytics also works with traffic referred by other search engines, both paid and organic. It's exciting stuff that starts with a bounce.
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Good stuff. Thanks and greetings!
Very informative—great job.
Just to caution newbies: Analytics requires the INTEGRATION of data. If a good percentage of your traffic comes from places like Google Image Search (where you will see extremely high bounce rates), then you may think that you have high bounce rates. By isolating out that traffic, you will get a better read on the situation. So be sure to check the bounce rates, based on where the traffic came from.