Managing The "Short Head" of Search

You've probably heard about the "long tail" in search engine marketing - the numerous, highly specific, less popular keyword phrases that are a great source of targeted, low cost, and high converting visitors.

By examining your web analytics, you can discover and implement many of these very productive "long tail" keyword phrases used by your customers.

Executing a "long tail" strategy is critical to campaign success, but don't let it distract you from the power of search's "short head" - that handful of keywords that drive most of your cost and conversions.

You may be surprised that in most PPC campaigns there are probably less than 15 keyword phrases that account for over half of the total account spend, traffic and conversions.

What Percentage of Your PPC Spend is in the "Short Head"?

We analyzed data from a number of Google AdWords accounts to find the average percentage of PPC spend that is generated by an account's top 10 highest spending keyword phrases.

The charts below show that based on our sample, the 5 highest spending keyword phrases in a typical account comprised 52% of the total account spend. The 10 highest spending keyword phrases meanwhile accounted for 60% of the total PPC account spend

What Percentage of Your PPC Spend is in the "Short Head"?

Notice in the chart below that on average the single highest spending keyword phrase in an account typically represents over 34% of the total PPC account spend.

Spend Most of Your Time Where Your Time Matters Most

As the "short head" of your search campaigns, that handful of phrases obviously carries a lot of weight in determining the success or failure of your account. Every search marketer should know what his top 10 highest spending keywords are and be aggressively testing, measuring and evaluating numerous ad creative and landing page variations.

For those of you who advertise in Yahoo Search Marketing, be sure to flag these keyword phrases on your "watch list" so you can easily manage them from your dashboard.

Conversion Analyst provides an easy to use report that will identify your highest spending keyword phrases. Find that report in 5 easy steps:

  • After logging into your Conversion Analyst account, select the appropriate date range.
  • In the Reports section, select Marketing, Campaign Summary.
  • Click on the plus sign next to "Paid Search" to see all of the paid search campaigns.
  • To view the activity by keyword phrase, place your mouse over the magnifying glass and select "Show Search Listings".
  • On the next screen click on the down arrow button next to the Cost column to sort by cost descending.

There are a couple other key metrics on this report you'll want to look at when optimizing these keyword phrases.

An indication of the effectiveness of your landing page is measured by the bounce rate - the percentage of visitors who land on your landing page and then exit without going any further into the site. The bounce rates associated with your "short head" keyword phrases should be the lowest values on your report.

And, if you're an Ecommerce site, you'll want to pay close attention to your return on ad spend (ROAS = Revenue/click costs). This metric is a more accurate reflection of the profitability of your keyword phrases than CPA because it also takes into account the revenue generated from those keyword phrases.

Total Body Management - The Essence of Successful Search Marketing

A combined approach of appropriately managing the "short head" and the "long tail" of your accounts is obviously a sound strategy. Allocate your time and testing resources based on the potential return. Be sure not to get carried away by the seemingly endless possibilities of the "long tail" at the expense of your highest spending "short head" keyword phrases.



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