Search Terms from Search Partners: Why eBay May Be Messing with You

Post by Josh Pack, Google/Bing PPC Specialist at SEOM Interactive:

As a PPC Specialist who works daily within Google AdWords, I  see some peculiar search terms from time to time. Most of the time, we have a chuckle at how some people search for products or services in strange ways, and then add a simple negative to fix the issue. However, I recently noticed some very long search terms in an account we manage for a client in the fireplace and hearth industry that piqued my interest.

The search term in question was “35 large 1500 watt stainless electric wall mount fireplace heater with remote home & garden home improvement heating cooling & a.”

I found this query very odd, mostly because the latter part of the term almost has a categorization to it, like an e-commerce website. Perhaps someone was copying the URL or title of a product and searching for another retailer. Regardless, after noticing these search terms appearing in the report more frequently and not seeing any results from them at all, I decided to do some research.

Entering the entire search term into Google, the first organic result was for eBay. Notice how the majority of the description for this listing is bolded for relevance to the original search query.

google search partners query

When I followed the organic listing into eBay, everything clicked (pun intended). There, at the top of the eBay page, was the very same categorization that I noticed within the search terms report. Of course, the search term didn’t match the entire categorization due to the character limit, but it was almost identical.

ebay query results

Scrolling to the bottom of the page, I found why these search terms were showing in the report. I saw two expanded text ads, one of which was for the AdWords account in question. Finally this started to make sense!

See the example below for an idea of how these ads appear on eBay.

ebay listing

Even though I did not have a display campaign setup, these ads were displayed on this eBay listing because the search campaign in question was targeting Search Partners. eBay is currently included within the Search Partner Network of AdWords, along with several other major e-commerce retailers.

If you’re not familiar with Search Partners, these are websites within AdWords’ Search Network that partner with Google to show ads. Search Partners extend the reach of Google Search ads to hundreds of non-Google websites, as well as YouTube and other Google sites.

After figuring out where these search terms were coming from, I needed to find a way to stop these wasted clicks. One option would be to turn off Search Partners within the campaign settings. However, that would limit our reach. Instead, I chose to add “home improvement heating cooling” as a phrase match negative since this phrase was only included within these particular search terms and would not result in any favorable queries being blocked.

The accounts where I saw these search terms were not receiving any favorable results from these Search Partner listings, but your results may vary. Simply turning off all Search Partner listings could kill a major traffic source for your campaigns, and is not recommended unless you are sure the traffic you are receiving is not wanted. Instead, consider taking a deeper dive into the search terms coming from these Search Partner sources to see if some clever negative keywords can help improve the results.

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