Using real time search trends in PPC

The main different with SEO and paid search is that the first may take months before your website appear in the top rankings for a specific keyword, while paid search is immediate. You can literally create an Adwords account and launch your first ads in a only few minutes. Therefore, real-time response can sometimes bring a great benefit to your paid search campaigns.

We’ve seen brands take advantage of events happening in real-time and provide a ‘direct response’ to what’s happening. A good example would be the Ann Summers PPC campaign built by icrossing, a UK-based web agency (Youtube example below this article). Other companies may use paid search to provide real-time response to specific events such as natural disasters appeals. This has been used recently for the Haiti earthquake or the Queensland floods.

So, as an advertiser, how do you best figure out what are the current trending keywords and topics?

Real-time trend tools

You may want to use real-time trends tools either on a regular basis in order to observe what is currently trending out there, and potentially identify an opportunity to incorporate it to your paid search campaign. You may also want to use it on a one-off basis when you already have something in mind. Below is a non-exhaustive list of those tools:

1. Twitter trending topics

The twitter trending topics are basically keywords that are the most used on twitter, in real-time. You can find them scrolling horizontally on the twitter homepage, or in your right hand-side menu of your ‘new’ twitter profile page (which can be customised by location). There are also other tools that allow you to have a better view and monitoring of those trending topics. A couple good examples are What the Trend and Trendsmap. Lastly, some anonymous person also created a twitter account which you can follow (if not scared of being spammed) that automatically tweets all the twitter trending topics.

The twitter trending topics is by far the most real-time tool you will find out there as it will show you exactly what’s being said at this very moment.

2. Google insights for search

Insights for search is a great tool provided by Google to monitor search trends fogoogle insights for searchr specific keywords as well as related news headlines. You can change the scape of your search by modifying the geolocation and date range which gives you great insight on why your campaigns may peak on a certain day or time of the year. Is it due to seasonality? Has something happened somewhere that may have triggered the change in performance?

Every good paid search analyst knows the benefits of using this tool. However, as we are discussing real-time trends, there is one specific aspect of this tool that you should know about and use. At the bottom right of the page, you will see an area entitled “Rising searches” which will list the top 10 searched keywords with the index of search rise. So if you see a term with a +500% increase in searches, you know it’s definitely trending, right now. When the search increases by over  5000%, the term “Breakout” is displayed.

3. @YahooSearchData

If you’re hooked to twitter and have your tweetdeck notifications pop up on your screen at work every few minutes, then a third option is to look at Yahoo’s Search trends data by following them on their dedicated twitter account. While it is very useful, the data seems to be only coming from the US so if you are not based over there, be cautious that search trends may differ from a region to another.

4. Google Alerts

Lastly, Google Alerts is a great tool to monitor what’s being said or published about a specific keyword. The tool will generate email notifications on a weekly, daily or real-time (“as it happens”) basis. Brands will often use it from a PR or brand management perspective, but paid search advertisers can also use it when they have something very specific in mind. For example, an advertiser is selling ice creams in Australia and might want to be alerted when a heat wave hits Sydney and surroundings. In that scenario, the advertiser could monitor the keyword “heat wave sydney” from one or several sources (News, Blogs, Realtime, Video, Discussions). And when the temperatures do start rising, he will be notified by email and can therefore quickly react by launching a campaign about ice creams targeting people searching for “sydney weather” or “sydney heat wave”, for example.

I hope these tips will help you embrace real-time trends and be more creative in your ad copies. If you use other techniques for monitoring real-time search trends, please discuss those in the comment section below.

And finally, the long awaited treat discussed earlier: Ann Summers PPC campaigns

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