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The Best SEO Conferences For 2023 (Virtual And In-Person)

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The Best SEO Conferences For 2023 (Virtual And In-Person)

As an industry in a constant state of flux – thanks to changing algorithms, user needs, and competitor content – search engine optimization is a field that demands professionals stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices.

While you could spend hours scouring the internet for valuable articles, forum discussions, and the like, there’s a better way to gain new knowledge and grow your network simultaneously: SEO conferences.

And one of the best places to reap the benefits of this – not to mention grow your network – is at an SEO conference.

There you’ll find a circle of industry experts who have insight into the latest information in the world of search engines, shared strategies, and new ideas you can implement into your efforts to climb to the top of search rankings.

To help you decide which ones you should attend, we’ve compiled a list of the best SEO conferences in 2023.

Whether you’re a road warrior who wants to attend as many events as possible, or an introvert who only wants to attend digitally, there are sure to be several conferences that fit your needs.

So, with no further ado, here is our list of the best online and in-person SEO conferences this year.

SEO Events For 2023

Here are some SEO conferences and events coming up this year. Mark your calendar now so you don’t miss them.

Pubcon 2023

Date: February 27th-28th, 2023.

Format: In-person.

Location: Austin, TX.

Speakers: Gary Illyes, Brett Tabke, Fabrice Canel, and many others.

Cost: $1,499.

About: Pubcon, a “fullstack marketing conference,” is in its 21st year. This two-day, in-person event features keynotes from Google and Bing and a packed schedule of conference sessions. Based on your interest, choose between organic SEO, Mar. Tech tools and analytics, marketing potpourri, and content marketing / Amazon.

The eCommerce & Omnichannel Retail Conference

Date: February 27-March 2, 2023.

Format: In-person with on-demand available for a limited time following events.

Location: Palm Springs, CA.

Speakers: Angela Hsu, Christie Raymond, Terry Roberts, and Dave Spector, among many others.

Cost: In-person starting at $2,099.

About: With a focus on digital commerce, this event is a four-day retreat designed to help ecommerce and omnichannel stores uncover new ways to maximize profits from some of America’s most successful retailers. Check out the full series of conferences throughout the year in Boston, Toronto, Canada, and London, England.

Searchlove 2023

Date: San Diego, March 13-14; Philadelphia, TBD.

Format: In-person.

Location: San Diego, CA; Philadelphia, PA.

Speakers: Carrie Rose, Rand Fishkin, and Wil Reynolds, among others.

Cost: From $999.

About: Searchlove brings together some of the foremost experts in digital marketing. Topics ranging from analytics to optimization and content to paid advertising are all covered at this education and networking event.

Social Media Marketing World

Date: March 13-15, 2023

Format: In-person and on-demand.

Location: San Diego, CA.

Speakers: Michael Stelzner, Kat Norton, Millie Adrian, Pat Flynn, and many others.

Cost: In-person starting at $1,497; streaming for $697; on-demand for $997.

About: Bringing together top social media marketing pros, this conference is not directly focused on SEO, but features sessions on organic social marketing, paid social marketing, social strategy, content marketing, and several workshops.

It strives to immediately provide attendees with ideas they can implement for their clients or business.

Adobe Summit

Date: March 21-23, 2023

Format: In-person, on-demand sessions available

Location: Las Vegas, NV

Speakers: Aaron Sorkin, Anil Chakravarthy, Deena Bahri, Sebastien Deguy, Shantanu Narayen, Rosalind Brewer, John Donahoe, Gail McGovern, and Kristen Bell, among others.

Cost: $2,095 with various discounts available, on-demand sessions after the event are free.

About: The Adobe summit features a massive variety of guests and keynotes, including actors, producers, CEOs, and Olympians. The in-person conference includes sessions, hands-on labs, meals, and evening events. You can register for the virtual summit for free to access keynotes and speaking sessions after the event.

B2B Marketing Expo 2023

Date: September 20-21, 2023.

Format: In-person.

Location: Los Angeles, CA.

Speakers: Marie-Elizabeth Telfort M.S., Priscilla Castro, Rick Contreras, Ryan Ross, Jake Konner, and many others.

Cost: Free.

