Google Search Partners: 5 Misconceptions & How It Really Works in 2023

The Google Search Partner network allows advertisers to access a wider audience, but it is not without downsides. Learn when and how to utilize it.

Perhaps not for Hamlet, but for paid search professionals everywhere.

When establishing a new search campaign, you default to the display network and search partners.

This permits your ads to display on Google properties (such as YouTube and Google Maps), firms with whom Google has collaborated (such as Amazon and Walmart), and other websites that sell ad placements.

Google does not publish a complete list of search partners, but websites displaying these ads must opt-in and receive a portion of the advertising profit.

The Google Search Works network can be an excellent tool for getting more traffic and conversions by expanding your advertising campaigns beyond search engine results pages (SERPs) and onto other websites that Google owns or works with.

It enables you to run more adverts and stand out from the crowd.

However, it has consequences, so most advertisers consider disabling it as best practice.

The main disadvantage is a lack of transparency and control. There is limited data on where your advertisements are displayed, and you cannot prohibit ads from appearing in low-performing or contentious placements.

Google’s Search Partners network also contains parked domains, which can drain your budget without seeing your advertising.

You also have little influence over ad auctions because bid modifiers are unavailable.

So, how can you make the network of search partners work for your campaigns?

Let’s look at some ways you may leverage the Google Search Partners network to get insight and control while ensuring optimal performance.

5 Common Myths About Google Search Partners

Before going into managerial advice, let’s define the Search Partner network and dispel some prevalent myths.

Common Myths About Google Search Partners
Common Myths About Google Search Partners

First Fallacy: Most of the Sites Included Are Miniature Search Engines

Although they are often called Google’s “search partners,” not all the sites featured in this network are search engines.

Google defines its Search Partners as:

“Sites in the 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.

On search partners sites, your ads can appear on search results pages, on site directory pages, or on other pages related to a person’s search.”

Second Fallacy: The Search Partners Are Reserved For Old-Fashioned Search Ads

The search partner network is an excellent tool for increasing exposure for retail marketing.

Third Falsehood: The Search Partners will never be successful again because they have failed in the past.

A lot can shift with Google Ads in a relatively short period. Therefore it’s worthwhile to try and retest various aspects.

To increase conversions at a cost per click (CPC) comparable to Google Search, Google introduced Smart Bidding for search partner sites in October of 2018.

If your campaigns previously excluded search partners, this alone may indicate a need for more testing.

The fourth fallacy is that you can get the most detailed information about search partners by segmenting your campaigns by search partner networks.

Although we can’t see the search partners’ sites, we can look into other information to better understand performance.

Myth 5: There’s no way to lower the cost per acquisition when using Search Partners.

There are ways to manipulate search results; even marketers have more influence over search partners than they do over Google’s search work.

We need to be a little bit more resourceful in our approach.

Search Partner Network Low-Hanging Fruit

You may want to go for the easy stuff first if you’re unfamiliar with the search partners or are afraid of them.

Start your search partner testing with the most intent-driven targets.

Your Campaign for Your Brand

When they have the available funds, many advertisers push their brand efforts to their absolute limit.

The search partner network may be an effective means of generating more traffic for those searches.

Your RLSA Campaigns

These individuals are more qualified than an average searcher simply because they have previously visited your website.

Audiences are an excellent way to test without taking on too much risk, so I prefer to think of them as “training wheels” in this context.

Reaching Rock Bottom With Regards To The Performance Gap

If you find that search partners have a high conversion volume but not at a cost-effective return, you should see fir, you should first perform so that we can choose the best course of action.

Running a few simple reports is an easy way to shed some light on areas that need improvement.

Analyze the Performance of Keywords

Many times, if the search network isn’t working well, it could be because some of the phrases are too general and aren’t performing as well as some of the long-tail terms. This is because broad terms have more competition.

In the same way, you would segment campaign results; you may also segment your keyword list based on the used search network.

You can now readily identify which terms are performing well on search partners and which are causing you to spend money with no return or converting at a cost higher than what is considered acceptable.

Examining the Different Types of Matches

One more typical explanation for why search partners may not perform as well as expected is that performance may be inconsistent across different matches.

After downloading the segmented keyword report, you can quickly pivot the data to examine how each match type performs across the networks. This report can be found in the downloads section of the segmented keyword report.

Search partners typically do not do as well regarding broad match terms, though this is not always true.

Examine How the Device Was Used

You could discover that the performance of search partners is not as satisfactory on mobile devices.

You may zero in on this by segmenting the data from your smartphone by the search partners you use. The performance of one of the devices may be significantly superior to that of the other.

You Can Improve Your Performance on Google Search Partners If You Follow These Steps

You cannot view specific placements while using Google’s search partners, which is unfortunate.

Because of this, you cannot exclude particular placements, target specific sequences, or add bid modifiers to posts – or even the network as a whole.

You should separate your campaigns based on the type of match.

If you find that the search partners are performing well on one or two match types, segment your campaigns and then pick the match types that have proven to work well historically into search partners. If you find that the search partners are performing well on all match types, opt for all match types.

In addition, there should be a sufficient amount of volume from the search partners for this to be worthwhile to save.

A large-scale reorganization for such a small volume of transactions is not something I would recommend, but you are the only one who can decide what that criterion is for your account.

Segment Out Your Campaigns By Device

If you find that the search partners are functioning well on one device but not on the other, you may want to consider splitting apart the campaign and keeping only specific devices opting into search partners. This is the case if you discover that the search partners perform well on one device but not on the other.

To reiterate, this is only warranted if demonstrated volume can be reduced and profitable.

You should separate your campaigns based on the type of match.

You might want to consider segmenting out some phrases if they perform particularly poorly on search partners. However, you should only do so if doing so will not put a high volume of Google search conversions at risk.

Segmenting Out An RLSA Campaign

Suppose you notice that specific audiences (first-party or third-party) added as observation-only perform better than the searchers who are not a part of those audiences. In that case, you might consider breaking out an RLSA campaign and opting for search partners while keeping them out of the non-RLSA campaign. This would contrast with the situation where you would keep search partners out of the non-RLSA campaign.

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