This is a guest post is by Bob Stanley, WordStream’s Senior Client Services Representative. Bob has extensive experience in paid search, which he now leverages to help our clients solve difficult problems surrounding pay-per click marketing with the WordStream software.
One of my roles as a client services rep for WordStream is to help clients use our software to successfully manage their paid search accounts. I’m finding more and more with our clients that the long tail  is getting extremely competitive. I personally blame advanced broad matching options , dynamic keyword insertion (DKI), and just the industry becoming more sophisticated. We all know the advantages of getting more specific with grouping and creating better conversion paths – however, it’s not always so cut and dry.
You have to wonder if our competitors are just jacking up bids, creating generic keyword lists for ad groups, and utilizing DKI for every ad. This can in turn make longer-tail queries  more competitive and gives us PPC people more to think about, especially if these tactics are increasing CTR (click-through rates ), potentially resulting in higher Quality Scores for these lazy bums.
Since we’re positioned as a keyword management solution, and because we provide solutions around long-tail search queries, clients obviously ask me: “How does WordStream improve my campaigns?” In the face of the information above (prices being driven up on the long tail) it may seem that the value of analyzing more granular query data isn’t as great. But as the long tail gets more competitive, the importance of segmenting and negative keyword research becomes more pronounced. I think there are three key things that fall out of this:
- Your infrastructure is crucial - Stronger structure and smarter organization is very important in expanding accounts. Getting into the long tail with your targeted queries still offers you a pricing advantage, even if it’s not as dramatic as it once was, and with bids consistently rising on long-tail queries you want to try to pull your other lever: Quality Score. The best way to do that is with tightly themed groups that help boost click-through rates. We posted a more granular piece on using long-tail PPC keywords  back in May.
- You need to spend more time on negative keyword discovery - With matching options becoming more aggressive, the value of negative keywords  increases. Expanded broad match means more people are bidding on a much wider variety of queries: This leads to more competition in the long tail, and a pronounced increase in the number of irrelevant searches Google and co. are showing your ad against. One cool feature in our software is that our tool can intelligently associate negative terms with each other based on actual search queries – I find myself using this feature more and more! From my experience, using search queries to create negatives is more valuable than generic keyword tools, because they seem to be more focused on a starting point rather than what users are actually typing. WordStream can take new search queries and based on negatives that you’ve already set can suggest more intelligent negatives, thus saving you time and making you smarter.
- Your focus may not be on the right data points – Another unfortunate result of the aggressive matching option is advertiser confusion. Even if an advertiser gets past the idea that a keyword has lots of different queries rolled up under it, there’s still the problem of analyzing all of this more granular query data. What do you do with low-volume search queries? Searches that trigger a single visit? Our software handles this by clustering keywords together and by offering workflow tools to help prioritize where your time and attention is best spent.
The moral here is really that as engines change, you have to react and adapt. Every time AdWords or YSM or adCenter make a change, there is a list of tactics that will work better, and a list of tactics that will work worse. Identifying these and consistently honing your strategy is key to paid search success.