Keyword vs. Portfolio Management

By Steven Bauer

Back in the day, a big search campaign had 20,000 keywords and you did not structure them into campaigns and ad groups within the search engines. Instead, you managed keywords to a specific bid to obtain the position you wanted. This tactic was meant to enable the best traffic and the best conversion rate to make sure the campaign was profitable.

Today the search landscape is much different; a search campaign with 250,000 keywords to 1 million keywords is not unheard of. You no longer are able to bid to position thanks to quality scores, CTR, keyword/landing page relevance and other factors that determine ad rank in the search results.

The question then is, how does a search marketer effectively mange hundreds of thousands of keywords without driving themselves crazy by micro-managing all these keywords. The simple answer is: “Portfolio Management”.

So, what is portfolio management?

Let me start with what portfolio management is not. It is not setting a CPA or ROAS goal for the entire portfolio of keywords and then struggling to obtain that goal while continuing to drive traffic to the website.

Much like a stock portfolio, a search portfolio is made of a series of smaller portfolios that have specific goals. The first logical division of keywords is brand keywords and general keywords (or non-brand). We all know brand keywords drive a lot of traffic to a website, whether that traffic is “true” search or navigational in its intention, it happens and those keywords convert.

Therefore, understanding how consumers are using those keywords to reach your website and perform a conversion action is critical to setting realistic goals with max CPCs that increase the profitability of the brand keywords and won’t break the budget.

Another logical division of keywords is the intentionality of the keyword. Some keywords are meant to just drive traffic to a website. The goal you are measuring might be related to traffic, CTR or the number of pages viewed.

Some keywords are meant to drive lead generation, form completions, email address acquisition, catalog requests, store locator request, and the list goes on. The goal you are measuring might be related to CPA.

And yet other keywords are intended to drive revenue. The goal you are measuring would be related to return on advertising spent.

Portfolio management is the ideal methodology for managing search campaigns, but understanding that a search portfolio is made of several smaller portfolios with unique goals is the key to successful search campaign management.

Posted by: Steven Bauer, Director of Paid Search


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