A Quick Word

One of the top requests that we get as prod­uct man­agers when we visit cus­tomers is for strate­gic guid­ance and best prac­tices. More sim­ply stated “Tell us the things we don’t know that we don’t know”. The best answer for that is to work with our con­sult­ing group and our indus­try strat­egy team, they are highly trained experts who know dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing inside and out. They can help you assess where your busi­ness is and where you want to go as well as help you put the pro­grams, prac­tices, and peo­ple in place to achieve those goals. That being said, there are times when you just need to do a quick gut check as to where you are at with your pro­grams so you can make deci­sions on where to invest your time, bud­get and effort going for­ward. As part of my series Suite Talk I will high­light tips and tricks for using the Online Mar­ket­ing Suite for dif­fer­ent roles within your orga­ni­za­tion. Each post or series of posts will focus on a per­son in your orga­ni­za­tion and sug­gest a few things that you can do to start tak­ing your first steps (Crawl), get your orga­ni­za­tion mov­ing a lit­tle faster (Walk), or push­ing the enve­lope of what is pos­si­ble (Run). To get things started, let’s focus on the SEM marketer.


Hope­fully you have already pur­chased Search­Cen­ter and are already using it, but if not this will help you see the fea­tures that make Search­Cen­ter a key com­po­nent of the Online Mar­ket­ing Suite. Search­Cen­ter helps you do three things: man­age large cam­paigns, sim­plify report­ing, and auto­mate your bid­ding. For the crawl sec­tion of this series I want to share a cou­ple of quick fea­tures that you may not be using in each of these areas.

Man­ag­ing Large Campaigns

Mar­keters typ­i­cally orga­nize their cam­paigns around top­ics or related words. Doing this saves a lot of grief in the long run and is well worth the effort to keep things orga­nized. How­ever, cam­paigns and adgroups only allow mar­keters to group key­words on one attribute (e.g. branded vs. non-branded or region-based key­words but not both) which can be chal­leng­ing as the num­ber of key­words grow. Enter cus­tom groups. This sim­ple fea­ture allows you to cre­ate groups of key­words across mul­ti­ple cam­paigns and ad groups for eas­ier management.

Before I jump into how to setup groups, there are two terms I want to cover.

  • Group — This is the class of key­words, and exam­ple of a group would be geog­ra­phy (Think Clas­si­fi­ca­tion col­umn if you are famil­iar with SiteCatalyst).
  • Label - This is the par­tic­u­lar cat­e­gory a key­word falls into. If my group were geog­ra­phy, my labels would be EMEA, APAC, Amer­i­cas, etc. (think the value that goes into the clas­si­fi­ca­tion column)

There are actu­ally three types of cus­tom groups key­word groups, ad groups and place­ment groups. I will focus pri­mar­ily on key­word groups but the con­cepts also apply to the other types. Cus­tom groups are cre­ated and man­aged from Management>Custom Groups in the menu. Just click on the plus (+) to add a new cus­tom group. Once a group is cre­ated you can add key­words from any­where that you can man­age them. When you hit the edit but­ton and you should see a screen like this.

Select the group and assign the key­words a label within the group. Once the cus­tom groups are setup you can use them to man­age key­word bids across cam­paigns. Here are a cou­ple of com­mon uses for groups

  • Branded vs. Non Branded Keywords
  • Loca­tion Spe­cific Keywords
  • If you sell prod­ucts you can cre­ate groups around brands
  • Top­ics, espe­cially use­ful for infor­ma­tional sites and media sites
  • High Traf­fic Keywords
  • Search Engine, when you have mul­ti­ple accounts on a sin­gle search engine (e.g Bing, Google)
  • Key­words your Boss or CEO searches for and just has to see you in the top spot


Cus­tom groups also enhance report­ing. Go to Reporting>Custom Groups. There you should see each of your cus­tom groups. This is pow­er­ful because it allows you to slice and dice your key­words in new and inter­est­ing ways.

One quick tip for mak­ing your reports even bet­ter is to add bounce rate as a met­ric. Through a plu­gin in the javascript, Search­Cen­ter can mea­sure bounce rate on almost any group­ing helps you spot land­ing expe­ri­ences that are less than ideal.


Chang­ing bids is fun for about 20 min­utes. When you scale up to many thou­sands of key­words it really becomes a chal­lenge. Search­Cen­ter allows you to auto­mate your bid­ding with bid rules. You can set thresh­old based on posi­tion, onsite activ­ity, cost and much more. In fact, the flex­i­bil­ity and power of bid rules can be a lit­tle over­whelm­ing. To help you get up and run­ning our con­sult­ing group has worked with our engi­neer­ing group to iden­tify a three smart bid rule tem­plates to quickly get you up and run­ning. When you cre­ate a new rule you will have the option to start from a tem­plate or go custom.

Tem­plates are the way to go espe­cially as you are get­ting started. The tem­plate puts the logic in place then lets you set all the thresholds.

There are three types of bid rule tem­plates to use depend­ing on the out­come you are going for.

  • Cost per — Opti­mizes bids so to a par­tic­u­lar cost per action
  • ROAS — Strives to get a spec­i­fied return on the ad spend
  • Posi­tion — Strives to main­tain a cer­tain position

These rules have long been used by our con­sult­ing group and are some of the most effec­tive ways to get your pro­gram off the ground in a hurry.These are just a few sim­ple ways to make your SEM cam­paigns a lit­tle bet­ter. If these are too easy for you and you are feel­ing tough enough, then check out my next post where we go into some advanced ana­lyt­ics using SiteCatalyst.