About: Featuring education masterclasses for marketing professionals, this annual conference covers a variety of tracks, including advertising and promotion, content and experience, and commerce and sales.

Hundreds of suppliers and speakers will be on hand to discuss the state of the industry and recent happenings.

Friends Of Search Fest

Date: March 23, 2023.

Format: In-person.

Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Speakers: Fleur Verwijs, Michel Nienhuis, Simo Ahava, and Lily Ray, among others.

Cost: Starting from €598,95.

About: This year marks the 10th anniversary of Friends of Search – one of Europe’s largest search conferences. The event brings together consultants, marketers, and business owners to share their insights on SEO, PPC, and digital marketing.

This three-day event will feature sessions designed to provide attendees with actionable insights and the latest information from industry experts.

Ad World

Date: March 29-30, 2023.

Format: Online.

Location: Virtual.

Speakers: Seth Godin, Rand Fishkin, and Antonis Kocheilas, among many others.

Cost: From $799.

About: This virtual event, which bills itself as “the world’s largest online advertising event,” features 8 digital advertising tracks. Each has focused speeches, panels, and live Q&A sessions to help attendees gain valuable knowledge.

Brighton SEO

Date: April 20-21 and May 4-5, 2023.

Format: In-person and online.

Location: Brighton, U.K.

Speakers: Are AbuAli, Abhishek Lakhera, and Adriana Stein, among others.

Cost: In-person starts at £205; virtual – free.

About: This twice-yearly conference is attended by thousands of digital marketers worldwide. It features training workshops, sessions on niche topics, social networking events, and talks from experts.

Confab

Date: April 30-May 3, 2023.

Format: In-person.

Location: Minneapolis, MN.

Speakers: Gavin Austin, Rebekah Baggs, and Vidhika Bansal, among many others.

Cost: In-person starting from $1,795; virtual recordings only for $695.

About: The Confab Conference is an annual event covering everything from UX to content, accessibility, and structure. It brings together industry experts and thought leaders to help digital marketers upgrade their skills.

Last year’s conference recordings are available for sale on Confab’s website.

MnSearch Summit

Date: June 15-16, 2023.

Format: In-person.

Location: St. Paul, MN.

Speakers: TBD.

Cost: Early bird rates: $264-697; regular rates $374-$1,197.

About: MnSearch Summit is two days of learning and networking with thought leaders from the digital marketing industry. It includes workshops, sessions, and events focused on SEO, PPC, social media, and analytics, among other topics.

Growth Marketing Summit 2023

Date: June 22, 2023.

Format: In-person.

Location: Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Speakers: Marianne Stjernvall, Colin McFarland, Steven van Belleghem, and others.

Cost: Early bird rate from €599.

About: Assembling growth marketers and digital professionals worldwide, this single-day event features world-class speakers sharing their expertise on flexible and data-driven marketing solutions.

MozCon 2023

Date: August 7-8, 2023.

Format: In-person or live streaming.

Location: Seattle, WA.

Speakers: Amanda Jordan, Andi Jarvis, and Brie E. Anderson, among others.

Cost: Early bird in-person tickets start at $699; livestream only for $199.

About: The annual digital marketing conference hosted by Moz, this conference features networking and expert sessions from SEO industry leaders, as well as experts in mobile search, conversion optimization, and search marketing.

Engage (formerly SearchFest)

Date: August 11, 2023.

Format: In-person.

Location: Portland, OR.

Speakers: Lily Ray, Cindy Krum, Rand Fishkin, Marty Weintraub.

Cost: Starting at $199.

About: Engage Marketing Conference is a one-day digital marketing conference featuring informative learning tracks and panel sessions designed to provide expert insight into the latest strategies and technological advancements in digital marketing, social media, content, UX/design, creative, advertising, SEO, paid media, and more!

INBOUND 2023

Date: September 5-8, 2023.

Format: In-person or online.

Location: Boston, MA.

Speakers: TBD.

Cost: In-person from $899 for September 6-8; from $1,699 for the September 5-8 VIP pass.

About: This annual event is powered by HubSpot, bringing together global thought leaders for a hybrid conference discussing marketing, sales, and customer success operations.

It covers a wide range of topics and gives attendees the opportunity to network and learn from some of the best in the business.

Content Marketing World

Date: September 26-29, 2023.

