Understand the Google Search Partners effect
What is Search Partners?
Most people will start off with running their AdWords campaigns on 'Google and search network'. Unfortunately people do not realise that this isn't just Google search results that your ads will appear on - it is any place or site that hosts Google powered search results. That could be websites that use Google search to power their site search for example.If you ONLY want to appear on Google's main home page results then you need to select 'Google Search only' in campaign settings.
I am not saying this is definitly what you should do - but you just need to understand what it is and how it affects your campaign.
How do I evaluate Search Partners and decide what to do with it?
If you are just launching a campaign and you have plenty of budget to test with, then usually you will launch with 'Google and search network'. If you run it for a week or so, maybe two weeks you should then evaluate what the two different search networks are delivering for your campaign.
You can do this by clicks on the 'networks' tab in your campaign. Somewhere in the middle it will give you a statistical performance breakdown between Google search and search partners. You can also look at this at ad group level.
If your CTR is massively different between them, say for example Google search is 5% and Search partners is 3% then you have a decision to make. Because the CTR is based on the same ads and keywords with the same bids, you have to think about the implications that having the search partners on is doing to your Quality Score.
With the above CTRs in mind you may find that for the same keyword with the same bid you are paying £1 per click on the Google Search vs. £1.50 per click on the Search Partners just because the CTR is lower. If this is the case, then you are going to get less clicks from your overall budget because the Search partners clicks are costing you more for the same keyword.
The simple solution for the above example would be to switch off the search partners and focus on getting maximum clicks through the Google search only network. You will get more clicks for your budget and improve overall Quality Score because the avergage CTR is no longer being dragged down by Search partners.
Something to remember
The above scenario is just one possible situation. The search partners network can also be a good thing sometimes, but you just have to be aware of what it is and make sure you take appropriate action if it is performing poorly.
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