How do you bid on keywords that you don’t have statistics for?
Head, Mainstream, tail keywordsI have seen many consultants just delete the long tail keywords from their Adwords campaigns. They didn’t even look if they performed well as a group.

I will make some suggestions on how to handle long tail keywords in PPC.

Lets first look at the different keyword categories after numbers of searchers.

When you sort keywords after the amount of searchers you get:

1. Head keywords
2. Mainstream keywords
3. Long tail keywords

Head keywords
Head vs. longtail keywords If you have keywords that get lots of clicks, you want to make sure they are profitable. If competitions are driving click prices to high, you want to pause or put a low bid for these head keywords. On the other hand you want to use some time to optimized ads, landing pages, segmenting/filtering the traffic, derived organic traffic etc. if they are profitable or you can see them profitable in the future, because even small improvements can pay for your effort.

Mainstream keywords
Is where most online marketing professionals use their time. You can analyze each keyword and see how it has been performing and plan further improvements.

Long tail keywords
Is keywords that have few or no clicks to built a statistic conclusive on.

How do you decide if a keyword that never had a user click on it is a converting keyword?

If your adgroup convert with an average of 7 % of the clicks and you have:

Keyword 1: One click and one conversion
Keyword 2: 15 clicks and no conversion
Keyword 3: 40 clicks and no conversion, but you just change the ad(s) and landing page
Keyword 4: No clicks
Keyword 5: 3 clicks and 3 conversions

You can’t use any statistics rule, to say if any of these keywords, can be used in the future based on statistics.

The first keyword might just start with a conversion and never see a conversion again.

The second keywords might still convert more than 5% from the next clicks.

The third keyword should have converted 2 times to keep the average, but it is still very thin ground to judge on and with the new ads and landing page, you never know.

The fourths keyword has no clicks and therefore no statistic, but you might have nailed the keyword and therefore a 100% of all clicks will convert, even there isn’t many.

The fifths keywords is a keeper even you don’t know if you just been lucky.

As a group the five keywords convert 7 % of the time.

How I tread long tail keywords in Adword
When you don’t have enough statistics to base a decision on, I turn to gut feeling and use the following rules:

1. If I think the searchers, using the keyword, is looking for my product and the statistic isn’t conclusive showing otherwise, I keep the keyword
2. If I think the searchers, using the keyword, isn’t looking for my product. I delete the keyword.

It is to time consuming to think too much about keywords with few clicks. Wait until you can say something conclusive. Long tail keywords have often low click price and are very target. It makes it likely, that you want to keep them.

Management of longtail keywordsOn the other hand it takes to much time to handle long tail keywords where the searchers are searching for something that isn’t right on target. If it was head or mainstream keywords and you had a special strategy, it can make sense, but not in a long tail keyword group, where keywords are target to your product. Adwords might also help you making the decision by giving your keyword a low quality score.

Even you don’t have statistic on a long tail keyword, you might have some conclusive statistic on the head/main stream part of the keyword. In that case it become easy to judge if the keyword is better or worse than the head/main stream keyword. Let’s say that “used car” is the head/main stream keyword and you have two longtail keywords: “used car in stock buy now in NY” and “used car warranty breaks not working”. Given than “used car” is profitably and you are base in NY, it is not difficult to find which of these two keyword that are less and more valuable than “used car”.

If you can’t make decisions on a keyword level, you might want to group long tail keywords and make decisions on an adgroup level. That way you can tread a group of longtail keywords as a head-keyword.

I usually turn on Conversion Optimizer and let Adwords figure out how to bid to get the most conversions for my target CPA.

I like to keep my targeting tight, so I don’t end up doing to much work sorting keywords and my ads are right on the problem. I do that by not using broad match, but have all keywords in both exact and modified broad match. I use modified broad match to target a large range of keywords that I would otherwise had to generate by word combination. I go though all search terms to maintain a high average quality score and get most of my clicks though exact march after some time.

What is your strategy for longtail keyword management?