Google Ads evolved, The Alpha-Beta Process has to evolve too

Over the past year, Google Ads has changed more than it had over the past 10 years.  Expanded text ads launched with a third headline, and a second description line. Smart bidding has not only become a legitimate option, but has clearly become the heir apparent to CPC.  Dynamic search ads have really turned a corner and become usable. The watering down of the match types with close variants has ruining everything.

Since everything is evolving we need to learn to evolve with it or be left behind.


The Alpha-Beta (exact-broad match modified) structure was pioneered by 3Q Digital, and in its day was revolutionary.  It involves creating 2 sets of campaigns: Alpha and Beta. Alpha campaigns are exact match terms, while Beta campaigns are broad match modified with the Alpha keywords added in as exact match negatives.  This forces the exact match terms to the Alpha campaigns while using the Beta campaigns for discovery.


Up until that point most people were ignoring search term funneling between match types or doing it in an extremely manual process at the ad group level within the same campaigns.  Needless to say, the simplicity and usefulness of shared negative lists with the alpha-beta process was dramatically more effective than having to maintain granular negative lists to funnel terms where you wanted them to go.

While the Alpha-Beta process was revolutionary, Google has evolved, so the Alpha-Beta process needs to evolve with it.  At Jordan Digital Marketing, we use a modified version of the Alpha-Beta (exact-broad match modified), but we’ve expanded it to include Alpha-Beta-Gamma-Delta to reflect the changes that have happened in the last couple years in Google Ads.Alpha-Beta

  • Alpha strategy: 
    • Identify keywords/queries with historical conversions and place them in single keyword ad groups (SKAG) using exact match.
    • We use Google Scripts to make our exact match campaigns exact, so that we can focus on top performers, not on their close variants 
    • This will allow for more targeted ads and bids based on performance goals.
  • Beta strategy: 
    • Use modified broad match keywords in discovery ad groups to identify new, high converting terms. 
    • We set up a shared negative keyword list with all alpha (exact) match keywords in the alpha campaign to ensure that we are funnelling the top search terms to the alpha campaigns
    • This will allow for continuous keyword discovery and account expansion.
  • Gamma Strategy
    • True broad match keywords to cast a wider net and help fuel our learnings. 
      • Tighten this down with retargeting lists for search ads
      • Run with optimize for conversions or CPA bidding when possible
    • Once we launch our Beta campaigns and run them for a while, we will get to see which terms work best and dual purpose the longer top performers for use the gamma campaigns
    • We set up a shared negative keyword list with all alpha (exact) match keywords in the alpha campaign, and a shared negative keyword list with the phrase match versions of all of our beta (broad match modified) keywords and apply it to the gamma campaign to ensure that we are funneling the top traffic up to the top campaigns
    • We typically launch with SMART bidding here, so that we can leverage Google’s machine learning on which audience is most likely to convert since we are going a little more broad on our keyword targeting
    • We will only use Gamma campaigns if Alpha & Beta are hitting goals and performing well
  • Delta Strategy
    • Dynamic search ads, this is a good tool for us to discover things we never would have thought of
    • We can couple this with successful retargeting audiences to help keep it targeted specifically to users who are very likely to convert
    • We set up a shared negative keyword list with all alpha (exact) match keywords in the alpha campaign, and a shared negative keyword list with the phrase match versions of all of our beta (broad match modified) keywords and apply it to the gamma campaign to ensure that we are funneling the top traffic up to the top campaigns
    • We will only launch the Delta strategy if the Gamma strategy performs well for us
  • We also use the beta-gamma-delta strategy to discover new top performers, and we will use the alpha & beta campaigns to target the top performing terms as granularly as possible
    • This strategy allows for constant discovery, while also becoming more efficient on our best terms

 

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