It’s not some­thing any mar­keter wants to hap­pen, but we should all pre­pare for data loss. Data dri­ves every­thing search mar­keters do and dic­tates your deci­sions on how best to for­mu­late and redesign your strate­gies, and for good rea­son. Jim Yu, report­ing for Search Engine Land, writes that there are more than 2.7 zetabytes of data in exis­tence in the uni­verse today, with nearly 600 new web­sites built every minute. It’s an excit­ing time to be a search mar­keter because we have access to all this data.

It’s also a scary time. What hap­pens when that data goes away? We rely on sta­tis­tics, trends, and research so much that we’re all but help­less wan­der­ers with­out it. And while ide­ally you’ll never have to suf­fer the pains of lost data, the real­ity is some time in the future you will. Rather than duck and cover, it’s best if you enter the ring prepared.

What to Do If Your Data Dis­ap­pears

To solve a data loss prob­lem, you have to deter­mine when and where it started. In other words, you have to retrace your steps by dupli­cat­ing the issue. This will help you whit­tle down what appears to be an all-encompassing, over­whelm­ing fire drill into an issue that’s poten­tially iso­lated to one sin­gle trig­ger­ing fac­tor, and hope­fully easy to resolve.

In your quest to dis­sect the issue, you’re about to delve into your past reports. If some­one has sent you an email pan­icked that all data has mys­te­ri­ously dis­ap­peared, fol­low up by ask­ing them for the how and when. Think of this as a tax audit of sorts. You’re leaf­ing through piles of num­bers to catch that red flag. Sounds intense, and it can be, unless you know how to stream­line the process.

Where: If you’re suf­fer­ing from a total lack of data or a sig­nif­i­cant decrease, you’ll want to start at the account level report­ing. Try to iden­tify which accounts are the offend­ers. From there, you’ll drill into the sub­se­quent campaign>ad group>keyword to find the root of your data dis­ap­pear­ance issue.

What: Be sure to nail down the cor­rect time­line. This might take a few min­utes, but you will be happy you took the time to find out exactly when the decline in data began. When look­ing at your met­rics, be sure to fac­tor in search engine data such as

Search Engine Metrics

• Clicks
• Cost
• Impres­sion
• Aver­age Posi­tion
• Qual­ity Score

Web­site Con­ver­sion Metrics

• Instances/Visits
• Pri­mary con­ver­sion met­rics such as
• Orders
• Rev­enue
• Sec­ondary con­ver­sion met­rics such as
• Shop­ping Cart add

If trou­ble shoot­ing in Adobe Media Opti­mizer, always include the Instances met­ric, which refers to the instance of the AMO code being loaded on a web­site. It should always match search engine clicks within 10 per­cent.

Why the 10 per­cent mar­gin? That 10 per­cent fac­tors in some expected causes such as some­one not load­ing the page prop­erly or bounc­ing out of a page before it fully loads.

Why: Run a change his­tory report to help iden­tify any changes that may have been made at the time of the loss of data or decline. Don’t over­look the impor­tance of check­ing your account set­tings, including

• Tar­get­ing
• Sta­tus
• Bud­get
• CPCs/Position/Quality score

Addi­tional Areas to Scour

Now that you’ve taken care of your fun­da­men­tal house­keep­ing, there are still a few other places for you to poke around to not only solve your cur­rent prob­lem, but pre­vent it from hap­pen­ing again. It’s pos­si­ble that some of your ads have become dis­ap­proved, mean­ing you need to look at these ads closely as well as deter­mine why they were dis­ap­proved and make changes to other ads, if applicable.

Have you added any new key­words recently? There are two poten­tials that might be at play here. Some of your neg­a­tive key­words might actu­ally be block­ing traf­fic, or new addi­tions to other ad groups might be steal­ing away traf­fic from your orig­i­nal ad group/keyword combination.

Another poten­tial issue is with land­ing page errors. Make sure you have absolutely no typos on your LP, 404 errors, or redirects.

Lastly, you want to ensure your track­ing para­me­ters are run­ning and oper­at­ing cor­rectly. I’ll show you how to track QA with Adobe Media Opti­mizer in future articles.

This can be a stress­ful time for any search mar­keter, but with the right knowl­edge and process put into place, you can rem­edy the issue in a timely man­ner and learn from it to pre­vent it from hap­pen­ing again.