By Maciej Wronski

In the world of business it's not a surprise that the more competitors in a market, the tougher the fight for a client becomes. This rule has been shaping the world of business for centuries and this blog aims to look at how it affects our paid search marketing efforts too.

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Generic means research. Wait, what?

There are a variety of keyword strategies that you can employ. In this blog I will focus on why using both types of keywords - niche and generic – is essential in order to maximise results.

For one of my clients in the e-commerce bathroom furniture sector I started off with standard keyword targeting - all main products with both short and long tail keywords. The traffic volumes were great, but I noticed that the majority of traffic was coming through the generic keywords. These keywords are often capturing customers in their research phase which means that the customer does not (yet) know exaclty what product they are looking for.

The research phase is one of the first steps in the buying cycle and therefore doesn't drive many conversions (in comparison to traffic volume). Now, if we don't expand our account with niche ad groups, those generic terms will be capturing traffic from all stages of the buying cycle, meaning that we are stopping ourselves from being able to target customers in different stages of the buying process with different ad copy. So if a user is finally ready to make a purchase and searches again for one of our keywords there is a solid chance that if we don't cover many niche areas in our account's structure (diagram below), the generic (and more expensive) keyword will capture that user. This may mean a more generic ad (making it less likely to attract the click) and a more generic landing page (making it less likely to attract the conversion on site).

Account expansion

The best place to start account expansion is to look through the search query report to see exactly what customers were searching for.

What I found was that there were many searches around dimensions of the products. I realised that customers who were searching for specific dimensions knew exactly what they wanted, and therefore were in the very last stage of the buying cycle – ready to buy. The next step was to add ad groups for each product including dimensions and to create a very specific ad copy around these new keywords.

The account structure changed from fairly flat (and expensive), to one that is capturing returning visitors with cheap, niche keywords.

Did this approach work?

Clickthrough rate of the niche ad groups was 50.5% higher, conversion rate increased by 325% and cost of sale lowered by 61%. I say, it worked very well.

Even though the new ad groups weren't driving much traffic, they were driving high quality traffic. They were spending 70% less than the generic ad groups but generated only 23% less revenue. This clearly shows that even though it will require a lot of work to set up a very well structured account, it pays off once the account is up and running.

Should we only use niche keywords?

There is no easy answer to this question, but I would say – no. Generic keywords are very important as they drive traffic to our website that can be retargeted with remarketing and RLSA campaigns. They also often generate click assisted conversions so serve as a link between first interaction and purchase. Use the search funnels reporting to investigate this.

Some of the strategies I implemented were around using very generic terms (only 1 word long!) and retargeting to basket drop outs. Results were often spectacular with a cost of sale under 20%.

It's also important to know when using certain match types is a safe choice. While targeting your abandoned basket audience with very short tail keywords set to broad match type can be a good idea, I would definitely not recommend taking a similar approach when targeting a general audience.

So as you can see generic keywords are very important parts of your account and can deliver really good results when combined with a wide range of niche ad groups.

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