How To Use Google Analytics To Optimize AdWords Ad Positioning


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harryhuxford | Monday, October 4th, 2010

Filed under: PPC Tips & Advice

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If you’re an AdWords marketer and you haven’t signed up for or linked an Analytics account you could be missing out on some cool optimization tweaks that AdWords on its own doesn’t provide. One such tweak is the optimization of ad positioning as it relates to keyword performance in each ad position. Analytics displays this data in a visual way that makes optimization intuitive.

Let’s jump into Analytics, choose the Traffic Sources tab and then “Keyword Positions” under the AdWords heading. Analytics reports several performance statistics such Visits, Bounce Rate and Avg Time On Site for each ad position of the keyword you select.

This is where you'll find performance data for each ad position. Use the drop down menu for 'Position Breakdown' to see the different stats. 'Per Visit Goal Value' is the most ROI based stat.

This is where you'll find performance data for each ad position. Use the drop down menu for 'Position Breakdown' to see the different stats. 'Per Visit Goal Value' is the most ROI based stat.

While the above mentioned stats are useful, a better measurement would be one where we can know an approximate ROI of each ad position per keyword. Fortunately, Analytics does provide this statistic as “Per Visit Goal Value”. You need to have set up Goal Pages and specified a Goal Value for each visit that makes it to the Goal Page. For example, your Goal Page can be a “Thank You” page after a user buys your product which you can specify having a value of $50.

Now going back to the Keyword Positions report screen, you can choose the option for Position Breakdown as “Per Visit Goal Value” and you will see a more accurate and ROI based statistic for comparing keyword positions.

Applying The Data In AdWords
Now that we know which ad positions are giving a higher ROI for our keywords, we go into AdWords and use Position Preference to target the best performing ad positions for our keywords. You need to first turn on Position Preference by going into your campaign’s Settings Tab and edit Position Preference from “Off: Show ads in any position” to “On: Automatically manage maximum CPC bids to target a preferred position range”.

Going into the Keywords Tab you’ll see a new column titled “Pos. Pref.” where you can specify the ad position you want the ad for each keyword to show up. This is where you’ll use the data you found in Analytics to target ad positions for each keyword.

The new 'Pos. Pref' column where you specify your target ad positions. Specify your target positions using the performance data from Google Analytics as shown in the previous pic.

The new 'Pos. Pref' column where you specify your target ad positions. Specify your target positions using the performance data from Google Analytics as shown in the previous pic.

Disclaimers!
It is my recommendation that you create a mirrored or copied campaign and not apply this tweak as a sweeping change to your campaigns and account.

Reason 1: In order to target ad positions, you need to turn off Manual CPC bidding and turn on Automatic bidding which may wreak havoc on your existing campaign performance especially if you’ve closely monitored and managed individual keyword bids.
Reason 2: Google will stick to your position preference and won’t show your ad higher or lower than you specify, even if eligible. If you specify a keyword to show in position 4 and no competitors’ ads are in position 3, you will not get an impression.

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I suggest you compile a list of keywords that you identified in Analytics that could benefit from position targeting and create a new, separate campaign that has position preferencing enabled. This new campaign should only contain the keywords that you want to optimize. This will create duplicate keywords so make sure you pause them in your original campaigns so they only show up in your newly created position targeted campaign.

The keywords that typically benefit from this tweak are those that tend to be competitive and have 6 or more competing paid ads. Use this tweak to target the position that is the most profitable for your campaign.

Do you know any other tweaks to optimize ad positioning? Please let me know in the comments!

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