Format: In-person or online.

Location: Washington, DC.

Speakers: Lenox Powell, Kelly Johnson, and Ann Handley, among others.

Cost: In-person early bird rates start at $1099; digital pass from $799. Regular rates $1,599 and $899.

About: Over four days, attendees will learn strategies for building winning SEO teams, systems, and processes. With more than 100 sessions, workshops, and industry forums, you can choose the topics and sessions that are relevant to you.

Thousands of marketers and representatives from numerous global brands will be in attendance.

ADworld Experience

Date: October 5-6, 2023.

Format: In-person and online.

Location: Bologna, Italy.

Speakers: TBD.

Cost: Early bird price starts from €169, regular price starting at €650.

About: Bringing together PPC experts from across the globe for the largest paid ad and conversion rate optimization event in Europe – and the largest real PPC-based conference in the world.

State Of Search 2022

Date: October 23-24, 2023.

Format: In-person and online.

Location: Richardson, TX.

Speakers: TBD.

Cost: In-person – $397; online – $197.

About: The State of Search brings together top speakers from the digital marketing field to cover various topics, from search engine optimization to emerging technology, lead generation, and display advertising.

DMO Advanced 2023

Date: October 24-26, 2023.

Format: In-person.

Location: Napa Valley, CA.

Speakers: Lily Ray, Patrick Stox, and Atiba De Souza, among others.

Cost: $1,599.00.

About: Digital Marketers Organization will again host their advanced digital marketing event, blending interactive and educational sessions with networking opportunities.

There will be numerous sessions specifically designed for SEO, including information on technical debt, localization, and internationalization.

DigiMarCon

Date: On-going throughout 2023.

Format: In-person and online.

Location: Various global locations.

Cost: In-person starting at $597; virtual from $295.

About: DigiMarCon offers a range of events throughout the year, both virtual and in-person conferences in various global locations. Digital Marketing Conferences is a global series of events bringing together thought leaders from the digital marketing, media, and advertising industries.

These conferences focus on emerging strategies, the latest technology, recent best practices, networking, and collaboration.

Great SEO Pros Never Stop Learning

For an SEO professional, experience is important – but not nearly as vital as staying up to date.

While you can keep an eye on what’s going on in the world of search engines, paid advertising, and digital marketing by reading expert publications (like this one, for example), it’s also great to meet with other people who are performing the same job.

This gives you a chance not just to interact with them, but to ask questions and develop relationships that could reap rewards far down the line. And SEO conferences are a great place to do this.

So, whether you’re trying to brush up on the basics, identify the latest techniques, or just take a trip on the company dime, the above events are a great place to start.

Include Your SEO Conference

This article is updated whenever possible to reflect frequent changes to event schedules and details.

If you’re hosting an upcoming SEO event and want it listed, please email our editor with the following information:

  • Conference name.
  • URL.
  • Date.
  • Whether your event is virtual or in-person.
  • Location (if applicable).
  • Noteworthy speakers.
  • Two-three sentences describing the conference (see content examples above).
  • Registration cost.

Featured Image: Composite image created by Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal; image sourced from Jacob Lund/Shutterstock



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Google Dials Back AI Overviews In Search Results, Study Finds

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Photo of a mobile device in mans hand with generative google AI Overview on the screen.

According to new research, Google’s AI-generated overviews have undergone significant adjustments since the initial rollout.

The study from SE Ranking analyzed 100,000 keywords and found Google has greatly reduced the frequency of AI overviews.

However, when they appear, they’re more detailed than they were previously.

The study digs into which topics and industries are more likely to get an AI overview. It also looks at how the AI snippets interact with other search features like featured snippets and ads.

Here’s an overview of the findings and what they mean for your SEO efforts.

Declining Frequency Of AI Overviews

In contrast to pre-rollout figures, 8% of the examined searches now trigger an AI Overview.

This represents a 52% drop compared to January levels.

Yevheniia Khromova, the study’s author, believes this means Google is taking a more measured approach, stating:

“The sharp decrease in AI Overview presence likely reflects Google’s efforts to boost the accuracy and trustworthiness of AI-generated answers.”

Longer AI Overviews

Although the frequency of AI overviews has decreased, the ones that do appear provide more detailed information.

