Don’t panic. The sky is not falling! If you are like me, your blood pressure shot up when you heard Google’s announcement last week. What announcement? Oh, you haven’t heard? Google is removing the query from the referrer on ad clicks that originate from SSL searches on Google.com.
I know that sounds a lot like old SEO news, but this announcement actually impacts Google AdWords.
If you manage AdWords accounts and are just now hearing this announcement, take a deep breath. You are going to be fine because your search query reports are still accessible and your bid management platforms will work just fine. Trust me, I know you probably had nightmare thoughts of the old days of huge negative keyword lists (I did, too) but that won’t be necessary.
The biggest change, according to Larry Kim, is our matched query information will no longer be seen in Analytics.
Just for kicks, let’s say Google did take away all access to your matched search queries or raw search data. Why would Google do that?
We learned in this Google blog post that the latest announcement is said to be in reference to security enhancements, but I can think of other reasons Google might take away raw search data:
- To encourage AdWords accounts to switch to conversion optimizer, where Google uses historical information about your campaign to find the best bid for your ad every time it is eligible to appear in their auction. This requires setting up conversion tracking, which is something Google has struggled to get many of their users to do in the past.
- To encourage more AdWords accounts to use remarketing, which allows you to focus intently on an audience that is either familiar with you and your products or with a similar audience that has interests in your category and line of products and services.
- To introduce more AdWords accounts to Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA), where they can stop worrying about the relevance of their keywords because with RLSA they can bid on one and two word keyword searches that are being used by their own remarketing audiences or people who have already visited their site.
Also, in the event that in the future Google really did take away your raw search data, there are a number of alternatives for building, managing and optimizing your AdWords keyword lists.
- Look at your on site search log for keywords used to search your website
- Utilize Bing’s keyword tool
- Reference your historical data and reports from Analytics and AdWords
- Use Google’s Keyword Planner (The GKP is designed to give you an in depth look at what keywords Google sees as relevant for your site and landing pages. The display planner gives similar information for keyword targeting on the Google display network. There is valuable information to be learned from both tools and reports.)
- Dive into your Google display keyword targeted campaigns (This allows you to see which keywords seem to be hot conversation topics for your industry. You could then expand your paid search keyword lists around those keywords.)
- Test conversion optimizer (Move in the direction I mentioned above by testing conversion optimizer, remarketing and RLSA’s to reach a more targeted audience without worrying about extensive keyword lists and negatives.)
I don’t know about you, but I feel better already! I know my matched search queries are still accessible through AdWords, but even if Google took them away, I’m confident I can still be successful with AdWords search and display without access to them. Google is evolving. Paid search is evolving. When you have experience and a solid foundation in paid search, the day-to-day changes and enhancements are just a brief strategy session away from a solution or a work-around.