Easy Misses: Staying On Top of Your SEM Game

I recently watched a video that tests your awareness of a situation. A quick synopsis of the video for those of you who don’t want or have the time to watch: Two teams, one white and one black, the viewer is supposed to count how many times the white team passes the basketball. At some point the video stops and asks a question to the viewer: “Did you see the moonwalking bear?” It rewinds the tape and then stops it at the part where a bear is clearly moonwalking across the screen. The video then points out to the viewer that “It’s easy to miss something you aren’t looking for.”

While the PSA is intended for cyclists, I couldn’t help but think this could apply to so much in life, but even more importantly, how much this applies to search engine marketing. While this can be applied to almost every situation in the search world, I have highlighted a couple scenarios where this would apply.

Keeping SEM at the Center of Your Attention

Season’s Greetings
Let’s say you are new to managing a new SEM client. Six months into managing, you notice that this account is trending downward. You start checking everything: SQRs, CTRs, conversion rates, and there’s nothing. You start getting a little nervous that perhaps it’s something you did. You decide to take a step back and pull a Google Insights reports. The light bulb goes off. It’s not you; it’s the seasonality of the product. A normal downward trend has occurred this time year over year. It’s easy to miss this trend in seasonality if you’re stuck focusing on month over month, rather than year over year.

Inventory Alert
Sometimes the reasons for sudden changes in performance are outside the PPC account. For instance, take our fictional client TopSeed Bicycles. One of their best-selling products year round is a popular series of all-weather racing tires. High quality score has helped keep TopSpeed’s CPCs low enough to be competitive on the exact match keyword variation of the tire and it has become one of the top performing product-related keywords, maintaining a 10% conversion rate and a 800% ROAS for the last few months.

However, one morning you notice conversion rates have dropped to 2% and return falls through the floor. Your click through rate, average position, and CPC’s all remain unchanged from the steady past performance. After a few days of poor performance, you are finding no answers in the account performance data. Finally, clicking through the ad leads you to the source of the problem. Upon going through the checkout process, you find that the product is on backorder, which is leading to fewer customers completing orders for this top product.

Set It and Forget It
It can be easy to set your new campaigns settings and forget them. Do not make this mistake, as it can cost you. Always review these different settings multiple times a year and make the appropriate changes. Mobile bid adjustments are equally important, especially during the holiday season. You may want to increase or decrease your bid adjustments depending on your business. Likewise, hour of day and day of week targeting can change as time goes on along with GEO performance. In addition, if you have poor performing campaigns, you may want to check Google Search Partners and to see if that is a profitable option for you. These small changes can make a big impact on your account.

Attention to detail matters when it comes to SEM. From seasonality to inventory woes, stay aware with your SEM accounts and you’ll definitely be able to spot the moonwalking bear.

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