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.