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Attention Accountants: The New Tax Bill Could Kill Your PPC Account

Have you heard the news? There are some drastic tax code changes on the horizon.

The GOP plan for tax overhaul cleared the House on Thursday. Regardless of your political leanings, that’s big news for your AdWords account! If you’re a CPA (Certified Public Accountant), or an agency running accounts for accountants, you’re going to want to prepare for the impending increase in impressions and subsequent clicks. Otherwise, you risk wasting a ton of your budget on clicks that represent absolutely no value to your business.  

Here’s a quick rundown on what’s changing, and how you can alter your AdWords account to hedge against wasted spend, impending doom, etc.

What’s Changing?

Who knows!? And that’s the point.

As news, both real and fake, permeates the internet, Americans will enter panic mode and begin searching for answers to their tax-related questions. Here’s a screenshot I took this morning:

Tax Reform Bill

Look at those articles, those pivots to video, those clickbaity headlines.

Do you know what searchers looking for information as to whether they should weep or cheer aren’t looking for? A CPA.

How Will The Tax Reform Bill Impact Your AdWords Account?

Even though you probably aren’t bidding on “tax reform bill,” you’re not out of the woods.

In the coming days, folks across the country will make millions of tax-related search queries.

From 3 am to 11 am on Nov. 16th, search interest in “tax reform” rose 84%.

Tax Reform Bill Trends

Tax Reform Bill 2

Images via Google Trends

If you’re bidding on any broad, broad match modified, or phrase match keywords that contain the word “tax” (which seems likely since, you know, you’re an accountant) and you aren’t explicitly negating the words “reform” and “bill,” you’re in for a world of hurt.

And by hurt, I mean a massive uptick in impressions. Which will inevitably lead to a whole mess of unqualified clicks.

Guess what? You still have to pay for those clicks.

What Can You Do?

Add. Account. Level. Negative. Keywords.

AdWords allows advertisers to create lists of negative keywords that can be applied at the campaign level. Luxury advertisers use this technique to stop their ads from being served for queries that contain modifiers like “discount,” “sale,” or, god forbid, “free.”

Here, I’m going to show you how accountants can use negative keyword lists to hedge against tax reform-related queries cannibalizing their AdWords budgets.

Enter the new AdWords interface and click the helpful little wrench at the top of the screen. From there, click the “Negative keyword lists” option under the “Shared Library” menu.

Tax Reform Bill Lists

Here, simply click the giant blue circle bearing a tiny white plus sign.

 Tax Reform Bill Negative Keywords

List creation time!

Name your new list of negative keywords something like “Tax Reform Bill” (this will make it easy for you to find it among other lists of negative keywords or remember what you’ve included here so that you can remove it at a later date if need be). In the “Add negative keywords” box, add “reform” and “bill.”

^ You see how I formatted those? Make ‘em look just like that. Adding the words “reform” and “bill” as negative phrase match keywords will ensure that any query containing either word will not trigger one of your targeted keywords. Whatever you do, do not add the word “tax.” Please.

 Tax Reform Bill Negative Keywords

Save your list of keywords and leave this menu. Navigate over to the keywords tab (on the vertical bar to the left of your interface) and select the “Negative Keywords” header.

Tax Reform Bill Add

Use the radio buttons to select the “Use negative keyword list” option, add all of your campaigns in the “Add to” section, and, finally, use the search field (depicted at the bottom of that screenshot you see above) to find your “Tax Reform Bill” negative keyword list.

If you find the new AdWords UI confusing (or you’re already using WordStream Advisor), you can use our software’s one-click negative keyword functionality in the QueryStream report to add both “reform” and “bill” to all of your accounts’ AdWords and Bing campaigns in seconds.

if you're an accountant struggling with the tax reform bill try wordstream advisor

And you’re done. Congratulations: you just saved your AdWords budget!

Final Thoughts

Adding specific, account-level negative keywords is a quick fix for a problem that could completely derail your AdWords account.

Leave your account untouched, and you run the risk of paying to put your ads in front of frenzied searchers who either won’t click them (which will destroy your expected click-through rate and, as a result, diminish your Quality Scores) or, worse, will click but with zero intention of hiring you to help them out come April.

