Ultrarunning vs Ultramarathon

I thought the words ultrarunning and ultramarathon were interchangeable. And maybe in the runner’s vernacular it is. But I quickly found in the last several weeks that the words runners use to find ultra-related topics online strongly favors one over the other.

So what’s your guess?

Do you think more people are performing searches online using the word ultrarunning? Or ultramarathon?

My vote was for ultrarunning.

I backed that feeling with dollars. I built paid search campaigns that focused on using ‘ultrarunning’ as a keyword, used that keyword within my advertising copy and on the ads corresponding landing page.

If you’ve never built an ad campaign before a keyword is a word or phrase that describes the product you are selling in the ad. For example, if you were a retail athletic store and wanted to sell more shoes, you would build ad campaigns using the keyword ‘running shoes’ and different variations on that same theme. Yeah, sometimes the keyword is a phrase. Totally normal.

In order for someone to click on your ad, your advertising copy needs to be compelling. This can be tricky since the character count is rather limited, so if you’re a wizard on Twitter you’ll find the learning curve on writing ads fairly short. Sometimes something as simple as offering a discount on your product or services can meet this threshold.

Your ad text also should to have a CTA (call-to-action), something that makes a person want to click on your ad. Here are some examples of CTAs:

  • Buy today!
  • Sign up now!
  • Create Your Account

Be sure to use your keyword in the ad copy because it signals relevance to the person searching for your product. Going back to our athletic retailer example, if they wrote an ad and never used the keyword ‘running shoes’ a user might not click on it because it isn’t mentioning the product they are actively seeking.

In a nutshell: Creating ads is part creativity, part strategic knowledge of the ad platform and part customer psychology.

Once your ad has been created it needs to link to a landing page. If you are using the ‘Buy today!’ CTA in your copy the fair assumption of a user who clicks on your ad is that they will be taken to a web page that has the product you were advertising alongside a purchase button. If a user clicks on your ad and lands on your website and doesn’t see the product or services they were expecting, it’s a fair bet that they will leave. And possibly never return. So you want to make your landing page is relevant to your keyword and ad copy.

I won’t go down the rabbit hole of talking about quality score and techniques to lower your CPC (cost-per-click), because at the end of the day this test was me checking to see which keyword drew in more users.

I followed all of the above.

Then I hedged my bet and duplicated my ads and swapped the word ‘ultrarunning’ for ‘ultramarathon’. In marketing parlance this is called A/B testing.

ultramarathon crew advertisment
Here is how my advertisement for ultramarathon crew support looked in the wild on my mobile device. Google and the Google logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc., used with permission.

Within 3 days I knew I had backed the wrong horse. No one was clicking on the ad with the word ultrarunning.

The keyword ‘ultramarathon’ was the clear winner.

Instead of being sad, I was fascinated.

I wanted to find more proof that ‘ultramarathon’ was the winning keyword…right after I went onto my website and swapped out most of my references of ultrarunning to ultramarathon.

The first thing I did was open up the Google AdWords Keyword Planner and typed in ‘ultrarunning’. The Keyword Planner shows you the frequency with which users search for specific keywords and phrases. I quickly learned that the keyword ‘ultramarathon’ had nearly double the number of average monthly searches compared to ‘ultrarunning’. There was my proof.

I’ve only just scratched the surface to understanding the searching and shopping behavior of runners. Until my next marketing experiment, keep running!