Getting the Most Out of the Google Content Network

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If you’re already a whiz at PPC (no doubt from following the advice given right here on expertSEM!), it’s time you look to other mediums. Not that we’re saying you can forget about paid search marketing—it’s a continuous management and optimization process—but as you dig deeper, you should also widen your reach to include other outlets. One such outlet is the Google Content Network (GCN). GCN is a strong complement to existing search marketing campaigns because the audience is well-matched for your product or service. It’s also a vast and relatively untapped market, providing a huge source of additional leads. But it won’t stay that way for long—you can stay a few steps ahead of the rest by getting started on your campaign today. It won’t do to simply duplicate your AdWords campaign though; content marketing functions much differently than traditional search on both keyword- and ad copy-levels. Here are a few keyword tips to help you get started:

1. Create specific themes and stick to them.

Content Network ads are displayed on websites that are related to your product or service; however, the searchers are not looking to make a purchase. They are simply reading content (e.g., news article, blog post, how to essay, etc.) that is similar to your offering. Although they were not looking to make a purchase, the searcher is more apt to click on your ad because the theme is similar and your product pertains to it.

For your campaign you should choose a specific theme that relates to your product/service. Ad groups, keywords and ad copy should all revolve around this theme. If you stray too far from your chosen theme, your ads may display on irrelevant sites resulting in little to no chance of conversion. The crawlers simply scan website content and Content Network campaigns for similar words. To increase odds of someone clicking on your ads and becoming a conversion, you must choose a focused theme for your keywords (let’s call them “themewords”) and stick to it.

Remember when Ralphie had to write a theme? Themewords are kind of like that. Not really, but what a great movie!

Remember when Ralphie had to write a theme on A Christmas Story? Themewords are kind of like that. Well, not really, but what a great movie!

2. Use “branded” terms.

Make sure to use “branded” terms in ad groups, but not everywhere throughout your Content Network campaign. The reasons for including brand terms in the keyword list seems obvious enough; however, there are two advantages that may not be quite so apparent—address bar traffic and sites that mention your name.

Oftentimes searchers will type a domain name directly into the address bar; however, sometimes they are wrong. Whether they misspell it or simply enter the wrong URL, they may be taken to a parked domain with various links related to your brand terms. Most parked domains are part of the Content Network. It only makes sense to have your ad on these parked domains seeing as though the searcher was assumedly looking for your site.
The other advantage to including branded terms in your themeword list is that, somewhere out there in the vast online realm, there is a good chance someone has written an article about your company or used your brand name in their site copy. Reasonably, you want your ad (with a message of your choosing) right next to that content.

Example of a parked domain with text ads.

Example of a parked domain with text ads.

The other advantage to including branded terms in your themeword list is that, somewhere out there in the vast online realm, there is a good chance someone has written an article about your company or used your brand name in their site copy. Reasonably, you want your ad (with a message of your choosing) right next to that content.

3. Use between 10 and 20 themewords.

First and foremost, never simply “opt in” your search campaign to the Content Network. Instead, create a separate campaign allowing you to have better control of keywords and all other campaign elements. And along the same vein, do not simply replicate your paid search keyword list.

To successfully stick to your chosen theme you should never use too many themewords within each ad group (although you may include as many ad groups as necessary). Between 10 and 20 themewords is a happy medium. However, you must ensure that these are, in fact, themewords and that they closely relate to your topic. The further you stray from the website’s subject matter the further you get from conversions. Don’t sacrifice potential customers for increased traffic.

Make sure your glass is filled with a happy medium of keywords.

Make sure your glass is filled with a happy medium of keywords.

4. Do not use negative-match keywords.

One measly instance of your negative-match keyword, and you can be knocked out of an entire website, even if that site—aside from the one instance—is a great fit for your offering. It is not worth it. But don’t worry about wasting money, if your themes are accurate and well organized, you can rest easy knowing that your ads won’t display on unrelated sites.

Negative match

Just say no to negative-match keywords.

5. Use geo-modified themewords, if applicable.

Geo-modified themewords include a city, county, state or region that pertains to your business. If your business only operates within a certain area of the country, you can avoid superfluous ad placement and wasted ad spend if you include the name of that area in your themewords. This tactic is carried out in the same manner as traditional search marketing.

Flickr Photos by McPhloyd

Flickr Photo by McPhloyd

These five tips themeword tips will help you get started and check out helpful info from Google. If you’d like further details on building a successful Google Content Network campaign, we’ll send you our comprehensive white paper “Google’s Untapped Network: Fundamental Tips for Using the Google Content Network.” Contact us today.

 

4 thoughts on “Getting the Most Out of the Google Content Network

  1. Great post, Jared! All great suggestions for how to build a solid GCN campaign.
    My only comment would be on #3. I would stress more the tightness of your theme, rather than the number of terms. If you can strongly communicate a theme with only 3-5 terms, have at it. The more clean and simple your theme is, the better.

  2. my question is this… our competitor is somehow using geotargeting to show his image ads on the content network on any site serving google content ads… he is on everysite I go to, copyscape, clip art sites, restaurant sites… there is no way he is using placements and keywords… how can you turn on google content image ads to show to anyonein a geo targeted range? this is obviously what he is doing, but not doing placement or keyword targeting… what is he doing? really this is 2 big competitors both doing it and I can’t figure out how to compete because I can’t figure out how they are doing it… any words of wisdom?

  3. They are likely using Retargeting on Google’s Display Network. If you have visited their site in the past, which I’m sure you have, then Retargeting will allow ads to follow a cookied user with ads across Google’s Display Network. This would explain why you are seeing ads everywhere you go.

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