Your SEM campaigns are not up-to-date. Your e-commerce store has thousands of items. And your web catalog team is busy adding hundreds of new products, as well as making changes to the structure of the website to provide the best experience for shoppers on site – adding and deleting categories, styles, filters and facets.

Are you keeping up with those changes for your SEM search marketing campaigns? In particular, when a shopper clicks on your search ad, is the destination landing page on your site up to date? Would you know if it were not? Are the catalog changes enough to really matter?

Frankly, I was shocked when we analyzed real data showing the huge number of changes that occur every week in a typical website catalog. Let me give you an example to show the magnitude.


The Data 

A typical example is the website of one of our clients in the apparel segment. (I have changed the names of categories, etc. for client data confidentiality.)

The e-commerce website has around 350 categories, subcategories, filters and facets. The categories and subcategories count is the total of items from the top menu tree on the main menu bar of the website. The data in the table shows the changes in a recent two-week period. Rather than showing the actual numbers, I am just showing them as percentages of the 350 on the starting website so that it is easier to assess the magnitude of the changes.

Website Changes in a 2-Week Period  
Starting number of website categories, filters, etc. 350
Unchanged 38%
New additions 22%
Updated 52%
Deleted 10%

Remarkably, only 38% of the starting 350 were unchanged over the two weeks. 10% were deleted and 22% were newly added. And over half were updated – the category name or URL did not change, but a filter or facet within the category did. Examples of those changes would be that the women’s cashmere sweaters now have items in red, but not yellow, and the women’s shoe brands now don’t include Jimmy Choo.


SEM campaign impact is more conversions


The Impact on Your Search Marketing Campaigns 

What is the impact on your search marketing campaign? If your destination URLs pointed to any of these places that have changed, then the shopper won’t get what you intended. If you are lucky, the site will simply ignore, for example, the selected brand that was discontinued and land the shopper on the page without that filter set. In the case of a subcategory that is no longer there, the site may default to the higher category page (which is not so bad) or may land the shopper at the home page (worse) or display the dreaded 404 – Not Found page (much worse). Certainly not what you intended. And, of course, you are not utilizing the new categories and other changes to help get your shopper to the best page possible and discover new products. So, what should you do now?


4  Key Updates  for Your SEM Campaigns to Do Now

  1. Find and fix bad URLs: The website changes have caused some keyword to point to destinations using categories and filters that do not exist anymore. Don’t let your shoppers get a 404 – Not Found error.
  1. Update your destination URLs to leverage the website revisions: Your product marketing team designed new landing pages, added new product categories and revised filters to better show your product offer. Your keywords capturing a shopper’s search for “on sale” or a color, size, feature or brand, for example, may now be able to land on a more specific product set that better reflects the shopper’s search intent. And delivering a better shopper experience.
  1. Stop bidding on keywords for discontinued products: Even if your destination URL is still a valid destination, shoppers cannot buy what you don’t carry.
  1. Add keywords so shoppers can discover your new products: Some of your new items are not discoverable with the existing keyword set. For example, if you added a new brand for a category, you may want to add keywords that capture when shoppers are searching for that brand. And, check your negative keywords to make sure you are not blocking searches for that brand you now sell.


Marketing Automation Technology Can Help 

Yes, I know that it’s real easy for me to write about “tasks you have to do now!” And, the reality is that you really need to regularly do these updates. Finding the time to actually do them is quite another matter. Updating tables of tens or even hundreds of thousands keywords in hundreds ad groups and campaigns take a huge amount of time. The result is your campaigns don’t get updated as frequently as they should.

Is it really a major business issue? Yes, you could be losing 20% to 30% in campaign performance.

As part of each operational deployment of our LinkDirector product, our automated tools regularly crawl our clients’ websites to discover all the categories and subcategories of the site, the filters/facets available for navigation and the values of those filters/facets that can be selected in finding the most relevant landing page. LinkDirector’s semantic algorithms understand your shopper’s intent—what your shopper wants—and combines that with the website. When a shopper clicks on your search ad, the LinkDirector cloud server dynamically analyzes the click, determines the most relevant page on your website, and directs the shopper to that landing page – all that intelligent processing working in the background invisible to the shopper.

Thus, your destination URLs are always in sync with your website – no bad URLs, always leveraging the latest website revisions and delivering the best UX to your shoppers.

The LinkDirector automates several of the tasks discussed above, perhaps making your holiday season workload more manageable. If you think the Vioby LinkDirector could be a solution that works for you, just contact me — click here to request information on Vioby’s products for optimizing your advertising campaigns.