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New 20-Minute Work Week Alert: Device Bid Adjustments

Search ad performance can vary greatly across mobile, tablet and computer devices due to a variety of factors, including your business type. “Need right now” businesses like locksmiths may have a higher willingness to pay more for mobile clicks than a business with a longer customer journey like a law firm or enterprise software. These mobile-dependent businesses need bid optimization strategies that reflect which devices bring in the most leads and drive the most sales.

Of course, you can make these adjustments manually, but our customers look to us to make their lives easier. That’s why we built the 20-Minute Work Week, a system of customized alerts that nudge you to make the optimizations with the most potential for impact in your advertising campaigns each week.

Today, we’re happy to announce there’s a new alert in the 20-Minute Work Week: the device bid adjustment alert for Google AdWords, which suggests adjustments to your bids across different devices to ensure optimal performance.

Welcome the Device Bid Adjustment Alert to the 20-Minute Work Week

Now WordStream Advisor users can rely on the intelligence of the 20-Minute Work Week to provide guidance and make device bid adjustments an easy addition to their optimization workflow.

device bid adjustment alerts

How Does it Work?

On a weekly basis, the Device Bid Adjustment Alert will suggest either an increase or a decrease to a campaign’s base bid for each targeted device (Mobile, Tablet & Computers). The goal here is to drive more traffic (by designating more of your ad budget) to the better performing devices, while decreasing traffic and budget to the poorer performing devices.

We optimize toward CPA as the primary metric, and, for those advertisers that don’t capture conversions, we look to CTR.

device bid adjustments in wordstream

The 20-Minute Work Week will never recommend an action more drastic than a 15% increase or decrease to your current bid, but you can manually adjust your bids for mobile here.

Don’t Treat Mobile as an Afterthought

Needless to say, device bid adjustments are a great way to optimize campaign performance across devices. So why are so few businesses making use of them?

As WordStream’s head data scientist and PPC guru, Mark Irvine preaches, “the mobile PPC market is far more difficult for advertisers to be successful in than on desktop. If you don’t have a mobile strategy, you’re asking for trouble.”

For example, click-through rate falls off much more steeply on mobile devices depending on your ad rank – it’s a whopping 45% lower in position 1 than position 2. So it’s that much more important to get into position 1 for high-value searches like “emergency plumber.”

We have lots of device-specific best practices in our toolkit, but employing the advice of the Device Bid Adjustment Alert in the 20-Minute Work Week is one easy way to get started! If you’re a WordStream customer, you’ll find the alert in your 20-Minute dashboard starting this week. If you’re not a customer, you can try it out with a free trial of WordStream Advisor (or, sign up for a demo and we’ll show you everything works).

Happy adjusting!

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4 Super-Useful New AdWords Features You Need to Try

Google just unleashed a gang of new AdWords features to help you improve performance in every cranny of your paid search campaigns.

Today, I’m going to run through everything you’ll need to know to implement these super-useful changes throughout your account.

#1: Promotion Extensions

Since the advent of AdWords, folks like you and me have been forced to use their ad headlines and description to share promos with prospective patrons. No more!

We wrote about AdWords promotion extensions back in May (when they were still in beta), but Google has finally decided to release them to all advertisers.

adwords promotion extension 

Promotion extensions allow you to update (drumroll) promotions that you can append to your text ads. Whether you’re sharing a discount code or simply sharing a site-wide discount, these ad extensions will send your CTR’s skyrocketing.

Let’s say you sell the best granola in all of Vermont. Hand-rolled oats. Dried quinces. The silkiest cacao nibs. Ounces of love infused into each delicious cluster. You get the picture. Instead of creating holiday-specific ads to share your Black Friday sale with prospective customers, apply an account-level promotion extension, like so:

promotion extensions within the new adwords experience 

Sure, this’ll help your ads take up more space on the SERP and make your sale pop off the page with a neat little price tag vector and some additional bold copy. But there are some additional benefit to using promotion extensions.

Promotion extensions allow you to keep your business’s sales and promos up to date without having to adjust your ad copy. Your headlines and description can be used to boost ad relevance and you won’t have to take stalwart top-performers out of rotation (which means you aren’t starting from square one when it comes to expected CTR). Both factors mean that amplifying your holiday sale on the search network doesn’t come at the cost of lowered Quality Scores and higher CPCs.

