What is Google Search Partners, and should I switch it on? Your questions answered!
When you’re creating a new campaign, the Google Ads interface will ask if you want to switch on Search Partners, but have you ever wondered what this option does?
Search Partners allows advertisers to extend the reach of their ads to show (in a search results like fashion) on sites other than in Google’s search engine.
Search Partners allows advertisers to extend the reach of their ads to show on sites other than in Google’s search engine. Ads are shown in a search results like fashion and not like what you would expect to see on a display ad placement.
Sites that would like to show Google’s ads need to opt in, but return, they receive a share of the advertising profits.
Where can my ad show on Search Partners?
Google doesn’t publish a list of all the websites that your ad can show on if you switch on Search Partners.
That said, here is a small list of sites where your ads could show if you switch on Search Partners:
- Search Engines: Ask.com, Dogpile.com, Lycos.com etc.
- Google sites and products: Google Shopping, Google Maps, Google Images, and Google Groups etc
- Search results and product pages on partner sites: Amazon, Walmart, Target etc.
Can I switch on Search Partners on some ad groups but not others?
Search Partners is applied at the campaign level so you can’t have some ad groups in your campaign running on Search Partners while others are not.
What you can do, is decide which campaigns you would like to run Search Partners on and only run Search Partners on those campaigns.
Can I choose where my ads show with Search Partners?
You either have Search Partners off, in which case your ads don’t show on any Search Partner sites, or you have it on, in which case your ads will be able to show on any Search Partner site.
Can I have a campaign solely for Search Partners?
You can’t have a Search Partners only campaign on Google Ads, but you can on Bing Ads.
What’s more, you can have a search Network only campaign and a Search Network & Search Partners campaign, but not a Search Partners only campaign.
What campaign types is Search Partners available on?
Search Partners is available on Search and Shopping campaigns, but not on Display or Video campaigns.
How do I switch on Search Partners?
To switch on Search Partners, go into the Settings tab within your campaign, click on Networks, and then tick the ‘Include Google Search Partners’ check box .
Does Bing Ads have a Search Partners option?
Bing Ads does have a Search Partners option, which it calls Syndicated Search Partners. Unlike Google Ads however, Bing Ads gives the advertiser the additional option of creating a Syndicated Search Partners only campaign.
Like Google Ads, Bing Ads has its own list of third-party sites, where your ads could show if you switched on Syndicated Search Partners. Some of these are:
- Wall Street Journal
- CBS Interactive
How can I spot Search Partners Traffic?
When looking through your search query report, if you notice any of the below, then it could be a sign of searches originating from Search Partners, or, at least some of the volume from the search term has come from Search Partners:
- Click-through rate is very low compared to other keywords or what you would expect.
- Cost per click is much lower than you’d expect.
- Conversion rate is much lower than expected.
To filter your report for Search Partners data and Google Search Network data, click on the Segment filter and select ‘Network (With Search Partners)’. This will show what traffic came through Search Partners and what traffic came through the Google Search Network.
Why are there strange searches coming through my search query reports after switching on Search Partners?
Sometimes traffic can come through Search Partners that seems strange and not something that a person would search for. For example, I picked up 267 impressions for the below search term.
“new elt waldhausen fur lined waterproof country yard boot rrp 195 size uk 6 39 sporting goods equestrian riding boots & accessor”
I would be able to understand if this was searched for once, but 86 searches for this search term seems very strange.
When pulling search term data, Google has to pull the data to insert it into the keyword column from somewhere, so it will use the link that is clicked to get to the page containing the Search Partners ad.
In this case, the above search term could perhaps be a product description link on a site such as eBay or Amazon. This is because it contains a product name, RRP price and size.
Every time an ad appears on this page, an impression would be counted but because in most cases, the ad will appear at the bottom of the page, the user will not see the ad. This is why search Partners generally has a very poor click-through rate.
Another example is the below search term that has picked up 120 impressions and zero clicks.
The first part appears to be the keyword, and the second part (waste bins & dustbins) appears to be the category that was clicked on the website navigation menu to get to the page where the Search Partners ad appeared.
“wheely bin waste bins & dustbins”
Should I switch On Search Partners?
So, what can you expect from Search Partners? While it’s important to be aware that performance will vary for each account, the table below shows the aggregated performance of Search Partners compared to the Search Network for all of our accounts.
Looking at the above table. Click prices and conversion rates on Search Partners are around half of that of the Google Search Network.
Impressions are similar to the Google Search Network, but due to the click-through rate being only 5% of the Google Search Network, the traffic that Search Partners brings in is only 5% of that of Google Search Network.
Even though the conversion rate is much lower than the Google Search Network, the much lower click prices mean that the cost per conversion comes in at a similar level to the Google Search Network.
Summary: While performance will defer with each niche, account and campaign, our data shows that Search Partners has a similar cost per conversion to the Google Search Network. Therefore, it makes sense to test Search Partners on your account.
Will the low click-through rate on Search Partners affect my Quality Scores?
Clickthrough rate is a big factor that affects Quality Scores. If your Quality Scores are high, then you will benefit from lower click prices.
