What’s The problem?

Google ads targeting is shocking, frankly.

Targeting was loosened, and too many clicks are being wasted. But there is opportunity in adversity.

  • Search is an amazing gift worth working for.
  • I don’t think we can do without it, let’s find the way
  • Those who create more/ better content will win, as usual

Make no mistake, this has been entirely intentional on Google’s part. Its not the economy that killed results, its the ad system. Its not entirely illogical.

The best ads in the world are those that match the search exactly, and deliver the most thoughtful site experience. Those people rarely need to click again.

And that is exactly why Google made the ad system less relevant. They get more money when people click around.

The organic results are fine by contrast.

But now, those listings are pushed even further down, diluting results. Everyone is affected, and so hard to win with SEO alone.

If ads are profitable, you can outspend the ‘SEO only’ gang. Algorithms are so unreliable in any case.

Google are extracting maximum value, why would they not? The analytics have been messed with to cover the tracks, but revenue is reality.

We can spend a lot more to get worse results, or, we can try and fix it.

If its harder for everyone else too

Is this an opportunity?

We can either go with the flow, submit to automated bidding and trust the 99 monkey algorithm (please no). We can share our profit figures with Google if you want, but I have a feeling how that will turn out.

Better to swim against the current and get our results back. If we can. I fully believe those companies who get search working will beat those that don’t. Even if it isn’t the only channel in the overall strategy, it probably shouldn’t be anyway.

Here’s a list of what to do to fix ads


Learn as much as possible about the search click.

  • It amazes me the industry knows so little
  • It amazes me clients don’t understand what they are paying for
  • Clicks represent our audiences, we can listen more

Then you can:

  • Organise content in a more visitor centric way
  • Structure campaigns for more positive performance
  • Structure negatives for a purer click stream
  • Improve messaging
  • Write decision stage appropriate content
  • Deliver navigation for ambiguous searches (mobile)

It means more pages to soak up excess searches.

  • Personalising more pages to clicks is a very good move for conversion rate.
  • This enables bidding high for the clicks you want it will get you more market share of high performing clicks.
  • It means converting the ones you didn’t plan for. It means preventing the ones you definitely don’t want too, and knowing the difference.

Here’s a list of what to do to fix ads

pay per click

Landing pages don’t work on their own any more

  • Serve topics and audiences as well as keywords
  • Conversion is in matching all clicks with site experience
  • Conversion is profit. Build hubs

Upgrade the site to gain performance

  • What other move gets you a 40% overall uplift?
  • Speed and content design are fundamental

All these moves serve to improve organic results too. These supplement gains in paid performance and put us back to somewhere near where we were before ‘the change’.

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Being realistic is the key

Ultimately, if Google win and clicks become homogenous for everyone, the only place to get performance is to increase site and content conversion.

But for now, we still have lots of room to get better at the clicks too. It starts by understanding what you are bidding for, exactly. Researching keywords is not enough, you have to analyse them.

Product market keyword fit is a thing.

A note on projects

It takes longer to win now. It takes more content. And for the most part, clients can’t believe Google would be so stupid.

So there is an adjustment period. A fumbling around, reducing staff, changing suppliers, trying other things.

But as Churchill said. Search is the worst form of marketing, apart from everything else we tried.

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Content production for the new world order.

If you are not producing content, you are not trying hard enough.

The delight of an intentful search, that produces a matching snippet of text, that results in the visitor having a great website experience, is profitable. Massively profitable. Frictionless commerce. That hasn’t changed.

Build content that matches the intent behind the search and help people find it. Its obvious.

Contrast that with the Emporer’s new clothes called AI. The algorithm will learn what you need. It’s a bullcrap covered back story that results in paying for more clicks. Worse, that visitor experience is ruined by AI automated bidding.

For those pushing the new algorithm, I say again that smart bidding is a way of getting money for clicks nobody wanted.

We already knew what worked. We don’t need 99 monkeys with typewriters to figure it out. The game is afoot. If we obsess on the visitor experience, we won’t go far wrong. 

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