Thursday, February 07, 2013

Multi Signal Search comes to Paid Search

I’ve advocated a multi signal approach to SEO. In past there had been a few key signals; links and perhaps title and h-tags but now SEO operates in a world of many signals.

Doing well in a multi signal search world doesn’t always mean “more signals” too. Sites, for example, that have lots of link signals but no social signals that help explain why links are appearing so quickly might be seen as suspicious.

Signals need to be balanced carefully.

Last night Google introduced Enhanced Campaigns to AdWords. It’s the biggest shakeup to Google’s core money making machine in years.

The reaction has been mixed. In fact, some people were so annoyed at the news that complaint blog posts were live before the embargo.

Yes, I think Google will make more money this way. There was certainly an attraction, in some cases, to avoid desktop campaigns at all and just bid on much cheaper mobile clicks. This post does not intend to join the echo chamber discussing why Google has made the changes they have. Let us look at what this means.

This means that the multi signal approach that already marks a good SEO campaign is now very much appropriate to paid search.

In fact, PPC has always had to deal with signals. Whereas Google talks about “quality signals” in patent applications and in their webmaster videos, the world of PPC have had a more transparent “Quality Score” system in their dashboards for years too.

The signals that impact quality score are still in place; relevancy, clickthrough rates, site speed, etc.

The signals that the world of “Enhanced Campaigns” bring to the fore are clearly marked by Google. They are; device, time of day and location.

These signals also need to be carefully balanced.

Someone online on their smartphone at 8:15am is likely to be a very different prospect than someone online via the smartphone at 9:15am. Why? I’d suggest the former is far more likely to be a commuter than the latter. Would you agree? Location signals would help add certainty.

Google’s Enhanced Campaigns mean that changes to the structures of accounts are necessary. Previously it was a good idea to structure your campaign to take full use of the difference between desktop and mobile campaigns but with Enhanced Campaigns that structure becomes redundant.

It may make more sense to structure accounts around signals. It certainly makes sense to think about paid search campaigns in terms of making the right decisions, adjusting price and copy, around the signals at hand.

Hopefully Google will make more signals visible and available for action. In particular, more important than device, time of day and location, are relationship signals.

An AdWords campaign in which we could adjust bids based on whether the searcher had already been to the site, had reached the checkout or even if the searcher had had Google+ interaction with the site before, would truly be an Enhanced Campaign.



Photograph by Ingy the Wingy.

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