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Long tail - where to stop?

7:11 pm on Oct 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

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joined:Apr 29, 2004
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We bid on a lot of 'make / model' type keyword phrases in our industry.

Many of them are NOT high volume search terms, however there is some traffic.

We categorise these as long tail and hope to get a few clicks a month across all the engines.

Google is not displaying our ads (or anyone elses for that matter) for many of these 'long tail terms' with the following as the ad diagnostic:

"The keyword phrase that you have entered has a low search volume and is not showing any of your ads.
If more users start searching for your keyword, your ad will begin to show. You do not need to do anything."

All of our adgroups are very specific to the keyword (only 2 /3 keywords or tight variations per group and quality score is always 'great' on all groups).

I know there is search volume in the other engines and via organic traffic and we are seeing visitors to our site on these terms and from outside of adwords - so why is google not displaying ads for them? It just appears strange that we are happy and willing to pay for the clicks but google will not show the ad.

Have we just gone too far down the long tail?

I am beginning to wonder if it is worth the time and effort to mine the long tail if the ads are not going to show.

Anything we can do to help with this?


8:17 pm on Oct 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Exact the sames happens to me, many long term keywords or one time keywords (1 impression, 1 click, 1 sale) get no impressions with the error message you posted.

Don't like it...

1:19 pm on Oct 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

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same story here...

in my opinion it is the result of a mis-tuning of the QS algorithm. Google is currently placing too much emphasis on potential volume of the keyword as opposed to its relevance.


what would happen if the following two keywords had to compete with each other:

blue widget
[blue widget with feature abc]

Google knows that the keyword blue widget gets a lot of traffic but the long tail exact doesn't. So the QS for the first keyword is going to be higher given all other parameter (adcopy, landing page, max cpc,..) are the same. Hence, when a user searcher for [blue widget with feature abc], Google will still show the ad related to blue widget because they think it is more relevant.

Where the algorithm gets it wrong is that it seems to attribute very (too) little important to the fact that it is an exact match. But this can only be established in realtime, and calculating the QS on the fly obviously poses a computational problem.

One way around that could be to increase your maxcpc on you long tail exacts, as this would also increase your QS and give your specific keywords an advantage over your generics.

in theory, specific long tail keywords should be worth more to an advertiser but from a management point of view it can be a nightmare to determine how far to push your maxcpc so that your tail words have a better QS than your generic words. Also, the whole point of bidding on tail words is getting a better ROI so increasing their maxCPCs can really eat into your margins.

Anyway, this is just a theory but i'm keen to hear other people's views on this

1:47 pm on Oct 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

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joined:Dec 16, 2003
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I'm not sure why Google leans towards certain keywords. There are so many theories. One could be that its just easier for their database to not have to deal with some of those lower traffic long tail terms. One theory is that forcing your account to use the more popular keywords puts you in a higher paying category for CPC's. Another theory might be that Google is actually trying to "do you a favor" by taking a key phrase that has a history of performing well...and giving you that "advantage" over keywords that historically don't perform as well.

I rarely use exact match anymore for long tail. I will use shorter versions of the term and run them broad but I also run frequent search queries to see exactly what phrases people are searching on and then I will add those phrases to my campaign.

Something else you can see through search query...sometimes Google will pick a popular key phrase and use that to show everything in not only that Adgroup but for keywords searched from your other AdGroups as well. Example: Your ads for "used widgets" may be showing for all searches coming from your Adgroup for "new widgets". The way to fix that is to put -new as a negative in your used cars AdGroup.