Promotion extensions also allow you to maintain your headline CTA. Instead of foregoing “Buy now” in favor of “40% off this holiday weekend,” you’ve got space enough to say both.

#2: Ad Variations

Speaking of adjusting ad copy (for better or worse), Google has decided to give you the power to test ad variants en masse.

Note that last bit.

Any PPC practitioner worth their salt is constantly A/B testing. Unfortunately, doing so has long been a bit of a pain, having to upload multiple copies of a given ad in which single components (a headline, a CTA, the inclusion or absence of holiday cheer) are altered and rotated against a control ad to determine its effect. With ad variants, conducting this split testing is a breeze.

Provided you’re leveraging the power of the new AdWords experience (soon to be the AdWords experience, full stop), you’ve now got access to the new ad variations tab. From here, you can test and make alterations at scale, fast.

adwords ad variants create new ad variant 

Within the ad variants interface, you can:

  • Find and replace certain key words (or keywords, for that matter) in your ads
  • Update entire textual components (headlines, description, paths)
  • Invert your headlines

I’m a big fan of that last one, particularly when it comes to testing which headline should be doing the ad relevance legwork (containing your target keyword) and which should compel your prospects to act.

Oh! In the event you choose to run with ad variants, don’t forget to pay exceedingly close attention to the Experiment split section buried at the bottom of the third step (in which the most prominent actions you can take are assigning start and end dates).

 adwords ad variant set variant details

Experiment split refers to the percentage of your campaign budget that’s “allocated to your variation and the percentage of auctions your variation is eligible to participate in.” If you only want to conduct an experiment with a small subset of your advertising budget (which may very well be the case during a time of year in which many eCommerce businesses make a substantial share of their total annual profits), adjust your split accordingly.

#3: Custom Intent Audiences

The Display Network can feel like a bit of a crapshoot at times. Without either artificially limiting or diligently manicuring your ad placements, your killer banner creative goes unnoticed amid the dross of random websites that exist solely to funnel fractions of pennies to industrious basement dwellers.

This is less of an issue when it comes to remarketing, because the relative intent and previous activity of your prospects makes up for the fact that your ads may very well be floating in front of their eyeballs amid a flurry of fake news and photoshop-fueled celebrity rumors.

new adwords experience custom audiences tab 

If only there was a way to reach people on the Display Network who were actively searching for a product or service that only you could deliver…

Well, now there is!

Per Google, custom intent audiences use “Google’s machine learning technology to analyze your existing campaigns and auto-create custom intent audiences… based on the most common keywords and URLs found in content that people browse while researching a given product or service.” Once created, these new audiences will live among your other Display network audiences.

For example, here are a handful of the auto-created custom intent audiences that have surfaced in our own account:

adwords custom intent audiences auto created 

Basically, Google uses data from your AdWords campaigns, website, and YouTube channel to determine what you sell, then cross-reference that against HUMANITY to auto-generate new, qualified (at least as far as Display goes) audiences. This kind of audience creation further cements Google shift towards a Facebook-like, audience centric mode of targeting on the Display Network, in which characteristics take the place of intent as a primary means of targeting net-new prospects.

In addition to these Skynet-created targeting options, you can also generate your own custom intent audiences using a combination of URLs and keywords.

#4: Gmail Remarketing

Finally, we’ve got Gmail Remarketing. I was despondent earlier this year when I learned that Google was stripping the domain targeting feature from my beloved Gmail ads (for my money, there was no better way to rail against the competition).

The ability to remarket—and, more importantly, do so dynamically—via Gmail has turned my frown upside down.

adwords gmail ads dynamic remarketing 

Google’s calling it “an immersive shopping experience” in your prospects’ inboxes. I’m calling it a Black Friday boon. If you’re an eCommerce advertiser looking for a leg up as we approach the busiest shopping days of the calendar year, the ability to bring a prospects’ shopping cart into their inbox is just that.

About the Author

Allen Finn is a content marketing specialist and the reigning fantasy football champion at WordStream. He enjoys couth menswear, dank eats, and the dulcet tones of the Wu-Tang Clan.

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