Archive for August, 2008

Non-English Campaigns

August 28th, 2008 No comments

Recently Viator launched a test to do a little European market sizing and also to see how much effort is involved in translating our site content. We set up four mini sites with a small amount of translated content in the most popular European languages.

You can check them out here:

French Viator site

Spanish Viator site

German Viator site

Italian Viator site

So naturally once you have sites you need traffic. On the unpaid side we’ve were spidered and indexed surprisingly quickly and traffic is picking up nicely, though we are still working out some language kinks as we test. Getting consistent in our translation decisions (and committing to making them) is the biggest challenge so far, but things are going pretty well.

On the paid side this has been an exciting project! Anyone who’ done search engine marketing for a long time experiences burn out. A lot of the optimization and maintenance associated with doing good paid search engine marketing management are boring and repetitive. Running reports, changing bids and adding keywords are all important, but by year three (or even two) start to get old. So this is fun actually, though I am doing the same tasks, the keywords and ads are now all French, German, Spanish and Italian which somehow spices it up.

I’ve taken many years of Spanish, but the other languages I am fairly clueless about (I maybe know 20 words in French). You’d think this is a stumbling block, but actually it matters very little. When I went to set up the campaigns I pulled from AdWords Editor all the relevant English account information (keywords, ads, etc) and sent it to our account manager. I asked our account manager to coordinate translation by Google’s optimizers, and they’ve been working along at a nice pace churning out the translated campaigns. The translations have generally been of a very high quality and the ads all have strong click-through rates. I review the campaigns using Google Translate or Babelfish to clarify anything I can’t extrapolate the meaning of, but I get the gist of a surprising amount of the ad text and keywords – go Latinate languages! Also travel has quite a lot of cognates, so the words are fairly similar to English in many cases. Its also been nice to bounce some questions off the Google optimizers (like should we translate proper nouns like city names?) as they add an additional perspective to our translation team.

Running reports and adjusting bids is just the same as ever, you don’t really need to know what something means. Often I run a natural search report to find new keywords to add, and this is just the same for non-English, but I sometimes have to translate keywords I’m not sure about. Often I recognize them based on other keywords in an adgroup so I know where in our account they should go without having to translate. I err on the side of caution translation wise, when in doubt I do it, I would hate to miss-assign keywords or add something really too general or accidentally off topic to the account.

So while it may seem daunting to run search campaigns in a language you’re not conversant in, its actually not too bad in practice. Once we expand these sites as core parts of Viator’s business we’ll dedicate more language proficient resources to their marketing, but as a scrappy test this is going better than I expected. I definitely encourage testing non-English keywords, given the strength of the Euro, you may be able to tap into a healthy European customer base that boosts business growth.

One question I have, that I’m not currently testing, is non-English keywords linking to English content (with or without translated ad text). I’m curious, does this produce incremental performance? Or is there too much of a disconnect in language between ad/keyword and landing page for it to be successful? I’d love to hear from marketers who’ve tested this!

How to Find New Keywords

August 18th, 2008 No comments

[As an aside, yes, sorry, I know I haven’t really posted in awhile, blame work!]

I was telling my boss the other day that I was going to spend some time adding new keywords to our paid search accounts. I’ve been doing that for nigh on three years now, and we’re hitting the 65K keyword mark, so quite reasonably she asked where the heck am I getting more keywords from? And is it worth my time?

There are lots of ways to get new keywords, but I am but one person with limited time, so really I want to focus on adding higher value keywords, ones that I am sure are worth the time and effort (or at least a test).

Here’s my top 5 places to find new keywords:

1. Paid Search Analytics Reports:

Whether you run Omniture (like I do) or Google Analytics or something else, you likely have a search report available that will show all the paid search keywords and their revenue (not a campaign one where you’ve specified the keyword, but one similar to the unpaid search report). In that report you’ll be able to see all the paid search keywords generating revenue that you may not have specified for purchase. Broad match in Google and Yahoo has gotten very broad indeed and you’ll likely dig up a ton of keywords that aren’t in your account, but should be.

One might think, if these are in the paid search report, then I don’t need to add them, we’re covered. For the moment that’s true, but with the vagaries of competition and the ever changing search side algorithms, I think its good to actually add these keywords to your account. Then you guarantee their continued performance, and can better specify a bid for them commensurate with their value. Leaving it up to broad match may inadvertently have you over or under bidding for the term, and if it falls off the radar somehow you’re unlikely to see that keyword is a cause of performance declines (or improvements).

2. Natural Search Analytics Reports:

Even better is to run the same report as above, but for natural search keywords that are revenue generators. Natural search captures something like 60-75% of the clicks versus paid, which is great, but still are you going to let that paid 25-40% go just because you’re doing well with a keyword in natural? Add these keywords, I guarantee your competition will. Never in my experience has it been cannibalizing to add paid where natural is doing well, and anecdotally I’ve heard that having both paid and natural in strong positions has greater brand impact and lifts performance overall for both channels.

3. Google’s Search Query Report:

Less good but still useful, because in my case I’m not tracking revenue through Google, is to run Google’s search query report. If you are running Google revenue tracking then this is just like #1 for you. In my case, its nice to see all the queries matching broadly and to add good keywords or add negative matching for bad keywords.

4. Internal Search Reports:

Mine your company’s search logs for their site search. We’ve got a search box on and log all the searches and revenue associated with those searches. I regularly run reports for revenue generating internal search terms, many of those are good for us to test out in paid as well. However, because these searches are happening only on our site, sometimes they can lean towards the overly broad (you know the only results are going to come from, so why not be broader?). For example, “discount” is a big revenue driving internal search term for Viator, but I wouldn’t buy it in paid search.

5. Ask the Search Engines to Send You Some:

Funnily enough, if you say to your account manager, hey, I’d like to add some more keywords, send me some ideas, they will. I’ve even said specifically, send me some ideas about the Vatican, or Rome or some other specific guidance, and generally, since its means more money for them, the search engines are more than happy to make some suggestions. Like internal search, take these with several grains of salt, they might be way too broad or off topic, but I am sure you’ll find some gems as well. If you don’t have an account manager, you can often request optimizations or other help that will often lead to additional keyword suggestions.

My number one friend in the world of adding keywords is Excel. I download everything in Excel, including the master list of current keywords I maintain, and de-duplicate all the reports versus the master keyword list using vlookups. Clearing out anything I already have is always the first step before organizing and adding the new keywords. You can use Google Spreadsheets or another vlookup enabled spreadsheet program, but I need a lot more rows than what most other programs are capable of supporting.

(I can’t believe I just endorsed a Microsoft product, but I do love Excel, I can’t help it)

Searchers are ever evolving in their queries and so are the search engines, so there’s never a time to sit on your laurels, keep testing and adding new keywords!