With no option to adjust search partner and google search bids separately and the inability to exclude specific search partner channels, allowing campaigns to run with search partners enabled has become a default ‘no go’ for many PPC marketers. However, what if I told you that search partners can work, and even more drastically, it should almost always be allowed to run as a trial in any new account? Well, that’s exactly what I am going to tell you.
Why Enable Search Partners?
All good PPC marketing has to involve a degree of trial and error. Yet, this seems to hardly be extended to Google search partners. Search partners isn’t automatically a ‘bad choice’ for all campaigns, as we all know that the point of developing strategy is to try out different techniques to find what works. Included within a strategy should be experimentation with search partners.
Of course, with any experimentation the concern can be that the cost of trying something new will outweigh the results. However, search partners is a relatively low cost channel as traffic is significantly lower than that of the search results. Therefore, with close monitoring search partners can in fact prove to be a relatively cheap way of expanding the reach of your current campaigns.
It’s also worth remembering that search partners is individually applied to campaigns. Meaning that although it may not work for a campaign which targets a more specific area of the business or keywords it could work for more generic campaigns. Again, this is something worth experimenting with.
The Big Benefits of Search Partners
I used to think that search partners should always be disabled as a default setting. However when I finally did decide to try out the feature for a lead focused client the results were pleasantly surprising. Despite the fact that the lead volume produced by search partners was lower, the CPA was around half of what it was for search.
With that said, whether you are an, e-commerce or lead gen business, or manage accounts for both, then search partners can be a good and easy win. If you’re an ecommerce client and have a heavy focus upon brand then search partners is definitely worth considering especially because research has found that search partner clicks are more likely to convert than Google.com clicks – which inevitably gives a boost to revenue and ROI. On the other hand, if you are a lead gen business with a focus on maintaining a low CPA then search partners can actually be a very powerful means to help achieve this goal.
The big caveat to this is that the CPC’s on Search Partners tend to be marginally higher than clicks on google.com. However, as my above states, those clicks can still yield a good return on investment or lead generation. If you need more control of spend and budget then a work around to these higher CPC’s is to create a duplicate campaign. You’d want to disable search partners from the original campaign and keep your original bids, and then within the duplicate, enable search partners but decrease all bids significantly. What this will means is that your original campaign will likely still receive all of the search traffic, as Google will always choose higher bids over lower ones, but you can show in the search partners channel at a reduced cost.
(Image credit: Unsplash)
A Word Of Warning: Search Query Filtering
When you filter your search queries, search partners will form part of your search queries. You might get some search queries that look weirdly specific such as ‘hyundai hyundai getz cars vans and vehicles automotive’. This is because Google has to attribute something to the search query which usually means the links the user has taken to get to your page.
There are many different techniques at the hand of paid searchers which analyse the queries that are pulled through in a search term report. There are a number of scripts available online, but here at Impression, we often use a custom tool that allows us to split our search terms into individual words and strings and analyse performance at a very granular level. Of course, the issue with this is that those weird search partner queries are included and counted in those strings. To avoid this happening we’d recommend that you try to exclude these terms before you pull your data. If that isn’t possible, you could add a column to a sheet with the longest string and use an IF function to fail a string containing lots of characters.
For example if your search terms equals:
You could create an additional column with the formula
Which with a little tweaking here and there would then ‘fail’ anything over a specified length. Since search partners terms are almost always above 60 characters this will mostly flag any of those search partner queries whilst other long-tail search terms would be kept within the ‘pass’ range.
Within Adwords UI you also have the option to exclude queries based on the number of impressions or clicks. Search partner related queries will usually have low clicks and impressions, but so can a lot of genuine search terms. It’s worth having a play around with both workarounds and finding what works the most efficiently for your account. Having said this, you don’t want to immediately dismiss these queries and assume that they are all wasting money. It’s worth analysing them on as much of an individual basis as you can. Bear in mind that even if these weird and long queries are popping up without converting, they will likely be spending considerably less than ‘real’ search terms.
(Gif courtesy of Twin Peaks. God bless you Dale Cooper)
In summary I have come to believe that search partners shouldn’t be something I immediately dismiss from any account strategy. Whether you have an ecommerce or lead gen based service, search partners can lend you a very welcoming hand in terms of producing extra volume at a low CPA.