To Access Keyword Planner, Create AdWords Account With or Without Funding

Google AdWords Keyword Plannerview at full size

You don’t need to fund your AdWords account to access the Keyword Planner.

Even if you’re not directly responsible for managing search engine optimization or search engine marketing, it is invaluable to understand search volumes on Google for keyword phrases that are relevant to your organization.

In past years, Google has allowed you to perform this keyword research in the External Keyword Tool, whether or not you were logged in to an AdWords account.

The External Keyword Tool and the related Traffic Estimator Tool are now combined into the AdWords Traffic Planner, which does require an AdWords login for access. The External Keyword Tool is scheduled to be phased out in the near future.

While you have to create an AdWords account to access the Traffic Planner, you do not have to fund the account. Even if you’re not planning to run any AdWords campaigns, sign up for AdWords so you can access the Keyword Planner.

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Identify AdWords Visits as Google Search, Partner Search, or AdSense Content Network

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Select Ad Distribution Network as a secondary dimension in the AdWords reports to display Google Search, Search Partners, or Content Network.

In the Google AdWords Campaigns and Keywords reports, you can select Ad Distribution Network as a secondary dimension to identify visits that originate from three different channels within AdWords:

• search engine results pages (SERPs) directly on Google

• search engine results pages (SERPs) on Google partner sites (such as AOL)

• AdSense ads (displayed within any site belonging to the “Content Network”

Is one channel achieving higher conversion rates or Ecommerce revenue? You can adjust your AdWords campaigns accordingly.

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Matched Search Queries Report Lists AdWords Exact, Phrase, and Broad Match Search Phrases

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Unlike the Keywords report, the Matched Search Queries report also displays Phrase and Broad match phrases.

It’s important to remember that the AdWords > Keywords report in Google Analytics lists bid phrases only. If you have bid on “hiking boots” and have allowed all three match types, visits resulting from an Exact Match for “hiking boots”, a Phrase Match for “waterproof hiking boots”, and a Broad Match for “hiking and rockclimbing boots” will all appear under “hiking boots” in the Keywords report.

If you have enabled Autotagging in your AdWords campaign, the AdWords > Matched Search Queries report lists the actual search phrases that generated the paid Google clickthroughs to your site.

You can take advantage of the data in this report in a variety of ways. You could directly bid on Phrase and Broad Match phrases to manage them more closely within AdWords and create landing pages and additional content that will be more relevant for these phrases – for those that are already converting well, and perhaps for those that are not. By including more content on your site that is relevant for these phrases, you may also increase your corresponding organic rankings and save some PPC spend.

Regardless of your specific follow-up tactics, the Matched Search Queries report can provide some fundamentally useful insights into visitor intent.

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Know Your Margins for Ecommerce and Goal Values

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Based on total goal value and Ecommerce revenue, not margin, the AdWords ROI and Margin metrics could be misleading.

To calculate the return on your marketing efforts, it’s important to know your actual margin for Ecommerce transactions and goal values.

Let’s say that your website sells tennis raquets for an average of $100USD, with a profit margin of $10USD not counting marketing expenses. If you spend $50 dollars in AdWords for each sale/conversion, the AdWords will show a very positive ROI and Margin, because it’s basing its calculations on total revenue.

In reality, however, you’d be losing $40 on each raquet (not counting the positive offset of phone sales).

Know your margins, and evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns based on margins and not on total revenue.

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Autotagging for AdWords, Campaign Parameters for Other Cost-per-Click

Enabling autotagging in AdWordsview at full size

You can link from Google AdWords to Google Analytics so your profiles can display AdWords keyword and cost data.

In a previous post about campaign tagging for inbound links from emails, we saw that the three values that Google Analytics uses by default for Medium – that is, the medium through which visitors arrive on your site – are organic, referral, and (none) for direct traffic.

CPC traffic (“cost-per-click”, also referred to as PPC, “pay-per-click”) is analogous to traffic from inbound links from emails to the extent that Google Analytics does not record a special Medium value for either type of traffic by default. As with email links, we need to make sure that CPC traffic arrives with a Medium value of its own.

It’s not surprising that Google allows data-rich campaign tracking for AdWords traffic to your site. Autotagging provides not only the usual three campaign values for Medium (“cpc” for Autotagged AdWords traffic), Source, and Campaign, but also a range of additional data such as keyword, paid ranking, and cost data. From within the Google AdWords interface, you can link AdWords to your Google Analytics profiles and then verify AdWords Cost Source within the Profile Settings.

Conversely to AdWords, and also not surprisingly, there’s no real equivalent to AdWords Autotagging for other CPC sources, such as paid Bing listings (or any other paid source). For this reason, you should make sure that inbound links from all other paid campaigns contain the manual Medium, Source and Campaign tags, which the Google URL Builder tool can help you configure.

You may also be able to include non-AdWords cost data by using the new Google Analytics Cost Data Import Tool.

Circling back to the introduction of this discussion, what happens if you don’t Autotag or campaign-tag inbound links from paid search engine listings? All resulting traffic is recorded with the “organic” Medium value, which does not help you evaluate the performance of paid traffic.

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