Segment Your Way to PPC Success (Search Engine Strategies Webinar with David Szetela)

David Szetela, of Clix Marketing, gave a really great presentation for Search Engine Strategies on segmenting with Pay Per Click. You can follow David on Twitter here.

PPC Segmenting = Targeting

  1. Targeted Campaigns
  2. Diverse Keyword Lists
  3. Brand Term Segmentation
  4. Intent-targeted Landing Pages

Segmenting Campaigns

  1. Geotargeting
  2. Search Networks
  3. Content Target Types
  4. Devices
  5. Dayparting

Geotargeting Campaigns

location language demographics

Segment Search Networks

google networks

Search and Content campaigns should never be mixed, even though that is the default behavior.

Segment by device


Unless your campaign is designed specifically for mobile devices, uncheck the iPhone/mobile devices box off.

Segment by Hour/Day

ad schedule

Don’t make your dayparting decisions based on intuition. Microsoft Ad Center is the only paid search provider which gives data by hour of day. AdWords, unfortunately, does not give you

Segmenting Ad Groups

  • Directly affects profitability
  • Affects CTR, which affects QS, which affects CPC
  • Goal should be high CTR/QS and high conversion rates

Szetela Ad Group Rule: All keywords in an ad group should have at least two words in common.

For example:

  • Keyword list:
  • Hawaii travel
  • Hotels in Hawaii
  • Flights to Hawaii
  • Hawaii beach vacation
  • Hawaiian holidays
  • Maui Hotels

Segmented list into 3 smaller list

List 1:

  • Hotels in Hawaii
  • Hawaii hotels
  • Find Hawaiian hotels

List 2:

  • Hawaii vacation
  • Vacations in Hawaii
  • Hawaiian vacations

List 3:

  • Maui flights
  • Flights to Maui
  • Cheap Maui flights

Here is the original ad (left) vs. the new three, segmented ads (right):

see the difference between ads

Segmenting Ad Groups with AdWords Editor

David estimates that using the Google AdWords Editor takes about 1/10 the time as using the web-based editor.

Segmenting Brand Campaigns

[David gives full credit to Craig Danuloff and this blogpost for the following.]

  • Brand pure keywords (acme widegets, acmewidgets,, amcewidgets)
  • Navigational brand keywords (acme widgets site, acme widgets homepage, acme widgets Portland)
  • Brand related keywords (acme’s CEO name, acme’s patented manufacturing technique)
  • Brand plus keywords (acme widget ball bearings, acme shipping policy)

Use Negative Brand Keywords

Use “-acme ball bearings” because you want “we are the manufacturer” ads to show, not the generic “we have great ball bearings” ads  to show.

Landing Page Segmentation

Land PPC visitors on different pages depending on the buying cycle phase

Early phase/Late phase Pages

Early phase

  • Several choices
  • Browser/Shopper Navigation
  • Multi-option Layout
  • Soft offers

Late phase

  • One choice
  • Little/no off-page navigation
  • Sparse layout
  • Single hard offer

Example: Software

  • Early phase: Download a white paper; browse features
  • Mid-term phase: Download trial software (keyword: “compare”)
  • Late phase: Buy software


Q: How do I find search queries?
A: Four places:

  1. AdWords user interface (click on tab in interface and see keywords and what Google matched to)
  2. Run search query report in AdWords interface
  3. Log files out of your FTP server
  4. Search query reporting from paid search reporting systems

Q: Do you create all three match types for every keyword?
A: Yes; except for 1- and 2-word broad matches. But we do use phrase match for both versions (e.g. “red widget” and “widget red”)

Q: Do you feel AdWords content network is better for branding?
A: Search network is for demand satisfaction. Content network is better for demand generation; evoke, build, and create demand. And no, it’s not exclusively for branding.

Q: Do you pause underperforming keywords or keep them active?
A: Theory: there’s no such thing as a bad keyword. If you have research saying a keyword is being used and it’s not performing, maybe it’s paired with the wrong ad and/or landing page.

Q: Do you recommend starting with specific segments or starting broad and getting specific?
A: If you have less time and start broader, just make sure you’re able to pay frequent attention to be ready to create more targeted and specific ads.

Q: Best resource to learn more about segmenting brand terms?
A: Read at least two books (including David’s Customers Now); Mark and Motive training.

Q: What search engines do you advertise with?
A: The big three; Facebook; every once in a while 2nd tier SEs like Ask.

Q: Where are the biggest short comings with segmenting?
A: Three things:

  1. Most advertisers neglect turning off content network when they’re running search campaigns.
  2. Ads directed to mobile devices – turn it off!
  3. Huge keyword lists with very little resemblance to one another. Low CTRs (under 1.5%) – ad is poorly written (no benefits or calls-to-action) or keywords are too generalized.

Q: Where do you see Twitter fitting in as a tool for segmenting in PPC?
A: Twitter and Facebook are two additional sources of traffic to a site; then there’s organic search, PPC, and email. Armed with great Analtyics tools, advertisers will be measuring the affect of each medium on the conversion path (so you know the value of each step in the path). For example, the first visit comes from Twitter, the second two come from PPC, and the last three come from Facebook before the customer converts. Current Analytics only give value to the last.

Q: In content advertising, is there less segmenting necessary?
A: When you use the content network, think of sites your audiences hangs out at. If the set is small, you have a small set of ad groups; if it’s large, you have a large set.

Q: Is there a maximum number to a list of keywords?
A: You can’t have more than 2,000 keywords in a list; if you beg, you can have 5,000 keywords. (But that probably doesn’t follow Szetela’s rule of having each keyword have two similar terms.)

Q: Do you think automatic matching should be turned off in most cases?
A: Yes; it means “match my broad match keywords to even broader match keywords” – it’ll match “red sneakers” to “purple slippers”.

Q: What are the best practices for finding the CPC initially?
A: Start with conservative estimates; take your target CPC – and conversions and CTR are low – then go backward to the cost you’re willing to pay per click.