Be Smarter About Dynamic Keyword Insertion In PPC Ads


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harryhuxford | Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Filed under: PPC Tips & Advice

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Dynamic Keyword Insertion (or DKI) is one of the most misunderstood and misused PPC tactics that marketers will try to implement in their PPC accounts. The most prevalent abusers of DKI include the likes of large online retailers and you’ve likely seen their paid ads when searching for something obscure and unrelated to them. While big corporations can afford to use DKI to drive masses of visits to their sites, the majority of PPC managers who dabble with DKI work with limited resources and need to be smart about their spend.

Before we begin, if you’re new to Dynamic Keyword Insertion or are rusty with the code variants, please take a moment to visit Google’s DKI Tutorial which explains what DKI is and how to insert and manipulate the coding in your ads. Basically, DKI allows you to dynamically insert users’ search queries into your text ads.

The Upsides Of DKI

Rapidly And Easily Create New Ad Variations
You can make a copy of another ad and use DKI in the headline to make another ad variation in a flash. DKI in headlines is the most typical application but you can also stick it in description lines as well as the display URL tail.

Use The Same Nomenclature Your Audience Is Using
While you may have taken the time to craft compelling headlines, chances are you may have missed some nomenclature and your ads are not compelling to searchers because they are not using the same “language” to refer to your product or services. New nomenclature is coined all the time and there are no rules to what keywords searchers must use to find your services. DKI allows your ads to use the same nomenclature that searchers are using.

Make Your Ads More Attractive
Have you ever had a moment where you typed in some keywords into Google and saw a result that contained your exact query? The bolding of the search result added to its irresistibility and you clicked it and were off on your merry way. The same feeling applies to DKI in PPC ads where a searcher’s query appears bolded in your ad. It’s hard to avoid seeing and clicking an ad that uses the same words you’re using and is also bolded. A more attractive ad leads to higher click through rates.

The Downsides Of DKI

Irrelevant Queries Injected Into Ads
If you’re advertising on broad matched keywords and you aren’t using negatives to weed out irrelevant queries, these same irrelevant queries are now going to be dynamically inserted into your ads. Say you’re promoting web conferencing software and are advertising on keywords like “online meetings” on broad match. If you don’t add negatives that pertain to dating, relationships or sex, your ad that tried to promote a web conferencing tool may now appear to promote something entirely different when an unqualified query gets inserted.

Unprofessional Looking Ads
Aside from the capitalization that you specify when you input the DKI code in your ads, searchers’ queries are going to be inserted in their unedited forms. This means plenty of typos, misspellings and other language errors which will make your ad look amateurish when compared against your competitors’ ads that are polished and proofread. If running unprofessional looking ads irks you, you may find yourself adding misspellings and typos as negative keywords so they don’t get inserted into your ad.

Long And Short Queries Are A Hassle
If searchers’ queries are too long (remember that headlines have a 25 character limit) their queries will not be dynamically inserted into the ad and the searchers will see the default text that you specify. In these cases, your DKI ad might as well have been a static text ad.

Now consider if the query is a short one worder like “balloons”. Well now your ad’s headline says “Balloons” and isn’t using the rest of the 17 available characters in the headline which makes it look amateurish. You can try to work around this by adding words around the DKI code like “Save On {Keyword:Balloons} Now” but now you’ve severely limited the power of DKI by trying to fit it in a character limited environment.

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Tips For Better DKI Use

  • Remember that ad copy generated by DKI must fit into the character limits of your ad (25 characters for the headline, 35 for the description lines and 35 for the display URL) for it to work, otherwise the default text will be shown which renders your DKI ad a normal static ad.
  • If using DKI in headlines, the best keywords are those that are 2-4 words in length and consist of 15 to 20 characters to allow space for search queries that are longer and shorter to be inserted. Take a look around your ad groups and see if any of them consist entirely of keywords of this size because these ad groups are good contenders to have a DKI ad in them.
  • On the other hand, if you have an ad group that is centered around a one word keyword (like “balloon” or “balloons”), embedding DKI code in a static headline like “Save On {Keyword:Balloons}” could work as long as the string consistently fits into 25 characters or less.
  • If you don’t want typos, misspellings or other undesirables to get dynamically inserted into your ads, try adding them as negative keywords to your ad group.
  • In most cases your initial use of DKI should be supplemental. That is, you should not have ad groups that contain a lone DKI ad that receives all the traffic for that ad group when you first launch that ad group. A better balance would be an ad group with three static ads and one DKI ad. Measure the performance of the DKI ad against your static ads and give more traffic to it if it performs well. If your keyword groupings are tight and you’ve extensively used negatives to weed out all unqualified queries, DKI ads may perform extraordinarily well. You must first have or create an optimal environment for DKI ads to flourish.
  • You can also use DKI in your destination URLs for tracking purposes or to direct visitors to dynamically generated landing pages. Unlike the body of text ads, there is no character limit for destination URLs and search queries will be appended in their entirety.

    Example:
    Search query: “balloons
    Destination URL specified in your ad:
    99air.com/?kw={Keyword}
    URL searcher visits upon click:
    99air.com/?kw=balloons

  • Do you have any other tips and tricks for using DKI in ads? Please let us know in the comments!

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