The average length of the text has grown by nearly 25% to around 4,342 characters.

In another notable change, AI overviews now link to fewer sources on average – usually just four links after expanding the snippet.

However, 84% still include at least one domain from that query’s top 10 organic search results.

Niche Dynamics & Ranking Factors

The chances of getting an AI overview vary across different industries.

Searches related to relationships, food and beverages, and technology were most likely to trigger AI overviews.

Sensitive areas like healthcare, legal, and news had a low rate of showing AI summaries, less than 1%.

Longer search queries with ten words were more likely to generate an AI overview, with a 19% rate indicating that AI summaries are more useful for complex information needs.

Search terms with lower search volumes and lower cost-per-click were more likely to display AI summaries.

Other Characteristics Of AI Overviews

The research reveals that 45% of AI overviews appear alongside featured snippets, often sourced from the exact domains.

Around 87% of AI overviews now coexist with ads, compared to 73% previously, a statistic that could increase competition for advertising space.

What Does This Mean?

SE Ranking’s research on AI overviews has several implications:

  1. Reduced Risk Of Traffic Losses: Fewer searches trigger AI Overviews that directly answer queries, making organic listings less likely to be demoted or receive less traffic.
  2. Most Impacted Niches: AI overviews appear more in relationships, food, and technology niches. Publishers in these sectors should pay closer attention to Google’s AI overview strategy.
  3. Long-form & In-Depth Content Essential: As AI snippets become longer, companies may need to create more comprehensive content beyond what the overviews cover.

Looking Ahead

While the number of AI overviews has decreased recently, we can’t assume this trend will continue.

AI overviews will undoubtedly continue to transform over time.

It’s crucial to monitor developments closely, try different methods of dealing with them, and adjust game plans as needed.


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10 Tips on How to Rock a Small PPC Budget

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10 Tips on How to Rock a Small PPC Budget

Many advertisers have a tight budget for pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, making it challenging to maximize results.

One of the first questions that often looms large is, “How much should we spend?” It’s a pivotal question, one that sets the stage for the entire PPC strategy.

Read on for tips to get started or further optimize budgets for your PPC program to maximize every dollar spent.

1. Set Expectations For The Account

With a smaller budget, managing expectations for the size and scope of the account will allow you to keep focus.

A very common question is: How much should our company spend on PPC?

To start, you must balance your company’s PPC budget with the cost, volume, and competition of keyword searches in your industry.

You’ll also want to implement a well-balanced PPC strategy with display and video formats to engage consumers.

First, determine your daily budget. For example, if the monthly budget is $2,000, the daily budget would be set at $66 per day for the entire account.

The daily budget will also determine how many campaigns you can run at the same time in the account because that $66 will be divided up among all campaigns.

Be aware that Google Ads and Microsoft Ads may occasionally exceed the daily budget to maximize results. The overall monthly budget, however, should not exceed the Daily x Number of Days in the Month.

Now that we know our daily budget, we can focus on prioritizing our goals.

2. Prioritize Goals

Advertisers often have multiple goals per account. A limited budget will also limit the number of campaigns – and the number of goals – you should focus on.

Some common goals include:

  • Brand awareness.
  • Leads.
  • Sales.
  • Repeat sales.

In the example below, the advertiser uses a small budget to promote a scholarship program.

They are using a combination of leads (search campaign) and awareness (display campaign) to divide up a daily budget of $82.

Screenshot from author, May 2024

The next several features can help you laser-focus campaigns to allocate your budget to where you need it most.

Remember, these settings will restrict traffic to the campaign. If you aren’t getting enough traffic, loosen up/expand the settings.

3. Location Targeting

Location targeting is a core consideration in reaching the right audience and helps manage a small ad budget.

To maximize a limited budget, you should focus on only the essential target locations where your customers are located.

While that seems obvious, you should also consider how to refine that to direct the limited budget to core locations. For example:

  • You can refine location targeting by states, cities, ZIP codes, or even a radius around your business.
  • Choosing locations to target should be focused on results.
  • The smaller the geographic area, the less traffic you will get, so balance relevance with budget.
  • Consider adding negative locations where you do not do business to prevent irrelevant clicks that use up precious budget.

