Adding negative Keywords can really help your performance in AdWords. Doing a search for `university places` on google.co.uk as expected throws up some ads for Uni places. However my eye was caught by the one advertiser, Google, who is promoting a different kind of `places` in this case an ad for Google Local Listing. Clearly someone has put a keyword(s) on Broad Match and has not been regularly checking the search terms that it actually triggers on. For occasional users of AdWords the idea and practice of using negatives can be difficult to grasp. This is a pretty good example where the use of a negative keyword ie `university`would dramatically lower the number of unwanted impressions resulting in a better CTR and probably lower CPC. Mind you this is likely not a real cost for whoever placed this ad.
Recently the UK government announced that over 1000 government web sites have been closed and another 615 are scheduled to close. A lot of these sites had a close relationship with the charity sector and no doubt had backlinks to various charity sector sites. It is unlikely that any of the closed sites sites have any permanent redirects (301`s) in place. This means that anyone who visits them will get a `Site Not Found ` message. At best visitors will be redirected to another government web site. Either way all the referral traffic (see Google Analytics > Traffic Sources > Referring Sites ) and the google ranking that they passed to your site via these links will be lost. This will have a real impact on traffic to many charity sites as Google gives great weight to .gov links when deciding who to rank for a particular search query.
What to do ? Go to your Webmaster Tools account and look in Your site on the web > Links to your site. Download these links to Excel and find the ones with .gov extensions. Then very politely contact the organisation and ask them to put a 301 redirect on the pages that you appeared on. Then find the new government site ( or indeed any government site) that deals with your charity or condition and ask them for a backlink to you site.
Charities and nfp`s looking for benchmark data on their web site performance will find the the recently released report on 46 government sites useful. The data is for 2009/10 and covers 46 sites with total monthly visits of 32 Million and a total cost of £127M. For each site there is a breakdown of Cost and Usage. Across the 46 sites the overall cost per visit is £ 0.22 with a Bounce Rate of 37.5%. The Average Time on Site is around 4/6 minutes (although this excludes all Bounce visits) and average monthly Unique visits per site of 690k each month. As with all data real care needs to be taken in any comparison. To get a more accurate picture I picked 10 sites where the costs are detailed and the sites have a mid range value of monthly visitors. For these 10 sites the average cost per visit was £0.07 over a total of 52M annual visits. This data is particularly useful as it is from government web sites. These more closely resemble the function and purpose of charity sites rather than commercial sites where most data comes from.
Picking one or two sites from the list that have Costs or Visits similar to yours and comparing their data to your site could be useful. For the most accurate comparison charity sites should I reckon omit data relating directly to Fundraising traffic as this differs greatly from cause related traffic and is not comparable to the data from these government sites.
The methodology used to gather the data is clearly laid out and could be a useful basis for doing an evaluation of your site. In addition there is a lot of good advice in the COI site section Measuring Web Site Quality. The section Delivering Web site objectives is useful in pointing the way towards more detailed measurable achievements giving examples such as 1. Reduced calls due to better site info 2. registrations for events and services 3. measurable user participation, etc. Mind you the COI site itself could do with seo friendly urls. Better advice about getting your web site seen by search engines would be useful too.
Demonstrating that a web site is worth the investment is not easy but hard data is the best way to do it. Showing that your site compares well using this data and that it compares well to its peers using the info provided by Google in GA will help. Proving that you can reach more people AND lower costs elsewhere are pretty powerful arguments as budgets come under scrutiny.
Google Insights for Search is useful for identifying new search trends and potential keywords for charity adwords or seo. It is particularly useful in finding new or rising search trends. AnnMarie Hill of the Google Grants Team has recently written about it. A couple of examples show how it can be used.
First, for the United Kingdom only we can compare how frequently in Web Search the terms ` volunteer` and `volunteering` were used over the Last 12 months. We can quickly see that the search term `volunteer` is almost twice as popular as `volunteering` and that January is the most popular time for searches. More data about the nature of these searches can be got by examining the searches in each Category ( shown in the red box). Note that data from the filter `All sub-regions` for the UK has very questionable accuracy and should not be used without data from other sources.
We can now look in more detail and see what the Top Searches associated with `volunteer` were.
Rising Searches (shown on the right of the image above) is particularly interesting as it shows that searches for `vodafone volunteer` is classed as Breakout which means that searches have risen by more than 5000% ! `festival volunteer ` and ` volunteer week` have also been increasing in popularity over the last 90 days.
Exploring All Categories can be useful. For charities and nfp`s in particular the Categories: Lifestyles, Society and Health give interesting insight into what searchers are looking for.
Whether you have a Grant or regular AdWords account Google has provided a clear way to improve the results you get from your AdWords spend. Quality Score (QS) has been specifically designed by Google to encourage ads more relevant to the searcher and potentially cheaper for the advertiser. Improve your QS and get more clicks for less money.
The cost per click (cpc) that the advertiser pays for a keyword is directly related to its QS. Craig Danuloff has crunched a lot of numbers to show the effect of QS on the cpc. Briefly, a QS of 7 means that you are paying the standard price for each click. For a QS below 7 you are penalised eg a QS of 4 means you will be charged a 75% Premium. However a Quality Score of 1.0 means that you get a discount of 30%. So what are the factors that Google takes into account when calculating the Quality Score for each Keyword/Ad combination. For the Search Network Google lists 8 factors. However the most significant is the Click Through Rate or CTR – specifically the CTR for the Exact Match version of the keyword. Siddharth Shah has crunched some different numbers and his show the correlation between CTR and Quality Score. The higher the CTR the higher the QS. So, a keyword CTR in the range of 2 or 3% will get you a QS of 7 but you will need a *much* higher CTR to get the magic of QS 8, 9 or 10 discounts. Looking at my own keywords with a QS of 10 ( not as many as I would like sadly ) all of them have an Exact Match CTR of over 30%. So no surprise, Google does not easily give away AdWords discounts. Typically you will only get that kind of CTR on very specialise keywords or Brand Terms.
One way to improve your CTR for a keyword is to lower the number of Impressions that do not receive a click. Identifying possible Negative keywords that will help you is an ongoing task that pays dividends. One way to find search terms that on Broad Match trigger your ad is to look in the Search Query Report. For some accounts this now shows Impressions that get no Clicks. Another way to is to enter the keyword as a search term and then check the terms shown in Google Suggest. Also some terms shown in Related Searches under More Search tools can give suitable negatives.
Note that Google makes public a linear QS scale of 1 to 10. However it is almost certain than internally they use a log scale such as the one used for Page Rank where one number is vastly greater than the previous one eg 2 is 100 times greater than 1 and so on. This means QS will in reality cover a very wide range. So when you reach the magic 7 keep improving the CTR as it is very likely that Google has a more refined internal scale and even though you cannot get above 7 your ad position and cpc may will continue to improve.