What does a paid search analyst actually do? 5 Myths revealed.

One of my favorite parts about being a digital marketing analyst, is trying to explain what we do. Within our specialties, paid search advertising is one of the more complicated. For an advertising medium that takes up an average of 80% of each search page, it sure is surrounded by a few stubborn myths.

My explanation into what our agency does often goes like this: “We’re a full service digital marketing agency.” Typically they respond with a solid nod, saying “Oh, okay,” with the confusion written all over their face, continuing (if they’re actually interested), “what does that mean?” Now, if I wanted to really explain what we do, I could say something like: “We use integrated online marketing solutions to deliver maximum digital potential in today’s evolving marketplaces.” But I’d probably get even more blank stares than I normally do. So I more often respond like this: “We market companies online.” Wholeheartedly diminishing what my team does all day.

I find it interesting that, in an attempt to simplify to our clients what we do, we tend to disrespect it. Our strategy and expertise are simplified along with our explanations.

I understand, though; I had never heard of AdWords prior to an internet marketing class I took in college and even then it took me a while to fully grasp how it all works. But even in an in-depth college course; the ever-evolving nature of online marketing and Paid Search makes it difficult to explain vital nuance. Most digital advertising specialists believe they come out of college fully prepared to run any client’s campaign. But just as a law school student is just getting started after passing the bar exam, most digital specialists are missing some vital skills and tools I would recommend any aspiring PPC professional to look into.

The truth is: we work in an evolving industry that is outside what used to be the traditional marketing channels of television, print, and radio, which companies have been advertising on for ages. What we do is complicated, highly strategic, and truly specialized. Not every person or client will know or understand what our paid search specialist do on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis to make those little ads show up in the right search results.

No matter how little or how much you think you know about what we do, my bet is PPC analysts do way more than you think.

Here are five of the most common myths about what paid search analysts do, debunked.

Myth 1: We can guarantee the top paid search position

Fact: I’ve never been in the habit of offering guarantees.

Not only is there enough nuance to navigate in each campaign to drill down to specific #’s – guarantees often give the illusion of a ceiling – which is not a healthy way to create goals.  Shady paid search specialists WILL guarantee the top spot every time. They will make it sound like they own the space or have some voodoo magic that can make it happen. This is false. Any digital advertising specialist you work with should have goals and benchmarks, not guarantees.

As analysts, we work hard to get your ads within the top 3 positions for relevant searches while trying to weed out irrelevant traffic to those ads. We use your best performing keywords to incorporate into ad copy and test various landing pages to improve average ad rank. However in many cases, the number one spot isn’t always the best spot. I have had plenty of ads that have an average ad rank below position one crushingly outperform the top spot ads. Again, we can’t guarantee that spot two is better than spot one, but we sure can run a test and find out for you.

Myth 2:  We Set It & Forget It

Fact: This one is a big one – because a lot of companies do. We don’t.

While it would be hard to pin down the daily or weekly optimization schedule of every paid search analyst out there, I would imagine any legitimate professional is in their clients’ accounts multiple times a week if not every day. Paid search advertising is what our specialists love to do and, with each client account posing different challenges, they simply can’t stop themselves from trying to tackle each and every one.

For our clients, we provide each campaign with the attention they deserve almost every day. While we simply can’t always split our time evenly among each account, we do have specific aspects of optimization that we never fail to perform each week. Some optimizations we perform three times a week, some once a month, and some tasks are just at the request of our clients.  We are always setting up new tests and optimizations within accounts but we certainly never forget about it. Even if a campaign is knocking it out of the park, we’re focused on how to make it even better.

Myth 3: We Stalk Visitors with Online Banners

Fact: Okay, this one has some truth.

Yes, we can target visitors of your website down to the exact page or product they visited and show them targeted banner ads as they proceed across the Internet. Yes, it can come off a little creepy. But if customers feel that way when they see your ads, then you are doing it wrong. The majority of remarketing banners should have frequency caps and when customers complete the desired conversion, the banners should stop. Paid search analysts can get a bad rap for this one, but if they know what they are doing, remarketing banners can be huge wins for clients without being creepy.

Myth 4: We Make Or Break All Sales

Fact: Our job is to send you relevant traffic.

That traffic should produce leads for service accounts and direct sales for ecommerce. The more relevant the traffic, the more likely they are to provide you with lead information. But once it gets to you, its hard for us to dictate what happens to that opportunity. For instance: we can push highly-targeted traffic to your website all day, but if your website isn’t up to par, customers just won’t convert. Typical problems include weak calls-to-action (CTA), too many CTAs, page errors, & undesirable designs – to name a few.

Don’t worry, we have a solution for that too. We can do conversion rate optimization by creating paid search-specific landing pages that don’t actually live on client websites. Creating these landing pages allow us to test anything and everything to help improve the conversion rate of the goals you want to see completed – without investing in a brand new website.

Myth 5: We Write The Laws of Google Advertising

Fact: Google is basically the King of the Internet.

Keeping with the analogy; I could see paid search analysts and optimizers as its Lords and Ladies. If Game of Thrones has taught us anything, it’s that rules must be in place, especially over the Lords and Ladies, in order to have a well-run kingdom. King Google keeps us on a short leash with rules from what can’t be advertised on paid search to even how that ad can be formatted & punctuated. Google is continuously updating their policies and rules for advertisers to improve the searcher’s experience; some help us and some can hurt us. We work with and around the rules to provide the best results for our clients but unfortunately sometimes we still have to bow down to the King.

In Conclusion

As usual, one post can, in no way, address the full scale of work paid search analysts do on a daily to monthly to yearly basis. There are hundreds upon thousands of optimizations we make to our client accounts each year to reach the performance level clients want to see – and SO many of those optimizations are unique to their respective campaigns. But there’s definitely some misconceptions floating around. So I’ll make a deal with you: We’ll keep trying to explain what we do simply, if you promise to recognize that while the explanation might be simple – the work is not.