If the reporting reveals targeted locations where campaigns are ineffective, consider removing targeting to those areas. You can also try a location bid modifier to reduce ad serving in those areas.

managing ppc budget by location interactionScreenshot by author from Google Ads, May 2024

4. Ad Scheduling

Ad scheduling also helps to control budget by only running ads on certain days and at certain hours of the day.

With a smaller budget, it can help to limit ads to serve only during hours of business operation. You can choose to expand that a bit to accommodate time zones and for searchers doing research outside of business hours.

If you sell online, you are always open, but review reporting for hourly results over time to determine if there are hours of the day with a negative return on investment (ROI).

Limit running PPC ads if the reporting reveals hours of the day when campaigns are ineffective.

Manage a small ppc budget by hour of dayScreenshot by author from Google Ads, May 2024

5. Set Negative Keywords

A well-planned negative keyword list is a golden tactic for controlling budgets.

The purpose is to prevent your ad from showing on keyword searches and websites that are not a good match for your business.

  • Generate negative keywords proactively by brainstorming keyword concepts that may trigger ads erroneously.
  • Review query reports to find irrelevant searches that have already led to clicks.
  • Create lists and apply to the campaign.
  • Repeat on a regular basis because ad trends are always evolving!

6. Smart Bidding

Smart Bidding is a game-changer for efficient ad campaigns. Powered by Google AI, it automatically adjusts bids to serve ads to the right audience within budget.

The AI optimizes the bid for each auction, ideally maximizing conversions while staying within your budget constraints.

Smart bidding strategies available include:

  • Maximize Conversions: Automatically adjust bids to generate as many conversions as possible for the budget.
  • Target Return on Ad Spend (ROAS): This method predicts the value of potential conversions and adjusts bids in real time to maximize return.
  • Target Cost Per Action (CPA): Advertisers set a target cost-per-action (CPA), and Google optimizes bids to get the most conversions within budget and the desired cost per action.

7. Try Display Only Campaigns

display ads for small ppc budgetsScreenshot by author from Google Ads, May 2024

For branding and awareness, a display campaign can expand your reach to a wider audience affordably.

Audience targeting is an art in itself, so review the best options for your budget, including topics, placements, demographics, and more.

Remarketing to your website visitors is a smart targeting strategy to include in your display campaigns to re-engage your audience based on their behavior on your website.

Let your ad performance reporting by placements, audiences, and more guide your optimizations toward the best fit for your business.

audience targeting options for small ppc budgetScreenshot by Lisa Raehsler from Google Ads, May 2024

8. Performance Max Campaigns

Performance Max (PMax) campaigns are available in Google Ads and Microsoft Ads.

In short, automation is used to maximize conversion results by serving ads across channels and with automated ad formats.

This campaign type can be useful for limited budgets in that it uses AI to create assets, select channels, and audiences in a single campaign rather than you dividing the budget among multiple campaign types.

Since the success of the PMax campaign depends on the use of conversion data, that data will need to be available and reliable.

9. Target Less Competitive Keywords

Some keywords can have very high cost-per-click (CPC) in a competitive market. Research keywords to compete effectively on a smaller budget.

Use your analytics account to discover organic searches leading to your website, Google autocomplete, and tools like Google Keyword Planner in the Google Ads account to compare and get estimates.

In this example, a keyword such as “business accounting software” potentially has a lower CPC but also lower volume.

Ideally, you would test both keywords to see how they perform in a live campaign scenario.

comparing keywords for small ppc budgetsScreenshot by author from Google Ads, May 2024

10. Manage Costly Keywords

High volume and competitive keywords can get expensive and put a real dent in the budget.

In addition to the tip above, if the keyword is a high volume/high cost, consider restructuring these keywords into their own campaign to monitor and possibly set more restrictive targeting and budget.

Levers that can impact costs on this include experimenting with match types and any of the tips in this article. Explore the opportunity to write more relevant ad copy to these costly keywords to improve quality.

Every Click Counts

As you navigate these strategies, you will see that managing a PPC account with a limited budget isn’t just about monetary constraints.

Rocking your small PPC budgets involves strategic campaign management, data-driven decisions, and ongoing optimizations.

In the dynamic landscape of paid search advertising, every click counts, and with the right approach, every click can translate into meaningful results.

More resources: 


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What Are They Really Costing You?

