- Google changed how keywords work in Google Ads making non-brand and brand keywords synonyms.
- This caused them to be conflated in targeting, bidding, and when potential clients search them out.
- This increased costs and decreased accuracy, and ultimately worked out better for “conquest” advertisers and much worse for Brands who wished to protect their brand equity.
- But I’ve stumbled onto a way to use Google’s “dumb” robots against them and flip this whole scenario on its head so it works in your favor.
They also have gradually ruined the best way to play defense. But I’ve figured out a loophole.
Read on, friend.
I LOVE when you are working to solve one problem and by a happy little accident you end up solving an entirely different problem.
It’s like when Will became my business partner, and now for the last 10 years, he no longer has to get hair cuts.
But I digress. Before I tell you about this neat little gem I discovered, I first have to tell you the problem I was trying to solve so you understand the context, and how it’s of use to you and your Law Practice.
For the past 3 years, I’ve had scores of clients ask me “What can I do about competitors poaching my leads?”
For a while, we could run a Brand Defense campaign simply by bidding on your own name. Then a little over a year ago Google made a change. In their infinite wisdom (heh) they turned more of the keyword targeting over to the robots.
What followed has been what around here we refer to as a royal cluster****.
The easiest way I can explain it is this. If you wanted to target the phrase “Car accident lawyer” you could literally tell Google to target that and nothing else.
Eventually, they came up with a way you could target variations of it. This was helpful.
Then they started adjusting the nuance around just what is considered a variation, and you got what Google called “close variants”. Hmm sounds a little “sus” as my kids say. (if you know, you know).
THEN last year Google announced that they were going to let their Artificial Intelligence interpret BOTH what you meant by the keyword you chose to target AND what the searcher meant when they type in a keyword.
Let me clarify that to be certain I’ve done my best to help you see the problem Google created.
They decided to let Articifical Intelligence interpret the intent of both the advertiser and the searcher seeing the advertisement. You no longer get to have a concrete say in what you meant to advertise for. Google has determined that its advanced machine learning can crunch millions of variables and discern what you really meant to target, and what a searcher really was seeking.
OK! NOW the stage is set for you to understand how this has royally screwed up things for Firm Owners like you.
Machine Learning like Google’s AI for Google Ads is essentially like a detective. Only a detective with perfect memory and access to billions of data points. It can look at many aspects of the past and present to try and predict things. In this case, what it is YOU (the advertiser) and THEY (the prospective clients searching on Google) really wanted.
And here’s the key insight that ties it all together. Sorry, it was lengthy, but this next part wouldn’t make sense if you didn’t see how we got here.
Over thousands if not millions of searches Google has come to the conclusion that a Keyword Search and a Brand Search are synonymous to YOU the advertiser and to the searcher.
Meaning if someone searches Personal Injury Lawyer that is essentially the same intent as the person searching Mike Morse, Morgan & Morgan, or Richard Harris.
To some extent, this is the fault of the market. We are after all teaching the algorithm what we want. Law Firms who’ve bid on competitors’ brand names to some extent have contributed to the conflation. Google simply built a robot that would learn what people’s searches really meant. But if you follow the breadcrumbs the marketplace has been giving it, one can see how it’s come to the conclusion that branded and non-branded terms are synonymous in both advertiser intent and searcher intent.
This has given rise to several poor outcomes:
- Advertisers who target non-brand keywords are receiving requests to stop targeting another Brand’s name.
- Advertisers who wish to defend their brand name are simultaneously paying non-branded rates AND unable to compete with advertisers who bid much higher for non-branded phrases but whose ads are shown on branded searches
- Advertisers who want to run a “conquest” campaign and bid on other’s branded keywords cannot do so for the same cost as they used to be able to
- Ad Buyers are forced to deal with all of these issues as they come up AND constantly keep a running list of an ever-expanding list of negative keywords because the line between branded and non-branded has been so blurred. Essentially every brand in your market is now treated as a synonym of a non-branded phrase in your practice area.
Make sense? If not, email me and I’ll be happy to explain it in more depth or Will can draw you a picture. Like the portraits he drew of people in Clixsy while he was on Pain Meds after his minor surgery last week.
I never realized I looked like a bearded Conan O’Brien. Anyway, here’s the takeaway on this Google thing.
I figured out how to turn the robots against themselves, and in your favor. There’s a little-known campaign that can’t be found inside Google Ads that lets you protect your Brand from poachers for far less than the customary PPC campaign AND you get a few other really cool benefits to go along with it.
If you have poachers in your neck of the woods. Hit me up and let’s talk and see if this would be a good fit for you. If I’m already helping ya with it. Well, you already know =)
-R. Corey “Stop Poachers” Vandenberg