Last week my friend Linda Bustos of Elastic Path passed along a question to me from one of her legion of followers and she's graciously posted my response over at Get-Elastic, #1 eCommerce Blog in the World. The question was:
How do you maintain a keyword list when the SKU count is large and the product turnover is high?The answer is: "Very carefully." We manage campaigns for a number of companies with over 100,000 SKUs and huge product turnover rates. These folks end up with programs with millions of unique keywords and it is incumbent upon the paid search manager to make sure that the keyword list:
- Has coverage of new products;
- Ties keywords to the optimal landing pages;
- Has targeted ad copy; and
- Is purged of keywords as the products they reference drop out of stock
- Control for requiring modifiers. Imagine you sell Halloween costumes. Using garden variety tools you'll likely end up advertising on Harry Potter, Mickey Mouse, Playboy Bunny and end up wasting a ton of money before the mistakes are caught. The tool must provide the ability to automatically weed out dangerous phrases by requiring modifiers, in this example: "costume", "suit", "outfit", etc.
- De-dupe against core keywords. Because we've put more time and oversight into building the core keyword list than a simple machine can match, we should give preference to those keyword-landing page-copy combinations than to phrases generated by a product feed. Keywords generated through this process that match existing keywords should be discarded.
- Make smart landing page choices. Most product specific search terms should land on product specific pages, however the process described above will create many many keywords that aren't product specific. Because similar products may have like feature sets, keyword development tools will create many duplicate phrases. Most of the tools on the market will de-dupe internally but will simply grab one of the product urls at random for the landing page. This is a problem. It tells the user that you only have one product that responds to their search when in fact you have many. By not showing the user the full-range of choices you lose opportunity every time. Whether the search results page on the advertiser's site is better, or a category or sub-category page will depend, but a process needs to exist for a smart analyst to provide guidance. A machine will get this wrong every single time.
- Assign copy, and cluster appropriately. A dynamic process for clustering related phrases and gluing on appropriate ad copy is also important. More targeted ad copy yields better Quality Scores, and smart clustering provides important clues for a sophisticated bid management system.
- Identify other potentially high-traffic, ergo dangerous, keywords. The system should output potential new ads in a format that ranks the terms by likely traffic volume. This helps prevent overly broad keywords, studiously avoided in the core buildout, from creeping in through the back door.
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