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What Are They Really Costing You?

This post was sponsored by Adpulse. The opinions expressed in this article are the sponsor’s own.

As managers of paid media, one question drives us all: “How do I improve paid ad performance?”. 

Given that our study found close variant search terms perform poorly, yet more than half of the average budget on Google & Microsoft Ads is being spent on them, managing their impact effectively could well be one of your largest optimization levers toward driving significant improvements in ROI. 

“Close variants help you connect with people who are looking for your business, despite slight variations in the way they search.” support.google.com

Promising idea…but what about the execution?

We analyzed over 4.5 million clicks and 400,000 conversions to answer this question: With the rise in close variants (intent matching) search terms, what impact are they having on budgets and account performance? Spoiler alert, the impact is substantial. 


True Match Vs. Close Variants: How Do They Perform?

To understand close variant (CV) performance, we must first define the difference between a true match and a close variant. 

 

What Is a True Match? 

We still remember the good-old-days where keyword match types gave you control over the search terms they triggered, so for this study we used the literal match types to define ‘close variant’ vs ‘true match’. 

  • Exact match keyword => search term matches the keyword exactly. 
  • Phrase match keyword => search term must contain the keyword (same word order).
  • Broad match keyword => search term must contain every individual word in the keyword, but the word order does not matter (the way modified broad match keywords used to work).   

 

What Is a Close Variant? 

If you’re not familiar with close variants (intent matching) search terms, think of them as search terms that are ‘fuzzy matched’ to the keywords you are actually bidding on. 

Some of these close variants are highly relevant and represent a real opportunity to expand your keywords in a positive way. 

Some are close-ish, but the conversions are expensive. 

And (no shocks here) some are truly wasteful. 

….Both Google and Microsoft Ads do this, and you can’t opt-out.

To give an example: if you were a music therapist, you might bid on the phrase match keyword “music therapist”. An example of a true match search term would be ‘music therapist near me’ because it contains the keyword in its true form (phrase match in this case) and a CV might be ‘music and art therapy’.


How Do Close Variants Compare to True Match?

Short answer… poorly, on both Google and Microsoft Ads. Interestingly however, Google showed the worst performance on both metrics assessed, CPA and ROAS. 

Image created by Adpulse, May 2024

1718772963 395 What Are They Really Costing You

Image created by Adpulse, May 2024

Want to see the data – jump to it here…

CVs have been embraced by both platforms with (as earlier stated), on average more than half of your budget being spent on CV variant matches. That’s a lot of expansion to reach searches you’re not directly bidding for, so it’s clearly a major driver of performance in your account and, therefore, deserving of your attention. 

We anticipated a difference in metrics between CVs and true match search terms, since the true match search terms directly align with the keywords you’re bidding on, derived from your intimate knowledge of the business offering. 

True match conversions should therefore be the low-hanging fruit, leaving the rest for the platforms to find via CVs. Depending on the cost and ROI, this isn’t inherently bad, but logically we would assume CVs would perform worse than true matches, which is exactly what we observed. 


How Can You Limit Wastage on Close Variants?

You can’t opt out of them, however, if your goal is to manage their impact on performance, you can use these three steps to move the needle in the right direction. And of course, if you’re relying on CVs to boost volume, you’ll need to take more of a ‘quality-screening’ rather than a hard-line ‘everything-must-go’ approach to your CV clean out!

 

Step 1: Diagnose Your CV Problem 

We’re a helpful bunch at Adpulse so while we were scoping our in-app solution, we built a simple spreadsheet that you can use to diagnose how healthy your CVs are. Just make a copy, paste in your keyword and search term data then run the analysis for yourself. Then you can start to clean up any wayward CVs identified. Of course, by virtue of technology, it’s both faster and more advanced in the Adpulse Close Variant Manager 😉.

 

Step 2: Suggested Campaign Structures for Easier CV Management  

Brand Campaigns

If you don’t want competitors or general searches being matched to your brand keywords, this strategy will solve for that. 

Set up one ad group with your exact brand keyword/s, and another ad group with phrase brand keyword/s, then employ the negative keyword strategies in Step 3 below. You might be surprised at how many CVs have nothing to do with your brand, and identifying variants (and adding negative keywords) becomes easy with this structure.

