We were working on keywords for an SEM campaign and found a good, simple example showing that long-tail keywords — which capture more of what a shopper is saying they want — can also be cheaper to bid on! I thought I would expand that for a quick blog entry on this technique for your paid-search SEM advertising campaigns.

Nike® Air® Max are a line of highly popular athletic shoes and are sold by many competing vendors, each of whom have on Google AdWords campaigns are bidding for relevant keywords to get customers. How can you get an edge for your campaign with so much competition?

When a shopper has narrowed down what they are shopping for, moving from investigation stage to buying stage, they will often add that to a search, saying exactly what they want – a search for “black leather nike air max” really wants the retailer to respond to that search, but that requires having the long-tail keywords that match shopper queries and capture the details of what the shopper wants and the landing page destinations on the retailer’s website that show the most relevant content and products.

What do shoppers ask for? Looking at the Nike website shows 189 Air Max shoes, for women, men and kids; for running, basketball, etc., in lots of colors, widths and sizes. Oh, and the Air Jordan line. So the number of keywords to capture shopper queries can get large quickly.

Using Google’s planning tools, though, we see that the bidding can differ quite substantially depending on the keyword, with the most highly competed keywords being most expensive.

Keyword Google Estimated Suggested SEM Bid
nike air max $0.90
nike air max black $0.85
nike air max white $0.29
nike air max leather $0.21
black leather nike air max $0.50
air max $0.48
air max black leather $0.29
black leather airmax $0.28
black leather air max $1.17

What is not reflected in the table is that, when the destination page for “black leather nike air max” actually shows only the most relevant items (yes, I simply mean that the destination page has only the black leather Nike Air Max shoes that the shopper actually searched for), then the quality score rated by Google should be higher than if that destination page were, for example, the Nike products category page or the Nike Air Max category page. A higher quality score results directly into higher ad placement and lower cost. Surprisingly, though, I see many, many retailer PPC ads that send the shopper to destination pages that are several clicks away from what the shopper asked for.

Some things from the table are not simple or obvious. Why is “black leather nike air max” a $0.50 keyword, but “black leather air max”, leaving out the “nike”, is a $1.17 keyword? Since all air max are Nike, this reflects only how ad campaign managers are bidding, perhaps based on actual statistics of occurrences of each search query. Now, if a search query contains “nike”, then both of these keywords would still trigger the ad, but Google’s algorithm may score the one with “nike” as having more relevance and, therefore, be at an advantage in the bidding and need to bid less. A better approach.

Interestingly, “nike air max white” is much cheaper than “nike air max black”. Why? Perhaps since the black Air Max is a much more popular search, more advertisers compete for that, driving the bids up. But, does that really make sense? The expected conversion of a click of a customer looking for black or for white Nike shoes should be the same. Given the suggested bids, however, the lower bid for “nike air max white” should result in a lower cost per converted click! Great! Delivers more value to the SEM advertiser – assuming, of course, that the advertiser does actually have those white Air Max shoes. What should you do? If your SEM ad budget is very limited, then bid only on the most cost effective keywords and get your clicks there, that is, bid on “nike air max white”. If your budget is not so very limited and a bid on “nike air max black” is still profitable to you, then bid on both.

Want to know more? Just contact me. Or you can click here to request information on Vioby’s products for optimizing your advertising campaigns.


Please note that Nike and other product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them. They are being used here solely as illustrative of the issues for paid-search SEM advertising campaigns.