Creative optimization for search success

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Search is exciting. In my mind, it's an ever-changing being, constantly in flux. As such, marketers need to stay two steps ahead of their campaign to figure out what search is going to do next. It's important to create, manage and grow your campaigns in a systematic way. Sometimes a search campaign can stagnate, but there are several simple tactics that can keep it fresh, efficient, and effective.

Creative optimization is often low on the priority list when it comes to improving campaign performance, and this puzzles me. It's an easy fix that provides noticeable results in a relatively short time, and, in addition to boosting your revenue, creative testing helps your ROI by showing you what is working and what is not working.

When discussing creative optimization with clients, I find that the keyword mix is typically the first thing that comes up. The thinking is that long-tail terms are essential to improving overall campaign performance. I agree for the most part. But while tail terms are good for campaign expansion, the effectiveness of targeted terms is undeniable. In fact, a recent Hitwise study found that search terms with one to three keyword phrase terms comprise more than 70 percent of the searches. Specific keywords are clearly more important when it comes to conversions and acquisitions.

After all, without brand terms your messaging loses its effectiveness. However, your campaign needs non-brand terms to increase reach and coverage. By relying only on brand terms, you risk missing out on a lot of potential customers. If they don't know about you, how can they find your brand? Non-brand terms help build associations with new customers.

When you've found the right mix of keywords, your next task is to correctly manage the match type. Keyword match types are a simple way to maintain ample coverage while keeping the overall costs in check. Search engines are constantly revising and amending their rules for mapping keywords, so it's important to keep abreast and make relevant changes to your campaign.

Finally, adding a geo-targeting layer to your national campaign is a great way to increase efficiency. It's easy to test, and by increasing your specificity you get more targeted and relevant results. We have found that running mirror campaigns at the national and local levels not only increases reach but also improves conversion rates.

You don't have to reinvent the wheel to put the fire back into your online-marketing strategy. By sticking to intuitive optimization and targeting techniques, your campaigns will continue to provide excellent, measurable results.

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