Dear Saint Google 2018

Joshua Erdman

Since 2008 our Google Ads Experts have written an open letter to Saint Google. We believe that at least one of Saint Google’s Elves or maybe even the big SG reads our blog because we get lots of things that have been in our letters. Regardless, we find this to be a fun tradition for a company that eats, lives, and breathes AdWords now known as Google Ads.

Negative Search Query

This is the only thing that has been on our list since 2008 and it amazes us that it’s still there. Our bet is that providing this would improve Google revenue by over a billion dollars; why Saint Google do you keep skipping this one? It would make smart advertisers even smarter which is better for the system and in the long run, Google. The concept is simply the other side of the search query. These are the search terms shown on the tabs in the keyword section of search. We are looking for the searches lost due to a negative keyword so we can ensure that this silent account-killer is doing what we want, not what we said.

Negative Keyword Data

Negative keywords have no data to help us understand how they impact the account. We would like to see impression levels and the average CPC of the top position in the search query.

Language Setting for Display Campaigns Sites

Someone is going to jump up on their soapbox and tell me we already have this but we want something different. When you set a campaign to English, you get a check to the language setting of the browser. In a Display campaign, we want to make sure the sites our ads are showing are for the language we set. It is a maintenance nightmare to get rid of these sites with exclusions.

High & Low Bid Columns

Bid modifiers make it very difficult to see exactly what is going on with a specific keyword bid. We can have bid modifiers for location, device, time and day of the week, and audience and probably more in the future. We would like to see high and low bid columns at the keyword and ad group levels. This would precalculate the highest and lowest bid and allow us to see it side by side with the base bid that is being modified. Please, Saint Google, do not forget null because in bidding there is a difference between zero and null. Null would represent no lower or higher bid modifiers exist.

Future Ad Dating

While there are some ways to partially do this we would like to see ads with future Start, Pause, and Remove date and time. With this new toy, we would be able to work in advance of a change in advertising like Black Friday or Cyber Monday pricing. When maintaining an ad we could put in a Start Date along with an optional Stop or Hold Date. The Black Friday Ad would get a Start Date and Remove Date and the current ad could get a Stop Date and Start Date.     

Location Insertion

Much like keyword insertion, the location insertion would put the location name based on the physical location of the searcher. In this way, you could localize the ad copy without having to write a version for every city in the local area.

Keyword Insertion Override

A keyword insertion override would allow the advertiser to control the insertion when the keyword is triggered. This would give us finer control over the insertion. For example, a person does a search for “Best Plumber San Luis Obispo” but in the insertion, we want a headline of “Plumber SLO” because SLO is what locals call the city. The insertion would normally fail because it would result in a headline that is too long.

Smarter Keywords

Keywords are the foundation of search and they could be so much smarter. We would like to see support for mixing keyword types so we could have broad and phase in the same keyword. For example; +Plumber “Los Angeles” would give us Plumber but Los Angeles meet the phrase rules. We would like to see a stemming wildcard such as a *. When coded in a keyword like Plumb* it would jump to other stems like Plumber, Plumbers, and Plumbing. Additionally, we would like to see list support using % as the wildcard. For example, City% would include all the words in a list called City. Lists should support a null word listing.

If Saint Google wants more detail on the syntax of this, we would be glad to provide more detail.

Search Keyword Lists

Already implemented for negative keywords, we think keyword lists would be cool for the positive keywords. Many campaigns have the same keywords for a variety of reasons and it would make account maintenance much easier with list support. It would also be nice if they were incorporated with the keywords, not a separate list tab. As an example, a local plumber could create a list of local city names:

  • San Luis Obispo
  • Los Osos
  • Cambria
  • Morro Bay
  • Grover Beach
  • Pismo Beach
  • Arroyo Grande
  • Oceano
  • Shell Beach
  • Santa Maria

They then have a keyword of “Plumber %City%”  which equals keywords for:

  • Plumber San Luis Obispo
  • Plumber Los Osos
  • Plumber Cambria
  • Plumber Morro Bay
  • Plumber Grover Beach
  • Plumber Pismo Beach
  • Plumber Arroyo Grande
  • Plumber Oceano
  • Plumber Shell Beach
  • Plumber Santa Maria

All Keyword Tab

This tab would show all the positive and negative keywords, including details from Negative Keyword Lists. This would make it easier to see all the things going on at the same time. We have all this data today but it’s spread across several tabs, making it difficult to follow. Lists should expand out to the detailed words and mix with the other keywords.  

Better Display Network Controls

The Display Network is a great place to get low-cost traffic but, Saint Google, do you have to make it so difficult to manage? We would like to be able to better control the sites that the ads get placed on. Simple things like domain extensions that we could select or omit. When reviewing placements it would be nice to know if we have already excluded the site so we do not have to remember the 500 exclusions already processed. We know that the poor UI is not because it’s to Google’s advantage to make this difficult. Google would never act like that – right?  

Clean Test Tool

The ad preview tool is wonderful but it would be nice if we could access this without being in an AdWords account. What we are looking for is a clean SERP with no extra considerations changing the results. Just the paid and organic results without modifiers from our search history or other things.

Google Search Network Selection

This one is really simple but I doubt we will get this. In search, we can turn off the Search Partners but not the Google Network. The performance between these can vary and we are control freaks, so we always want control. You might think at first blush that turning off the Google Network would be stupid but stop and think a second here. Many times the only problem with the Search Partners is that they need to be bid differently and not just in a broad sense but specific to the keyword level.

Saint Google, Regifting is Okay!

Lots of people think that Regifting is not cool but we are okay with it. These are features that we have had in the past but the evil Google Grinch, the nemesis of Saint Google, has taken away that we would like back.

Exact and Phrase Keywords

The Google Grinch took away Exact and Phrase controls and replaced it with what the evil and inaccurate Close Variants. We would like to be able to tag a keyword so that the exact and phrase controls are purely applied. Sometimes there is a difference between the plural and singular use of a word and close variants are not always our friends.

Search Ad Location Control

In the olden days, we used to have control over the position of an ad and it was a very useful tool. This tool was great for certain Advertisers, not always good for Google, so away it went. For some clients, position one is good for their ego but not for their business. For Advertisers that have a strategy other than first, this was a great way to make the budget last much longer.

Display Network Site-Specific Targeting aka Display Planner

Google has not taken this entirely away but they sure made it nearly impossible to use. In the olden days – in Google Time this is less than a year – in placement, we had a lookup that we could search for sites that are active in the network. Now you have to put in the site and see if it gets traffic. Sort of like looking for sites with your eyes shut. Clearly, Google wants to control our placements and they recommend the best practice of using audiences but sometimes we want direct placement with complete absolute control.

Download the Saint Google Letter
Dear Saint Google