The search industry has recently been hit with another sucker punch, this time related to pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.
A short while ago, Google decided that it would stop passing on organic search query data to third party analytics tools (e.g. Google Analytics) in order to make search more secure for its users. This same policy has now been rolled out across PPC too.
You can imagine the shock us paid search specialists experienced: "We pay for the data; they can't hide it from us!"
Well, unfortunately, they can and they have!
What's all the fuss about?
As paid search marketers, we rely on keyword data to act as the foundation of campaign optimisations. It allows us to understand customer searching behaviour and keyword performance; when you're paying for traffic, this information is paramount when it comes to ensuring a return on investment.
At present, we can see what keyword has led to what sale and how much revenue that individual keyword has generated within Analytics tools. From this we can increase bids on keywords that perform well for our clients, which in theory, should help drive more conversions and, in turn, revenue.
Without any keyword data, we are unable to highlight top performing keywords and also identify those that eat away at our budget but struggle to convert. This makes optimisation at keyword level very tricky.
But it's not the end of the world...
Luckily, there are ways around PPC keyword 'not provided' data even if you don't use large API software's such a Marin, Kenshoo and DoubleClick.
Search query reports within Google AdWords will still include the same data it always has; this allows you to see what keyword variations have led to your adverts being clicked (you'll find this information under the AdWords keywords tab > details > search terms > All). In addition, if you link your AdWords and Analytics account (as seen in the example below), it will enable conversion data to be fed through into AdWords at keyword level -- problem solved!
To link Google Analytics and AdWords: Go to Account settings (top right next to Manager ID) > Linked accounts > Google Analytics
To import conversions from Analytics: Go to Tools > Conversions > Google Analytics > Imported from Google Analytics > Import
Some things to bear in mind
Importance of linking Google accounts
If your Analytics and AdWords account are not linked through the conversions tab in AdWords as outlined above, this will prevent keyword conversion data being visible within search query reports. This means that you will not be able to see what keyword has led to what conversion. Link the accounts to ensure you do not lose this data when PPC keyword 'not provided' is fully rolled out.
Google Analytics time lag
Due to a time lag, Google Analytics conversions can take up to 48 hours to show within Google AdWords. Take this into consideration when you are reporting and maybe change your reporting days (Sunday -- Saturday) so that you are able to complete Monday morning reports that include all your weekly conversions.
There are big changes taking place in the paid search industry, especially to the way in which we optimise account and report on results. But with regard to PPC metrics, we will still be able to get the same data as before, just from a collection of sources rather than one. And this means our clients should still be able to see the results they need.