Perhaps, one of the biggest complaints for PPC marketers to Google AdWords is the lack of control of Google Search Partners. If you’re not familiar with what Google Search Partners are, it’s an additional collection of search engines and web pages such as AOL.com, Ask.com, Dogpile.com, Lycos.com, etc.
In addition, Search Partners can include other web sites such as Amazon.com, NYtimes.com, and washingtonpost.com. When you create a search campaign in Google AdWords, your ads are automatically added to Google’s Search Partner Network.
How Can Search Partners Help My Campaign?
Currently, AdWords does allow you to segment performance by Search Partners if you’ve opted to target them. This is the first step you should take when determining what you should do next. If the performance is comparable to Google Search, then I wouldn’t make any changes.
AdWords only allows advertisers to include or exclude Google Search Partners. However; advertisers want the ability to see specific search partner performance (i.e. similar to placement reports in Google Display Network), the ability to exclude specific placements (i.e. placement exclusions), and the ability to target Search Partners separate from Google search (all of which Bing Ads gives us control over with their ‘syndicated partners’) in different campaigns or use bid modifiers in the same campaign which we’re able to do with mobile devices. Unfortunately, these options are not available at this time.
So for the near future, if your performance is much worse for Google Search Partners in some of your campaigns and accounts, consider trying out the tips below before completely excluding all that volume.
- Always opt brand into search partners—then evaluate non-brand and make decisions
- Only opt exact and phrase match campaigns and ad groups into Search Partners. When search partners perform much worse than Google Search, more times than not; it’s the broad match keywords bringing to performance.
- Look at search partner performance by ad group. If ad group performs poorly for some search partners but not all, move the poorer performing ad groups into own campaign.
- Duplicate a campaign with Google Search only and opt this campaign into Search Partners. However; decrease bids by 50-75% to ensure you’re not competing with your Google Search only campaign. Search partners almost ALWAYS have cheaper CPC’s.
If none of the tricks above work, then your last resort is to exclude the Google Search Partners completely and focus your budgets on Google Search. Again, definitely look at a campaign by campaign basis when performing this analysis. In our screenshot above, Search Partners is approximately 22% of clicks received and 19% of conversions for that particular campaign. Excluding Search Partners from this campaign would definitely have a substantial impact to our results.
How are you dealing with Google Search Partners? Do you notice Search Partners perform better or worse for eCommerce accounts vs. lead generation accounts?
Screenshots taken from Google 1/13/14
Featured image – shutterstock.com under license