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Google AdWords Policies Crack Down on the Use of DKI & ‘Buy’ in Ads

Originally posted on Search Engine Watch

Google updated its AdWords policies last week. One of these policies refers to the use of dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) in paid search ads. Specifically:

“Ads using keyword insertion must be grammatically and logically correct, and result in meaningful ad text for the user.”

google-adwords-policy-updateThis appears to be a significant shift in Google’s policies. Previously, Google policies didn’t specifically call out keyword insertion, and they only prohibited “extremely bad grammar” within ads.

We don’t yet know how strictly Google will enforce this new policy, and the definition of “meaningful ad text for the user” leaves plenty of room for subjectivity. We do know, however, that Google is proactively notifying advertisers that some (or many) of their ads will be deactivated because of this new policy.

Historically, many paid search advertisers have employed DKI liberally throughout their paid search ads. These advertisers will now need to revise a significant number of their paid search ads in order to comply with Google’s new policy.

Search engine marketers (SEMs) will need to review their keywords and:

  • Tag all grammatically incorrect keywords as not eligible for DKI. Grammatically incorrect keywords should not be used in ads that utilize DKI.
  • Tag all misspelled keywords as not eligible for DKI. Misspelled keywords should not be used in ads that utilize DKI.
  • Flag all keywords that contain slang. It’s unclear if Google’s new policy will recognize slang as being grammatically correct or incorrect. Advertisers should monitor slang containing keywords.
  • Tag all remaining DKI-eligible keywords as either singular or plural.

SEMs will then need to review their ads and:

  • Identify all ads that employ DKI.
  • Write both singular and plural versions of ads with DKI.
  • Create logic that ensures subject/verb agreement, matching singular keywords with singular DKI ads and plural keywords with plural DKI ads.
  • Write targeted, non-DKI ads for all keywords that are not eligible for DKI.
  • As a fall-back, use generic ads that are grammatically correct, but the ads may or may not as targeted/relevant.

This is a very important – and, depending on how heavily DKI is used, a very large – task for many major paid search advertisers. SEMs will either need to dedicate a lot of hours to developing new ad strategies and writing new ads, and/or invest in technology that can help them automatically compose relevant, grammatically correct ads.

Additionally, Google is requiring that “ads that lead to a search results page must clearly indicate that the landing page will provide a search experience.” For all ads that link to an advertiser’s search results page, if the ad has the word “Buy” (or the functional equivalent) in it, it must be replaced with “Search” (or the functional equivalent of). SEMs will need to determine which ads/URLs link to search results pages and replace “Buy” with “Search” accordingly.

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Google Adding Explanations to Knowledge Graph

Originally posted on Search Engine Watch

Google is adding explanations to Knowledge Graph panels, where applicable. The explanations, which appear when a user hovers over images in the “People also search for” section, offer more information on how two subjects are connected.

In the product announcement, Google uses the movie “Gone With the Wind” as an example. Hovering over icons people also search for, in this case “The Wizard of Oz”, displays an explanation that Victor Fleming directed both movies.


It can also be used to indicate familiar or professional associations, as in the case of a search for actress Sandra Bullock. Keanu Reeves appears in the “People also search for” section of theKnowledge Graph panel for Sandra Bullock. Google now explains, “Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves both appear in The Lake House and Speed.”

“We’re starting by showing major co-starring roles between actors, movies, and TV shows as well as highlighting family connections amongst famous people in the Knowledge Graph,” Google engineer Golan Pundak explained on the Inside Search Blog. “These connections won’t show up all the time, but when there is an interesting explanation available, you can now see it at a glance.”

When Google launched Knowledge Graph in May, Engineering SVP Amit Singhal described the “People also search for” feature as “magical,” crediting this feature for some of his “most serendipitous discoveries.”

Knowledge Graph is part of Google’s mission to provide the information searchers seek on the SERPs page, or as close to it as possible.

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Google Launches Remarketing in Search in Beta

Originally posted on Search Engine Watch


Remarketing is now an established tactic leveraged by many (if not all) digital marketers trying to maximize conversion activity. Retargeting, in its simplest form, is the practice of delivering display advertisements to users who have visited owned content in the past, in order to get them to come back and take action.

Retargeting on its own has many layers of complexity, including, determining which pages to track and which to exclude, developing relevant “cookie pools” against the tracked pages, and what creative messaging to deliver to each cookie pool.

However, one constant is that remarketing has always been managed in the realm of display media, and we couldn’t target previous visitors within the SERP landscape with a paid listing ad. That’s changing. This change, along with the phase out of Google Product Search in favor ofProduct Listing Ads could alter the SEM landscape as we know it.

Google has recently announced a beta program called Remarketing in Search, which aims to take the benefits of remarketing and leverage them within the SERP environment. The idea is simple: create remarketing lists as you do with display, but leverage this customer knowledge to impact you’re messaging and bidding strategy within your SEM campaigns to improve performance.

The benefits to leveraging remarketing within search are straightforward and include:

  • Maximizing relevant ad copy. If you know a user has been looking for “red shoes” on your site, use that information to stand out among your competition in the SERP when the user next searches on “women’s shoe stores.” By applying your knowledge of what the user has been looking for, you can likely increase your CTR and drive visits, while increasing your quality score.
  • Value of the customer and associated click value. A user who is familiar with your brand is more likely to convert to a buyer and as such, being able to reach known users within the SERP should impact your bidding strategy. Just like you can increase your CPCs on keywords that convert better to maximize potential, now you increase your CPCs on known customers to maximize potential.
  • Landing Page Selection. Knowing the content the user has visited can impact the landing page your search ads link to. In the above “red shoes” example, the standard landing page for “women’s shoe stores” may be your homepage, or a store listings page. However, knowing the user is interested in red shoes, and with “red shoes” in your ad copy, you can land the user back to your red shoes page. You are in effect, creating personalized landing page relevancy based on the user’s history.

While exciting and definitely worth testing, there are a few standards that need to be managed in order to leverage the opportunity:

  • Clients must use Google remarketing pixels to create the cookie pools associated with retargeting.
  • Unique campaigns must be built separate from existing search campaigns. While seemingly straightforward, this creates a competitive landscape whereby your remarketing campaign will compete for visibility with your standard campaign. As we understand it, “normal quality score rules” will determine which campaign (and associated bid) is triggered by each unique search query. Knowing that your remarketing campaign won’t have any history behind it, expect to manage your bids accordingly in order to ensure visibility.
  • Ad copy cannot expressly call out that you know what the user is looking for. Using the same “red shoes” example, while you can leverage “red shoes” in your copy, you can’t specifically call out “looking for red shoes?” There’s a fine line that we as marketers must keep in mind. It will be interesting to see how Google polices this aspect moving forward.

Remarketing is a tried and true tactic for increasing performance. Paid search is a highly effective and efficient marketing channel. Google is leading the charge to combine both in so we, as marketers, can reach the best users, right when they are most interested in acting.

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