Google Search Partners are sites that have partnered with Google to display paid search ads. Within Google Search Partner sites, ads could be displayed on search results pages, site directories, or other pages that are related to the search queries. Unfortunately, Google does not provide the names of the Search Partners but among the many partners include AOL, Amazon, and Kijiji (to name just a few).
By default, Google opts Search campaigns into Google Search Partners. This can be easily changed by going to the Settings tab in AdWords (at the campaign level), and found under Networks heading. To opt in, or opt out, simply click the box beside ‘Include Search Partners’.
Google Search Partners can provide an excellent opportunity to extend the reach and exposure of your ads and campaign. If the search world of your product/ service is limited in Google search, the Search Partners setting is a viable option to provide more impression opportunities.
Campaign performance on the Search partner sites could vary greatly. Google Search Partners could negatively impact some of your campaign’s metrics For example, it’s quite common for CTR to be lower on Search partner sites that on Google Search.
I recently ran a campaign that returned CTRs that were significantly lower on the Search partner sites. With this particular campaign, the Search partners were generating a CTR of 0.24%, a number that looks more like the Google Display Network, compared to 4.44% on Google search. (Keep in mind that Search Partners metrics have no impact on your Quality Score.) However, CPC was five cents lower on Search Parter sites.
Nonetheless, I was interested in uncovering the Search partner sites were that were returning such low CTRs.
Identifying Google Search Partners
Unfortunately, unlike the Display Network partners, Google does not provide specifics around Search partners. Discovering what Search partners sites your ads are running on requires a little work.
Begin with the Keyword Search Terms report. Skim through the report (either in the AdWords interface or download to Excel) and find those queries that seem automated or just can’t possibly be an actual search query. In this particular example two search queries with high impression totals really stood out, “kelowna vacation rentals canada british columbia thompson okanagan” and “toronto gta buy and sell sporting goods exercise fishing campaign outdoors”. Surely these are not actual search queries performed by real people.
The next step is to take these ‘search terms’ and search them in Google.
In this particular example, the first search query “kelowna vacation rentals canada british columbia thompson okanagan” returned VRBO.com results in Google.
VRBO is Vacation Rentals By Owner, a site which is closely aligned with the keywords in the campaign. The pages on the site have sponsored links. A Search partner is found!
For this particular campaign, the Google Search Partner sites were not returning metrics that met campaign objectives, thus I opted out.
Not all campaigns perform the same way on Google Search Partners. There are a number of variables to consider before opting out of Google Search Partners including quality of traffic, conversion metrics, and other key performance indicators. Run the reports, compare the data and then decide whether Google Search Partners is a good fit for your paid search campaign.