However, you don’t need to worry about the lower click-through rate on Search Partners negatively impacting your Quality Scores.
This is because Google doesn’t use the click-through rate on Search Partners in its Quality Score algorithm.
What should I look out for when switching on Search Partners?
If you switch on Search Partners, then expect to see a reduction in click-through rate in your aggregated reports. This isn’t because your search clickthrough rate has come down.
It’s because the extra impressions gained by switching on Search Partners has a very low click-through rate.
Expect to see a difference in your aggregated conversion rate as well, due to Search Partners traffic having a different conversion rate to the Search Network.
You’ll also need to bear in mind that your reports are going to show a considerable increase in impressions while clicks won’t increase as much in comparison.
Similarly, if you switch off Search Partners, then you’d expect to see changes in your click-through rate, conversion rate and impressions.
Can I forecast the extra traffic that I’d get from Search Partners?
While it’s not perfect, Google’s keyword Planner tool allows advertisers to see monthly searches via either the Google Search Network, or via the Google Search Network and Search Partners.
If you’re going to use the monthly search volume column to predict the amount of clicks that you may get, then you will need to make sure that you use a lower click-through rate to calculate the clicks from Search Partners as you do for the Search Network.
This is because the clickthrough rate on Search Partners is much lower than the Search Network.
Below is an example of how the projected data changes on Google keyword planner when Search Partners is added for the same keyword.
In the below example, the projected impressions shoot up by 1422%, and due to the click-through rate dropping from 5.13% to 0.5%, clicks only increase by 37%.
Without Search Partners
With Search partners
How should I start advertising on Search Partners?
Generally, Exact or Phrase match keywords do better on Search Partners than Broad Match Modified or Broad match keywords.
So, if you’re seeing poor performance from Search Partners, it may be because your campaign has a lot of Broad or Broad Match Modified keywords in it.
If it is your practice to segment your campaigns by match type, then try starting off by running Search Partners on your Exact Match or Phrase match campaigns first.
Then you can move onto your other campaigns if results are positive.
Another option is to just switch on Search Partners across your whole account to bring in the data. Once you have enough data, you can do some analysis to decide what you should do with Search Partners.
You may decide to either keep Search Partners running on the whole account, switch it off on the whole account, or to turn it off on certain campaigns where it is performing poorly.
How do I optimise on Search Partners?
As you can’t have Search Partner specific bids, ads, keywords in a campaign or choose your placements, there isn’t a great deal that can be done to optimise Search Partners.
And with the little that can be done, you need to be asking yourself whether it is worth the time to be adding the extra complexity, as Search Partners consists of so little volume compared to the Search Network.
That said, if you have a particularly high spending account or if you have an account that is seeing very strong performance from Search Partners compared to the Search Network, then here are some optimisation ideas to think about.
Optimisation idea one: Separate campaigns for Search Partners and Search Network
Duplicate campaigns and have one campaign with Search Partners switched on and the other with Search Partners switched off.
Give the campaign with Search Partners switched on, lower bids. As the Search Network only campaign has higher bids, it will almost always win the auction. This will leave only the Search Partners traffic for the Search Partners campaign.
You can then have separate ad copy, keyword targeting and keyword bidding for Search Partners.
Just ensure that your bids are always lower than the bids on the Search network only campaign — otherwise your Search Partners campaign will start picking up Search Network traffic.
Optimisation idea two: Search Partner specific keywords
Create Search Partner specific keywords so that you can bid on them differently to your other keywords.
Start by digging into your Search Query reports to identify strong performing search terms that clearly look like they have come from Search Partners.
You can then add these searches terms in as keywords in a separate ad group.
Make sure you block these searches out from the original ad group that they came through from.
Otherwise they may continue to be picked up by that ad group.
Optimisation idea three: block out poor performing placements
While there isn’t a placement exclusion option for Search Partners, you can still take steps to block your ad from showing on certain pages. You can do this by blocking out poor performing search terms.
For example, if we notice that the below search term has very poor performance (which has very clearly been triggered by Search Partners), then we can add this as an exact match negative.
This will ensure that we don’t pick up traffic from this page in the future.
“new elt waldhausen fur lined waterproof country yard boot rrp 195 size uk 6 39 sporting goods equestrian riding boots & accessor”
Optimisation idea four: Switch off Search Partners on poor performing campaigns
If the performance of Search partners in a particular campaign is a lot worse than the performance of the same campaign in Google Search, then you could consider switching off Search Partners on that campaign.
The money saved by switching off Search Partners can then be invested into other, better performing campaigns.
This can be worthwhile looking into if you need to drop spend on a specific campaign or if you have a campaign that is limited by budget.
The below table is made up data to illustrate how efficiencies can be made:
The Search Partners cost per acquisition on campaigns one and two is much worse than on the Search Network.
If the cost per acquisition is much worse than what we can tolerate, then by switching off Search Partners on campaigns one and two, we can improve efficiency.
Search Partners doesn’t have anywhere near the kind of volume that the Search Network has, but It is an easy way to obtain more traffic that often performs just as profitably as the Search Network.
Performance will differ on each account, but it is worthwhile testing to see if Search Partners can prove to be a worthwhile option to target on your account.