Diversify Your Search Portfolio

Anyone that has ever dabbled in investing their hard earned savings into trading stocks has been forewarned… Be Diversified.  Investment diversification is so very important to success because each financial instrument reacts differently to external market forces.  When one of these external market forces throws off the performance of one your investments, a diversified portfolio can react with their counter-performing investments.

I know, you are asking how does this relate to SEM?  Well imagine that you are only concentrating your efforts on Google Search and neglecting to research how your account would perform on MSN, Yahoo or even through Content/Display Advertising.  What happens when an external force (new competitor, new guideline change, bidding war) causes your performance to tank?  Without a diversified search portfolio, you are at the mercy of Google and turnaround/adjustment time can intensify.  So how do you know what search engines to diversify? Ask yourself or your SEM team the following:

Where are my competitors?

With the use of some internal tools, our team is able to take your keywords and scrape Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL and Ask.com to see what competitors have a presence there, what impression share they are getting and what keywords/ad copy/landing page strategy they are using.

Brand Contribution will allow you to have insights on what competitors are bidding on your main terms for each of the mentioned Search Engines above and what share of impressions they are getting.  This is important because if a majority of your main competitors are on another engine, wouldn’t you want to gain presence there as well?

What type of visitor am I targeting?

Another issue that is important to understand is what type of visitor is most qualified.  A good example of this is in relation to targeting B2B traffic, expanding to Yahoo because of search volume may not always be the best move.  Instead looking into engines like MSN (Bing/MSN is the default engine in IE which tends to cause a lot of business traffic) and Business .com might be the best way to get the qualified traffic you are looking to expand.

Another example of expanding to diversify may be seen in branding efforts.  If you want to push your brand, using search networks like Google, Yahoo and MSN is not always the best avenue to push branding efforts.  The reason being, Search traffic is more for demand fulfillment where it meets the instant need/demand that a visitor already has.  I need “new shoes”  today, I will go to a search engine and type in the term “new shoes”, then look for the best pricing/shipping/benefits available.  The brand may weigh into my decision but I have a demand and the benefits can outweigh this option.

For branding, however, you may want to target Content Networks (Google, Yahoo and MSN), Social Networking (Facebook PPC) and Display Advertising Networks (Yahoo Display, Quigo) where your goal is to actually generate demand.  This is where a good branding effort and understanding the available networks and how to use them to diversify is very important.  In the cases above, by branding properly you can actually push your branded searches and have visitors bypass the category search, in the case of our example instead of searching “new shoes”, the visitor would see your ad and search “nike shoes” if you were Nike.

Where am I performing well now?

One of the most overlook ways to diversify is through what you are already finding success in.  When starting a Google Campaign, by default you are opted in to the “Search Partners” networks which are other search engines that serve Google Ads.  The main search engines that are on the “Search Partners” are:

  • Ask.com
  • AOL.com
  • Dogpile.com

What we tend to see is that clients who are on the Search Partners Network either perform extremely well or they don’t. When the conversion stats via the Search Partners Network are performing much better than on Google’s Network.  The tricky part is that your control of bidding, negative keywords and ad copy is very limited when you go through Google however the insights show that you are performing well.  Our team has found success in taking accounts that are successful on Google’s Search Partners to the search engines themselves, starting with Ask.com and AOL.com, so that we can be more aggressive in our strategy.   By going to the search engines themselves you are able to have better targeted:

  • Bids
  • Ad Copy
  • Landing Pages (when necessary)

By giving yourself as much control as possible the Search Partner Networks, you are allowing your success to expand ten-fold.

Overall, Google will dominate the SEM world in terms of search volume and it is the preferred Search Engine of most people.  This can cause many people to solely rely on Google for results and not look to diversify their search portfolio.  There is no telling when Google performance can take a turn for the worse due to one of many external market forces which can cause your online sales or leads to crumble along with it.  By diversifying your portfolio, and growing on other engines that can bring in qualified traffic you are strengthening your defense against any of these external forces and giving your business another source of sales and leads while the proper adjustments can be made to get your Google Account back on track.  If you have any questions about what engines may be best for you, please do not hesitate to contact one of our specialists for more information….