Don’t forget to add your phrase match brand negatives to non-brand campaigns (we love negative lists for this).

Non-Brand Campaigns with Larger Budgets

We suggest a campaign structure with one ad group per match type:

Example Ad Groups:

    • General Plumbers – Exact
    • General Plumbers – Phrase
    • General Plumbers – Broad
    • Emergency Plumbers – Exact
    • Emergency Plumbers – Phrase
    • Emergency Plumbers – Broad

This allows you to more easily identify variants so you can eliminate them quickly. This also allows you to find new keyword themes based on good quality CVs, and add them easily to the campaign. 

Non-Brand Campaigns with Smaller Budgets

Smaller budgets mean the upside of having more data per ad group outweighs the upside of making it easier to trim unwanted CVs, so go for a simpler theme-based ad group structure:

Example Ad Groups:

    • General Plumbers
    • Emergency Plumbers

 

Step 3: Ongoing Actions to Tame Close Variants

Adding great CVs as keywords and poor CVs as negatives on a regular basis is the only way to control their impact.

For exact match ad groups we suggest adding mainly root negative keywords. For example, if you were bidding on [buy mens walking shoes] and a CV appeared for ‘mens joggers’, you could add the single word “joggers” as a phrase/broad match negative keyword, which would prevent all future searches that contain joggers. If you added mens joggers as a negative keyword, other searches that contain the word joggers would still be eligible to trigger. 

In ad groups that contain phrase or broad match keywords you shouldn’t use root negatives unless you’re REALLY sure that the root negative should never appear in any search term. You’ll probably find that you use the whole search term added as an exact match negative much more often than using root negs.


The Proof: What (and Why) We Analyzed

We know CVs are part of the conversations marketers frequently have, and by virtue of the number of conversations we have with agencies each week, we’ve witnessed the increase of CV driven frustration amongst marketers. 

Internally we reached a tipping point and decided to data dive to see if it just felt like a large problem, or if it actually IS a large enough problem that we should devote resources to solving it in-app. First stop…data. 

Our study of CV performance started with thousands of Google and Microsoft Ads accounts, using last 30-day data to May 2024, filtered to exclude:

  • Shopping or DSA campaigns/Ad Groups.
  • Accounts with less than 10 conversions.
  • Accounts with a conversion rate above 50%.
  • For ROAS comparisons, any accounts with a ROAS below 200% or above 2500%.

Search terms in the study are therefore from keyword-based search campaigns where those accounts appear to have a reliable conversion tracking setup and have enough conversion data to be individually meaningful.

The cleaned data set comprised over 4.5 million clicks and 400,000 conversions (over 30 days) across Google and Microsoft Ads; a large enough data set to answer questions about CV performance with confidence.

Interestingly, each platform appears to have a different driver for their lower CV performance. 

CPA Results:

Google Ads was able to maintain its conversion rate, but it chased more expensive clicks to achieve it…in fact, clicks at almost double the average CPC of true match! Result: their CPA of CVs worked out roughly double the CPA of true match.                 

Microsoft Ads only saw slightly poorer CPA performance within CVs; their conversion rate was much lower compared to true match, but their saving grace was that they had significantly lower CPCs, and you can afford to have a lower conversion rate if your click costs are also lower. End outcome? Microsoft Ads CPA on CVs was only slightly more expensive when compared to their CPA on true matches; a pleasant surprise 🙂.

What Are They Really Costing You

Image created by Adpulse, May 2024

ROAS Results:

Both platforms showed a similar story; CVs delivered roughly half the ROAS of their true match cousins, with Microsoft Ads again being stronger overall. 

 

1718772963 395 What Are They Really Costing You

Image created by Adpulse, May 2024

Underlying Data:

For the data nerds amongst us (at Adpulse we self-identify here !) 

1718772963 88 What Are They Really Costing You

Image created by Adpulse, May 2024


TL;DR

Close variant search terms consume, on average, more than half an advertiser’s budget whilst in most cases, performing significantly worse than search terms that actually match the keywords. How much worse? Read above for details ^. Enough that managing their impact effectively could well be one of your largest optimization levers toward driving significant improvements in account ROI. 


Image Credits

Featured Image: Image by Adpulse. Used with permission.

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