A few friends shared this Wall Street Journal article with me yesterday called The Price of Unwanted Clicks and I found it very enlightening and sometimes often laughable. The biggest discussion was on session based search results and how some advertisers think these clicks are costing them lots of money. You know what? They could be, but I'm not sure the average advertiser even knows what's going on and in the case of doctors, lawyers and other expensive click services it can be very costly. First, let's go over what these session based clicks are, how you can minimize them, and why hiring an expert is a good idea.
Session based clicks are a result of ads being shown on potentially unrelated keyword searches when a user has multiple searches within a single session. Basically it is a way for Google to serve ads to a unique user rather than just a unique search. The ads are shown below the typical paid sponsored results. The way these ads are shown are when you use Broad match for your keywords.
Broad match is basically Google's way of expanding the amount of searches your ads appear on by an algorithm. That of course includes session based searches. Buying the name "john mccain" on broad match means if you don't know what you are doing, your ads can be shown on "french fries". Broad can expand your buy to new search terms, cheaper clicks, and more sales, but of course can also generate unwanted useless clicks.
You can manage your broad searches with a number of techniques including negatives, account structure, search query data, and broad match modifiers. See this is more complicated than what you thought, right?
Of course, Google wants to sell you more ads and wants to simplify the ad buying process for you. However, paid search is anything but simple. They want to make it so simple to expand their advertising base, but unless you are paying attention and stay up to date, you will most likely be dissatisfied with Google. Remember, Google is in this to make money and constantly tries to improve the engineering behind search and marketing, so changes happen all the time.
You want my advice? Hire an expert to manage your search campaigns. If you are a business owner, why waste your time keeping up with the changes? Let someone manage it who lives and breathes this stuff. If you are paying like $8 per click, why mess around? It can cost you like the advertisers in the article.