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Should you include Search Partners in your Google AdWords?

When you set up a Google AdWords campaign, the option to target users on partner sites appears – but what is this and is it a way to gain more traffic, or just spend more money? The Google Search Network gives advertisers the ability to delivers ads on partner websites, which includes hundreds of non-Google websites, plus Google Maps, YouTube and other Google sites. On search partners, your ads can appear on search results pages, on site directory pages or on other pages related to a user’s search.

The suspicion, if that’s not too strong a word, around the search partner network is that the value of this traffic can be very different from that directly received from Google – but there is no easy way to alter your bids accordingly. Also, unlike Bing Ads, Google does not allow you to exclude specific search partners, so you have no control over where your Ads are served. So, is it really worth it?

Search Engine Land recently carried out some research, and their results are pretty interesting. While traffic from text only ads on search partners has not changed significantly in the last year, traffic from Product Listing Ads (PLAs) has grown steadily. This is because since 2014, Google has increased the rate at which PLAs are shown with their larger retail partners, and in December 2015 Google launched PLAs on image searches.

They also found that Branded keyword traffic was more likely to convert from Search Partner sites than from Google, but that the CPC for these visitors was significantly higher. Overall on mobile traffic, Google’s conversion rate was higher than with search partners; and similarly for non-brand keywords, the search partner network’s conversion rate was significantly lower than Google’s across all device types.

Obviously, no two businesses are the same. Some advertisers will do much better on Search Partners than the average, and some will see much lower returns. The only way to know for sure is by targeting the partner network and collecting your own data. If you need help with any aspects of Google AdWords, get in touch.

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